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Concert Reviews

The Triumphant Return of label me lecter

label me lecter at Rumba Cafe

I know I’ve said it many times before, but I always think it’s pretty cool to find a line outside the door for a local show. Especially on a snowy Tuesday in February. Safe to say, I did not expect there to be 25 people lined up at the door outside the Rumba Café, but as they opened things up and we were shepherded inside, the club quickly filled from front to back.

I’m not going to say I was overly surprised, though. With an eclectic lineup on tap, there was definitely enough variety to pack the house. Of Two Minds opened things with an alt-prog tech sound. It was a curious ensemble that was well received from the guests, myself included. The headliner was Chicago’s Bonelang, whose experimental technique has wowed crowds all over the country, including an electric performance at the 2018 Steadfast Festival.

The band that we, and seemingly a large portion of the crowd had arrived to enjoy was label me lecter (stylized in lowercase), who were making their return to performing after taking the last few months of 2019 off.

As the duo took the stage, their setup was fairly simplistic. Mike Rist and his drum set occupied stage right, with Brian Penn and his keyboard to the left. We were all fairly intrigued as they brought out a rather heavy looking metal crate, labeled “human blood, handle with care.” Obviously, smaller bands can push the limits at a local show, but I’ll admit I wasn’t expecting anything quite like that.

“You never know what you’re going to get with a lml show,” said Rist. “That’s why I have the question mark on my bass drum. You just never know what to expect.”

On top of the crate was an old 20-inch tube TV, which featured some odd film bits as Rist played the opening beats to Dear World. He later told me that what played on the screen was mostly random, although they had some relation to the songs that were playing. On Dear World, Penn flashed a lyrical speed comparable to Busta Rhymes or Twista, and the crowd cheered appreciatively at his skill.

Penn kept the flow going on Dreams, which opened with a Biggie Smalls sample. His speed and precision matched the technical work behind the kit from Rist, and midway through the song Penn jumped into the pit to dance with their fans.

Up next was the group’s newest effort, titled Almost Famous. Penn told me the song came to him almost six months ago, and honestly still needs a lot of polish.

“Basically, Almost Famous epitomizes our climb as a band,” he said. “The expectations of people on the outside, and how we deal with the weight of the world.”

The crowd was screaming as Penn uttered my favorite line of the night, “One second they love you to death, one bad move they’ll hate us.” People were actually coming up after the song finished to high-five Penn, and out in the crowd I heard several people remark that it was their favorite track on the evening. Not bad for something that is essentially unfinished.

Penn went back behind his keyboard and the duo slowed things down for Champion. Rist let his kit cool down and recover while Penn poured his extra energy into his words and playing. He told me in our previous interview that the song was about a fallout with a former producer, and you could feel the passion in his voice, reaching deep within to persevere.

You could see the smiles on their faces mid-way through the set, as Penn came back out front and posed for a few pictures during Unstoppable. Both members told me it was great to get back on stage after their hiatus.

“I really loved playing Unstoppable again,” explained Rist “Seeing how B got the crowd pumped up… that’s what lml is all about.”

Later, I asked Penn what his favorite song to play was from the show, and he also said Unstoppable, except that it was because he loved how Rist threw himself into his kit. True to form, the enigmatic drummer had a great solo during the song which drew up a brand new round of applause around me.

The band played a remixed version of Linkin Park’s hit single Faint next. It took me a moment to realize what song was playing, but Penn screaming “I won’t be ignored!” took me back to my own turbulent high school days. The song honestly felt like Public Enemy was covering Linkin Park, if you can imagine that.

“My drummer is fun to watch, isn’t he?” beamed Penn after they finished the song. He went back behind his keys again for Someday, a song featured as one of CD102.5’s “Local Gem” selections over the last two years. Penn stood up and beat his chest as the crowd around me surged back and forth, singing along and jumping.

The final song for the evening was Grand Finale, in which Penn jumped back out into the crowd, dancing and rapping along with Rist’s cadence. He was greeted with a bevy of high-five’s and back slaps.

“I love the intimacy of smaller venues like this,” said Rist. “If it were up to me, and we could make a living doing it, I would want to only play smaller clubs where the crowd is right there with you!”

As Penn climbed back on stage, he told a story about a former basketball coach who literally told him he will never amount to anything. “I wish I had walked up to him and said… Okay, ain’t no way I’m gonna quit, cuz I’m gonna give it all that I got!” he announced, locking eyes with Rist as the two prepared to blast out their final notes and syllables. The crowd responded uproariously as Rist scorched his snare and cymbals, bringing their performance to a close.

“I loved that reaction!” said Rist after the set. “We like to place a big emphasis on being aesthetically and sonically pleasing. We want people to leave with a full experience.”

Both members hung around for the rest of the night, even though the majority of the crowd filtered out after their performance. Penn told me that his goal is to write at least a song per month for their upcoming LP, and that this show was a great primer for what they want to accomplish in 2020.

“I just want to stay in the zone. We’re gonna feel things out when we get to the studio, but we couldn’t be more excited!”

I was pretty excited to see a turnout like that on a Tuesday, regardless of who was playing. It’s always nice to see Columbus come out and support good local music, and I always hope that shows this eclectic will pop up on my calendar in the future.

As for label me lecter, their next few shows will be outside of the capitol city, playing stops like Charleston WV, Ft Wayne, Cleveland and Cincinnati. The band hopes to have their LP out sometime this summer.


  1. Dear World
  2. Dreams
  3. Almost Famous (new song)
  4. Champion
  5. Unstoppable
  6. Faint (Linkin Park remix)
  7. Someday
  8. Grand Finale

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