Local music: City Lights

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From the January 12, 2012 edition

Not just any band can headline Newport Music Hall, and City Lights worked hard to get there. Yet like so many of the Columbus pop-punk band’s power moves, the gig stemmed from a chance conversation.

Bassist Chase Clymer ran into Newport Assistant Manager Daniel Erb last fall and got to talking. Within minutes, City Lights was booked for Friday’s show, their first proper headlining gig at the historic hall.

That’s how things go with City Lights, which drummer Sean Smith started four years ago as a lark. Oshie Bichar, who played with Smith in a metal band at the time, wanted in.

“By the end of the first practice, I was the lead singer,” Bichar said.

Clymer, a photographer, met City Lights at a photo shoot. A year later, he talked them into letting him be their bassist despite never having played a note.

“I lied my way into the band, basically,” Clymer said.

They toured extensively behind their well-received debut EP, playing everywhere from rock clubs to roller rinks. With no labels biting, Clymer randomly texted pal Nick Moore about signing with his InVogue Records. Moore obliged, and “In It to Win It” emerged late last year.

Injecting metalcore into New Found Glory-style pop-punk, the album is at once aggressive and ultra-sweet, with lyrics seemingly ripped from inside a Trapper Keeper (“The biggest piece of me is missing/ You should be here with me just kissing”).

The record expanded their burgeoning fan base, which Clymer hopes will pack out the Newport. He’ll be filming the show for City Lights’ next video, his directorial debut. Then it’s on to Bichar’s goals for 2012: “Push this album as much as we can, be on the road as much as we can, get our own reality show.”

One gets the sense they would only need five minutes with a TV producer to make that happen.