The Unholy 2, Deathly Fighter and Swamp Leather at Cafe Bourbon Street

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Swamp Leather, featuring Bobo manager Adam Fleischer on guitar, bassist at large Fred Phoening and Terribly Empty Pockets drummer Ryan Jewell, plus a dude on trumpet and noise box who I don't know, was a pleasant surprise. I have a rudimentary knowledge of experimental music, so my bag of reference points is pretty small, but the shapeshifting instrumental compositions reminded me of the Boredoms. That, of course, is a good thing. They played only two songs, but both were lengthy; the first was exhilarating, like a concise synopsis of the history of out music, while the second was understated and less compelling. These players have collaborated before in several combinations, and I'll be interested to see how this music grows and unfolds now that Jewell's in the band. For now, the sounds are enjoyable but inessential.

Deathly Fighter was not what I expected at all. The name seemed to imply some sort of hardcore or punk influence, but they don't even have a drummer. Instead, they employ a drum machine, keyboard, guitar and bass in extremely minimal ways, crafting grooves that barely change over the course of about 10 minutes. As Carney explained afterward, there's music you put on to rock out in the car, and there's music for reading books—these guys are out to make book-reading music. Like Swamp Leather, Deathly Fighter limited its set to two extended songs. I wasn't too fond of the first one, but you might chock that up in part to confounded expectations. For the second number, I let myself drift into the music and came away much more satisfied. I'd like to hear a few more ideas and see some more engaging stage presence, but Deathly Fighter could turn into something great. Again, a work in progress.

Last up was the lightning rod known as the Unholy 2. Chris Lutzko used to be in El Jesus de Magico, but since he was ousted a couple years ago, he has been known mostly for being the life of the party, mooching off friends and getting stuck in Texas for a month after last year's South by Southwest. So when he began talking up this band months before it ever appeared, it was easy to be skeptical of his focus. Even when the band debuted at last summer's CDR BBQ, the music was sloppy and inconsequential. Thanks to that debut, up until recently I thought the band's surge in popularity was a case of the emperor's new clothes, but I'm happy to report that I was wrong. Since then, Lutzko has switched drummers, adding the superior Bo Davis, and brought in Adam Smith as a "mechanist" to enhance and distort his vocals. The tune-up has done wonders for the band; its abrasive skree is still not something little-old-pop-fan me would listen to every day, but when I'm in the mood for some blunt, nihilistic noise rock, it hits the spot. The Unholy 2 has become a formidable live unit, raw and powerful and impossible to ignore. What once seemed like a joke is now the real deal.