Diversity of the Columbus Music Scene


Like many individuals pursuing a creative discipline, I have a day job that allows me to pay my bills. I'm sure many of you out there who are trying to make a career out of music or other creative interests are familiar with the challenge of finding the time and energy to work towards these goals while putting in a 40 hour work week. It’s easy to lose steam after a long work day. I’m guilty of it more often than I’d care to admit. My abnormal schedule also prevents me from being able to attend shows and thus prevents me from being able to write about them. Then the longer I go without writing, the easier it becomes to make excuses not to resume. It's a dangerous cycle. A cycle from which I had a bit of relief this past week.

By the grace of some higher power (and the help of some awesome coworkers), I managed to make it to four shows in four nights; a feat my schedule hasn’t allowed for the past 17 moon cycles. It was refreshing to take a step back from work and allow myself to cozy up in the moment. It was inspiring too because those moments in which I settled offered me a bit of insight that became the topic of this write-up. As my mental chatter waned and I found myself wading through crowds of metals heads, jam band junkies, Radiohead-heads and people who like folk music, I began to notice the diverse crowds I was navigating the nightly soundscapes alongside. My spree of shows started with the folky infusions of Oliver Hazard at Rumba Cafe, which was followed by the stoner-doom dishing of Bong Ripper and Columbus's Weed Demon at Ace of Cups, then succeeded by the bustling sets of Woodland's Badfish fest, and concluded with whatever mind-blowing shit Thom Yorke and the guys in Radiohead swept me away with at the Schott. Aside from the performances themselves, what impressed me the most was the turnout for each of these drastically different sets. It got me thinking, Columbus has a rather unique music scene. And a happening one at that. 

Many notable big city music scenes of the past (some which hold true today) were developed around particular sounds or genres which became characteristic of that city. A few examples: Nashville (country), Detroit (Motown), New Orleans (Jazz). The idea is fascinating. A community of musicians giving rise to a musical personality that seems to encompass the city. While I still believe this is possible, I think the distinct attitude or style of a developing music scene is now much more subtle. Musical genres, like the branches of a tree, continue to grow and divide giving birth to novel sounds; stepping a bit further from the roots that give them their identity. This is how it's always been, but the tools we have in place today are facilitating the process. Boosted by the worldwide connection of the internet and technology, today's musicians have limitless possibilities as to what they can create. In the search for their own unique identity, today's artists are dissolving categorical barriers in exciting ways. With endless possibilities at the hands of today's artists there becomes an equally endless array of unique sounding music as a result.

I believe the bleeding of genres into one another is creating a generation of people who more greatly appreciate the diversity of music. Everyone has their favorite genre or two but most people existing in the year 2018 have a broader scope of interest than generations of the past. Our diverse interests and honest appreciation of artistic expression is allowing music to bring people together in ways it has not before which I think is beautiful. It's this very idea that excites me about Columbus and the atmosphere we're creating with our music scene. From Columbus's rapid growth and diversification is emerging a music scene where no genre is, and none are overlooked. It's a city well versed with talented artists and a community of music enthusiasts who don't limit their tastes which makes Columbus a great place for musicians of sorts to establish themselves. 

I was at four different shows at four different venues, and people showed up for each of them. Weeknight or weekend, stoner metal or reggae, inside or out in the rain; it didn't matter. People packed the house for all of them, and they brought only their good vibes with them. This is a powerful statement about the music scene of Columbus. Its indicative that not only do we have a diverse music community, but this is a community that actively attends shows. With a sizable amount of people actively attending shows across a large span of genres, an opportunity arises for artists of all types to create success. I'm not claiming that this is exclusively characteristic of Columbus, but it's certainly a potent characteristic of Columbus.  

This idea isn't confined to music either. Columbus is a culturally rich and socially liberal area. We're a rapidly growing city with a community of people who generally value acceptance, tolerance, open-mindedness, and creativity; traits which I believe are at least partially allowing the city to flourish. These values and the mindset it instills in all of us are what's enabling the music scene too, to thrive. I believe that no matter the voice or genre of your music, if you're talented and passionate about what you do, somewhere within Columbus is an audience that you'll appeal to.