Author Archives: Brigid Gallagher

TVD Live Shots: Neal Francis at Beachland Ballroom, 3/10

Neal Francis has been playing piano since he was 4, and boy can you tell.

He bends chords with his piano whammy board on one song, takes you to church on the organ on the next, and funks it the f**k up on the keyboards a song later. Grooving along with him are his talented bandmates, Kellen Boersma (can rip a sweet guitar solo), Mike Starr (bassist; best hair), and Collin O’Brien (the heartbeat).

Cleveland showed up for the dance party at Beachland Ballroom this past weekend and it was delivered along with some psychedelic light production. Francis is touring in support of his most recent (and acclaimed) albums, 2022’s Sentimental Garbage and 2021’s In Plain Sight (which was written while living in the parsonage of church on the northwest side of Chicago). He’ll be on the road for the foreseeable future, so be sure to check him out.

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TVD Live Shots: Titus Andronicus at the Grog Shop, 3/1

Indie rockers Titus Andronicus stopped by the Grog Shop last week in support of their latest critically acclaimed album, 2022’s The Will to Live. Since coming on to the scene in 2005, band members have come and gone but frontman Patrick Stickles has been the steadfast captain. The process of writing The Will to Live was largely in response to the death of Stickles’ cousin, best friend, and bandmate, Matt “Money” Miller in 2021.

Now joined by Liam Betson (guitar), RJ Gordon (bass), and Chris Wilson (drums), the band is as conceptual, dense, and glam rock-y as ever. Their albums—and shows—take you on a journey. And the members, especially Stickles, are most definitely performers. The dude-heavy crowd spent the majority of the show fist-pumping the air and singing along in full catharsis.

Titus Andronicus are on the road through April, as they make their way around the west side of the country before heading back east.

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TVD Live Shots:
Angel Olsen at the
Agora, 2/2

As soon as the Agora announced that Angel Olsen would be moseying her way through Cleveland in February, I had that date circled on my calendar and the countdown began. Unsurprisingly, Angel Olsen and her Big Time Band were worth the wait. Also unsurprisingly, far too few Clevelanders showed up for such a special evening. But that’s a whole other topic, so I’ll reserve my soapbox for another time.

To be immersed in the soaring vocals and sweeping strings of Angel’s music live, especially after the long, pandemic-driven pause, was a gift. The setlist was comprised mostly of songs from her latest album, 2022’s Big Time, with some additional fan favorites from All Mirrors (2019) and My Woman (2016).

Angel has a busy year of touring ahead so there’s a good change you’ll have an opportunity to see her. My unsolicited advice? Do it.

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TVD Live Shots: The Disco Biscuits at the House of Blues, 1/18

“I heard from an inside source that tonight’s show is gonna be a banger,” I caught one fan saying to another shortly before the start of The Disco Biscuits’ first set at the House of Blues Cleveland. Turns out the fan’s source was legit, as there were no holdbacks for the kickoff of Bisco’s winter tour.

The dance floor was bouncing from the first note of “Mulberry’s Dream” and didn’t stop until the last note of “Story of the World.” In between they surprised the crowd with “Plan B,” which hadn’t been played for 103 shows, as well as a pretty epic version of “Shocked.”

Next up for the Philly quartet is a mini-east coast tour kicking off February 1st in Burlington, Vermont.

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TVD Live Shots: The Smile at the Detroit Masonic Temple, 11/29

DETROIT, MI | The powerhouse trio of Thom Yorke, Jonny Greenwood, and Tom Skinner put on an electric show at Detroit’s Masonic Temple last Monday night. Known as The Smile, taken from the Ted Hughes poem, they not only put out one of the best albums of 2022, A Light for Attracting Attention, but they put on one of the best shows of 2022.

Classifying their sound would be too reductive, but safe to say that if you’re a fan of Radiohead, you’ll certainly be a fan of The Smile. Good things happen with Jonny Greenwood and Thom Yorke connect, and their connection is only enhanced by Tom Skinner’s jazzy drumming.

