Cleveland is a scary place. Especially at night. Especially when you’re not from the area. Here is my terrifying tale of cold-hearted fear and redemption.
For some odd reason Cleveland shows start mega-late. Everywhere else venues have the sense to start at nice times like 7pm or so. Not so in Cleveland. There venues start shows around 9pm, thus guaranteeing you that you can’t escape till after midnight. Another weird Cleveland quirk is that the bar charges an extra $2 if you’re underage (granted, that’s probably more widespread than Cleveland; however, I still gripe about it since here in central PA they don’t).
I went with two friends, whom for the purpose of this review I shall call Bob and Sarah. We arrive at the venue, Beachland Ballroom, about 45 minutes before the show was scheduled to start. Of course, by the time the band started we had been waiting an hour or so. We stood in the middle of the room and talked awhile. Pretty soon, the guy standing next to us introduced himself and we started chatting. I’ll call him James.
Around quarter after nine the opening band, the Boas, got on stage. They are one of those bands who are chock full of talent, but have not made any kind of name for themself in indie circles or mainstream circles alike. I saw them last year open for Wilco at Messiah College and was quite impressed. I think I was the only person there, other than Bob, who had heard of them before.
They played a six-song set. Four of the songs were new as best as I can tell, while they played two songs off their only cd, titled “Mansion”. The old material is slower, quirky indie rock with some country influence. The new stuff is more rocking and definitely tighter. I am looking forward to a release of it.
An interesting note about the Boas: back when their cd was printed up the band name was “Mansion”, and as a result the cd was self-titled. However, before it got released they changed the band name to Boas. As a result the cd had to be shipped with a sticker on the cover that had the band name, however, nowhere else on the cd does the name “Boas” appear. So if you see a cd called “Mansion” at a used cd store, it may just be the Boas. Check it out.
After the Boas’ set there was a forty-five minute set change. We talked with James a while longer. Out of the blue he asked if we knew of any good gay bars in the area. Of course, none of us are from Cleveland so we had no clue.
The place was packed out. It was a sell-out crowd. I am not a smoker, however, I don’t care if other people do. Unfortunately 95% of the people in the room were smoking all the time. There was a grey haze in the entire room. The air was mostly smoke.
Mogwai got on stage, finally. I am not a huge Mogwai fan. I came to the show mostly because of my love for the Boas and to hang out with friends. We were warned by some of Bob’s friends that Mogwai puts on one of the loudest shows around. At first, we thought he was lying. Mogwai started with the atmospheric stuff that is very dominant on the most recent release. Then midway through the song, the one guitar player turned on the distortion and then we understood loud.
I stood and appreciated Mogwai’s talent, but was generally unimpressed with the sound in. James left during the first song and we never saw him again. Suddenly, during the third song, I started feeling sick. Between standing for several hours and the lack of oxygen in the room I felt woozy. Rather than risk fainting or anything I elbowed my way through the crowd and into the back foyer where I could sit against a wall and breathe fresh air. That’s where I stayed during the rest of the set. I could still hear and the visuals weren’t all that exciting in the first place, so I wasn’t missing much.
After the long set Bob and Sarah came out to find me. They were quite happy to see that I was ok. They had not noticed when James left, so only noticed both of us were missing at the same time. Bob said, “Man, we thought you were out getting raped or something.”
We got out to Bob’s car and started the sucker up. Just as we were pulling out of our parking space a black man came running at us, waving his arms and shouting. It was either run him over or stop, so we pulled to a halt. He ran around to Bob’s door and tapped on the window, motioning for him to roll it down.
“My car ran out of gas around the corner and I need some money to get home, can you help me out?” he rasped.
Bob said, “Yeah yeah” and pulled a bill from his wallet. “Here you go.”
The man scampered off and we breathed a sigh of relief. Sure, he was probably going off to his drug dealer, but we were alive and still had our car, and that’s all that mattered. Or maybe he had run out of gas, in which case we helped a dude in need. Either way, we were quite afriad he was going to pull a gun on us or something.
We were glad we we to the show and glad we came away unraped and unkilled. The chances of us going back to that part of Cleveland, however, are small.