Saturday, April 28, 2007

You know you're old when... see the end of an era...twice.

An old friend from college informed me on MySpace that an institution of the Columbus (Ohio) music scene is (possibly) closing for good. Little Brother's was the result of another cornerstone of the scene closing and moving to the other side of Ohio State's enormous campus. Stache's and Little Brother's gave independent music - international, national, and local - a stage in a city that has quickly transformed into corporate hell over the past couple of decades.

I remember hearing about Stache's when I was a freshman at Capital University (in the Columbus suburb of Bexley). Some friends of mine and I were riding the COTA #2 from the City Center mall when my buddy held up his newly purchased Urge Overkill disc for all of us to see. A be-speckled dude behind us (who turned out to be a scene regular and longtime Used Kids employee) commented on how great Urge was at Stache's. I had never been there and was immediately drawn to the idea that a national act could be seen in such a small venue right (t)here in Columbus. It was a while after that before I began attending shows at Stache's, but once I did...

Fast forward a year-and-a-half to my sophomore year at Capital. I had been to Stache's a couple of times to see some friends play but had primarily gone to the much larger (and older)
Newport Music Hall or the tiny Bernie's Bagels and Distillery. The place had an eerie, smoky haze that hid the black walls and dirty tile floor. The bathrooms were in utter disrepair, and the panels above the stage were often knocked out of place by po-going performers. The place was a dump, but it was our dump. The scene and its scenesters the dark and dank interior of their adopted hangout.

Anyway, that night, I saw the most memorable show of my life, Archers of Loaf with Helium and Earwig. I've written about this show before on this blog, but never have I remembered it so clearly as I do now considering that Stache's/Little Brothers could be no more.

After that Loaf show, I made Stache's my venue of choice. I saw Bob Pollard stumble through "Motor Away" with the Flaming Lips. I felt the awesome power of Chavez long before their reunion tour was praised by Pitchfork - actually long before there was a Pitchfork- following a caustic set by Blonde Redhead. Mike Watt used my shoulder to get onto stage one night before breaking bass strings in my face moments later. I saw Will Oldham play acoustic guitar accompanied by a toy synthesizer while people sat on the floor, intently listening to every word. I saw some of the final performances by the likes of The Coctails and Brainiac (RIP). Archers of Loaf came through again only to leave without an encore, because a few lunkheads ruined the show by slam-dancing. I also saw Mercury Rev and Hum the night that Columbus police and fire marshals stopped the show due to overcrowding. (Hum was nearly arrested when they started jamming while waiting for a few fans to leave). Stache's certainly provided much of musical education in my four years of college.

Of course, Stache's had a long history before me. A very tall (Eric Bachman-lookalike) acquaintance of mine once told me the story of how impressively tall Nirvana's Krist Noveselic was when standing on the two foot-high stage and hunching just below the nicotine-stained ceiling panels. Sonic Youth played its first show with drummer Steve Shelley...I guess that worked out. This all fails to mention the enormou
s number of indie rock luminaries (as well world, blues, jazz, folk, etc.) that have played Staches' like the Afghan Whigs, Guided By Voices, Dinosaur Jr., The Minutemen, etc.

In the spring of 1997, after months of run-ins with the law and landlords looking to create another strip mall, Stache's shut down and moved south of campus. The venue was named Little
Brothers, and would carry the torch of independent music in Columbus.

To be continued...

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