Sensory Overload: Dolbys surround with sound

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Prior to Dolby Fuckers’ turn onstage, Sean Gardner, who fronted opener Bookmobile, offered a blunt (and good spirited) assessment of the rarely sighted band’s recorded output, saying, “[The recordings] sound like shit, but they’re such great pop songs.”

The scuzz-pop crew, which performed as a quartet here — save for a handful of songs where special guests turned up — embraced this lo-fi label throughout its short, scrappy set at a crowded Spacebar on a recent Friday, turning out clattering songs that favored raw, twitchy energy over polish or refinement. It’s a decision that appeared partially born of necessity (the band hadn’t performed live in six years and practiced only twice in the days leading up to the show) and partially of circumstance (one member accidentally triggered the reboot mode on the sole guitar tuner, leading to extended downtime between a handful of tunes).

Opening with “Celebrity Down,” the Fuckers — singer/guitarist Lee Keeler, bassist Kyle Sowash, guitarist Mike Postalakis and drummer Zac Szymusiak — locked in, seemingly adopting an approach borrowed from the name of the label behind its new full-length, Groovy Tunes: We Want Action.

Songs, in turn, veered from menacing, Link Wray-esque guitar rumblers to jagged turns like “Living in the Treble,” where Keeler growled about his self-worth as twin guitars gnashed and chomped. “Sharpshooter,” in defiance of its title, built on riffs that didn’t hit with targeted precision so much as they blanketed the floor of the venue like covering fire.

As the evening progressed, the bandmates tightened the screws just slightly, coalescing on the comparatively mellow “Butter & Olive Value Pies” and spinning off into an epic, arching “Hieroglyphs + Helium,” which stretched well beyond its recorded run time, bolstered by the presence of guest guitarist Russ Fink.

Openers Brat Curse (as brash and loud as its name implies) and Bookmobile helped set the all-in tone for the evening. Bookmobile, like the Dolby Fuckers, rarely performs live, and Gardner took full advantage of his time onstage, tossing open beers skyward and dancing in the crowd while his bandmates slugged away. “I’m too old to start it all again,” he howled on one number, though rather than passing the torch he used it to set fire to his surroundings.

Andy Downing photo