Local music review: The Washington Beach Bums

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

"I saw this band the other day and they were talking about preaching the word. I think that word was 'God.' Our word is 'party.'"

With that, Zac Szymusiak and company launched into a half hour of party-time punk anthems Saturday at The Summit. It wasn't revelatory, but it still managed to rule.

If you approach a Washington Beach Bums show looking to be blown away, you're probably going to be disappointed. But if you show up looking to party, you just might be blown away.

This is a band about partying. They talk about partying, sing about partying and party about partying. Like Andrew W.K. and the Pixies trading bar-band riffs, they plunge fearlessly into the pit of rock 'n' roll revelry. They brave the "Land of 1,000 Ex-Girlfriends" that is the Columbus garage rock scene to bring the party to you and yours.

Szymusiak has done time in a million "serious" bands, most recently manning the drum kit in Psandwich. The Washington Beach Bums puts him in front of a microphone, which is a brilliant idea considering some of the phrases he spouted Saturday. For example: "I'm sorry if anyone's panties inadvertently get melted on this one."

Lending Szymusiak the mic is wise also because he and co-frontman Benjamin Wilkinson are quite adept at making their ridiculous screeds ridiculously catchy. After just one listen, Szymusiak's hook for "Living the Dream Is Easy" was seared into my brain. Same with Wilkinson's absurd chorus for "White Dynamite."

The rhythm section of John Proctor and Gary Brownstein held firm, which is all you can ask in a band of this sort. They banged away forcefully, providing the requisite heft for not just partying but partying hard. Meanwhile, Carl Dever blasted away on trumpet and vocals. Her ceaseless energy and good cheer was the proverbial sweetener in the Beach Bums' non-stop musical liquor shots.

The whole enterprise was sloppy and rudimentary enough that I would hesitate to trumpet this crew as one of the city's best rock bands. But I would definitely hire them for a party. Mission accomplished, then?