At a time when any schmuck can record a song on his computer, upload it to MySpace and call himself a band, standing out in the local landscape is getting ever harder. It's an exciting period, with lots of scenes producing loads of good music, but it yields little consensus, and what few pillars of consistency remain seem to be dropping like flies.
Miranda Sound is done for. The Feelers are kaput. And when The Evil Queens go on indefinite hiatus after a final bow Saturday at Ruby Tuesday, Columbus loses another of its few universally respected rock bands.
Since forming from the ashes of '90s blitzkrieg artists Our Flesh Party, the Queens -Jacob Sundermeyer, Mike Eckhardt, George Hondroulis and Eric Hinterscheid - have bashed out four albums of pure, unflinching rock 'n' roll, rooted in the traditions of metal and punk but infused with pop sensibility.
The combination worked like a charm (note: not a "Bad Luck Charm"). They drew rightful comparisons to the likes of Nirvana, Queens of the Stone Age, Foo Fighters and The Jesus Lizard, and were beloved by folks from across the musical spectrum. Burly heshers and effete indie kids would rock out side by side to the sounds of "Can't Help It" and "Strong-Wristed Women."
Some bad breaks kept the Queens from expanding their empire too far beyond the city limits, particularly the collapse of their record label when they were at the peak of their powers.
After two strong efforts - 2002's The Evil Queens and 2003's Dos - the group seemed on track for more widespread acclaim upon the release of their third and finest LP, First It Boils, Then It Spills in 2005. New York's Addison Records picked up the album for national release, but soon after the label dissolved, leaving the Evil Queens back where they started.
That didn't deter them from releasing a splendid fourth album, Lovesong Werewolves, last fall. But it likely put an end to any lingering dreams of quitting the day jobs. Nonetheless, their legacy looms large in Columbus, where many a fan will be sad to see them go.