Sensory Overload: Bummers offer poised, energetic, enthralling rock show

By
From the June 13, 2013 edition

When you have a group of women crowded up front dancing together, each of them filming Vines of you and repeatedly singing a coordinated chant about your months-old band, it’s safe to say you are off to a head start.

“Ahhh/ AHHH/ I'm a bummer, baby!”

So it went last Wednesday at Ace of Cups, where the immensely promising Bummers were performing between fellow locals Tin Armor and a touring act called Nightlands. All three bands on the bill were of fine vintage, but a sizable crowd flooded into the bar for Bummers and mostly vanished once they finished. They knew what they wanted, and they got it.

On balance, what they got was surf-party garage rock drenched in tremolo (more Black Lips than Pixies) and melded to the arena rock of yesterday and today (shades of latter-day, U2-aping Kings of Leon). And yes, I realize I compared a band to Pixies and Kings of Leon last week; must be a thing in Columbus right now.

Bummers swapped instruments liberally and dabbled vigorously without compromising that basic sound. There was a humongous Oasis chorus on “1967” — when the chorus hits in this band, it hits — and a voyage into Smiths territory later in the set. It successfully attempted some kind of noisy/shaky/drony/funky thing. It even ventured into reggae, though the band smartly kept that to a pleasant outro instead of extending it into a patience-testing song.

Guitar parts intersected gorgeously. Cody Smith mauled his drums with the primitive enthusiasm of a Flintstones character. Jeff Pearl flipped between one crisp, clean mic and one laden with effects — drawling, rasping and wailing like a frontman should. Bummers’ control of dynamics was impressive, expertly shifting from airy to earthy to party-time intensity.

Such a poised, energetic, enthralling rock show was unexpected considering three-fourths of this band played in Jackie and the Stabbs, a lightweight and somnambulant alt-pop band that amounted to less than the sum of its parts. Seems like splitting into separate entities was good for all parties: Bummers are amazing, and Jackie Stabb’s new lineup is producing music far more compelling than what she and the Bummers boys came up with last year. Kudos all around, then.