Columbus Sucks Because You Suck: By Bret Liebendorfer

Known as “Cowtown,” a square state capital, and above all a college town, Columbus also a DIY punk Mecca.
 
To understand matters, first you need to know about the city’s greatest legacy (and infamy): The Ohio State University. Most punk is found in its nearby student ghetto. This inexpensive, noise-tolerant, and liberal neighborhood serves 55,000 students at the nation’s largest university plus an estimated 100,000 additional college-aged people.

The college-punk relationship can be stressful, but it’s far from preps versus cutters, as most punks are students, recent graduates, or dropouts. Some eventually leave for the liberal working-class neighborhood of Clintonville, directly north, or the yuppified Victorian Village, directly south. However, cheap rent, temporary unskilled jobs, and fellow punks are enough to keep most in the student ghetto.

With the exception of the Legion of Doom (which has been hosting DIY shows for around twenty years), most punk houses last a few years and come and go with the annual August 31 rental agreements (everything here seems to be tied to the university schedule). Annually, there’s always a steady supply of punks willing to host shows from their basement, living room, back yard, garage, van, and even outdoor shows powered by a generator. Houses do have their niches—pop punk, hardcore, noise, metal, ones where bands are secondary to the party—but different styles often play together and subgroups mingle without problems.

One complaint is that the quality of touring bands has fallen while the quantity continues to increase, leading to overstressed organizers and low turnouts.

It used to be that everyone would attend the handful of DIY events each month, but now you can pick and chose your favorites. During the busiest times of year, the beginning and end of summer, the majority of nights have DIY events with a few hosting competing shows on the same night. The most prolific space, The Monster House had fifty-five shows their first year.

Columbus has always been know for its hardcore, and today you can find a band in just about every subgenre out there from ‘80s revival, power violence, metalcore, posicore, straight edge, and those that are provocative or just plain goofy.

Despite the large number of hardcore bands, Columbus’s strength is its variety both in local bands and touring acts. You can hear a band that sounds like it wants to be on Plan-it-X Records one night and a scum fuck band that will steal your beer the next. Male and female singer-songwriters or unamplified bands are common. Also, noise shows always seem to be popular.

Aside from music, Columbus has no shortages of punk-led activities— day and night, weekday or weekend, all year around. Finding the right people is not too difficult.

Aside from bands, events like Punk Rock Karaoke, comedy night with the city’s underground comedians, and recreation (sports and games) occasionally pop up (mostly when the weather’s warm). If you’re into cheap happy hours Columbus has well-known punk dive bars like Bernies, 1896 N. High St. and Carabar, 115 Parsons Ave. If you want to drink all night and walk to Mike’s Grill, 724 N. High St., when they open at six a.m., you can find company just about any night of the week.

At 172 and 174 E. Fifth Ave. are the Spore Print Infoshop (a hangout for radicals that hosts events daily), and the Third Hand Bike Coop (open Monday and Wednesday from 6 to 9 p.m. and Saturday 12 to 6 p.m.) which can help you get a bike.

The city is relatively bike friendly and most attractions are a short, flat ride apart. One trail runs the length of the city, north and south, along the OlentangyRiver. Bike advocacy groups are optimistic about the future as the city plans on spending hundreds of millions on two-wheel infrastructure. Still, Columbus becoming the Portland of the Midwest sounds too good to be true.

Within the last ten years, nearly every suburb—which encircle Columbus unrestricted by geographical boundaries—built a skatepark. Some are better than others, but it’s hard to complain about a free park. The oldest and most legendary is Dodge, a collection of concrete bowls with infinite lines located downtown on the southeast side of DodgePark, 667 Sullivant Ave. Just be sure to leave before dark. Keeping up with the fine Ohio tradition of indoor parks is The Flow, 4252 Groves Road. 

For all else punk, learn how to say, “Which way to High Street?” in the native tongue. The main drag bisects the entire city and serves as its backbone.

If you want to drink all night and walk to Mike’s Grill, , when they open at six a.m., you can find company just about any night of the week. At 172 and . are the Spore Print Infoshop (a hangout for radicals that hosts events daily), and the Third Hand Bike Coop (open Monday and Wednesday from 6 to 9 p.m. and Saturday 12 to 6 p.m.) which can help you get a bike.The city is relatively bike friendly and most attractions are a short, flat ride apart. One trail runs the length of the city, north and south, along the OlentangyRiver. Bike advocacy groups are optimistic about the future as the city plans on spending hundreds of millions on two-wheel infrastructure. Still, Columbus becoming the Portland of the Midwest sounds too good to be true. Within the last ten years, nearly every suburb—which encircle Columbus unrestricted by geographical boundaries—built a skatepark. Some are better than others, but it’s hard to complain about a free park. The oldest and most legendary is Dodge, a collection of concrete bowls with infinite lines located downtown on the southeast side of DodgePark, Just be sure to leave before dark. Keeping up with the fine Ohio tradition of indoor parks is The Flow, .For all else punk, learn how to say, “Which way to High Street?” in the native tongue. The main drag bisects the entire city and serves as its backbone.

 

Famed used-record store Used Kids is located at 1980 N High St. Inexpensive grub is found throughout the main thoroughfare and all tastes can be satisfied cheaply. Late-night snacks can be found at Buckeye Donuts, 1998 N. High St. Dumpster divers will have the best luck hitting up national chains in the suburbs.

Why is DIY punk so popular in Columbus? OhioState’s massiveness brings a steady supply of new punks each year. Another factor is communication. A few years ago, the Columbus Sucks Because You Suck calendar began. This oversized flyer is made each month by a different artist and lists all the DIY shows. Recently, the calendar has been expanded to a monthly magazine. To receive a copy, email [email protected] While online message boards don’t get punk points like old-fashioned flyers, another valuable resource is www.columbusdiy.freeforums.org.

Columbus has plenty to keep a punk happy, and when you visit, be sure to give it some respect unlike the college students who come and go, unless they’re punk.

For more information, visit www.columbusdiy.freeforums.org and www.blackcloudphoto.wordpress.com.