Author Archives: Mike Scherf

TVD Live: Spoon at
the Newport Music
Hall, 6/12

PHOTOS: ORIANA BELAVIC | Let’s spend a few paragraphs getting some obvious stuff out of the way before I dig into what this review will really be about.

Spoon is a fantastic band. Like really, really great. Their discography is nearly impeccable, they sound awesome live, the whole band is loaded front to back with incredible musicians, and Britt Daniel is an all-world front man. They also seem like generally awesome people and go out of their way to keep their vinyl discography in print and at a low cost.

You should go see Spoon live. Their set last Friday in Columbus was great and that’s even with the first quarter of the set being completely marred by guitar issues. Daniel’s guitar straight up didn’t work and the lead guitar was all messed up too. They were visibly frustrated and were understandably a little sloppy through the first three or four songs, but when things pulled together, they were a treat.

Back to Britt Daniel for a second—the guy has something timeless about him. From the way he physically looks to the way he delivers his vocals, he just seems like a rock star through and through without coming off as a pompous jerk. He held his guitar high in the air and pointed at the crowd, and at that exact moment the house lights flick on and the audience roars. That’s a mastery of the moment to get a crowd whipped into a frenzy.

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TVD Live: Third Eye Blind and Dashboard Confessional at Jacobs Pavilion, 5/29

PHOTOS: ORIANA BELAVIC | Nostalgia can be a hell of a drug. The wistful pull to what you’ve enjoyed in the past can be an irresistible siren’s song. It causes you to revisit things that you’ve made an emotional connection with but have since moved from.

The Third Eye Blind and Dashboard Confessional summer tour, which kicked off in Cleveland last Friday, has indirectly been positioned as a taste of late ’90s/early ’00s goodness. Two bands from a time when alternative radio was breathing its dying gasps and transitioning to a new world of MP3s.

This tour isn’t positioned as nostalgia bait by the artists involved, mind you. Both bands have had successful careers since their immediate success as new artists way back when, and Third Eye Blind has a new release on the way. When I say indirectly positioned, I’m talking more about this kind of stuff. It’s very easy for fans and journalists to read into this tour as a piece of nostalgic cash-in.

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Visualize a relaxed
RSD experience in
My Mind’s Eye

PHOTOS: ORIANA BELAVIC | Music writers salivate when dumping a thousand words on a page about the trends of Record Store Day. Are the major labels too involved? How does the ordering work? Do small stores really get fucked over in favor of bigger “independent” retailers? Is it “good” or is it “bad?”

But what if the politics are put aside? What if stores just took that day for what it’s worth, ordered stuff they thought their customers would want, and tried to make it as enjoyable as possible?

This is the story of one store, on one day, and how that day doesn’t make or break the store.

My Mind’s Eye opened in Lakewood, Ohio in 1999, and has spanned two locations (it started on Madison Avenue and now is located on Detroit Avenue). If you can picture the ideal of a “traditional” record store, this would be it. Racks upon racks of records and CDs, stacks of god knows what behind the counter, and an owner that you like, but you can’t put your finger on just why.

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TVD Live: Wand and Heaters at Happy Dog, 4/4

PHOTOS: ORIANA BELAVICIt was a night of psych rock of all kinds at Happy Dog, and let’s just say it got really weird. The best place to start is the main event for the night, Wand. Here’s some of the notes (verbatim) I jotted down at the show about Wand:

“Loud, HEAVY.”

“Like beating your head against a wall, including the feeling of light headedness.”

“This is like a bag full of bricks.”

“Holy shit, they are actually making people leave… and it’s awesome.”

That last note summed up how awesome Wand was. This was the scene to give some context to explain why this was so cool:

Happy Dog is a fun little bar that also serves great hot dogs. Regardless if they are hosting a show or not, the place is usually pretty crowded on a weekend night. This Saturday night was no different. About an hour before the show, the place was hopping and there was some sort of party going on in the room downstairs. The vast majority of people weren’t there to check out the band and this is probably the case on most of the nights of shows.

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TVD Recommends: Whirr at Mahall’s 20 Lanes, 4/6

Shoegaze is often associated with aloofness. Loud/distorted guitars, mumbled vocals way far back in the mix, and the complete lack of interest from the performer connecting with an audience.

However, shoegaze is kind of having its moment again. And for good reason! It’s some of the most life affirming music you can hear.

There’s no better experience than listening to a band like My Bloody Valentine or Slowdive at ungodly levels and just getting wrapped up in the sound. The elements of the genre can be incredibly moving and give you a live experience that is hard to replicate with any other offshoot of “rock music.”

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TVD Recommends:
Wand at Happy Dog, 4/4

Let’s set the scene—it’s Saturday night. You and your friend and/or lover are intent on taking mind altering substances and having a good time. Tomorrow is Sunday, so fuck it… you can go wild. You have said substances, but what should you do to enjoy them?

A. Sit in your living room staring at a wall and wondering if aliens exist.
B. Go to the beach and freeze to death while pondering the vastness of water to land ratio on the Earth.
C. See Wand at Happy Dog.

