My favorite thing I experienced in Columbus this past year was Rock on the Range. This is a special music festival each year for the heavy metal fans of the midwest. Every year it harbors the unique and uproarious atmosphere that makes it a one of a kind experience. It is louder, heavier, and more enthusiastic than similar festivals in the surrounding area, and this is largely thanks to the promotional work of Loper and Randi whose morning show on 99.7 The Blitz unites a community of metal heads across all of Columbus. Every year, Rock on the Range is the weekend I look forward to the most.
How to choose, how to choose? Columbus had so many new and great things going on this year, from the CMA new wing opening to a baby polar bear making her debut at the zoo. But I’ll focus on two places that satisfy my three greatest loves: food, booze, and music!
First, I always loved the hip-yet-welcoming urban vibe of the Olde Town Tavern – there was just something different about it from almost any bar I’ve frequented. So naturally, when the same people behind the Tavern opened up the Walrus, I was intrigued. And it soon became one of my favorite places in Columbus in 2015. Sitting front and center on East Main Street – an area that is quickly becoming another hot spot enclave – stretching out long and narrow behind an awesome garage door that opens the whole place up on a hot summer day, the Walrus has the charming ability, chameleon-like, to turn on a dime and be whatever you want it to be – while you can just always be yourself. Is it a dive bar? Maybe… but then you turn around and see a swanky “champagne room” that makes you feel like a high roller. It’s gritty and down-to earth, but the decor has a definite intent and sophistication. The menu is classy comfort, pub grub with a twist. It’s a place where you can see and be seen with the best of ’em, or just keep your head down and get away from it all. Romantic date night or rowdy night out with friends, the Walrus welcomes you.
But wait, there’s more! 2015 also saw the opening of about the coolest concept ever: Take one of the country’s last remaining independent radio stations, already a gem of our city and instrumental in bringing in the best and brightest of the music scene to Columbus, and put a bar inside it. CD 102.5 has historically held small, intimate live performances in “The Big Room” featuring visiting acts that often have a show that evening. Now, the public can visit their favorite radio station at the Big Room Bar and raise a glass while their favorite DJ’s are right beside them spinning the tunes. The Big Room Bar has a full food and drink menu and is decorated with authentic memorabilia from the hundreds of bands who have visited the Big Room and played at CD 102.5 shows. The bar is open 7 days a week until late, and even features Sunday brunch. So if you like being surrounded by the trifecta of music, food and drink, get thee to the Big Room Bar!
My best of Columbus 2015 is Ian Graham’s Rock and Roll Radio Show. The show is an eclectic mix of old and new music. Ian supports local events such as Figgy Fest and even has the occasional local house band including Figgy and the Scrooges and Raw Pony appear on the show. The show has weekly vinyl selections that cover the Rock spectrum. My favorites are the listener-donated 45’s. The Rock and Roll Radio Show can be found on AM 1270 between 3pm and 6pm Monday through Friday or online using the TuneIn app (but you lose out on that special AM sound). Listen in for a break from today’s pre-programmed radio. Columbus Calling will be featuring Ian and the show in the near future.
It’s certainly difficult to choose any one thing that happened in Columbus in the past year as my absolute favorite, there’s always so many great shows, events, and places to check out. The one I think that’s really going to have a big impact on my world, as well as the city at large, in years to come is the formation of the Killumbus Horror group.
Started earlier this year by Bridget Oliver, this group seeks to bring together fans of horror, cult and genre cinema enthusiasts around the Central Ohio Area. In addition to online discussion of what’s in theaters, on DVD, streaming and on demand to watch, they also have monthly (and sometimes more frequent) meet-ups at the Gateway Film Center. I tragically only made it out to one of their meet-ups, a raucous screening of “Helen Keller vs Night Wolves”, I can tell you it’s an experience I can’t wait to do again. The director and main actress of the film were in attendance for the screening, which is the kind of cool attention I feel like I’m constantly envious of bigger cities for getting, and the group filled the upstairs lounge, getting nice and lubricated for this wild movie.
I used to try to get groups of my friends together to attend the late night “Grindhouse Horrors” movie screenings at the pre-renovation Studio 35. I always assumed they looked at us as semi-degenerates, showing up at the bar, which was less of a true bar back in those days, and essentially pre-gaming the movies. With the formation of Killumbus, my shame is gone, as they’ve now assembled a group of misfits who share this enthusiasm for off the beaten path horror films. I look forward to seeing this community grow and expand it’s reach in developing Columbus as a true movie lover’s city.