“I’m So Gone” or "Ohio, The Cultural Black Hole"

by Frank Anstein

We all know that one band that sings that one song about Ohio being for lovers? Yeah, I hate that band too. Every time I see some eyeliner wearing, flipped hair yahoo walking down the street wearing the shirt that says “Ohio is for Lovers”, I want to punch him in the ovaries. Truth be told, up to a year ago, if that same eyeliner wearing, flipped hair yahoo would of asked me “Well, what new music do you like?”, I probably would of told him that I hated music. Being the ignorant 15 year old prick I was, I had every right to hate music because what was there? I longed for awesome rock n’ roll/punk bands that were as awesome as Bad Brains, The Germs and the Stooges, but I could find nothing. It seemed like that only thing that remained of my precious punk rock had homogenized and had become either boring, overproduced political schlock like Anti-Fag and NOSEX or boring, overproduced whiney new age cock rock like My Boy Scout Camp Romance and Fall Out Boi. Rock ‘n Roll was dead to me, and Columbus Ohio was a rotting animal carcass.

Then, one rainy afternoon in April, as I was swinging by to pick up some take out at a place called the China House, I stumbled across the local art fag rag called Columbus Alive. Alive would usually cover any pretentious local hipster band that sounded like Gang of Four, but this week they decided not to play idiot with me. Instead, they threw a curve ball at me and put some weirdo band called the Feelers on the cover. As I read the feature story, I thought to myself, “Yeah right, no cool bands come from Columbus”. But when I listened to their album a week later, cool bands did come from Columbus. The Feelers so became my favorite band and I fiercely searched for any other bands that had the same rawness and hatred. I did not come back empty handed. I discovered that this nasty new hodgepodge of punk/rock ‘n roll had been breeding for sometime in places like Memphis, Chicago and of all places, Wisconsin! I was so busy trying to find cool bands that came from the familiar places like New York or LA that I couldn’t even see what was going on in my own backyard. Before you knew it, I was heavily into bands like the Reatards, Vee Dee, Functional Blackouts, and of course the Feelers.

At the same time I was playing bass in a band of my own called Vegetative State, which was named after that woman Terri Schiavo, you know, the one no one really cared about. At practices, I would not shut up about these cool new bands and how awesome they were that eventually even my band mates were converted by the music, especially that of the Feelers. We all knew that we really wanted to play a show with them, but the bad new was that every one else in town thought we were horrible. Hell, we even thought we were horrible. Throughout our whole gig history, we were dumb enough to play shows with pretty boy emo bands, which they and their girlfriends, saw our cannibalistic, baby eating, abortion crazed music as something psychotic. If it literally weren’t for a phone call from the Feelers, the band would have broken up a week later. The Feeler that called me was their guitar player Aleks. After a minute of passionate ass kissing by telling him how much I dug his band, he asked in a thick Russian accent if Vegetative would be able to play a show with them on Saturday. I happily accepted.

The night of the show was a good night for me. We arrived at a local campus watering hole called Bernie’s Distillery. As I entered Bernie’s, the aroma of smoke, booze and puke excited my senses and the gazes of the glassy eyed drinkers made me temporarily feel unwelcome. Well, my band mates and I were THE youngest guys in there so I shouldn’t have been surprised. As we began to plug in and play, I knew this show was make or break. We killed them. Number one rule for any up and coming band is that you always throw in “I Love Living in the City” by Fear and “Rise Above” by Black Flag before you play your own crap. At the end of the show, we even did a version of “Louie, Louie” with some liquored up bum named Don slurring on vocals. By the time we unplugged and got off the stage, the crowd was complementing us for our performance, and could not believe that young kids like us didn’t suck. It felt great. The most important thing though was that we had passed the Feelers test. As I was getting off the stage, Aleks asked us to do a seven inch for his own label. It doesn’t matter how small the label is, the thought of getting a record offer for a 16 year old in a rock ‘n roll band is cool as hell.

If I hadn’t found this music or any of these bands, god knows what type of crap I would be playing. I remember our first guitar player suggesting that we play Taking Back Sunday covers instead of Ramones covers. He was kicked out a couple of months later. The sheer thought of ME playing music for hipster trash to practice their karate moves to is highly disturbing. Plus I wouldn’t have been able to get my hair in that flip like that dude from that band. If any of you alcoholics out there that are reading this is in a band, play Columbus Ohio because it sucks here. If you do, I’ll interview you, snap some pictures and treat you like kings because it REALLY sucks here and I’m desperate.

Contact Frank Anstein: timanstine-at-wowway.com

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