Author Archives: Brigid Gallagher

TVD Live Shots: Snail Mail at The Agora, 4/12

“It’s really nice to be back on tour,” Lindsey Jordan, otherwise known as Snail Mail, acknowledged to cheers of agreement from the crowd at The Agora.

It’s been three years since the band performed live—first because of, well, stupid COVID and later because of Jordan’s vocal cord surgery. But fortunately she’s all healed up, back with her bandmates, and on the road.

Lucky ticket holders get to enjoy tracks off of 2021’s Valentine live for the first time, as well as selections from her early work. And let’s not forget Snail Mail’s kick ass cover of The Smashing Pumpkins’ “Tonight, Tonight”—my personal show highlight.

The tour continues through September and spans North America and Europe.

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TVD Live Shots: Waxahatchee at the Agora, 2/14

Waxahatchee released her fantastic, career-best album, Saint Cloud, in March of 2020, just as our world was beginning to change.

Two years later, she’s finally able to tour and play those songs for those of us that have been patiently waiting to hear them live. Added bonus for us Clevelanders: the band cruised through town on Valentine’s Day, making plans for the Hallmark holiday rather easy.

Aside from “Saint Cloud,” we were also treated to some covers, including Lucinda Williams’ “Fruits of My Labor” and Dolly Parton’s “Light of a Clear Blue Morning.” Opener Madi Diaz joined Waxahatchee during her encore to sing “Resentment.” Waxahatchee’s tour continues through the summer, so get your tickets now.

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TVD Live Shots:
Cate Le Bon at the
Grog Shop, 2/11

The queen of cool, Cate Le Bon, brought her brilliant 2022 album Pompeii (as well as a handful of songs from 2019’s Reward) to a packed Grog Shop last Friday night.

Between her unique guitar riffs, catchy melodies, and ample synth and sax, I felt simultaneously transported back in time to a new wave club in the early ’80s, all the while firmly placed in the moment, swaying with the rest of the crowd at the Grog.

With the help of Euan Hinshelwood, Toko Yasuda, Dylan Hadley and Alex Morrison, Le Bon gave us a show to remember, ending with a beautiful cover of Paul McCartney’s “Waterfalls.” Her tour heads to the west coast next before jumping the pond to Europe for March and April.

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TVD Live Shots: Umphrey’s McGee at the House of Blues, 1/30

As I was wandering around the House of Blues Cleveland taking in the sounds and sights (and, ahem, herbal smells), I suddenly felt something sticking to my right shoe. I looked down to find a dreadlock attached to my Vans. An actual dreadlock.

And that, my friends, briefly sums up an Umphrey’s experience: such a party, such an ecstatic jam that dreadlocks are literally flying off of peoples’ heads. Unreal. So is the light show.

As usual, my Chicago dudes delivered, bringing the crowd to a dancing frenzy, particularly during “Wizard Burial Ground,” “Pequod,” and “Piranhas” (which hadn’t been played in quite some time, “231 songs,” according to the über fan standing next to me).

Their current tour lasts through March, where they’ll end the run at Rockjavik in Reykjavik, Iceland.

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TVD Live Shots: Genesis at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse, 11/30

It was a busy Tuesday night in downtown Cleveland, as a sold-out crowd filed into Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse to see Genesis for one last time.

The Last Domino? Tour is the band’s first since 2007 and the final of their career. Led by a solid backing band, the three original members—Phil Collins, Tony Banks and Mike Rutherford—busted out all the hits for the occasion. In recent years, Collins has been battling severe nerve damage that’s forced him to retire from the drums, but his signature voice remains unaffected. His son, Nic, now drums while Dad sings front and center.

Aside from sounding wonderful, Genesis looks great thanks to the spectacular light production. The tour carries on through 2022, so you still have plenty of opportunity to see them before their official retirement.

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TVD Live Shots: Iron
& Wine and Squirrel Flower at the Cleveland Museum of Art, 11/16

Aside from getting called a “sir” by some stuffy elder docent, tonight is proving itself to be a special treat. It’s not often that I’m headed to a concert at the Cleveland Museum of Art. The Gartner Auditorium itself has an impressive organ and intricate woodworking panels throughout. Alice Coltrane is flowing out of the speakers and setting the mood.

“Being in this beautiful venue reminds me of singing in the choir growing up,” Ella Williams (better known as Squirrel Flower) confessed. I get it. It’s a stunning but stiff setting, but also one that helps to showcase Squirrel Flower’s talent. She layers and loops harmonies, singing stripped-down songs of intimacy and heartache. It’s a vocal and songwriting showcase, part one.

