FiggyFest Celebrates Sixth Year of Irreverent Punk Rock Merrymaking
Sometimes jokes take on a life of their own. Sometimes they even do some good. When we met for lunch last week, one of the first things David Banbury, the ringleader of by now beloved tradition FiggyFest, said was “I’ll try not to talk about those Scrooges too bad. We shan’t work together again. But we all say that every year.” But every year that turns out to be a lie; everyone involved with the event has enough fun they forget the frenzied practice and the logistics of running this show in the midst of the holiday season. A sizable contingent of music fans who love the holidays but could stand their egg nog spiked with a heavier hand and a little acid, this writer included, are glad they do.
Like most good things in local music, the concept had its genesis in friendship and loose barroom talk, this time between Banbury and Lou Poster (Drift Mouth, Grafton).
“[Poster] and I would say every year, ‘We’re going to have a Christmas band! Figgy and the Scrooges!’ Finally, Eva [Owen] (who also plays with Banbury in year-round band The Reverbalines) said, ‘Why don’t you stop talking and do it?’,” explained Banbury.
The first year, at the same bar that hosted those meetings of the minds, Cafe Bourbon Street, didn’t even have a name for the event. Figgy and the Scrooges shared the stage with one-off band Miracle on Bourbon Street, starting the trend of bands springing up or changing their identity to fit the theme.
Banbury hadn’t been on stage since the mid-’90s (with band Babelfish), but Poster had played consistently, and by the second year, the Scrooges had settled into their rhythm section with Jeff Kleinman (Nervosas) on bass and Adam Elliott (Times New Viking) on drums. The first year made roughly $70 and some canned goods for the Mid-Ohio Food Bank — which still the charity partner of the event. After a second year at Cafe Bourbon Street, FiggyFest had gotten too large and moved to its new home at Ace of Cups, where it has resided for the last four years.
In the fifth year, they added Figgy PreFest at Used Kids. This expansion allowed other bands that expressed an interest in participating in the fun to have a shot without extending the night show and to have an event before Mid-Ohio Food Bank’s sponsored “Double Your Donation Day.” Used Kids also doubles donations given at the in-store, so every dollar contributed is four dollars to the food bank. This year’s PreFest takes place this Saturday, December 10, and entertainment includes:
- Ebenezer Booze is the second longest-running punk rock Christmas band in town, starting the second year of the event. The band, identified by Banbury as “KISS wannabes” for their love of elaborate costuming, was almost called “The Mariah Carey incident” after an ill-advised solo acoustic cover of Carey’s gorgeous standard “All I Want for Christmas is You” by Banbury no one at Bourbon Street that night is likely to forget. Vicki Mahnke (The Ferals) is the architect of Ebenezer Booze with costume ideas (Mahnke’s angry, melting gingerbread man is a personal favorite) and handling the songwriting of catchy, funny originals like “Christmas Bone,” and creating/building up a ” rivalry” with the Scrooges. Banbury and Mahnke are rounded out by Eva Owen, Virginia Pishioneri (Raw Pony), and this year Ryan Vile (The Girls!).
- The Mitzvahs, making their FiggyFest debut, are a Hanukkah-themed Misfits tribute act. Led by Chris Quickert (Mr. Tiger, Clay) with a firey rhythm section of Jeff Wiseman (Mors Ontologica, The Electric Hand) and Jason Kiernan (Reverbalines).
- New Jingle Soul is the Christmas version of rarely-seen Columbus supergroup New Gentle Soul. Matt Benz (Sin Shouters), whose Christmas extravaganzas at Carabar with his previous band The Beatdowns, are a precursor to FiggyFest, has promised a set that includes his cover of ’60s garage classic “Little Black Egg” as “Little Wrapped Gift” along with The Prissteens, The Smithereens, and other surprises. The rest of the band includes Tutti Jackson (Action Family, The Patsys), Travis Kokas (The Cusacks), and Gene Brodeur (The Sovines).
- Windowless (Salvation Army) Van is a collective providing the kind of joyful chaos no Christmas is complete without. This band features David Fricke, who as the owner of Cafe Bourbon Street gave the event its early home, roller girl and bon vivant Amanda Propaganda, Joe Damn Rosenblum (Matter of Planets), and Roger Vincent. It’s been a couple of years; hopes are high for this reunion.
The main event, FiggyFest, happens at Ace of Cups on Saturday, December 17 this year. $7 is the standard door donation, and all proceeds go to Mid-Ohio Food Bank. Entertainment includes:
- Figgy and the Scrooges. Will they remember playing The Sonics’ “Santa Claus”? Will they take “12 Shots of Christmas”? There’s only one way to find out. Featuring Lou Poster, David Banbury, Jeff Kleinman, Adam Elliott, and potentially some special guests.
- A second helping of Ebenezer Booze – if you miss them at Figgy PreFest, don’t miss them here! But don’t miss either if you know what’s good for you.
- Placenta Claus and the Human Santapede. In addition to having, hands down, the best name of the bands playing this event, Placenta Claus, and the Human Santapede, is a burst of fiery noise-rock with a scatological bent like nothing else at the fest. It’s a tonic that’s been known to make this writer’s heart grow three sizes. Featuring Virginia Pishioneri (doing double duty with Ebenezer Booze), Rich Meara (Lt Dance), and Ben Larson (The Girls!).
- Three Speed Sleigh. The opening slot for FiggyFest ties back to TrashFest of Stache’s days, an admitted inspiration for Figgy’s cracked jolliness. Matt Wyatt of Great Plains and Columbus Power Squadron leads his Planktones bandmates Eddie Blau and Gene Brodeur in a romp through rocking holiday favorites.
- DJ Krampus. Ian Graham, formerly of radio station WQTT and currently fronting the band Tasty, spins records between acts and MCs the night.
Figgy PreFest takes place at Used Kids Records (2500 Summit St) on Saturday, December 10 from 5:00 pm-9:00 pm. Donations are accepted and will be doubled by Used Kids and doubled again by the Mid-Ohio Food Bank. FiggyFest 2016 takes place at Ace of Cups (2619 N High St) on Saturday, December 17. Standard donation is $7 and all proceeds from the entry fee, merch, and raffle tickets go to the Mid-Ohio Food Bank.
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