The punk scene in Columbus, Ohio from 1999-2006 was slightly reminiscent of the early American hardcore scenes in Southern California, if only coincidently. Upon first glance, it would seem that all the shows were focused around the college town's dive bar, Bernie's Distillery, but kids were making something of their own outside of the nationally-known bands who played there. By 2002, a good percentage of the shows, including benefits and birthday parties, were being held at houses around the area, usually rented by college-aged punks (and those sympathetic to the kids).
Even though most of the people involved were from suburbs like Whitehall and Pickerington, downtown Columbus was where everything happened. 16th and High Street, the parking lot next to Bernie's, became the place to hang out and soon kids from neighboring areas as far out as Lancaster, over an hour's drive away. Odd Punk Out spoke out to the pop-punk fans from smaller suburbs and helped bridge the gap when they played with bands like Systematic Shock (then called Bouncing Bettie And The Bombshells) from Dayton at Bernie's and Second Spin, a record store in the middle of nowhere.
There was definitely an older scene, made up of bands like The FGD's, Prime Directive, Downtrodn, The Reacharounds, Legbone, and Lumberjack Death Squad. Pickerington's big band was The Specifics, who later changed their name to TV Eye. They frequently played with Cleveland street punk band Chaotic Alliance and many bigger punk bands including Lower Class Brats and Clit 45. The Specifics were often criticized for not being DIY enough and not supporting the local scene.
A staple in Columbus bands, as always, was Matt Sachire, the lead singer of SOTB (formerly Sick On The Bus), Beer Sluts, Skull Hed Face, The Retainers, Dirty Alleys Dirty Minds, and more recently, Know Fat Chicks. In Feburary 2006, during his birthday show at the Spooks house, Matt passed out and puked in his sleep. He was rushed to the hospital almost 24 hours after the show ended and was in a coma for 2-3 weeks. Eventually, he woke up and quickly relearned walking, talking, and singing. Unfortunately, the scene has been pretty splintered since the accident.
Many of the kids involved with the scene when I was have moved away or grown up. Looking at pictures of recent shows online amazes me, I recognize almost no one. For a few years I was really bitter I hadn't been born 10 years earlier in SoCal, but now I realize that without the late-90's, early-2000's scene in Columbus, I wouldn't be where I am today. The bands and music in and around this time on the Ohio circuit were snotty rebellion at the suburban and rural areas they came from. We hung out at skateparks and walked around aimlessly late at night or early in the morning, skipped class to go to the record store. Punk rock wasn't something we did on the weekends, it was our way of life. It was something made for kids, by kids, with all the angst, humour and drama necessary; truly something to be remembered.