Perhaps the best news to come from the evening was Thom’s announcement that they’re already working on a second album. And if the preview of a few of their new songs was any indication, we’re in for another treat.

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TVD Live Shots:
My Morning Jacket
at the KFC Yum!
Center, 10/29

LOUISVILLE, KY | It’d been six long years since a My Morning Jacket hometown show in Louisville, so the fellas pulled out all the stops for their arena-sized Halloween celebration at the KFC Yum Center. Following heartwarming opening local acts—Producing a Kind Generation and Louisville Leopards Percussionists—the costumed members of MMJ took the stage and rocked their faces off for three solid hours. Their set included heart-shaped paper confetti, a Halloween balloon drop, more confetti, and larger-than-life sized puppets courtesy of the Squallis Puppeteers.

Singer and guitarist Jim James was aptly dressed as a witch, a costume that perfectly suited him. Guitarist Carl Broemel jammed out as a skeleton; bassist Tom Blankenship’s Eddie Munson (from Stranger Things) mullet majestically flowed; and drummer Patrick Hallahan was an animated Beetlejuice. But it was keyboardist Bo Koster who got my vote for favorite costume—perhaps because it was the most surprising. Of all the fan speculation about what the band would dress as, did anyone guess that Bo would roll out as Mama from Mama’s Family?!

Speaking of speculation, there was much surrounding My Morning Jacket’s potential setlist. And while many hoped for rarities didn’t make the cut this time, the crowd did get the very seldom played “Friends Again,” as well as first time covers, “Spooky,” and Donovan’s “Season of the Witch.” At moments throughout the night, the collective joy in the Yum Center was truly palpable. I couldn’t have imagined a better Halloween or homecoming.

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TVD Live Shots:
Liz Cooper at the
Grog Shop, 10/13

I don’t remember the band she was opening for, but I do remember Liz Cooper at The Vic in 2018. Then with The Stampede, she made an impression on me. I liked her irreverence and psychedelic sound. Now post-pandemic, she’s just released her first solo album, Hot Sass, and is back on the road to promote it.

Kicking the night off at The Grog Shop were local singer/songwriters Sarah Arafat, followed by Rachel Shortt at The Underwoods. Then things turned electric as Liz Cooper took the stage with her sparkly pink Creston and her great band, Ryan Usher, Joe Bisirri, and Michael Libramento.

They proceeded to give us both Hot and Soft versions of Sass, as well as some oldies but goodies. Her tour heads south and concludes (for now) at the end of the month in Charleston.

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TVD Live Shots: The Shins at the Agora, 9/2

To celebrate their critically acclaimed album, Oh, Inverted World, turning 21, The Shins decided to throw it a birthday tour.

Benefactors of said tour included audience members at The Agora last Friday evening. The band, consisting of Yuuki Matthews, Mark Watrous, Jon Sortland, Patti King, and led by James Mercer, played the album in full, front to back with a little help on backing vocals from openers, folk trio Joseph.

To top off the party, The Shins gave us a second set devoted to fan favorites from their other albums. The birthday festivities conclude next week in their hometown of Portland, Oregon.

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TVD Live Shots: Machine Gun Kelly and Trippie Redd at FirstEnergy Stadium, 8/13

Machine Gun Kelly concluded his “Mainstream Sellout Tour” by literally selling out FirstEnergy Stadium. He’s the first Clevelander to do so and the moment was not lost on him. “Holy shit, Cleveland,” he remarked while gazing upon the ecstatic crowd. “I cried so hard backstage before coming out here. I can’t put into words what I’m feeling right now.”

The night was a celebration from the start, with performances from Trippie Redd, Avril Lavigne, Willow, and 44phantom. But it was ultimately Machine Gun Kelly’s day. (Quite literally, as August 13th is now “Machine Gun Kelly Day” in Cleveland. Mayor Justin Bibb declared it a few hours before the start of the show.)

