Cousin Simple – Artist Spotlight
Imagine seeing Cage The Elephant at a small bar back in 2007 right before the release of their self-titled album. Or Blink 182 playing out of a garage prior to Dude Ranch being released or Taking Back Sunday in 2005 while they were working on Louder Now. You would’ve known that you were witnessing something special. That widespread recognition and fame were within arms reach. A crowd bursting with love as they shout every lyric with limitless energy. That energy and that sound only come around once in a blue moon. If you ever get to experience it, you’ll remember it for years to come.
That’s what it was like seeing Cousin Simple last night at The Basement in Columbus, Ohio. Chances are you’ve never heard of Cousin Simple. Don’t feel bad; neither did I, but after last night this rock group is at the top of my radar. I checked out a few of their songs in the days prior to covering them, a mix of mall-punk rock with a coating of rock and roll and a splash of pop. When I first got to the venue, I was a bit taken back, one, by the size of the crowd, and, two, since I was one of the oldest people there (and I’m only 29 years old). I was nervous about what I was getting into, but my concerns were soon to be demolished. I feel like a fool for ever having them in the first place.
Five guys straight out of high school who call Columbus home just played one of the best live sets I have ever seen. Everyone was packed in, sheltered from the rain and ready for this sold-out show. The crowd erupted when lead singer and guitarist Harsh Hoag took the stage… to put his water bottle in place. This isn’t something that happens often in a small venue like this. Who the hell are these guys?
Right from the first guitar riff, I knew I was about to witness something great. Hoag has the stage presence of Matt Shultz combined with Brandon Flowers. Guitarist Ryan Ulibarri looks like he is a long-lost love child of Johnny Ramone and Jimmy Page, and he has the talent to back it up. The roaring drums brought vibrations through your spine and into your soul thanks to the blisteringly talented Joel Lorenz, who is a young Travis Barker. Bassist Mitch Whittaker is Flea meets John Entwistle. Guitarist/Keyboardist Luke Hamrock controlled the keys with the elegance and soul of John Paul Jones. Cousin Simple is a supergroup.
Their hour-long set was ruled by original songs, and the crowd knew every word. By the end of the night, the room smelled like a high school locker room as sweat poured from every attendee. From originals to a punk cover of “Feliz Navidad” and a fierce rendition of “Mr. Brightside,” they brought it all and gave us everything they had.
I know these are some serious claims I am making. Can a group of teenagers really rock this hard? I can definitively say that yes, they can. I cannot wait for their next show on January 11th at Skully’s Music Diner. If you live within 100 miles of Columbus, it is well worth the drive. They won’t be playing these small venues for long. Check out our full gallery of the Cousin Simple show at The Basement in Columbus, Ohio, below!