The Charity Crowe Birthday Show at the Double Happiness club in the Brewery District turned out to be one awfully sweet way of kicking winter in the shins on its way out. Mammy, wotta night!
  A rainy-ass Friday night it was, the thirteenth as it were, and unlucky it wasn't. Well, maybe for the two lone singer/songwriters opening.
  Not sure of their names but I don't mind protecting the guilty. A twenty-something lad in jeans, jean jacket and hat strongly strumming a well-tuned guitar was the first of the night. He seemed to be on a futile quest his entire set to find the right key for his voice. Dylan based a career on this. So he went, singing and searching, ultimately crafting his own 'key of me,' the verses were OK but the choruses proved a vocal bridge too far. Not a song didn't he go off the rails when it came to the money lines. Ah, well. Dylan's done alright. I can't stand him sometimes but I love him.
  Lad was comfortable enough within his own skin, so, good for him. With the night boasting half-a-dozen acts there was an understandable bit of endearing chaos and confusion going on which felt good. So I never caught his whole name. I didn't overly much mind his making the most crucial three words of every chorus sound like a car screeching its brakes at the Wexner Center's High Street crosswalk where death or skeletal destruction are only narrowly avoided a dozen times a day.
  His more serious flaw was something he shared with most of the rest of the kids the rest of the night: no real style. Serious, that.
  A girl was next, oops, I mean, a young woman, quite full of herself. Nearly every song she threw everything in the mix. None didn't have her starting out mild or semi-mellow, then revving it up emotionally, then some sort of spanner in the arrangement which served as a serviceable monkey wrench, and then some almost unbearable Janis-Joplin-meets-Melanie-squatting-on-Joanna-Newsom vocal overkill.
  It was quickly too much, though I masochistically anticipated how she would destroy every song she plaintively and rather interestingly started out. On one tune she almost kept it together to just lower her range and stay there. I was willing to pay her any amount to do so. But she squandered and went practically Lady GaGa. One of those people who thinks force equals emotion. And of course, if you haven't figured, a singer badly needing a style. I felt like meeting her in the alley and selling her song-writing formulas leftover from Carol King's days at the Brill Building.
  A really stylistically horrible band from Nashville played next, Lines In the Sky. Imagine Rush and Styx times Kansas and The Twilight Zone's theme song being mashed-up into a viscous paste like the way Elvis used to mix his vegetables, mashed potatoes and gravy, and then delivered with post-hillbilly bluegrass breakneck velocity. Talk about style=vomit.
  But the thing is, why I didn't mind any of this and in fact quite liked it was that these stylistically clueless kids loved what they were playing. Yes, love matters, doesn't it, in this day and age of celebrity and music whoring? The sincerity, the guiltless pleasures they were feeling, oh, I'm talking complete and unabashed energy. An energy you could trust, a rawness of spirit that was trans-formative. Nothing tasteful, mind you. I once had a seventh grade English teacher so intensely involved with literature and explaining themes he'd on occasion fling out a huge drop of saliva.
  Slobber can indicate substance.
  The night got seriously very, very good when a Strokes-like band from Brooklyn (I know, I know, what a cliche), Big And Huge took the joint by rock'n'roll force. Again, the lead singer as passionate as he was had the visual style of one of the Bowery Boys, looking like he could be some mug newsboy selling a quarter Dispatch for a dollar at the age of 15 but you'd find him doing it when he was 30. In other words, he wasn't sexy in the least. But then again, nobody had any sartorial sense of style in that band, nor a presence.
  Didn't matter. Somewhere along the line, these guys started the night sounding more than a little like the Strokes but soon transformed into some kind of wonderful New York Dolls/Pistols/Strokes/Full-Tilt-Boogie-Band. The singer, looking like a shipwreck survivor, was pouring his soul out in one rocking tune after another, the rest of the band right behind rockin' their asses but hard. I was on my feet, the crowd which had scattered during the Nashville prog-doo set returned like a division of the Mongol Horde: they wanted blood and they were getting pints of sweat, the band coalescing more tightly with every fast tune they did. Frankly, I was blown away. Big And Huge, please come back, slobber and sweat all over me and us again. Please.
  Now, I have been waiting my entire adult life to write the following words and didn't know it until Friday the 13th: the next band, The Up All-Nighters, are the best rock'n'roll band to ever come out of Columbus. But a trio, led by a singer/guitarist down with the flu, they only played four or five songs and, my brothers and sisters, they had me standing on my chair. They were the Dolls and the Pistols and Nirvana and the Stones rolled up into one very hard-rollicking, ballsy, fun, furious threesome led by a lovable loudmouth who withered his inflamed nodes as if he were Indeed The Son Of Axl. I fell in love very, very hard, very, very quickly. Oh, they were so unreasonable.
  Four or five songs didn't leave me wanting more. The Up All Nighters left me devoted, addicted and engorged with rock'n'roll. I haven't felt musical tumescence like that since...The Jim Jones Revue in January of '14 at Woodlands Backyard (googles those Anglo maniacs, I dare ya).
  So who is or what is a Charity Crowe? Charity Crowe is a gay Sioux Indian singer-songwriter BF Ohio--every town should have one and we're lucky we finally got our quota. She's 21 (22 by the time you read this) and I remember seeing her play three years ago when she first got into town and thought, huh, the kid's got something. Amazing how a musician can progress in three years.
  She's now a band: Betsy Ross is her, her bassist brother Skylar and a drummer with telepathic timekeeping sensibilities. What she was three years ago doesn't matter. Now I'd say, imagine a folk/punk trio who, because of Skylar's rudimentary but intuitively brilliant melodically wandering bass line, actually sounds more than a sliver of a Joy Division without the suicidal distant vocals of a suicidal lead singer. Ms.Crowe is far too full of life to be that, her songs vibed to the max with yearnings and stern admonishments to disappointing lovers.
  Again, I don't think anything is stylistically planned with Betsy Ross, I don't think Charity and Skylar and the drummer ever even realized they had a winning formula with an electrified acoustic guitar banging gay Sioux Indian woman spewing love and hurt with a youthful power bespeaking an experience perhaps a bit deeper than you're average suburban squaw. Friday night was her birthday party, all the bands were her friends, the audience either entered as a friend or left as one and the energy was tremendous.
  At one point she and drummer busted out into a totally spontaneous hip-hop groove with speed vocal flow. It had a series of stops and starts, as if it were planned. It wasn't. It just happened that way and I swear to God, as great as so much of what I heard was with she and the previous two bands, the improvised hip-hop was artistically the best part of the night. Live and in the raw; live and in the moment, priceless.
  Her Betsy Ross birthday set went deep into the night. I stayed for every bloody marvelous second of it. The crowd was crazy. The music was from the guts and the hearts of the players. Who needs style when you got that kind of substance.
  I went home in the rain, having not had a single drop of alcohol yet high on the music. Transformed, if only for a night.