Sensory Overload: Megacity Music Marathon

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From the June 14, 2012 edition

ComFest has become such a popular punching bag among Columbus music fans that whenever a promising festival pops up, people wonder if it might become “the new ComFest.” Though countless events have surpassed ComFest as a means to check the pulse of Columbus music, none of them have supplanted it as a cultural institution.

Independents’ Day remains the frontrunner; it’s Downtown, its lineup is usually high quality and suitably diverse, and the only apparent drawback is that it’s always up against Ohio State football. (Maybe that’s not a drawback for some of you, but it is for me.)

PBR’s Megacity Music Marathon, which had its second annual installment at Woodlands Tavern last Saturday, has potential too. It was less “the new ComFest” than the anti-ComFest, representing an artsy, punk-oriented side of the scene that dovetails with the ComFest lineup — ironically in a venue that often hosts the rootsy, bluesy, jammy acts ComFest favors. Unfortunately, neither event features much hip-hop.

That said, Megacity’s lineup was stellar, with Ohio elites (Times New Viking, Southeast Engine), local legends (Envelope, The Lindsay, Psandwich) and many top newbies.

Its shortcomings were few but glaring. For one thing, admission was $15 at the door. That’s really not much to ask for 14 hours of music, but there’s the other problem: Who wants to spend 14 straight hours at a music festival, or any event? It really is as grueling as a marathon.

I made it eight hours, focusing on the exciting upstarts that clogged the afternoon and early evening. My five favorites, in order of appearance:

Psychic Wheels: Jangly, jarring post-punk powered by Spencer Morgan’s tremulously low Calvin Johnson croon.

The Regrettes: I already sang this retro R&B group’s praises in a recent review, and Saturday offered nothing to dissuade me. More singers should be as fearless as Meghan Hutchinson.

Connections: I also gushed about this band recently. They exist at the buoyant, ballsy intersection between indie pop and party rock.

WVWhite: Totally out of control and totally incredible. They’ve breathed new life into throwback slacker rock, blurring the line between amateurism and easy, natural brilliance.

The Lindsay: In a brutal and uplifting farewell performance, they made their case as the greatest Columbus indie rock band of their era, if not all time.