13 Local Music Acts That You Oughta Know And Love

Dear Columbus Town,

You can feel it in the air can’t you?

That little warm vibration bubbling through the town. People poking their heads out of shuttered apartments like a colony of groundhogs up and down city streets. With the weather about to break (I promise you it’s coming, just a little longer Columbus, we’ve done this before) the city is getting that electric restless feeling right before something bright and awesome happens.

And the best part? That’s when the city starts to really pop off with awesome shows and concerts. Sure, there were some shows during the colder months, but it’s about to literally (well, not literally) bubble over with some great live tunes vibrating up and down the High street thoroughfare.

As you can probably tell, I for one am super pumped to get out there and see some great visiting acts. But you know we have to put on for the city. There are a ton of great and talented acts from right here in our own hometown. These are the home-brew acts that are an absolute must see. Be sure to check this list off as soon as you can and click on each band’s name to find their page and follow.

Mojo Flo

First of all, if you’re just hearing about this band for the first time I- a.) just don’t friggin’ believe you, stop lying. And b.) literally want you to go with me and check them out. No seriously. I’m definitely down to see any of these live acts listed, but ESPECIALLY this one. They throw it down for the Neo Funk fans in a big way and their live shows are always killer. Not to mention the ADORABLE married couple of Amber Knickole (belting neon hot vocals) and Walter K (serenading with the sax) is a raw synergistic combination that you’re just going to have to see to believe.


Souther is that blues infused, garage and groove, leather and lace band that you hope to God would exist in a Midwest metropolis like Columbus. And Souther totally gives it to you. With earthy vocals and denim charm, this band won’t disappoint even the staunchest of music purists. If Columbus couldn’t produce and welcome a sound like this then it’d be forced to turn in that “Midwest art scene” card we know we hold so dear.

Olde Frnds

Laying down a flurry of jazz fusion tracks within the last year or so, Olde Frnds are all about charismatic technicality and playful performances. Lighthearted and breezy, the boys of Olde Frnds go at their instruments with a swagger that can only be described as “Ferris-Buellerian” (patent pending). But don’t be fooled by all of that charm and those boyish good looks, they regularly stun crowds with their musicianship. They take their sound VERY seriously. Everything else? Probably looking at a solid maybe.

Insane Jazz Posse

Have you ever wanted to see a cover of Torn by Natalie Imbruglia turned on its head, jazzified, and made into something so angry and stank nasty that it’s almost unrecognizable as the 90s pop anthem that it once was? No? Oh, you do. You just haven’t met IJP yet. They take all the pop tunes that you love and make them into ghastly and gorgeous dissonant jazz hits. It’s basically what would happen if you made Charles Bukowski listen to WNCI on a weeknight. It’s going to be genius, you’re going to be creeped out, and somebody’s radio is getting thrown through a windshield.

Happy Chichester

Happy Chichester will be the first to tell you, he lives in a “Glamorous Town”. The titular song seems to both celebrate and critique Columbus’ own duality and it’s diverse culture. With guitar and synths, singer-songwriter Happy Chichester lays out very original tunes that are mercilessly honest while still veiling itself behind the mysticism of poetic verse. From poppy, bubbly, sounds to a haunting acoustic and vocal combination, Happy covers a lot of bases within his singular artistic voice and vision.

Counterfeit Madison

Who says you can’t throw down funk with punk and a lil’ bit of soul? Well whoever did, don’t introduce them to Counterfeit Madison or their bound to be headed toward an existential meltdown. A sound that’s at once happy, ecstatic, eclectic, and overall just impressive, this band is for the Columbus music kid who thinks they’ve seen it all. Trust me, Counterfeit Madison can’t be replicated or reproduced, so unless you’ve actually seen them, you haven’t seen it all. Sonically they’re robust and angry and, sometimes, a little sad. Give them a listen and see how you’d describe their own unique resonance.

Jae Esquire

Jae Esquire is a hallmarked echo of a more rhythmic and lyrically incisive time in hip-hop. With throwback boom-bap beats and layered string and bass samples that defined 90s hip hop, Jae doesn’t smother the track, but rather coasts it with a smooth and well finished vocal style. If you listen closely enough you can almost hear the fist and pencil beats from high school lunch tables that redefined the genre. A must listen for any true Columbus hip-hop head or for anyone who’s always been interested in what the local scene sounds like.

The Up All Nights

Have you ever met that guy at the party? You know, the one that was super weird but for some reason he seemed positively sure that he was way cooler than you and, somehow, actually was? Well, give that guy a guitar and make him three people that are actually brothers and you got The Up All Nights. Infuriating am I right? They gnash at you with that oldschool attitude rock that we all love, sans the acid wash jeans and awful hair. They’re definitely into creating soundtracks for the disenfranchised and downtrodden. And, yes, they’re probably way (WAY) cooler than you.

Miller and the Hunks

Miller and the Hunks lay down an angsty diatribe of alt-pop rock, sure to tickle everyone’s inner debaucherous hipster. With just smidge of sultry thrown into the mix, they definitely make it known that they’re throwing down for a good time and you should too. Also, they’ve got a dude in their band called “The Warthog”. How friggin’ rock n’ roll is that? Answer: Very.

Conscious Pilot

Conscious Pilot wants to guide you through a new age rock experience like you’ve never experienced at any liveshow in Columbus. With a psychedelic sound that’s just as out there as their hair, they encourage audiences to explore the doors of mental perception without all of that, you know, “experimentation”. To say that they’re a little reminiscent of Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem would be a pretty severe understatement (if you don’t get that reference you should definitely brush up on your Muppets trivia my friends).

Electric Orange Peel

Looking for something with a bit more a festival jam band vibe? Electric Orange Peel is going to be the go-to sound for you. They completely capture that warm weather/open spaces and sunny skies feeling that the city has been longing for all those winter months. Anyone familiar with Grateful Dead or The Band will be able to jump right in and dig it almost immediately. So take off your shirt and grab your signature festival mug, this is the Comfest band you’re going to want to see.

Matt Monta and the Haymakers

Offering up a hefty but digestible chunk of Americana folk rock, Matt Monta and the Haymakers are pure Ohio rust belt magnetism. It’s blue collar feel good music at it’s finest, stirring up memories of old loves, rowdy friends, and calloused hands. It instills a nostalgia of simpler times and Ohio fields, whether or not you’ve ever even experienced them. I mean, sure, I’ve never even seen a tractor, but if these boys keep crooning and you give me enough whiskey, I will totally be in flannel reminiscing about a seasonal love faster than you can say “holy everyman relatability Batman”.

Lisa Bella Donna

Lisa is a self proclaimed “Sound Sorceress”, a fairly accurate title considering her sheer power and understanding of everything auditory. Her experimental sonic stylings utilize the latest in industry gear as well as a plethora of different instrumentation. The result is a pilgrimage of sound that would feel at home on any Stanley Kubrick movie soundtrack (particularly Space Odyssey). She refuses to be pigeonholed by music style or instrument. To see her play is to be bewitched, to hear her music is to be enthralled. You’ll definitely enjoy both.

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