When I heard about Connections, I got real giddy, real fast.
The prospect of a band featuring members of 84 Nash, Times New Viking, El Jesus de Magico and Andrew Graham & Swarming Branch was incredibly exciting because those bands are among the best this city has ever seen. Kevin Elliott, Andy Hampel, Adam Elliott, Dave Capaldi, Philip Kim: In the noisy, melodic, off-kilter netherworld known as Columbus indie rock, they constitute a genuine supergroup.
Connections debuted with a three-night local “tour” traversing Kobo, Cafe Bourbon Street and Double Happiness last Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. None of their music was online beforehand. The music was a mystery, which only made the anticipation more titillating. I opted to satisfy my curiosity — and hopefully, my appetite for incredible music — on the second night of the stint.
To my delight, they sounded exactly like you might imagine a band built from these parts would sound.
The 84 Nash contingent is the core, Hampel slugging out reckless power chords while Kevin Elliott spazzes out melodiously. Essentially, Connections sounds like a new iteration of the Nash, a band that always applied flippant brattitude and buoyant youthful energy to the basement-bound stadium rock of Guided by Voices.
It’s not a mere Nash rehash, though. The other components supply their requisite color and character.
Elliott’s brother Adam bashes his drums with the unhinged furor TNV fans have come to expect. There was even one rocket-fueled number near the end of the set that sounded like an 84 Nash song influenced by Times New Viking — some strange, familial echo chamber at work, mirrors on mirrors on mirrors.
Capaldi’s guitar playing, which grounded El Jesus’ outre art-punk in classic rock approachability, takes on new shades in this genuinely poppy context, but it feels right at home. Kim holds down the low end with the playful almost-precision of a diehard Pavement fan.
Was I predisposed to like this band? Most certainly, but monumental expectations are always on the verge of crashing and burning. Greatness doesn’t have to hit you by surprise.
In terms of Jordan’s Bulls, 84 Nash was the first three-peat; it’s easy to imagine Connections being the second half of the dynasty if they can keep the team together.