PLAYING COLUMBUS: Bands to Watch – An Annotated Playlist

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Grunge Dad is one of Columbus Alive’s Bands to Watch.

Imagine: Columbus Alive just released their much anticipated lineup for their annual Bands to Watch concert, and the coffee shop conversation is relentless. The show – which will include Sarob, Grunge Dad, Akula, Souther, and Future Nuns – is this Saturday, but you don’t know any of the acts. What do you do? You can’t drop your hipper-than-thou act (you’ve been keeping that up for years), and your “support local artists” laptop sticker won’t mean anything if you need to ask all of your post-punk friends for input. But you don’t want to miss out on the show, either.

Fear not! School your friends and foes by reading up on our annotated playlist, your guide to navigating any of the niche convos sure to happen at Skully’s on Saturday night. And more: we’ve included five of our favorite up-and-coming locals, so you can not only go above-and-beyond to impress your roommates – you might find yourself investing further in Columbus’ varied music scene.


Sarob is a deeply introspective musician. His 2017 release, Seeing in the Dark, deftly combines piano, rap, and gorgeous vocals. Beyond the dazzle of the samples and sounds that Sarob pulls into his work, Seeing in the Dark highlights intentionally and emotionally impactful lyrics with skill.


Though Grunge Dad has been playing together for less than a year, their thoughtful, addictive first EP, I Feel Weird, seems timeless. It’s an EP’s casual coolness makes Grunge Dad come across as friends you’d like to have because of their mix of artistic drive and relaxed perspective. On I Feel Weird, vocalist Lisa Brokaw’s tone is flippant but intoxicating, driven forward by drummer Emma Headley and peppered with dizzying bass riffs by Marie Corbo.


Akula is made up of five life-long musicians – Chris Thompson, Jeff Martin, Scott Hyatt, Sergei Parfenov, and Ronnie Miller – and it shows in their ambitious debut EP. Though only four songs long, each of those songs is a marathon. But while the instrumentals are piled into melodic heavy rock, Jeff Martin’s vocals are surprisingly light. It’s a remarkably paced and balanced album: evidence of the years of craft put into its production.


The project of Carly Fratianne, Souther is influenced by Fratianne’s return to her home state of Ohio, as well as by her Americana and folk influences. Her debut Is For Lovers, is, as the first track suggests, brutally honest, but Fratianne doesn’t forgo attention to composition in pursuit of emotionality.


Future Nuns began and developed their group within Columbus’ DIY scene, and their scrappy approach to performance has served them well. The band frequently alters its line-up, as well as the instruments that individual members play. They’re magnetic, both on-stage and off.

Playing Columbus’ picks:


Being a multi-instrumental singer-songwriter and producer isn’t enough for Tatum Michelle Maura. She’s also an ever-present advocate for queer and trans folks in Columbus and regularly contributes to actions against police brutality. Her Facebook feed reads as a detailed and empathetic guide to the local music scene – Maura uplifts what seems like every new local release.

TTUM’s debut album, synthpop stunner Flwless Ruby, came out in October of 2017. Her latest release, however, is a slow-burning dance track she collaborated on with Maahikeee and Katskhi.


After a nearly 2-year hiatus, Cherry Chrome is back in the studio to record a new album. I’m stoked, and as soon as you hear the opening hook from the 2016 self-titled album, you will be too. It’s dreamy, well-placed music with a distinctive rock edge – and honestly, it’s also just catchy. All four members – Xenia Bleveans-Holm, Mick Martinez, Amina Adesiji, and David Holm – contribute vocals, building an eerie sound which nearly echoes against the group’s thick bass and drum lines.


“Our genre: what a cutoff t-shirt would sound like if it was music” reads a recent Facebook post by DIY locals Queer Kevin. It’s indicative of the general tone of the duo’s online presence. But Queer Kevin is a band to take seriously. Prolific both in their touring and musical output, Felix and Dylan release sprawling lo-fi songs with deeply impactful lyrics.


