You could make a case for Day Creeper as the platonic ideal for Columbus punk bands. They write pop songs in essence but don’t bother to clean up the fringes — a spindly, spunky, melodically savvy take on punk that bears the marks of compulsive vinyl collecting but sounds entirely distinct. They’ve been bashing away for a good half-decade, kicking out 7-inch singles on the idiosyncratic Tic Tac Totally Records, sharing Columbus stages with traveling noisemakers aplenty and flipping the hospitality into regional tours of their own.
Their following is narrow but fierce, though not at the expense of whimsy; that about sums up their music too. They’re among the best we’ve got, and it had been far too long since I’d seen them in concert, so I decided to continue my recent tour of longstanding Columbus greats by stopping by their show last Thursday.
Watching Day Creeper at 4th St. Bar & Grill reminded me of when I used to see the Columbus Discount Records roster at the dearly departed Larry’s, artful and enlivened punk bands in a campus bar that doesn’t quite know what it wants to be. Larry’s, though it had become a shadow of its former self, worked just fine for such exercises, bottlenecked setup be damned. 4th St., which seems versatile rather than jumbled, more than sufficed.
Any stage would probably work for Day Creeper, whose music was reared in dive bars and punk houses but could easily blast across a concert hall if given the chance. Bassist Laura Bernazzoli and drummer Dan Ross held that tremulous rumble together with unblinking focus.
There was a little Jonathan Richman in Aaron Troyer’s lackadaisical vocals, and even deeper shades of Stephen Malkmus, though that could have just been the way the music slid around haphazardly without losing its step. He even flashed a resemblance to Britt Daniel’s gruff post-Springsteen bellow on “Wavelength,” though if Day Creeper’s music is anything to go by, Troyer probably hasn’t been keeping up with Spoon since the Pixies- and Wire-inspired A Series of Sneaks.
I’ll dispense with the name-checks, partially because Day Creeper is probably gleaning inspiration from less obvious sources, but you get the gist. Pretty good gist, right?