Sensory Overload: Under the bridge

  • Chris DeVille photo
From the 05/27/2009 edition

Two Saturdays ago, a stadium full of hard-rock fans lifted devil horns at Rock on the Range. Hundreds of Hot Topic-shopping scene kids flocked to the Newport for Loganpalooza. Swarms of people packed Junctionview Studios for independent art, rock and hip-hop at Agora. It was an exceptional day for scene solidarity in Columbus.

Meanwhile, at twilight, about 100 young people gathered under a bridge on Campus for their own little party. A friend of mine joked that it felt like a Bat Signal had gone up in the Columbus sky, only instead of the Batman symbol, the sky was emblazoned with a PBR logo to summon this hip house-show horde.

What brought these DIY devotees to the bike trail under the Woody Hayes Boulevard bridge? A trio of earnest acoustic ensembles known as Saintseneca, Letters to the Moon and I Woke Up, I Did the Same Thing.

Surrounded by a semicircle of lights and an attentive throng of onlookers, the bands sent patchwork pop and folk tunes echoing across the Olentangy. I braved the surprising chill to see what the fuss was all about.

The show began with Letters to the Moon, one of those boy-girl duos that runs the risk of smothering its audience under the weight of excessive cuteness.

On disc, the project comes off as an afterthought - some friends goofing around with a four-track, or perhaps a landfill for half-finished song ideas Ryan Eilbeck discards from his main gig with Delay. But in person, Eilbeck and Lisa Dorazewski transformed these songs into anthems.

Over the past three years they've gotten very good at weaving vocal lines in and out, playing off each other's melodies as naturally as they play off each other's personalities. And if their brand of heart-on-sleeve indie pop isn't for everyone, it certainly kept this crowd entranced all the way through a too-brief closing rendition of "Shoplifter."

I Woke Up, I Did the Same Thing followed. Formerly the solo guise of Muppet-voiced twee troubadour Glenn Davis, the project is now a two-man show featuring acoustic guitars and budget synths. I got somewhat distracted during this performance, but from what I saw, I think I preferred Davis' shtick when he was solo.

Saintseneca, who have become darlings of the indie-folk underground over the past year, headlined this affair. My previous encounter with the group left me thinking their trash-can-pounding, chair-stomping live show was nothing more than a gussied-up tribute to Neutral Milk Hotel. This time, though, they seemed to have come into their own.

Shuffling through banjo, guitar, songstick, violin and other stringed instruments, the quartet strummed and plucked their way through a rousing array of angsty folk tunes imbued with slight Southern charm. This music is ragtag and raw, and though it doesn't hit me like it hits some of my 18-year-old buddies, I can feel where they're coming from.

Look out - if Saintseneca keeps improving, they might soon graduate to more prestigious bridges from Brooklyn to Golden Gate.

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