Category Archives: Concert Reviews

Wire at the Beachland Ballroom

DJ Party Sweat spinning before Wire at the Beachland Ballroom. Photo by Mara Robinson
DJ Party Sweat spinning before Wire at the Beachland Ballroom. Photo by Mara Robinson.

From the moment we entered the nostalgic flyer-covered walls of the Beachland Ballroom, it truly felt like stepping into an underground club from the 80s. The groove of DJ Party Sweat’s pulsating vinyl beats set the soundtrack before the ambient pop-noise stylings of Julian Lynch. His solo performance captured the early audience’s attention, with a whispered voice, multi-color guitar, and two briefcases stacked with effects and processors.

Wire (Graham Lewis, Robert Grey, Colin Newman) live at the Beachland Ballroom. Photo by Mara Robinson.
Wire (Graham Lewis, Robert Grey, Colin Newman) live at the Beachland Ballroom. Photo by Mara Robinson.

With their fourteenth studio album and a career that spans over thirty years, Wire has earned a no-nonsense reputation, especially when it comes to their stage performance. That level of respect for their craft is equally reflected by the devotion of the fans who filled the ballroom floor.

Colin Newman of Wire live at the Beachland Ballroom. Photo by Mara Robinson.
Colin Newman of Wire live at the Beachland Ballroom. Photo by Mara Robinson.

The front of the stage was a guitar and gear lover’s dream: from the massive Eastwood hollow-bodied twelve-string and streamlined Airline guitars in Colin Newman’s arsenal, to the artful pickguard on Graham Lewis’ souped-up bass, and the sea of unique effects pedals arranged in front of each member’s station. Wire’s embrace of technology has been their hallmark, and their growing cache of technological prowess continues to surprise their audiences.

Graham Lewis of Wire live at the Beachland Ballroom. Photo by Mara Robinson.
Graham Lewis of Wire live at the Beachland Ballroom. Photo by Mara Robinson.

Wire started their set with a pair of uptempo selections from their new self-titled album, Blogging and Joust and Jostle. Both tunes display the quick beats, angular chords, and short length that has become their signature style. The low-tone hook-laden punk sounds just as fresh as their classic album catalog.

Matthew Simms of Wire live at the Beachland Ballroom. Photo by Mara Robinson.
Matthew Simms of Wire live at the Beachland Ballroom. Photo by Mara Robinson.

Their set continued with more new material peppered with choice picks from recent albums like Stealth of a Stork and early work like Blessed State. The sonic showcases during Sleep-Walking and their final song Harpooned were fantastic to behold. Guitarist Matthew Simms’ technical musicianship and dexterity was on full display, with incredible feedback, synthesized solos, and brilliant electronic textures on his lefty Fender and lap slide guitars.

Matthew Simms of Wire live at the Beachland Ballroom. Photo by Mara Robinson.
Matthew Simms of Wire live at the Beachland Ballroom. Photo by Mara Robinson.

After a brief departure, they returned for a final encore kicked off with Adore Your Island from Change Becomes Us and closed out the night with more fan favorites, including a rare song from Pink Flag. Wire is known for not doing fan requests, but hopefully they’ll oblige to their great group of devotees and return to Cleveland on their next tour.

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Live Review: Tame Impala at the House of Blues

Australians Tame Impala brought their technicolor dream show to the delight of the sold out audience at House of Blues on June 4. Giant projectors and lights painted the crowd in bright swatches of colors, while barefooted and serene lead singer Kevin Parker kicked off the show with the latest single off Currents, “Let It Happen”.  The cool and collected attitude of the band on stage did not extend into show goers who danced and thrashed about to the music as Tame Impala kicked through many songs off of 2012’s Lonerism including “Endors Toi”, “Mind Mischief” and favorite “Elephant” which extended into a jam session with synth-heavy beats (brought to you by Jay Watson and Dominic Simper) that resonated out into the venue and shook the very core of the audience.

The encore kicked off with a dynamic drum solo by Julian Barbagallo. However, Tame Impala saved one of the oldies, but goodies for last as Parker slyly smiled and hummed into the mic, “You ready?” before sliding into the highly anticipated “Feels Like We Only Go Backwards”. The show ended with Lonerism‘s “Nothing That Has Happened So Far Has Been Anything We Could Control”.

