Of all the venues that reside within the I-270 Outerbelt surrounding Columbus, the Rumba Café on Summit St. is one that takes me back to the small clubs of my youth. With its dark interior and low stage, the audience almost becomes part of the performance.
This feeling was reinforced when The Queers made their only 2019 stop in Ohio on October 2. While it would be nice to see them again, as well as Prime Directive and Children of Reagan, I was there for the opening band.
As I’ve said before, Lustkill is a band that you don’t want to sleep on if you’re of the punk rock persuasion. The bubblegum pop punk that Joey Yates (guitar/vocals), Kurt Gordon (bass/vocals) and Byron Weaver (drums/vocals) embrace wears the heavy embrace of bands such as The Queers, Ramones and The Stooges.
As I made my way into the darkened room, Yates came up to me and stated that he had been battling laryngitis for over a week, and not to expect a stellar vocal performance. I filed this information away for later as I ordered a beer from the bar.
As I meandered through the crowd, it seemed as if with every step I took I kept running into someone I knew from the local music scene. Between the start-stop conversations, I kept thinking to what Yates had told me earlier. I knew opening for The Queers was a huge deal for the band, but I also found myself hoping that it went well for them in front of one of their influences.
Without much fanfare, the guys took their places on the stage. Yates stepped to the microphone and simply stated “All right guys, we’re Lustkill,” before they launched into Sunscreen with a fast and furious pace. The harmonies were good on the new tune, and they wasted no time before Goth Gurls (another new song) assaulted the crowd as the trio channeled the Ramones pop energy.
“Jet Jaguar, motherfuckers!” spit Yates as he furiously hit the downstroke to announce the next song. His voice was showing signs of the bout with laryngitis, and by this point Yates couldn’t hit the higher notes that are a hallmark of many of their songs. Admirably, Gordon and Weaver picked up the slack and carried the higher notes in his stead.
Before another note was played, Yates stripped off his shirt to reveal “The Queers Are Here” written in black marker on his torso. The smile plastered on his face was genuine as they kept the vibe upbeat with the new Spaceship. When Yates sang “My heart’s up in space…” you could tell by his wistful appearance that he wished his voice was up to par.
With Yates unable to hit the higher notes, Drive-Thru took on an altogether creepier tone. It very much had a stalker-feel to the vibe, but in a way that really didn’t carry a bad connotation to it.
Chick Gutter saw the band keep the tempo high, mashing down on the accelerator with a fierceness that filled the venue. The only thought that was prevalent as the trio kept it tight was that this was punk as fuck, despite Yates not singing at one hundred percent. They transitioned right into Pool, another new song that carried a vibe that can only be described as a wonderful mix of Ramones and Teenage Bottlerocket.
“For all you motherfuckers that only drink Bud, here’s a song about Miller High Life,” exclaimed Yates as they turned the tempo up even higher with Beer Song, managing to unintentionally carry a Gang Green vibe throughout the number.
For their final tune, Satan’s My Girl, Gordon handled the vocals very well, while Weaver was super solid on the skins throughout their set, really shining on the chorus of this last song. After Yates had returned to the stage after jumping down for a quick run through the crowd while playing his guitar, the guys were joined by Nick Carter dancing around the stage with them. Carter, who plays drums in local bands Prime Directive, The Scratches and Weed Demon, added to the fun already apparent onstage.
Despite Yates’ vocals lacking the high notes, the audience thoroughly enjoyed their set. They managed to blow through nine songs in 18 minutes, making their set very reminiscent of the way The Queers and Ramones play their sets. I’ve seen other bands that are hard-pressed to get through six songs in 30 minutes, driving home the fact that everyone got their money’s worth.
- Sunscreen **
- Goth Gurls **
- Jet Jaguar
- Spaceship **
- Chick Gutter
- Pool **
- Beer Song
- Satan’s My Girl
**denotes new song