Updated: Feb 28, 2022
“… There’s a real cool club on the other side of town where the real cool kids go to sit around…”
For some reason, every time I write about a show at The Stoop, a certain Screeching Weasel song constantly echoes in the deepest chambers of my mind. I have almost referenced it in my write-ups several times, but it ultimately gets edited out. Why? Because, in reality, it doesn’t make a lick a sense.
The Westside, particularly the Hilltop, is often stigmatized as the “bad side” of town. It doesn’t matter where someone lives in Columbus; the Westside is typically considered the “other side” of town. It’s almost as if they want to distance themselves from the working-class folk of the city. That line works. But the similarities really stop there.
The “real cool kids” in Screeching Weasel’s song are really a bunch of dicks. They aren’t the kind of people anybody wants to associate with in any way. These are the kind of people that peaked in high school, not the kind of people that hang out at The Stoop on a Friday night. In fact, if my lived experience is the norm, most of the regulars at The Stoop were alienated by people just like the “real cool kids” in that song.
But alas, thanks to the Planned B’s, I finally get to write about why I associate this song with The Stoop.
The Stoop has stolen my heart. That isn’t a secret. I never thought I could love a Columbus venue the way I love Mahall’s. However, The Stoop is weirdly becoming my second base of operations. Entering the Stoop is like entering a secret speakeasy during prohibition. You really don’t know it’s there until you find yourself inside after being drawn in by word of mouth. Its nondescript external façade with boarded-up windows makes it easy to overlook in the barren wasteland that is West Board Street. So, when you open the door and enter this underground punk club, you can’t help but feel like one of the cool kids, which is such a warm and fuzzy feeling.
On Friday, February 18th, as I walked down Eureka with my old college roommate toward the show, we couldn’t help but wax poetically on how our lives look so radically different than we envisioned 15 years ago. I never anticipated being here—successful business writer by day and struggling music journalist by night. I was so ambitious then, and now I have found myself living for the weekend, counting down the hours between me and the next punk show.
We opened the door, and my old friend entered the DIY anarchist neverland that is The Stoop for the first time. A breath audibly hitched in her throat, backed by the sound of Gasser as Niv waved us in. I watched her eyes widen and a bewildered yet thoroughly impressed smile slowly spread across her face. I whispered to her to pay her cover, and I quickly got to work covering the remainder of Gasser’s set.
I instantly regretted my decision to get a dinner and pre-show cocktails at a sit-down restaurant with the girls. Due to staffing shortages, service was understandably slow. However, had I known that Gasser, despite their name, would be such a breath of fresh air, I would have shoveled down a shitty drive-through cheeseburger if it meant not missing a note.
I was a 90s kid, so the musical wave that influenced me the most before discovering my love for punk rock was grunge. Unfortunately, addiction and mental illness stole many of the heroes from that era long before I had the opportunity to see them live. But just like history, music is weirdly cyclical. In my first review of The Stoop, I wrote about how we are starting to see the formation and acceleration of the fourth wave of punk and how I think this movement will be spearheaded by DIY bands from the Midwest.
Since starting this blog, I have been immersing myself in music history and learning more about how genres have evolved and influenced newer subgenres. Now I am seeing some interesting patterns emerge in our local music scene, and I am relatively certain that this fourth wave of punk music will also feature a full-on grunge revival. However, this second wave of grunge won’t be coming out of the glimmering metropolis that is now Seattle. It is going to spring from the economically disenfranchised region of Appalachia.
Gasser features all the hallmarks of the early Sub-Pop Records era that fueled what became known as the “Seattle Sound.” Travis Woodruff’s hauntingly melancholic vocals are eerily reminiscent of Kurt Cobain, with lyrics fluctuating between dark introspections and snarky earworms. Meanwhile, his guitar work, especially when combined with John Hensley’s bluesy drums with long cymbal rides, gave me some very early Soundgarden vibes. Finally, the moody yet rhythmically entrancing basslines of David Duffy brought the dirty yet dulcet sounds of Mudhoney tying all of the other elements together. Gasser’s performance was easily worth the price of admission alone, and while I encourage you to check them out on Bandcamp, I must stress that Gasser’s chemistry as a band is best experienced live.
