Sunday, July 27, 2014

"Hey, Fred!" Nights Out 07/28-08/02/14

This title disclaimer will run until I’m sick of it.

This is a look at things coming through town (mostly music, but look for more theater and visual art as fall gets underway) I’m excited about this week. Title is inspired by A making a joke to a great friend of ours: “Rick’s going to start a blog letting you know what’s coming to town called ‘Hey, Fred! Guess what?’” Appearance here does not constitute an endorsement by the real Fred. Big inspirations are Steve Smith’s Agenda posts in Night After Night and amigo Andrew Patton’s weekly column for Mark Subel’s JazzColumbus.

This is not intended to be comprehensive. For that, Joel Treadway’s Cringe does a great job and has for 20+ years. If someone knows an equally good guide to theater and visual art, let me know and I’ll link that too.

I don’t intend for this to cover every local band I like every time they play. If I wrote up every time two of my friends played a show together, the things I want to highlight would get lost and it would be more hassle and stress than it’s worth to me. I want to note something that strikes my interest as special: a record release, a rare reunion, something new I worry will get lost in the shuffle, but obviously that’s going to be capricious and not follow a strict guideline.


July 28, 2014

Oneida; Double Happiness, 482 S. Front St. This will be a little long. Bear with me.

  • Oneida is literally the only band I've ever seen who were so heavy I had to leave the room. In all these years, I've seen Slayer six times and Morbid Angel twice, I've seen Sunn O))) and Boris multiple times, but at Terrastock in 2008, in a little room in Louisville, Kentucky, something happened that made my molecules vibrate against each other. I broke out in a sweat; my knees got weak. It was a John the Baptist on the road moment and I just couldn't be in the room any more, it cut me so deeply I had to watch the rest from the hallway, I had to approach from a distance. The other time I saw them my heart felt like it might burst but I was able to stick out the whole set. If you do have a reaction similar to what's described, this show is at a perfect venue, Double Happiness, with its two big patios to catch your breath.
  • For over 15 years, Oneida has pursued whatever struck their fancy at any given moment, working through krautrock and kosmische and afrobeat and Reichian minimalism and ecstatic improvisation and blue collar choogle, and created one great record after another - Each One Teach One, Rated O, Preteen Weaponry, Happy New Year, The Wedding. A rare totally sui generis rock band. The highest level of that kind of music and the kind of empathy you're lucky to ever see on a stage, I can't recommend anything any higher. I don't know when or if they've played Columbus before, maybe the late '90s before I was hip to them, but this is going to be a special, special show.
  • This is also a special show because it doubles as the wedding reception for Fred Pfening (the eponymous Fred of this column's title) and Stephanie Dean. You can't find two greater friends of culture in general, specifically Columbus culture, or two greater friends of Anne and I. Drinking and dancing to their union will be sweet.  
  • A couple notes on the rest of the bill: The Cheater Slicks are riding shotgun on this show and word is they're bringing something special; be there early enough if you know what's good in Columbus for the last 20 years. Hyrrokkin from Yellow Springs open, a much-buzzed avant-rock trio: Ed Ricart who's played with a who's who of interesting improvisers (and whose label, New Atlantis, put out that phenomenal new Brandon Seabrook record this year) on guitar and bass, teamed with Brett Nagafuchi and Paul Larkowski from the avant-punk band Kuan. I haven't caught them on their earlier trips to town but I have their first LP, Pristine Origin, and my only regret is I didn't hear it in time for it to make my 2013 Best Of list. James Englebeck of the Violet Times label who is back in town after stints in Portland and Brooklyn DJs before/between/after bands.
  • Doors at 8:00pm, $8 tickets available here.
Laura Cantrell; Tree Bar, 887 Chambers Rd.  Obviously there's no chance I'm missing Oneida on this night, but man this was an impossibly hard choice. Two NYC acts in nigh-constant rotation in the Sanford part of this household, neither has been here in at least 10 years, and they're playing the SAME MONDAY NIGHT. A great problem for Columbus to have. Cantrell's one of my favorite contemporary country singers: a great writer, a clear stream of light for her voice, and one of the finest gifts as an interpreter of other writers' songs I've ever seen in my life. She's supporting what might be her best record yet, No Way There From Here, which sees her exploring some new, fascinating textures but wrapping them around that same rock solid songcraft.  Doors at 9:00pm, $7 cover.

July 30, 2014

The Bygones, Orson Buggy, and Surf's Up Hose Down; Dick's Den, 2417 N. High St.  Brett Burleson concludes his month-long residency at Dick's Den with a sampling of his rock and roll work: Surf's Up Hose Down, who had my favorite set of this year's Comfest; The Bygones, Bill Wagner's swaggering tribute to all things Stonesy, featuring Burleson and Billy Heingartner on drums; and Orson Buggy, his slightly more angular rock project, also with Billy Heingartner and Matt Duckworth.  Starts at 10:00pm, $4 cover.

July 31, 2014

Aretha Franklin; Celeste Center at the Ohio State Fair.  Since I was a kid, the fair has always had a couple slots for these legendary American voices playing to a real cross-section of their audience - it's where I saw George  Jones, Johnny Cash with June Carter, the O'Jays, Willie Nelson. And American voices don't get much bigger or more potent than the great Aretha Franklin.  Starts at 7:30pm, tickets available at Ticketmaster.

August 1, 2014.

Connections; Kafe Kerouac, 2250 N. High St.  Over the last few years, the creative core of 84 Nash (probably the band I saw most often in the early '00s), Andy Hempel and Kevin Elliott, have formed a new unit, Connections.  Along with other bandmates Philip Kim, David Capaldi from El Jesus de Magico, and Kevin's brother Adam Elliott from Times New Viking, Connections has evolved into a ferocious, stripped-down unit with some of the best, catchiest songs anyone's writing in town. They're as prolific as they are strong, and they're celebrating the release of their third album at Kafe Kerouac on Friday. Pittsburgh's The Gotobeds and locals Day Creeper (splitting the difference between The Jam's dancefloor cynicism and the long Ohio roots stomp tradition) open.  Starts at 8:00pm, $5 cover.


Cymbeline by William Shakespeare, presented by Available Light Theatre; Madlab, 227 N. Third St.  Between this and Red Herring's Thicker than Water (more about that next week when it opens), August is surprisingly stacked with compelling theater options. Available Light doesn't often deal with classical theatre. It's an overstuffed trying-to-do-everything at once play that's never really gotten a fair shake. So this take on a rarely performed Shakespeare (possibly the only Shakespeare I've never seen done), directed by longtime collaborator/fight director Brian Evans with a cast of seven headed up by Acacia Duncan, I guarantee will be something worth seeing.  8pm Thurs-Sat July 31-August 9 with one 2pm matinee on Sunday Aug 3. Tickets available at


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