Any punk on the block will agree that basement shows make the best venue for punk music. There's no better backdrop for spit riddled snooty screams, spastic riffs, and some crowd bulldozing action than a dusty, humid basement.
The flyer for tonight's show that features The Ropes, Southside Stranglers, and locals Rocks At Cops and Hardtime, says the show starts at 8 p.m. "sharp," so I arrived around 8:40 assuming the show functions on punk time. My mental clock wasn't punk enough to guess that the show started, instead, around 9:20 p.m. After chilling on the steps of the White House, the house-cum-punk venue located just off of Columbus’s High Street, and passing time drinking cans of PBR, guitar feedback shook the living room floors signaling the start of the show. I made my way through some couch potatoes watching sports on T.V. to the tiny basement and propped myself against the damp brick wall.
The locals opened the show and Rocks At Cops was the first to take the plate. I'm surprised I didn't have blood trail out of my ears because prior to starting, guitar feedback took over for a good three minutes. As if super glue kept them in place, Rocks At Cops remained static while hastily ripping through some fast hardcore tracks - so fast, that my recollections of that set are all too blurry. I do remember a sparse crowd, arms crossed and timidly throwing their heads down when the guitars got melodic (if a band like this even had a melodic part), but that's always the curse of opening acts.
Hardtime was next on the bill, and fronting the New York hardcore cover group is one of the tenants of the house. When I hear that band name, I think of Cro-Mag's "Hard Times," so I knew that this show was about to get ignorant. Tucker Lappi, the vocalist, spent the past 5 years fronting his other hardcore projects Triceratops and Forget It, so naturally he's a master on the mic. I have a terrible ear when it comes to recognizing what songs are being covered - even if it's by a band as inimitable as The Misfits. Admittedly I don't remember exactly what songs were covered that night. I can assess that Hardtime put on one flawlessly brutal set. The crowd could not resist hard stomping to the tumbling, storm chugging sounds of New York Hardcore, and at one point a modest pile-on formed during a crucial sing-along.
The show took a slight shift to a more denotative punk sound. I say denotative because Richmond's Southside Stranglers played the straight-up, rock 'n' roll garage punk - the kind that, as the vocalist Kenny pointed out, "your girlfriend probably listens to." Interesting to see the ex-Government Warning frontman make this switch for the '80s hardcore sound. Whatever, Southside Stranglers had the audience shuffling and getting into the whiskey-fueled fun of their melodic numbers. I couldn't keep count on how many times Kenny stumbled into the crowd, locked lips with his bottle of whiskey, and was constantly in tango with an equally animated crowd member who, during song transition, heckled the band to "play something that's up the punx."
Finally the night capped off with the act everyone wanted to see: Chicago's The Ropes - a.k.a., basically The Repos with a name change and slower sound. As everyone crowded around the band's merch table to get a piece of their 100 copies exclusive tape release, the basement was packed to the brim. The bassist took a long drag of his cigarettes before The Ropes blew away the audience with its cacophonous blast of barking vocals and blown out guitars. When that guitar wails, a section of the audience gets a pile drive, and those up front were seeing red when "Heads Will Roll" erupted body shuffles and sing-alongs. I was upstairs snagging a tape and t-shirt when the "set" was over, missing the encore that left everyone seemingly satisfied according to the roars and clapping. This would be one of the last two chances for Ohioians to see the band before they check out of touring until the end of 2011. This night left everyone walking out of the house with a satisfied punk fix and ready to take on another house for the after-party.