Sensory Overload: Yawning Rabbit Productions helps brings Kobo to a close

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Kobo, which changed hands in February, recently shuttered its doors for a more complete overhaul, and is set to be reopened at a yet-to-be-determined date under a still-under-wraps moniker. A message posted on the club’s Facebook site read, in part, “The venue will be opened under a new name after thorough reconstruction … At the moment we will not be booking any June or July dates.”

Before closing the doors for remodeling on June 1 (new owner Ben DeRolph has stated several times the joint will remain a bar-slash-music venue), Kobo hosted a final weekend of shows, including a Thursday evening showcase curated by local booking/promotions/management house Yawning Rabbit Productions.

The evening’s diverse lineup veered from twitchy indie-rock to Renaissance fair folk — a weirdly appropriate assemblage for a space that has hosted everything from metal bands to acoustic, singer/songwriter types over the years — though not everything connected. Dueling Pianos, a keyboard-based collaboration between Jack Doran and Sam Muccio, for one, could better be summed up as Clashing Pianos, and there were numerous times it felt as if the two were playing entirely different songs at precisely the same time. At one point, the two sang, “There aren’t any words to the song/We just make it up as we go along,” and that half-formed, improvised feel defined much of the ragged set.

Andrea Valera and Tessa Reed of The Bitter Winds, in contrast, stitched together folk ditties with all the delicacy and care of a jeweler finishing off a particularly intricate piece. Incorporating everything from banjo to mandolin, the two, who easily could have existed within the world of “Inside Llewyn Davis,” harmonized on a range of tunes born largely of heartache and despair. “These ribs are an empty cage,” they repeated on the shattered “Robert.”

Best of all, however, was a 30-plus minute opening set from indie quartet Burlap for Bear, which incorporated everything from loping, folk-influenced tunes (“Dreaming of Home”) to proggier, art-rock fair. One new song, “Dear Son,” opened as a childlike nursery rhyme before taking a much darker turn, frontman Scott Baldwin singing of resentment and regret. Oddly, the band seemed most comfortable shut off from the light, and its best songs tended to explore the physical and emotional distances that tend to grow with the passage of time.