A cacophony of very good music from myriad bands and musicians reverberated around Ohio Saturday night.
A short one hundred miles southwest of Columbus, the Bunbury Festival was in full-swing in Cincinnati. Just sixty miles to the southeast of the capital city, the Nelsonville Music Festival was entertaining the legions of music fans that make the trek there annually. And from across the pond, Manchester (UK) rockers The 1975 dazzled the Arena District.
Consequently, the dearth of patrons that found their way to the Rumba Café on Saturday evening was all too evident. This could, and often does discourage many bands to the point that they merely go through the motions, mailing their performance in.
This was not the case when Columbus alternative rockers Personal Public took the stage shortly after 9 p.m.
Ed. – read our review of their debut album HERE
Opening with a shorter, improvised version of the initial track on their debut album, Home wove an ethereal tapestry around the sparsely populated room. They folded this into the uptempo All in Your Head. Noticeable to me were little flourishes Cody Contner and Ben Canton provided with their guitars, filling little spaces throughout the tune.
The Other Side was full of energy, with Canton getting more intricate with his guitar than he did on the album. To coin a phrase, his playing was subtly en fuego.
The latest non-album single, Bite Your Tongue, is a bit of a departure from the sound of the album, with a distinct EDM influence. Anthony Herrmann’s keyboards added some nice, unexpected touches to the song, too.
As the fuzzy guitar-driven opening notes of Under the Rug washed over us, it gave me the feeling that I should be behind the wheel of a ’66 Impala ragtop, cruising down High Street. Contner’s vocals had a hypnotic rhythm to them, with the band showing a tightness that kept the song moving along.
With Jordan Mcvey tattooing a harder beat on the drums, the band launched into the instrumental improvisation of No Man’s Land. By far, this was their most rocking song of the night. While each member took a turn to showcase their skills, the song had an underlying darker quality that made the increasing tension easily felt.
The title track, Revival, carried a harder edge that signaled a departure from the soothing pop sensibility of the recorded version. Led by the staccato beat of McVey’s drums, the song was more uplifting after the fatalistic tone of the previous tune. Contner’s vocal tone assuaged any trepidation of not knowing where we were going, seeming to say, “trust me.”
Not everything can be rainbows and unicorns, as much as we all want to experience the just the good times. Given this circumstance, the melancholy styling of Outside was entirely appropriate. Even Contner’s vocals portrayed a feeling of pensive sadness as he sang, “I’m on the outside looking in, makes me wonder how it all got this way…”
Sensing that the austere crowd needed a pick-me-up, they played the uplifting Home to perk up our collective spirits. The song, played live, displayed much more emotion than the record does. Especially poignant is the line in the tune, “Nothing’s gonna stop us now,” essentially telling us the sky is the limit.
They closed their set by covering Crosby, Stills, Nash & young’s hit Ohio, turning it from a folksy rock song into a bluesy rocker that was a bit slower in tempo than the original. I did find their choice to close the set with this song a bit perplexing, as it didn’t seem to fit, musically speaking, with the other eight tunes they played.
It wasn’t that they played it poorly; in fact, it was just the opposite. It just seemed to me to be a bit odd.
Nonetheless, they thoroughly impressed me with their live set. I was keen to compare what I had heard when I reviewed their album to what I would hear from the stage. They did not disappoint, even building upon their solid songs with little added flourishes throughout the songs they played.
I have a feeling this is a band that would surely thrive in front of a full venue, feeding off the crowd’s energy. They are assuredly a band that you will enjoy live, of that I have no doubt.
- Intro / All In Your Head
- The Other Side
- Bite Your Tongue
- Under The Rug
- No Man’s Land
- Ohio (Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young cover)
Personal Public – Home