Monday, April 05, 2010

Under the radar

Last Monday I went to the Southern Theatre to see Joanna Newsom in concert. I'm not a hardcore fan--the album covers and vocal technique have put me off in the past--but I've been won over by her new triple album. That wouldn't necessarily be enough to get me to pony up for a ticket, but I'm sufficiently plugged in to know that this is a pretty big show by indie rock (or whatever you want to call it) standards. Her current tour either hits big cities or prominent college towns--I think Columbus qualifies as both--and this appearance means it's unlikely she'll pass through again anytime soon. So I took a chance, bought a ticket, and ended up really enjoying the concert.

Tonight I'm going to see The xx. (Chances are you've heard them in the AT&T commercial with Apolo Anton Ohno that ran during the Winter Olympics.) The buzzed about band's show has been sold out for some time and is another feather in the cap of local bookers. There are cities bigger than this one that aren't getting it.

Aside from the obvious reason of enjoying the music, I'm also attending because it means taking advantage of what this city has to offer. Staying in Columbus wasn't an automatic choice when I finished college, although I liked the area and preferred to stick around if all things were equal. As things turned out, I remained here and have been happy to do so. It has, for me, the ideal qualities of where I'd like to live: the feel of a smaller city and its ease of navigation with the cultural benefits of a large city.

Not every group or artist I'd like to see comes to town, and seeing any of the three major professional sports means driving a couple hours. Nevertheless, without driving more than fifteen or twenty miles I've been able to see plenty of bands and films and even world-renowned filmmakers that don't always visit places bigger than here. It is pretty remarkable the more I think about it.

Columbus doesn't have the cachet of Austin, Texas or Portland, Oregon. It's more like a well-kept secret, but I'd like to believe that those in the know appreciate this city beyond its reputation of a college football-crazy cowtown.

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