Don’t be an idiot. Choose C.

Wand is a psychedelic/garage band from LA that brings a little bit of ’70s era glam flair to the mix with their latest record, Golem. On both Golem, and their previous record Ganglion Reef, there are tons of crazy fantasy/ Dungeons and Dragons/ magical vibes going on that—how do I say this—enhance the mood of the music to fit your state of mind. Both records from the band are excellent, but I’m expecting the live show to be next-level.

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From the banks of Lake Erie with Beach Slang

PHOTOS: ORIANA BELAVIC | The crowd is gathered close to the band, singing every word to every song and casually chatting up singer/guitarist James Alex Snyder between breaks in the music. The band brings friends and other artists from the show on stage to take over bass duties or sing a song. Their set, crafted with old stuff, new stuff, and a few covers, is a tight 45 minutes.

Based on just the facts as written—and honestly the feel during the show—it could easily be mistaken for a local “scene” show in someone’s living room. Except it wasn’t. It was Beach Slang’s last night on tour with indie rock luminaries Cursive, playing to a room full of kids who desperately looked forward to seeing both bands.

There’s a certain amount of casualness around how Beach Slang goes about their business and Snyder is the center of it. He’s incredibly charming and polite, both one-and-one and on-stage. He’s so likeable, it builds a connection with anyone he interacts with. Success has been building fast, but the band is grounded. All of the members of the band have previously been involved in other projects (Snyder in Weston, bassist Ed McNulty in NONA and Crybaby, and drummer JP Flexner in Ex-Friends), so the band seems relaxed to the ebb and flow.

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The Orwells:
Escalating Quickly

PHOTOS: ORIANA BELAVIC | Mario Cuomo, singer from The Orwells, stands stage left, blankly staring. Is he pissed? Is he thinking? Is he just fucked up? It’s unclear.

He takes a step forward, and the magic happens. The crowd, both men and women, reach forward to touch him. To stroke his chest and long, curly hair; running their fingers over anything they can grab. Cuomo seems detached, in the most engaging way possible. His mental distance from everything casts a cloud. What the fuck is this?

Just then is the breakthrough. He soaks it in for a minute, takes a step backs and slyly smiles. That’s it. Just the softening of his eyes and a shit-eating grin shows that he knows he has everyone eating this up.

The Orwells are the wet dream for people with preconceived notions of how a band from the midwest’s backstory should read. Teenage kids in the suburbs get together and start fucking around with music while in high school. They make some stuff they think is cool, record it, submit it to an indie label with a blog, and get signed. Real storybook stuff.

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TVD Live: Honeyblood and Jenna Fournier at the Grog Shop, 7/25

PHOTOS: ORIANA BELAVIC | Potential can be a real bitch sometimes. When you have potential, you have the tools to succeed and have a level of talent that is far above your peers. You’re right there and you can see success over the horizon. However, on the flip side, that horizon is so far away. Forget the hard work and all the bullshit to get to the place you want to be, sometime there’s just dumb luck and breaks that need to happen to get there.

Last Friday night at the Grog Shop, I saw two acts that I would bet on making it on the music scene—Honeyblood and Jenna Fournier.

I swear this Honeyblood thing is going to happen. However, you’d never know from their show at the Grog Shop that this is a band I’d be ready to bet on. The club wasn’t packed or raucous by any means; sparsely attended with a good number of those people being friends/family of the two local openers.

But while watching Honeyblood play, it all makes sense why you could see them reach an impressive level of success and is a band worthy of your attention.

First of all, sonically they are completely infectious and their sound takes you back to the distorted oasis that was the ’90s. It’s a fuzzy and crunchy mix of alt rock with hooks that are catchy as hell. Singer/guitarist Stina Tweeddale (bonus point for an awesome name) has a bubblegum sweetness to her voice that makes every song approachable, but there’s a smirk or darkness that lays just around the corner of every word. Drummer Shona McVicar provides a simple backbone and adds layers of harmonies that bring the songs to life.

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TVD Live: DIIV at the Grog Shop, 7/16

Extraneous bullshit always draws us to bands.

Nirvana had the Kurt Cobain cult of personality. The Stones had drugs. Led Zeppelin had groupies. Ozzie had the Alamo thing. The Stooges had Iggy smearing himself with peanut butter and cutting himself on stage. There are a million other examples, but for better or worse there has to be a certain amount of myth around a band to make the general public sit up and take notice.

DIIV is in the business of myth building. Pop singer girlfriend? Absolutely. Alleged(?) drug use? Check. Comparisons to rock icons? You know it. High-end modeling gigs? Yup.

Not to say any of this is intentional or crafted to make the band a brand, but there’s a lot of non-music stuff going on here to sort through. Being candid, I would have never heard of them without all this shit surrounding them. All over the world there are talented, but uninteresting, bands toiling in bars for good reason. We all love the hype.

Go back to my initial list there for a second. While all those bands had myth that pushed them over the edge, all were fucking incredible artists. So the question stands: can DIIV play?

Kind of.

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