As with so much in life, I became aware of the Bummer’s by dumb luck. It was Saturday night. I was with my friend Kareem from Columbus, roaming Main Street’s electric early summer nightlife. As we crossed 1345 Main, the doors of MOTR thrust open to outpouring smokers; we were blasted by the insane a.c. and the eerie angular lull of surf rock. Walk cancelled. We proved our age to the possibly-underaged doorman and pushed our way to the oak bar. It was packed. Over the roaring speakers, we mimed our drink order to a bartender, smiling, she filled our inaudible order perfectly. Kareem tapped my shoulder, cupped his hands to my ears, and exclaimed in something between a commanding voice and a shout, “these are my homies!” And the night was on.
The band is a grab bag of characters working miscellaneous day jobs to afford their rock n’ roll lifestyles. A grade school teacher, an artist/designer, a food expert; the professional habits of necessity for second-lives devoted to art and exploration. But for real—the music. Think 60s—no think early 70s— the cocaine and rum and sweat of slipshod guitar lines, the Beatles-esque muted kick that endorses rhythm without shouting, bass that weaves, melody that sinks into your marrow, and the vocalist, no—performer—at once careening and barbaric. Arm hairs stand up and salute that kind of rock. I was on a Cincinnati island, shaking it out to music imagined by Brian Wilson & Keith Moon, perfectly soured by DK’s Jello Biafra and made effortlessly and cool by 90s mega babe Kim Deal. But this was new drama from Ohio water.
This part is mandatory. I’ve been a lifelong lover of the rock costume. At some point in the 90s, the schlock and gloss of the 80s gave way to the depleted street look of the 90s. Leather became corduroy, hairspray and gel became threadbare t-shirts and mismatched flannel. It was a new era marked by the shedding of pretentious stage outfitting. To many, clothing got in the way of the energy excising itself from skin and connecting with the crowd. A less is more mentality that appears to have influenced Bummers’ fashion sensibility. On stage they appeared uncomplicated yet choiceful, unintentional yet perfectly branded.
You can check out The Bummers here.