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Columbuzz: Kizzy Hall

It’s not like the crack of cheap beer in aluminum or the gurgle of a healthy bong rip haven’t been sampled in pop music before, it’s just in the context of the title track from Kizzy Hall’s rambunctious debut, A Touch of Kizz in the Night, those sounds serve as more than conceptual fodder—they’re field [...]
Kevin J. Elliott

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It’s not like the crack of cheap beer in aluminum or the gurgle of a healthy bong rip haven’t been sampled in pop music before, it’s just in the context of the title track from Kizzy Hall’s rambunctious debut, A Touch of Kizz in the Night, those sounds serve as more than conceptual fodder—they’re field recordings, a part of the post-grad groups’ genetics. They’re sounds that come as natural as the drum beats or the crowded yet melodic verses of wordplay that detail being drunk and bored in the city. That’s not to say they are dunderheaded slackers guided by booze in the basement, but my copy of the LP does include a replica of GBV’s Alien Lanes cover hand-scrawled on the cardboard remnants of a 12-pack. Kizzy Hall is do-it-yourself to the point of being non-artisanal. For the band, the indifference and idiosyncrasy of “alternative nation” is the inspiration, so much so that an album like the aforementioned Alien Lanes is elevated to classic rock status. Plus, the bandmates have too much time on their hands.

“John and I became friends via ‘casual encounters’ on Craigslist,” says guitarist John Grinstead about roommate and vocalist John Herwig. “At first, the band—or what the two of us were doing musically—was just called John. Flash-forward to the last year of living together and we were recording every single night. There was a lot of stuff, and we decided to finally make a record out of it. Last week I archived about 100 songs that did not make it on the album.”

For Grinstead and Herwig, abundance was a given. Endless nights recording bred endless tales of hangovers and the strains that come with actual adult responsibilities.  A Touch of Kizz in the Night is a messy collage of Superchunk power chords, wiry Pavement-indebted twists and turns, and lackadaisical tunes that border on Elephant Six-ish psych. It’s a concentrated effort to inhabit the once-louche world of lo-fi—a record that could very well be found in the un-played stacks of a now-defunct college radio station circa 1997. It’s also one that observes the legacy of “Ohio” music with a wide-eyed encyclopedic scope.

“When we started, we only wanted to be an ‘Ohio tradition band,’” says Grinstead. “We like pretty much all of it. From the ’80s Cleveland punk to Brainiac, and then we’d discover Times New Viking and then it was Psychedelic Horseshit. We just wanted to put a notch in that bedpost.”

At the time of our interview, they’d only had a few shows to gush about and there were more copies of the LP laying around than empty beer cans (which is to say a lot). Most of the talk was “making the band” origin stories. There were laughs about how drummer Chelsea Simmons’ drunkenly declared herself the new member after seeing them play for the first time, or Herwig’s pre-Kizzy stint in the Imperial Ska Bots. There were no big goals other than getting to open for Van Dale. It’s earnest and refreshing. “It’s really hard to sell 500 albums,” jokes Grinstead.

Their enthusiasm for the current bounty of Columbus pop was palpable, and only months later, they’re seemingly playing every weekend as an integral part of it all. That pile of records has certainly shrunk through word of mouth; A Touch of Kizz in the Night has become Columbus’ most passed-around recording in some time. Anyone who hears it is undeniably charmed by its web of hooks and indie craft.

But as I’m reminded by Grinstead, “craft [beer] is not the protocol.” No, this is a band that claims to be completely fueled by Busch, or any domestic, so it’s hard to imagine any modicum of success would change the formula or the outlook. For now, just the prospect of another blast of the same colorful pop from Kizzy Hall is enough to get overly excited about.


Members: John Grinstead, John Herwig, Stefan Knuckles, Eric Pacella, Chelsea Simmons

www.kizzyhall.bandcamp.com

Noise of Choice:
Accumulative Indie Capriciousness

Upcoming Shows:
3.9 @ Double Happiness and 3.28 @ Carabar

Listen In: “Hang With You” is where the altimeter tips highest on an album full of sugary spikes that last less than two minutes. The song arrives early on A Touch of Kizz in the Night and serves as a tempo-setting, palate-cleansing, snapshot of the band at their most lucid. It’s the simple tale of boy wanting to “hang” with girl set to tambourines and snaky acoustic guitars. Though the chorus is a campfire sing-a-long, the verses suggest a mood that’s a bit sinister, like tarnish on a gilded innocence. Their cynic wit only grows throughout the album ending with the careening anthem “Hip 2 It.”

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What’s Open: Venues slowly start to roll out live music

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When it was announced in mid-May that wedding venues and banquet halls would reopen at the beginning of June, the next question became: When will music venues be next?

Although the rollout has been slow and will be gradual, Columbus venues and attractions that regularly house live music are making their comeback. When the high-spirited, good-feeling cover band Popgun graced the Natalie’s Music Hall & Kitchen on May 27, many people’s greatest fears of being robbed of live music for the rest of the year were eased maybe a little.