With such hype surrounding his homecoming, MGK had to put together an unforgettable show, and fortunately he did. Aside from bringing out several special guests culminating in a mini-set with Travis Baker, he ziplined across the stadium while singing his tribute song to Cleveland, “Til I Die,” smashed a glass on his face resulting in blood, and racked up a $300,000 fine for playing 40 minutes past curfew. A memorable night for the Cleveland history books.

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TVD Live Shots: Courtney Barnett and Lucy Dacus at the Agora Ballroom, 8/10

Courtney Barnett’s Cleveland iteration of her touring festival, Here and There, featured Lucy Dacus, They Hate Change, and of course herself at the Agora Ballroom. Each city is treated to a unique lineup and not a Clevelander in the audience was disappointed by this one.

Unfortunately I was unable to make it in time for They Hate Change, so Lucy Dacus and her passionate fangirls on the rail kicked off the night for me. As usual she and her band were wonderful. Seemingly shy on stage, she nonetheless had emotive bursts and comical conversations with the audience. But it’s her voice and her confessional lyrics that draw you in the most.

Headliner and festival curator, Courtney Barnett slayed from the second she walked out on stage. I’d forgotten how much I enjoy watching her play guitar, so the reminder was much appreciated. Also appreciated was hearing songs from 2021’s excellent Things Take Time, Take Time live for the first time.

The fest heads west next before concluding in Denver in September.

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TVD Live Shots:
Phish at Blossom Music Center, 8/2

It was when all four members of Phish kicked things off with an a capella version of The Beatles’ “Strawberry Fields Forever” that I knew we were in for a special night in Cuyahoga Falls.

It was the first time they’ve busted out “Strawberry Fields” since July 22, 2017—168 shows ago. Historically Phish has played some seriously beloved shows at Blossom Music Center, and this was definitely one of them.

Phish went all the way back to the beginning, pulling most from 1989’s Junta and 1990’s Lawn Boy during their set. They even encored with “Bathtub Gin,” only the fourth time they’ve ever played it live. It’s worth noting that they also sound incredible. Perhaps they’re getting better with age?

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TVD Live: Lollapalooza at Grant Park, 7/31

2:59PM: The Bonus Tracks stage has been hosting an array of local talent all weekend long—the Fly Honeys, Bob’s Dance Shop, etc. Today it’s drag queens galore and I get a little taste of the fun before heading to the north end of Grant Park.

3:20PM: Joe Keery—who you might know from the hit series Stranger Things among other acting roles—also has a band, Djo. A very funky, psychedelic band that’s drawn a nice sized crowd. “I lived in Chicago for many years,” Keery noted, referencing his time studying theatre at DePaul University. “To be playing here and playing this festival means a lot. Thank you.”

4:26PM: The Marías are out here representing the Latino community and the Latino community is out here supporting The Marias. It’s pretty, sexy music sung in both English and Spanish.

4:42PM: “I’m from Chicago, Illinois—the birthplace of gospel music,” Peter Cottontale declares. It’s Sunday and the producer/composer is taking us to church.

5:05PM: Peter Cottontale is full of surprises. As if his full band and choir weren’t enough, he’s got a special guest for seemingly every song. Joey Purps, Jamilia Woods, Vic Mensa, Nico Segal, and Chance the Rapper are just a few of the friends joining him on stage. It’s really a testament to Cottontale and all the music and careers he’s influenced.

5:45PM: From her bedroom writing songs to Lollapalooza with her band, it’s been a quick trajectory for Lili Trifilio, also known as Beach Bunny. The Chicago native seems to be taking it all in.

6:32PM: Porno for Pyros are giving us what we’d expect (fire, scantily clad women including Etty Lau Farrell, Perry chugging down a bottle of red) and then some. A surprise appearance by Billy Corgan caps off their set.

7:41PM: Banks is impressing and so are her dancers. I’m next to a gaggle of gays who’re erecting a statue to her as I write.

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TVD Live: Lollapalooza at Grant Park, 7/30

1:55PM: Cochise is firing up Saturday’s early Lollapalooza arrivers. Dressed as an inspector in support of his latest album, The Inspection, he kicks his way around the stage and directs the crowd’s moshing efforts.

