Back in the mid-1990s, Route 33 got a lot of traction from hard-nosed, whiskey-swilling rock bands. Athens and Columbus bands have always mingled to a certain extent, but the set of roughshod rockers who fellowshipped in those days left a legacy that extends beyond the fuzzy memories of a close-knit clique.

Back in the mid-1990s, Route 33 got a lot of traction from hard-nosed, whiskey-swilling rock bands. Athens and Columbus bands have always mingled to a certain extent, but the set of roughshod rockers who fellowshipped in those days left a legacy that extends beyond the fuzzy memories of a close-knit clique.

So there's reason to anticipate the pair of reunion shows this weekend that bring together long-lost rockers Bob City, Geraldine and (at the Athens show only, unfortunately) the Spiveys.

Each of those bands merits an article of its own, but because Bob City represents the Columbus contingent - and because Grafton, the other Columbus band on the bill, is still together - let's focus on Bob City, starting with a warmly remembered era of undergrad excess.

"It started out like any band, just like a fun art project," drummer Brad Swiniarski said. "The longer we did it, the better we got, the more seriously some of us took it."

Around 1995, Swiniarski, an Ohio University student at the time, started the band with Columbus buddies Pat Murphy (guitar), Donovan Roth (bass) and New York transplant Jeremy Hoar (vocals).

Within months, Joachim Kearns moved from the Big Apple to add a second guitar to the mix and solidify the first incarnation of Bob City.

The crew would often head to Athens to practice at Swiniarski's house and play at rock hub The Union with the likes of Geraldine, whose Scott Winland would later become a garage-punk booking kingpin, and the Spiveys, whose Jason Frederick would later collaborate with Swiniarski in the Means.

In turn, those bands would often trek up to join Bob City for Columbus gigs at bars like Bernie's and Stache's. The symbiosis served both scenes well, allowing the bands their first steps toward regional touring and forging a close camaraderie in the process.

Just as Bob City was starting to expand beyond its Route 33 circuit, Hoar left the band to return to New York. The group had just completed its first album, Hard Ball, but those recordings were scrapped as another New Yorker, Kearns' friend Justin Tesa, took over vocal duties. The switch led to a stylistic shift, too.

"The Jeremy stuff was much more metal, I think," Swiniarski said. "And then the Justin stuff was a little more classic rock."

Bob City version 2.0 yielded a self-titled album on Derailleur Records in 2000. That year, the band earned an invite to join Nashville Pussy on tour, where they met a rep from TVT Records.

"It was seeming like something could really happen, which is usually when bands break up," Swiniarski said.

Tension developed between band members who wanted to build on the momentum and a faction that preferred the band to remain a pleasant diversion. Within a year, Bob City stalled out.

Although the band couldn't continue as a full-time venture, they enjoy the occasional reunion. This weekend's gigs are the third time they've reconvened. As usual, they'll do a set of early tunes with Hoar followed by latter material with Tesa.

E-mail your local music news to Chris DeVille at cdeville@columbusalive.com