Sensory Overload: ComFest

Andy Downing, Columbus Alive

When ComFest kicked off in Goodale Park on a recent Friday, most everything about the annual neighborhood fest screamed pleasant, including the weather (blue skies and sunny, if a little warm) and the music, which, with a few exceptions, started off in a relatively low-key manner.

Urban Tropics exemplified this chill approach, working through island-tinged originals and breezy covers from both Rihanna and No Doubt.Sam & the Barber's synth-rock had a bit more heft, despite a fondness for meek lyrics that practically rolled over and asked to have their bellies rubbed ("Whatever you want take it from me").

Soul collective thePleasant Tense, playing the last show of its three-year existence, embraced its afternoon main stage set as a fond farewell rather than a tearful goodbye. "Now I'm gone like a summer breeze," sang frontwoman Marnee Richardson as the final genial notes played.

Tony "Doctah X" Harrington, fittingly dressed in what appeared to be a white lab coat, embraced the type of experimentation normally associated with scientists during an afternoon turn that melded dub, reggae and electronica. Atop loping riddims, the musician let loose blasts of an air horn and cryptic lyrics ("Shake hands with Satan," he offered on one tune) that called to mind the likes of Lee "Scratch" Perry.

Though singer and songwriterSteven King didn't employ an air horn, he occasionally interrupted his ambling sonic landscapes with elbow-throwing guitars that rattled like skeletons and revved like vintage motorbikes.

Caamp, despite utilizing tools generally associated with more reserved, uh, campground fare (acoustic guitar and banjo), managed to whip a good-sized, vocal crowd into a frenzy, racing through rollicking folk numbers that picked up momentum like a boulder tumbling downhill.

While most early performers allowed for polite moments, garage-punk trioSalvage functioned as the antithesis of its name, wielding its songs with the blunt force of a wrecking ball. "The whole world is going to explode," the group shouted, surveying the damage. "Oh, God, what have I done?"

Jacoti Sommes, meanwhile, appeared less bent on wreaking havoc than on sharing a few of his likes, which included, among other things, playing piano, riding motorcycles and bluegrass music. "I see some friends in the crowd; I don't see any enemies," he offered at the start of a playful performance that suggested a musically inclined Fred Rogers via Cartoon Network's Adult Swim. Someone get this man a variety show, stat.