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Natalie’s Coal Fired Pizza with Zeppelin Productions will be hosting Plainsong on Monday, September 19th @ 7:30 pm.  I had the pleasure of speaking with Iain about the show and the tour.  The show will feature works from Plainsong’s catalog as well as feature their latest album, Reinventing Richard:The songs of Richard Farina.  Iain and Andy Roberts wanted to do  an album to celebrate the music of Richard Farina on the 50th anniversary of his passing. The album is a great listen.  This is a can’t miss show in Columbus.  Hope to see you there.  Enjoy the interview.

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Sometimes playing to the right room can make all the difference in the world. That was my first thought after leaving last Friday’s excellent Band of Skull’s show at Skully’s Music Diner. I had seen the band before, on their last visit to town at Newport Music Hall two years ago. It was a really good show. But the cozier confines of Skully’s, and perhaps the energy the more confined space brought, made all the difference in the world.

Opening with the brooding almost title track In Love By Default from their excellent new LP “By Default”, eased the band and audience into a rock n roll journey through the group’s career, setting the stage for a set list that expertly balanced new material and old fan favorites. Once they transitioned into Light of the Morning off their debut album “Baby Darling Doll Face Honey”, the crowd was fully engaged, singing and clapping along. From that point forward, the audience gave energy and the band responded, locking into a heavy blues groove they sustained throughout their 90 minute plus set. By the time the band got to fan favorite Patterns every fist was pumping along to the lyrics “but nothing’s going to save you from the SIX SIX SIX.”

As much as the right venue can aid a performance, the right crowd certainly counts for just as much. It seemed like every person crammed into Skully’s was a fan who had followed the band along it’s career trajectory and came ready to stomp, dance and sing along. The band has had a steady following in Columbus for years, getting regular airplay on CD1025 and making several appearances over the years in the capitol city, and it showed. I’ll take a room packed full of the right people any day over a bigger venue with folks staring down at their phones.

Vocalist/Guitarist Russell Marsden reaped the benefits of that engagement during Cold Fame, a quieter number that got off to a shaky start but ended with perhaps the night’s biggest sing along. The rhythm section, and in particular drummer Matt Hayward, held down a steady groove all night, while the addition of a keyboard player added extra flourishes to the power trio’s sound. I’ve always been impressed with the vocal harmonizing between bassist Emma Richardson and Russell, and her bass lines are even meatier and more impressive in a live setting. So if it was the right venue and right crowd, it took the right band to make the magic happen. Band of Skulls delivered. To quote their recent single, it was killer, killer, killer.

PS: if you’re hitting a subsequent stop on their US run, don’t forget to hit the merch table early to snag the snazzy tour poster signed by the band, as well as signed LP’s. Don’t sleep though, signed copies of both were scarce by the end of the night.

Check out the set list from Band of Skull’s at Skully’s Music Diner, 9/9/16 here.

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As temperatures continue to remain scorchingly hot, so does the concert scene in Columbus, with a number of noteworthy upcoming shows selling out in recent days. The Lydia Loveless record release show at Ace of Cups is sold out! Sturgill Simpson at Express Live is sold out! And that just announced Green Day show at the Newport Music Hall probably sold out in the time it took you to read this. But fear not concert goer, there’s an excellent show taking place Friday night at Skully’s Music Diner that hasn’t sold out yet, Band of Skulls. The band will return to Columbus for the first time since 2014 in support of their recently released fourth album “By Default.”

I caught their last appearance at the Newport, and the UK trio brought a sound befitting a much larger room, so it’s even more of a treat that they’re playing the very intimate and oh so rock n roll Skully’s this time around. The US portion of their tour opened earlier this week in Boston and boasted a 19 song set featuring a healthy selection from all of their studio albums. Opening support comes courtesy of Mothers. It’s sure to be a hot and heavy, whiskey soaked, rock and roll kinda evening in the Short North. Doors are at 9:00 PM. Tickets are $20 at Magnolia Thunderpussy and the following link, $23 day of show if any remain.

 

 

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It’s been a couple weeks since the inaugural Promowest Fest wrapped up, and we’ve had some time to digest the performances, the setting and the overall experience. As folks would inevitably ask how it was, I had a lot of things to say. Performances I wanted to tell them about (“Brand New killed it!”), how McFerson Park proved to be an excellent setting for a large event, how easy it was to manage and navigate. But as I got a little distance from the weekend, I keep returning to one thought: it felt like a real festival.

When Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds took the stage around 6:30 Friday to a sparsely populated park, I was a little concerned. While that might mean you could easily get a great view of the stage, but it’s not goingto represent our city well to the performers. But as it turns out, it might have just been early on a work day, because by the time the Flaming Lips took the stage later that night with their elaborate stage show, the crowd had filled in, and it began to feel like Promowest Fest had found it’s footing. Here was Wayne Coyne and company, entering to “Race for the Prize” and immediately dumping what felt like a hundred multicolored balloons on the audience. Their lasers and high production, while well worn on the festival circuit, made this event feel like one worthy of the grand scale of such an event. Maybe this could be Columbus’ premier festival after all.

While the weekend saw a host of national and local acts perform across it’s two main stages, and after shows at A&R Bar, Sunday held the most packed schedule of all. From the alt country stylings of Austin Plaine and aggressively Canadian punk sounds of Pup on, there really wasn’t any act you could afford to miss. For my money, Garbage might have done the best festival style set of the weekend, coming out and hitting the crowd with multiple hits in the form of “Stupid Girl” and “#1 Crush” before playing new single “Empty” from their new album Strange Little Birds. They grabbed the audience’s attention quickly with the familiar so they’d have patience for the new stuff and really made the most of their one-hour slot.

Perhaps the biggest surprise of the day for me, but not for the legions of their fans in attendance, was Brand New. I’m a relative neophyte to the band, having recently spent some quality time with The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me, and was well aware of their dedicated following, but my goodness. The area in front of the Pepsi stage swelled to perhaps it’s biggest size since the Flaming Lips set on Friday as fans sang along with the band. And when I say sang along, I mean they sang every last word to every single song. With their lack of radio play, that’s saying something in 2016. Soon enough, local favorites J Roddy Walston and the Business would take the Columbus Makes Art stage by storm with their high energy show and old time rock n roll vibes. But it was during the weekend’s final performance of the weekend by Modest Mouse, when the Pepsi Stage crowd seemed to finally engulf the entire field in McFerson, that it felt like Promowest Fest finally had come into it’s own.

I think it helped that this was a relatively new setting for outdoor music. It wasn’t the parking lot of the LC, er…Express Live, and it was more than another installment of CD1025’s Summerfest. This was it’s own living, breathing entity, right here in our backyard. I had a pretty great time attending Promowest Fest, but what was even more exciting to me was the sheer possibility of what this could mean in the future. What a little bit of success could mean in terms of the line-ups and headliners we’ll see play our city in the future, without the road trips to Chicago, or even Louisville or Cincinnati. That each summer we might sit in the grass of McFerson, cool drinks in our hands and the Columbus skyline nearby and sing along to some of our favorite acts is a thought that warms my heart.

 

 

 

 

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So the first day of the inaugural Promowest Fest is in the books. We’ll do a full recap of festival thoughts and highlights after the weekend is over, but for now, just a few quick thoughts. Ryan Adams and Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds would have been one of my “can’t miss”shows of the summer on it’s own, and seeing them at the festival last night did not disappoint. Singing along to Oasis tunes as the sun hung low in the summer sky is one of those moments festivals wish they could advertise, put in on a postcard and say: “this is why you want to be here.” McFerson Commons is proving to be a pretty hospitable environment for the festival, lots of soft grass underneath your feet and keeping things cool. And it was just overall comfortable last night, getting a good spot to watch bands wasn’t an issue at all.

Ryan Adams had my heard before he even took the stage with his backdrop of vintage arcade games, cats and the T-800 skull from the Terminator adorning the stage. He played a set heavy with cuts off his latest self-titled album, as well as the hits you’d expect of a festival set, including “New York, New York” and “Come Pick Me Up.” He even improved a song about apartment dwellers from the condos overlooking McFerson Commons all coming down to listen to tunes and party, and um, cotton candy? I guess you had to be there. And while I’ve never been a big fan of The Flaming Lips, their show last night surpassed expectations right out the gate as they created a sheer spectacle in McFerson. Huge multi-colored balloons, confetti, laser lights, and a wookie were on display throughout the performance. You’d have to try to not have fun during their set. As it turned to night time in Columbus, the lights of glow sticks emanated from the crowd, lasers flickered from the stage, and a huge “Fuck Yeah Columbus” balloon floated across the stage. Yeah, I think I could get used to the idea of fest like this in downtown Columbus. Welcome, Promowest Fest.

 

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Fitz and the Tantrums performing Friday night. Photos by Rachael Barbash