I guess you could say that I'm a bit spoiled. Running a basement venue in Indianapolis, I see tons of great bands in my own basement. There's no asshole security, no service charges, no guarantees and no hassle. A recent trip to The House of Blues in Chicago (with service charges and security assholes a-plenty!) reminded me of exactly how good I had it with the basement gig and how much I appreciate the sense of community that comes with a house show.
On a lazy Friday afternoon, a few friends and I traveled down to Cincinnati to check out one of the best house venues in the country: The Bike Haus. Upon entering, we were greeted by a half-dozen bike punks, all welcoming us to the Bike Haus and offering to show us around. The space itself was fantastic. The chill atmosphere and newfound friends made us feel welcome in the space.
The show started off with local band the Read. Their aggressive dance music reminded me of Radio Four or the Rapture, but with a more aggressive edge. Regardless of their influences, their music got a chunk of the crowd dancing. Next up were goof-ball electro-punk act Heck Yes. Their silly songs were all over-the-top positive jams about "doing your best" and whatnot. It was a dumb, fun time.
Shit really got rolling, however, when Bloomington, IN art-punk act Prizzy Prizzy Please began playing. They opened with the groovy "Dino Police." The crowd seemed to be caught a little off-guard by Prizzy's sax attack, but warmed up quickly as "Dino Police" erupted into its climax. The rest of Prizzy's set elicited maximum audience participation as the mosh pit to songs like "Ride the Love Bullet" and "Flea Bomb" grew bigger and bigger. Prizzy ended their thunderous set with the crowd-pleasing "A Thundergust of Woodpeckers," which ended with a pile of collapsed, sweaty bodies in the middle of the floor.
After a surprisingly quick setup, the fearsome duo known as Japanther started hammering away. Playing over a backing track the entire time, the bass and drum combo worked nicely in its simplicity. Drawing heavily from pop-punk groups like the Ramones and Misfits, Japanther is truly a worthy installment in the New York City Punk Rock Hall of Fame.
Their set was composed mostly of gems from their 2007 masterpiece, Scuffed Up My Huffy. Songs like "One Hundred Dollars" and "Challenge" incited a massive, chaotic pop-punk mosh pit from the crowd. The band frequently took time out to give shout-outs and thanks to the Bike Haus and the crowd of rabid, drunken fans.
The climax of the show was the punk gem "Fuk Tha Prince a Pull Iz Dum," which is a standout track on the record, but just worked even better live. Even after Japanther played their last song, the music kept coming: The band launched into party mode and played classic party-rap songs (Naughty by Nature, Digital Underground, etc.) on the PA and played over them with bass and drums.
I had to return to my humble basement in Indianapolis, but even as I left, the band was in the midst of "The Humpy Dance" with a mad dance party surrounding them. On my way outside, I was stopped by just about everyone I had met that night in Cincinnati as they wished me a safe drive back and many happy returns. It was a great night to see four awesome bands, at an awesome space in an awesome city. I'll be back.