Sharon Udoh, who performs under the moniker Counterfeit Madison, has recieved much-deserved acclaim for her 2017 album, Opposable Thumbs. Still, I think she’s underrated. Udoh moves effortlessly between genres, her voice captivating throughout the classical, jazz, gospel, rock, and soul-inspired concoction that she has created on Opposable Thumbs. Udoh holds the great gift of being able to be funny, as well as beautiful in her art, and she wields it with impressive precision.


BLKGLD’s self-titled EP is art that makes you feel good about art. The smooth production on the album gives its mixture of stretched-out bass and guitar parts and poetry a mythic, almost underwater quality. It’s an album emblematic of the vast collaborative possibilities available within Columbus, as well as the talent and deft writing this city is filled with. Listening to BLKGLD feels like watching sun-glimmered water moving through the tide.


PLAYING COLUMBUS: Double Happiness to Close After 7-year Run

It’s been a short but meaningful run for Double Happiness, which will close its doors on November 25th after seven years of music, drinks, and community-building. Opened and run by Yalan Papillons, with additional booking by Jenny Donaldson, the bar and venue hosted DJ sets, electronic music shows, and local artist showcases, as well as niche events like “Manicure Monday.”

Double Happiness will be played out by a run of free shows at the end of November, hosting sets by Columbus locals Youth Hostel, Dogbite, Nuclear Moms, Pink Reason, and more. It’s a line-up which, frankly, highlights the ways in which white men dominate the punk scene. One departure from this slew of bro-punk, however, is Betsy Ross, whose emotive vocals by Charity Crowe are refreshing in their clarity. Double Happiness’ last and final show will migrate away from the theme of white men as well. On November 25th, hosted by Polar Entertainment, the night will feature “special guests,” joined by Columbus Hip Hop artists Mood and Lone Catalysts.

Many have noted the venue for its Chinese decor, inspired by Papillons’ family, but what is truly significant about Double Happiness is the role it has played as incubator for many of Columbus’ local bands. More mainstream than a DIY venue, but smaller than other, more commercial spots, Double Happiness served as an outward facing door to the Columbus music scene, and a portal for those who would otherwise be out of the loop.

Along with local acts and EP releases, Double Happiness has hosted nationally touring artists like Angel Olsen, Helado Negro, (Sandy) Alex G., and Half Waif. Their catalogue of artists–the entirety of which can be found on their website–is an impressive mix in terms of both genre and popularity. Large acts have never shied away from the venue, despite its close quarters. One of the bar’s first publicized shows, in fact, was the official after party for Bright Eyes, after the cult favorite played at one of Columbus’ larger venues, Express Live.

It’s also worth noting that Double Happiness is one of few bars and venues which is both run and booked by a woman of color. Papillons highlighted community within the space, running the venue as all-ages, and limiting sales of national beers. And while no safer space is truly safe, it’s sad to see a venue which strove to center at-risk audiences be shut down.

Columbus will miss Double Happiness’ unique approach to booking, as well as its warmth and locality. To get in your last goodbyes–and maybe a few drinks, as well–catch one of the venue’s “farewell” shows, detailed on the calendar below.

All photos courtesy of Double Happiness’ Facebook Page

FESTIVAL PREVIEW: Seattle’s Capitol Hill Block Party – The Femme’s Picks


Capitol Hill Block Party is Seattle’s beloved street party meets music festival. Usually convening at the end of July, this is the block party’s third year running. Taking up over six city blocks, it showcases more than 100 artists. The neighborhood of Capitol Hill, traditionally known for its colorful artist and music fueled culture, will be entirely occupied with parties, DJ sets, and many other events aside from the Block Party itself. It isn’t so often that new local bands have the opportunity to play alongside world renowned acts such as TV On The Radio, The Kills, Father John Misty, RATATAT, Toro y Moi, etc. Below are a few local bands playing that you definitely shouldn’t miss because you’re waiting in line for a festival beer. 


Sunday 4:45PM @ Cha Cha

So Pitted

Sunday 2:15PM @ Neumos


Friday 11:15PM @ Neumos

Bread & Butter

Sunday 8PM @ Neumos


Friday 6:45PM @ Cha Cha

Bad Future

Friday 5:45PM @ Cha Cha

Tickets are still available for this weekend’s festivities here.