The only way for us to get currently get down to live music is to sit down, which is a fair trade-off given the times.

Check out a few Columbus venues that are set to reopen or have reopened under strict coronavirus guidelines.

  • The Forum Columbus -- The Forum welcomed back live music on May 29 with a tabled RSVP DJ showcase. For this event, guests were required to come in groups of no more than 10, be seated six feet apart from other groups, and remain seated unless you have to use the restroom. There are no future events planned as of this publishing.
  • Otherworld  -- The immersive art installation that took Columbus by storm in 2019 is set to return on June 11, according to the venue’s webpage. Otherworld will be operating at a capacity of one visitor per 160 square feet, or around 20 percent of the regular admittance. It’s unclear when the next time Otherworld will host live music, but this is a giant step in the right direction in terms of venue re-openings.
  • South Drive-In -- It’s not a venue in Columbus that traditionally holds music, but it’s become one and may stay one for the time being. Viral DJ Marc Rebillet will be bringing his sold-out drive-in show to the South Drive-In on June 14. With these types of performances popping up all around the country and the South Drive-In owner getting plenty of event requests, we will hopefully be seeing more shows of this nature in the warmer months.
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Music industry designates Blackout Tuesday as time of pause

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To honor the memory of George Floyd and fix the injustices surrounding his death, the music industry has designated Tuesday as a time of pause to collaborate on ways to better support the black community.

Businesses and organizations within the music industry have been asked to pause regular work to reflect on how they can better serve the black community, according to a report from Variety. In general, businesses and organizations across the board have been asked to use Tuesday as a way to focus on the effort.

The message that circulated around social media quickly on Monday stated that “Blackout Tuesday” is being used as “a day to disconnect from work and reconnect with our community” and “an urgent step of action to provoke accountability and change.”

The movement has been gaining momentum under the hashtag #TheShowMustBePaused. Major labels such as Capitol Music Group and Warner Music Group announced their alignment with the “Blackout Tuesday” cause. 

Companies have also announced practices such as pausing social media activity throughout the whole day.

Spotify and ViacomCBS have already announced an 8 minute and 46-second moment of silence for Tuesday. The time reflects how long the Minnesota police officer dug his knee into the kneck of Floyd.

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Curbside Concerts brings live music, hope to those in need

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Can’tStopColumbus took a quick pause when the pandemic shut down the world and asked two questions:

  1. Are we sure we're solving the needs of everyone in our community during this time? 
  2. Are we not just coming up with ideas based on our own experiences?

Our elder community was one of the major demographics to have stricter socially distancing guidelines suggested to them. Holidays and birthdays went by without hugs from grandpa or grandma’s cookies.

Out of the need to fill that missing love in the life of American seniors, the idea of Curbside Concerts was born. Anyone is able to jump on the Curbside Concerts signup page and request a concert for an elder, sick people not able to leave the house, or a simple celebration.

Sending a concert telegram is free, and you can also leave a message for a loved one and suggest what type of tunes the organization-selected Columbus-area musician.

So far, the feedback has been inspiring. 

“People cried. I cried. We cried. It was beautiful,” said Zach Friedman, one of the service’s founders and creators. “We had a powerful idea on our hands, and the amazing power of the #Can'tStopColumbus community to scale it and bring it to life.”

To date, Curbside Concerts has had over 50 volunteers. Their job is to drive around a Columbus musician and their equipment with trucks provided by Ricart Automotive. It’s a road trip around the Columbus area, delivering concerts to those who may just need their spirits lifted. It’s like a non-depressing version of Inside Llewyn Davis.

Support has come from all ends of the Columbus creative community, including The Columbus Foundation, Greater Columbus Arts Council, Streetlight Guild, and What? Productions. Through these organizations, musicians are able to be paid for a route that usually lasts five to six hours. 100 percent of the donations they receive on their route also goes to the musicians.

Friedman is asking people to keep requests to older audiences.

“Working with local musicians to perform curbside at people's homes is the vehicle or medium, but the real thing we are doing here is connecting those to older people they love, with an authentic and emotional experience to send love over,” Friedman said.

We found out pretty quickly how much as a collective that we take live music for granted. Live streams have been a temporary, dulled-down replacement. You realize how long people have been robbed of the experience when you see a musician pull up in a pickup truck, set up in five minutes, and serenade neighborhoods with songs like “Lean on Me” and “What A Wonderful World.” It starts off with a message to one house and then resonates down the street, like the citizens of Gas Town rushing to The People Eater for even a drop of water.

Photos by Zak Kolesar

For most people, it was their first taste of live music since mid-March. While we may want concerts to return as soon as possible, its productions like Curbside Concerts that display the emotional power of music.

To request to send someone a concert, follow the link here: https://sendaconcert.herokuapp.com/request

To volunteer for Curbside Concerts, follow the link here: https://www.signupgenius.com/go/9040b45abaa22a4fb6-curbside

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