Locals: Cringe celebrates 25 years of quietly repping for the local music scene

Andy Downing, Columbus Alive

When Joel Treadway launched Cringe as an email blast in 1990, he couldn't have seen it developing into a local institution.

In the years since, however, the music platform, which has gone through numerous permutations and currently exists as a concert-listing-based calendar at cringe.com, has become a go-to source for anyone with even a passing interest in the Columbus music scene.

"We grew up in southern Ohio and didn't have access to local newspapers, so as soon as somebody in our group got a driver's license we'd check out the local listings on the [Cringe] website to plan our weekend," said Emily Davis (Ipps, Necropolis), who helped organize Cringe's 25th anniversary celebration, which takes place at Double Happiness on Friday, Jan. 23 and features performances from Envelope, Ipps, Kizzy Hall and Jordan O' Jordan. "You can look back through the archives and it's a history of everything that has happened back through the beginning of the site. It's an amazing resource, and it really created a way to bind us all together."

Treadway first established Cringe in the early '90s as a way to alert friends to shows he was helping promote for Ohio State University student groups like the Student Events Committee and the Society of Physics Students (at the time Treadway worked as a Graduate Research Assistant in the Department of Speech and Hearing Science). From there, the concept grew organically. In 1995, he launched the website cringe.com, as well as a short-lived companion print zine, and the coverage expanded to incorporate everything from concert listings to venue reviews and interviews with local musicians.

"Right away I adopted this idea that local music is not lesser, because I think that's a common opinion," said the Columbus born and bred Treadway, seated in a Short North concert venue for a mid-January interview. "For me it was always like, 'Oh cool. They're local!'"

In recent years, Cringe has streamlined its reach, shuttering a message board, doing away with reviews and returning its focus to the calendar tool, which has remained the most popular part of the site since its launch-date and still presents the most thorough overview of the local concert scene available anywhere. Treadway updates these listings twice a week (on Sunday and Thursday), working quietly and efficiently behind the scenes as he's always done.

"He's like a lot of photographers, where they're kind of … behind the camera. He's not a talkative guy. He's in the back of the room, and is maybe just a face in the crowd to a lot of people," Davis said. "It's incredible what he's contributed, and still a lot of people probably wouldn't recognize him. But at so many shows he's there, pulling the scene together."

Photo by Meghan Ralston

Double Happiness

9 p.m. Friday, Jan. 23

482 S. Front St., Brewery District


PLAYING: Envelope, Ipps, Kizzy Hall, Jordan O' Jordan