Sensory Overload: Behind You With Knives

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

I headed to Carabar Saturday to check out the debut of Behind You With Knives, a new trio that's really not new at all for those with even a passing interest in the punk/indie-rock side of Columbus music.

Over the past decade, these three ladies have racked up a resume as impressive as it is expansive. Singer-guitarist Leslie Jankowski has run the stylistic gamut in acts including Church of the Red Museum, Flotation Walls, Moon High and Nick Tolford and Company.

Faith Gehring has appeared with spazzy punks Hills and Southern rock paragons Deerhead. Sharon Kim supplied percussion for Guardylou's tripped-out folk-pop and the short-lived but promising post-punk act Teeth on Teeth.

Most importantly, they've all played together before as three-fourths of Frostiva, a synth-punk ensemble that often shared the stage with the likes of Go Evol Shiki! and The Cinema Eye in the early '00s.

Frostiva disbanded in 2004, about a year before I began digging into Columbus rock. Thus, I never witnessed their estrogen-fueled assault. However, they left up their old Angelfire site, so I was able to hear a bit of their stuff. And let me tell you, things have gotten a lot heavier since then.

The music Behind You With Knives rolled out Saturday - 15 minutes of which is replicated on a four-song demo they were handing out afterwards - was blunt and brutal. With Frostiva vocalist Trinae's keyboards out of the mix, the reconstituted lineup is emphasizing the "power" in power trio.

Jankowski told this project originally was conceived as a metal band but later became more of a "hodgepodge." Indeed, they didn't bust out speedy thrash or droning doom. Rather, the crunching low end and rhythmic thuds matched with pot-boiling-over wails reminded me of Sleater-Kinney's ear-splitting swansong, "The Woods" - heavy as hell but still rooted in punk and built on singing more than screaming.

It also registered as a 'roided-up version of Rosehips, who took the stage later that night, the banshee caterwaul bolstered less by melodic guitar lines and more by low-end blackened sludge. The result was often energizing but a bit monochromatic. No one number stuck out, and if they'll have a signature song, I'm not sure it's written yet.

As for the execution, Saturday's showing was potent but hardly perfect. Jankowski, who has mainly functioned as a side player in her various projects of late, seemed overly stoic as the center of attention, perhaps focused more on nailing these relatively new compositions than projecting a persona from the stage.

Call me old-fashioned, but I like to see a band loosen up a bit - a loud rock 'n' roll band, at least - so hopefully this was more of a first-show-jitters thing.

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