When Columbus pop-punk band City Lights announced their breakup back in February 2014, the members hinted that they might play farewell shows.
That farewell is now complete with the band playing its last show Saturday night.
“We’ve been a band for four years or so and we all just wanted to try something different,” frontman Oshie Bichar said. “We all had different opportunities and aspirations we wanted to do and it was just a good time to call it.”
Bassist Chase Clymer added that “it was too much of a business at that point and it wasn’t fun anymore.”
After over a year, City Lights finally announced that they would be playing one more show at the Ace of Cups. A few days before the show was due to take place, the venue was changed to the outdoor stage at the Park Street Patio. City Lights had sold out Ace of Cups’ indoor capacity limit and decided to change locations so more fans could come out and enjoy the show, said Ben Leubitz, Park Street Patio’s talent buyer.
Bichar said they booked the show a couple of months ago, but mentioned how it wasn’t easy planning a show with so many past members traveling or currently being involved with different projects.
“We’ve got at least 15 people that have been in the band at one point or another,” Bichar said. “It was just a matter of finding a Saturday where there was going to be the right group of people together at the same time.”
While City Lights is no more, some of the members who made up Saturday’s lineup are still involved in the music scene. Bichar is currently the bassist in Columbus’ Beartooth, while drummer Sean Smith and guitarist Will Deely both perform with country artist Carter Winter. Guitarist Jeremy Smith is about to begin his journey playing alongside bassist Aaron Evans in Columbus’ own Like Moth to Flames. Clymer now books and promotes shows and various events in Columbus while owning and operating his own digital marketing agency.
With picturesque weather, children of all ages ran around the venue, some with their parents, some without, and there was even a friendly beagle named Kelli roaming around for a nice pat on the head.
The first band to the stage was Cincinnati pop-rock group Let It Happen, which was recently labeled as one of Alternative Press’ “100 Bands You Need to Know.”
Cleveland’s Dead Leaves followed with its mellow, yet hard-hitting rhythms. The band opened up with its song “Fading,” which didn’t really stand out from the looping setlist put on by the venue because of the lack of change in volume.
The blend of pop-punk and 1990s-2000s emo could easily be heard throughout the set, with lyrics like “I’m counting all the things that I have done wrong. I’m am better silent, I knew it all along,” from “Interpretations of the Past.”
Their seven-set show came to an end with “I Was Once an Extrovert,” to which the crowd was moving along to the music, jumping and mouthing the lyrics.
When 8 p.m. came around, City Lights took the stage with haste, leaving little room for introductions asides from the standard “Hi-we’re-City-Lights-and-thanks-for-coming-out” spiel.
The crowd was quick to respond, immediately clearing circles for moshing with crowd surfers flying overhead.
“It was one of the most energetic shows I’ve ever seen before,” Leubitz said. “It was also the best show I’ve seen all year, and that’s coming from someone who goes to five shows a week.”
The combination of pop-punk with elements of metalcore was represented throughout the band’s 14-song long setlist, opening up with “I’m Sick of It,” quickly rolling into “Hang Out,” the first single off of the 2011 full-length album “In It To Win It”.
When the show first started, one audience member set off what seemed to be a never-ending supply of crowd surfers, making their way up to the stage, sometimes sinking in the crowd. The crowd was filled with a dedicated and diverse group, with fans from all over the country and even Japan.
“There are a lot of people who traveled a long distance so I hope we put on a performance they’re happy with,” Clymer said. “Someone came here from Japan, California, New York, Massachusetts, Chicago (and Canada).”
At various points throughout the night, the people directly in front of the stage needed breaks from all the chaos, which resulted in stage divers jumping off the stage before immediately meeting the cold, hard ground versus being kept up by warm, soft hands.
As the night kept going on, so did the music, with City Lights playing an even blend of its two full-length albums, performing seven songs from each respectively. While the band was playing “Just In Case,” a guest appearance was made by Columbus’ own Caleb Shomo, who is currently the lead singer in Beartooth, former member of now deceased band Attack Attack. His presence added more energy to the crowd, leaving them chanting for more.
After singing the chorus alongside Bichar, Shomo quickly threw down the mic and jumped into the crowd. He briefly made another appearance at the end of the night during City Lights’ final song “Lawnmower,” again ending with another successful stage dive.
The crowd grew rowdier, going from one person stage diving at a time, averaging out to two to three people at a time. By the end of the night, there were no fewer than three people simultaneously jumping off the stage throughout any given song, in addition to Clymer being pushed off, playing the bass while laying in the hands of his fans.
They played classics like “Jeremy’s Song” and “My Entire Life” with the same energy they started the night off with.
A lonesome security guard eventually made his way onto the stage during “Where You’ve Been,” the penultimate song for the night. He stood on stage for a handful of seconds, gesturing at someone not to climb up on stage to crowd surf. As a minute went by, the security guard walked off and was nowhere to be seen.
As the show came to an end with each member slowly walking off the stage, the crowd chanted “One more song” until they were cut off by the venue’s background music, which indicated that the show had officially come to an end. So had City Lights.