Next up, we had the Plan B’s. I have been hearing plenty of hype about this band, so I wasn’t surprised by their riveting performance or the crowd’s level of excitement. At one point during their set, my beer was knocked from my hand as members of the crowd spun each other around mirthfully. Like their drummer, Scott Marks of the solo act Yard Sign, the Plan B’s are a certifiable local gem.
From start to finish, their set was on point, but them kicking off the show early with “Cool Kids” by Screeching Weasel made my entire night, perhaps my entire week, especially when that song makes me think of The Stoop despite the irony. When I told my husband about the cover over the phone later that night, he said, “It’s pretty dope that the Plan B’s have a keyboardist. You don’t see that in a lot of local punk bands.” I relished in telling him that Plan B’s didn’t have a keyboardist and that their lead guitarist provided that catchy melody, and that he did it with such incredible fidelity. I love when bands showcase such adaptability when covering their favorite songs while aligning to their member’s individual strengths.
Now, if you have seen the stage at The Stoop, you know it’s small. The current lineup of the Plan B’s features five members. It would be nearly impossible to include a keyboardist on stage even if they wanted to. Still, somehow the band found a way to sandwich Matt Havranek and Niv Nelah on stage for a rousing cover of Operation Ivy’s Knowledge which I feel set the tone for the remainder of the night.
The Plan B’s put on the perfect show for my best friend and old college roommate, both newbies on the punk scene. Their covers were powerful interpretations of popular punk hits that my friends have encountered before. More importantly, their originals are all bops that possess the same bright tone as their crowd-pleasing covers. Since the show, I have listened to The Plan B’s latest release, “Catch a Break,” quite a few times, and the band is growing on me quickly. Adding this band to the lineup of any local show is an almost guaranteed way of getting me there. I also have a sneaking suspicion that they might be featured fairly frequently on the site.
Finally, we have The Snipped, the incredibly well-balanced band out of Pennsylvania that closed the show. Like the Plan B’s, whose name also has similar family planning connotations, they were perfect for the pair of puppy punks I brought to the show. My friends even jumped into what I called the “cuddle pit,” the more chill yet still highly energized cousin of the raucous circle pits found at The Stoop’s hardcore shows. This band’s chemistry was pure fire, and the pairing of them and the Plan B’s in the same lineup was genius. The combination of those two bands had me contemplating driving to Dayton the following night or to Pennsylvania this weekend to get a double dose of “dadcore” for a second time.
The Snipped is probably the most versatile band I have seen this year. That versatility on stage certainly captivated my interest by drawing their musical inspiration from the more melodic, family-friendly punk bands that I adore. Don’t get me wrong, I love all the hardcore acts that come through the 614. However, sometimes you need the feeling of warm, optimistic nostalgia to melt your troubles away for a few hours. This is especially true when it appears that we are dancing on the precipice of a third world war—and unlike last time, our country has zero faith in our leadership. Sometimes I just need to hear an excellent cover of that one Descendents song that my husband and I always put on when it feels like everything is going to shit and one or both of us feels like breaking down.
The Snipped’s cover of “We” was impeccably affirming, especially when I think all of us could benefit from hearing the kind reassurance of someone telling us, “Hey, everything’s gonna be okay.” I don’t have children; I don’t know if I ever will. However, I can say that if I ever do have kids, they will hear that song a lot, especially since my husband played his own rendition of that song at our wedding. The Snipped also showcased a wide range of original songs that featured all the best elements of the iconic, unproblematic bands that every punk over the age of 35 grew up on.
Their set was so clean and powerful that the crowd chanted to hear one more song, so the “dadcore” band treated us to the ultimate “dad rock” song: “Born to Run” by Bruce Springsteen, which they didn’t include in their setlist because they thought it wouldn’t go over well. This unexpected encore was actually the perfect way to close the night and sent everyone home on a positive note.
That’s all for now, kiddos. Be sure to eat your vegetables before having dessert and get to bed at a reasonable hour.