 

Supporting Tame Impala was power-pop Kuroma, led by Hank Sullivant, formerly of The Whigs. The band played a 45 minute set including “20+Centuries” and “Simon’s in the Jungle”. Even with the absence of guitarist Simon O’Connor, the remaining three members  were able to pack in a great amount of energy and sound that transcended opener expectations, leaving the at-capacity crowd cheering for an encore.

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Live Review: Matt and Kim at the House of Blues

Cleveland had been waiting oh-so-patiently for Brooklyn power-duo Matt and Kim after canceling their last appearance in support of Passion Pit in 2013. The couple more than made up for this by providing Cleveland the means to dance and sweat through  a 21-song set in support of their latest album, New Glow. “I’m giving you 200 percent because you motherfuckers deserve it!” whooped Kim Schifino after she explained in graphic detail the reasoning behind the last show’s cancellation (it involved a toilet.. and some Pepto…we’ll spare you the details).

And give it 200 percent, they did. Blasting through songs like “Cameras”, “Hoodie On” and “Get It”, Matt and Kim blew the roof off of the House of Blues with confetti cannons and balloons galore with a parachute dance party to throw in the mix. Having previously been injured from stage antics earlier in the week, Matt Johnson did not let that stop him from skillfully balancing himself on one foot and dipping forward into his keyboards while Kim twerked all the way across the stage.

The show closed out with crowd pleasers “Let’s Go” and “Daylight” before the one song encore of “It’s Alright” in which Kim crowd surfed and booty danced into the middle of the audience.

San Francisco-based Waters warmed up the audience with flowers and sunny tunes including “What’s Real” and “Stupid Games”. The 5-piece band also attempted a cover of Taylor Swift’s “Blank Space”, but redeemed themselves with original song material “I Feel Everything”.

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Live Review: Lightning Bolt/Metz/Chomp at the Beachland Ballroom

It may have been a good idea to bring a set of earplugs to the Beachland Ballroom Friday night as the aggressive chaos-inducing noise-rock of Lightning Bolt, METZ and Chomp emanated from the stage and penetrated concertgoers’ ears.

Cleveland’s own Chomp kicked off the night with Joe Boyer on vocals, Jeff Latimer on bass and Scott Reid on drums. Boyer’s voice ranged from melodic drifts to gravelly screams. Reid’s drumming reached a vomit-inducing high that did not deter him one bit except for a five second recovery period before delving into one of Chomp’s newest songs, “The Rational Anthem”. You can catch Chomp again at Mahall’s on April 30.

METZ hailing from Toronto took no time to create a sweat-filled haze over the crowd that literally fogged up lead singer Alex Edkin’s glasses. Edkin’s shredding matched bass player’s Chris Sloarch’s wild antics while drummer Hayden Menzies pounded away in a maniacal fashion. Edkin’s interactions was minimal but when prompted, the crowd responded back with mighty whooping before diving back into the mosh pit once a new song started.

Much anticipated headliner Lightning Bolt took to the stage – a rarity as their sets are usually performed on the ground surrounded by the crowd. Bassist Brian Gibson left the talking and crowd interaction up to drummer/vocalist Brian Chippendale as he stood off to the side quietly concentrating on his loops and tapping. Chippendale’s furious drumming threw concertgoers into a violent frenzy while he bellowed unintelligible lyrics into his masked microphone. Playing songs off their recently released album Fantasy Empire, it was not long before those in attendance mustered the courage to hop on stage and thrash along in usual Lightning Bolt fashion.

 

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Live Review: Foxygen at the Rock Hall

For April’s Sonic Sessions, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame brought glam rock group Foxygen to their main stage. Founded by duo Sam France and Jonthan Rado in 2005, the group has been touring in support of their album …And Star Power released in 2014. France’s unhinged dancing sprung him to the very edge of the stage to the screaming crowd while he and the equally enthusiastic back-up dancers kept up with the beat splaying their limbs wildly into the air. Rado focused on keyboards while occasionally standing on a chair to play guitar.

The group tore through their set with songs like “Hot Summer”, “Cannibal Holocaust”, and “Shuggie”. After a mock induction ceremony in honor of the Rock Hall’s Induction Week, Foxygen ended the night with a 2-song encore including crowd favorite “No Destruction” and “Everyone Needs Love”.

The show began with the extraordinary talent from Down Under, Alex Cameron, and his right-hand sax man, Roy Molloy. The duo impressed with synth-induced songs like “Happy Ending” and “Real Bad Lookin”. Molloy’s sax complimented Cameron’s Nick Cave-esque silky tenor and get-low-and-dirty dance moves.

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