Sensory Overload: Odd Vocado bashes away, determined to leave a mark

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Getting older doesn’t necessarily mean you grow any wiser, which is a truism that surfaced time and again throughout Odd Vocado’s set at Café Bourbon Street on a recent Wednesday.

“I’m getting way too old to make these old mistakes,” growled singer/bassist Chris “Spanky” Hughes on the set-opening “The Pipes of Chesapeake.”

Elsewhere the punk trio struggled with the notion of being trapped “like hamsters in a cage” (the bare-knuckled “Cabbagehead”), rejection (“You won’t hang out with me,” Hughes huffed on “OCD”) and having everything systematically stripped away until there was “nothing left but the bone” (the tangled “I Gotta Rash, Man”).

Rather than folding under these external pressures, however, the trio fought back, burying its concerns beneath a musical outpouring that blanketed the venue like earthquake rubble. Hughes anchored the sound with his snaking basslines and husky voice, while guitarist J.R. Fisher provided an assortment of balled-fist riffs and chipped in with shouted vocals on the borderline-unhinged “All the Same.” Shirtless drummer Chris Cornetet, who could have passed for an extra from “Mad Max: Fury Road” with his punk ’do, rounded out the sound with his high-tension drum volleys.

Befitting its name, Odd Vocado didn’t shy from absurdity, embracing it in everything from its song titles (the “Big Lebowski” referencing “I Gotta Rash, Man,” as well as the new tune “Brewicide”) to the stage décor (a giant stuffed tiger) to the lyrics, which tempered gut-twisting confessions with surrealist images, like scenes of platypuses — arguably nature’s most ridiculous mammal — digging in the sand.

At their core, though, a bulk of the band’s songs remained lost and lonely, Hughes singing: “I’ll leave you to your own thoughts”; “I’ll always be the loser of this lucky winner’s game”; “You won’t remember me.”

If anything, the music itself served as a counterpoint to this shrugging, shrinking violet mindset, the three bandmates bashing away, determined to leave a mark even in those moments where their singer howled about fading further into the background.

Andy Downing photo