Brainbow with Lara Yazvac

ComFest Friday offered dependable performances from known quantities, pleasant introductions and reacquaintances and a few truly transcendent moments. After the jump, my seven favorite performances from ComFest's first day.

Brainbow with Lara Yazvac

ComFest Friday offered dependable performances from known quantities, pleasant introductions and reacquaintances and a few truly transcendent moments. After the jump, my seven favorite performances from ComFest's first day.

Church of the Red Museum

(7) Church of the Red Museum I had grown somewhat bored with Church of the Red Museum the last couple times I saw them, but this set grabbed by attention by the throat. The grisly, gothic punk sextet seems to have ditched the formal attire, and maybe loosening up allowed them to break out of a songwriting slump because the newer material which may not be that new since I haven't seen them for almost a year felt alive, like the work of a band not bound by self-imposed creative barriers. New album soon?

The Lost Revival

(6) The Lost Revival What stood out most about The Lost Revival's set other than the proposal (and acceptance!) that I missed when I went to check out Tin Armor was singer Kevin Collins' rampant energy and enthusiasm. Their brand of rock, which draws from downtrodden Americana and reflective indie-rock epics, would seem to call for self-important detachment, but Collins was boisterous throughout, and it really set them apart from other similar acts I've seen. It helps that their new material is a highly excitable departure from their good but mostly gloomy first album. See this band soon.

TV Eye

(5) TV Eye I hadn't seen TV Eye for a couple years, and the last time I did, I liked their ideas a lot more than their execution. This time they were crisp and confident on stage, with shoegaze-hazy blues psych tunes as brawny as they were brainy. The dudes still look like young pups, but they play like old pros. One of several acts to prove it's worth showing up early on Friday.

Old Worlds

(4) Old Worlds I hadn't seen Old Worlds yet when they kicked off ComFest with the dreaded noon Friday slot, but they quickly won me over. Using that looping technology that's all the rage these days, Aaron Sturgill layered sleek, entrancing guitar lines, building atmospheric backdrops for subtle finger-tapped leads and his tortured-white-guy indie vocals. His only collaborator was Mike Poston, whose steady, unobtrusive playing lets the songs breathe. I'm really excited to see what these guys come up with as they continue to find their feet.

Guinea Worms

The Floorwalkers

Liquid Crystal Project

Two Cow Garage

(3) The 10 o'clock block Picking four bands is kind of cheating, but the entertainment committee did a spectacular job choosing its Friday headliners. I bounced from stage to stage taking pictures, and I was suitably impressed by everything I heard. Liquid Crystal Project showed off the jazz-hop chops that win them gigs like opening for Ghostface in Europe. At the Gazebo, The Floorwalkers showed off their all-around likable pop pastiche. Two Cow Garage was the first main stage act I heard all day that sounded big enough to be up there, crushing the crowd with country punk classics like "Come Back to Shelby" and "The Great Gravitron Massacre." And Guinea Worms owned the Off-Ramp Stage with a Clean cover and their usual grarled, pummeling low-end riffs.

Nick Tolford and Company

Tolford's backup singers

(2) Nick Tolford and Company Tolford's soul ensemble already kicked my ass last month at Carabar, but they raised their game here with increased tightness and the addition of backup singers. Whether on slow jams ("Running in Circles"), exultant exclamations ("Until I Walk Away") or head-slappingly obvious covers ("I Feel Good"), the Company killed as they brought an extra degree of variety to the always splendid Off-Ramp Stage.

Brainbow

(1) Brainbow There should never be another ComFest without Brainbow, preferably at twilight. The instrumental marvels have become total pros at weaving simple parts into a monolithic fabric of awesomeness. Their set was already my favorite of Friday the first of the day to elicit true smiles of unbounded joy when they invited Lara Yazvac (Tough & Lovely, Ill Fits) on stage for a run through Led Zeppelin's "Since I Been Loving You." Hearing the Zep blues favorite played through an ethereal Brainbow filter, sung by the ghost of Janis Joplin, was one of my most surreal musical encounters. Paired with their Blueprint collaboration from last year, this was more proof that Brainbow are one of the most versatile powers in Columbus music, able to mold their distinct aesthetic into any form and keep on ruling.