From the start, the Columbus Discount Records crew talked big.

From the start, the Columbus Discount Records crew talked big.

Adam Smith, B.J. Holesapple and Sean Wright framed their label as one of the most important in history even when the roster comprised nothing more than a few friends' bizarre punk bands. They constantly roused rabble around Columbus, picking fights - often unprovoked - with anybody who didn't share their vision.

"We must have looked like little sh--s," Smith said.

Nowadays CDR's braintrust lets the discography speak for itself. Through perseverance and a keenly defined aesthetic, they've become the influential underground label they always pretended to be.

Their monthly singles club sold out two years running. Influential music mag The Wire recently sang their praises. They've tapped a fertile niche, with a fervent national audience and a roster that reaches far beyond I-270.

"In every other comparable sized city in America there's about as many people that like the stuff that we do," Holesapple said. "Over the years, those people have found us."

That expansive reach and peculiar punk aesthetic will be on display at CDR's seventh anniversary bash Friday at Cafe Bourbon Street and Saturday at Carabar.

The annual gathering grew from a backyard barbecue into a two-night concert inspired by Anyway Records' 1990s festivals, one of many ways CDR carries the torch for the decades of left-field Ohio music they deeply admire.

Label alums Times New Viking and Ohio legends like Guinea Worms and Mike Rep speckle this year's bill, plus regional powers including Puffy Areolas and non-Ohio associates like Dan Melchior. Cheater Slicks will record a double live album Saturday afternoon at CDR's Olde Towne East recording studio alongside a cookout and arm-wrestling tournament.

It's a weekend-long celebration of success on a relative scale; both label and studio are still broke as ever.

"The money's always there, it's just moving around," Wright said. "Never in our pockets."