2:32PM: Hinds continues to be one of Madrid’s finest imports. They’re currently covering The Clash’s “Spanish Bombs,” and a few songs ago they plucked a young female fan from the crowd to play bass with them. They deserve a better time slot!

2:52PM: I’ve lost count of how many Instagram boyfriends I’ve seen this weekend. Everywhere I turn, fans are taking time to perfect their Lolla poses for their socials.

3:16PM: I have never seen so many boob-related signs. Fletcher’s crowd is divided: some signs request that Fletcher show her boobs, while others would prefer she autograph their boobs. It’s no doubt a memorable crowd for the pop singer’s first time playing a main stage at a festival.

3:41PM: There are already throngs of people packing into Perry’s Stage in anticipation of hometown hero, Lil Durk.

4:32PM: Lil Durk has the largest crowd I’ve ever seen at Perry’s. It’s massive. Surf Mesa had to end his set early so the crew could get the crowd to back away from the stage barriers and Lil Durk’s set still started late because no one wanted to listen.

5:34PM: Somehow I’ve weaved my way through the crowd and just barely made it to Duckwrth at the Discord Stage. It’s a wooded reprieve from the insanity that is the Perry’s crowd right now. And Duckwrth is proving himself to be a thoughtful, creative performer.

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TVD Live: Lollapalooza at Grant Park, 7/29

2:59PM: Kicking Lollapalooza off with critically acclaimed British indie newcomers, Wet Leg. They take a minute to shake off their nerves after sight of the massive crowd—”This is our first festival in the US”—but soon get into their groove.

3:31PM: Perhaps you know Gata from FXX’s brilliant and hilarious show Dave, but hopefully you know him for his music as well. He’s full of pure love and positivity—and wearing a Manny’s Deli shirt and hat to show his support for (real) Chicago. He also took a moment of silence for the Highland Park, Illinois victims, and as far as I know was the only musician to do so over the course of the weekend.

3:53PM: The Regrettes are giving Chicago a dose of LA cool. Moshing is encouraged. Lars Ulrich of Metallica watches them side stage. Lydia Night flies around the stage. It’s one of the best sets of the weekend.

4:10PM: Popular festival looks this year: cowboy hats, lady mullets, cow print, crochet apparel. As always, ass is aplenty.

4:25PM: Genesis Owusu is busting out a high art performance, equipped with costumes and backup dancers. He is a presence.

5:00PM: It’s time for some hard rock, so good thing Royal Blood is ripping through their songs—and some tequila—on the Bud Seltzer Stage.

5:28PM: It’s homecoming at the Discord Stage for Muna’s Kate Gavin, who’s from Evanston and back on Illinois soil. To celebrate, they give the crowd an indie pop party.

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TVD Live: Lollapalooza at Grant Park, 7/28

12:43PM: Well, we’re underway! The Lollapalooza gates have barely opened and thumping from Perry’s Stage can be heard outside the grounds on Michigan Avenue where many an entrepreneur line the street. There are artists hocking floral crowns and headbands to popsicle stands to coolers filled with everything from water to White Claw to Fireball. Chicago is ready to make some money this weekend.

2:13PM: Entering Lolla I pass some teens attempting to hide their baby bottles of vodka from security. It’d be a lot more discreet if they weren’t standing directly in front of security, but they’ll learn.

3:22PM: My first Perry and Etty Lau Farrell sighting of the weekend and it’s right off the bat. The Lolla founder and his wife have brought special guests today: their two adorable dogs.

4:29PM: The sound of Still Woozy’s high energy pop music is matched only by his high energy pop presence.

5:24PM: You can always count on Tove Lo to bring a dance party and give you a good ol’ boob flash.

6:13PM: I wasn’t sure what to expect from Des Plaines’ own 100 gecs but their fans’ enthusiasm as they counted to 100 before the duo hit the stage had me intrigued. And then they appeared in wizard costumes and pretty much instantly won me over. Their hyperpop is perfect for gamers and fans of the show Workaholics.

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