I haven’t seen Iron & Wine live in about 20 years, but I can tell you that his music frequented my dorm rooms throughout college and beyond. So I knew that hearing his songs live after so many years would be noteworthy. But what I didn’t recall was how funny and personable Sam Beam (a.k.a. Iron & Wine) is onstage. “Here we are,” he said at one point to hearty laughter, “just a bunch of ninjas watching some dipshit on stage.”

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TVD Live Shots: Nada Surf and Pom Pom Squad at the Grog Shop, 11/15

I spent Monday night at the Grog Shop with a bunch of other cool cats who made the smart decision to see Nada Surf and Pom Pom Squad.

It’s a perfect tour pairing, as Pom Pom Squad’s sound pays homage to her riot grrrl predecessors and Nada Surf, well, practically IS the ’90s. But as I learned on Monday, they’re still pumping out great music, such as 2020’s Never Not Together. And, oh yeah—they can SHRED.

You know who else shreds? Pom Pom Squad. They’ve been on my radar, as their debut Death of a Cheerleader is one of 2021’s best albums. Frontwoman Mia Berrin acknowledged that it was the band’s first tour and you could feel it; that electric excitement in the air. The joy of realizing that you get to do what you love for a living.

“I’m so glad you didn’t lose your ticket from two years ago,” Nada Surf’s Matthew Caws laughed. Me too. More Monday night thrashers, please.

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TVD Live Shots:
My Morning Jacket
at the Auditorium Theatre, 11/5

“It’s an honor and a privilege to be here again,” Jim James said while briefly addressing the sold-out crowd at the Auditorium Theatre Friday night. “We’re so grateful to be here and share this with you all.” Jim, on behalf of literally every My Morning Jacket fan on the planet, allow me to say, “SAME!” It’s felt like an eternity since My Morning Jacket last toured, so to have a three-night run in Chicago with a unique setlist every night was like Christmas come early.

I haven’t felt such collective joy in a very long time. It was the kind of joy that literally fills every inch of space; an energy so ecstatic that it’s hard to believe the venue can contain it. The ultimate concert energy. I spent the entire show reveling in it. Aside from hearing older favorites (“I Think I’m Going to Hell,” “Mahgeetah”), it was exciting to hear some newer songs played for the first time. It’s thrilling to see how tracks from MMJ’s 2021 self-titled album, as well as 2020’s surprise The Waterfall II, translate to the stage.

My Morning Jacket’s tour concludes with another three-night run in Denver, culminating in what’s sure to be an epic NYE show. A few tickets are still available for their destination festival in Mexico—appropriately coined “One Big Holiday”—in March. And if you can’t head south of the border, look for them to be rather involved in the festival circuit in ’22.

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TVD Live Shots: Wilco and Faye Webster at the Orpheum Theatre, 10/26

Since Covid changed our lives, returning to live music has been an emotional experience for those of us in the industry. And the emotion was palpable at the Orpheum Theatre on night three of Wilco’s run in Los Angeles. About halfway through the show, a teary Jeff Tweedy took a moment to thank the band’s crew for a successful fall tour.

“We’ve done this tour without anyone in our whole organization getting sick, and that can only be done with some luck, I’m sure, but also the full commitment of the best group of people in the world that travel with us,” he said. “Everybody that works with us, the crew, they’re the best fucking people in the world. So they deserve all of the applause.” Then he joked that it was odd to look at a masked audience but “it’s not as weird as some rock shows in history I’m sure.” Truth.

The evening progressed joyfully, as even Tweedy showed off dance moves rarely seen. But it was guitarist Nels Cline’s night to shine. A native of Los Angeles, he put on a guitar Master Class, blowing minds with each new solo. Those familiar with Wilco’s live shows know that such performances are simply the standard.

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TVD Live Shots:
St. Vincent at the
Agora, 10/18

“Thank you for not being at Harry Styles tonight,” St. Vincent joked shortly after taking the stage at The Agora. No offense to Mr. Styles, who on any other night I would’ve loved to see, but there was literally nowhere else I’d rather be. St. Vincent has proven herself to be one of rock ‘n’ roll’s greatest treasures and any chance I get to see her perform, I take it.

A couple friends less familiar with St. Vincent joined me at The Agora and their responses post-show didn’t surprise me in the least. One said it was easily one of the best concerts she’s ever been to, and the other referred to the experience as “pivotal.”

This particular tour installment—in support of her latest album, Daddy’s Home—is ’70s-inspired and features a cityscape backdrop, sexy, silky attire, groovy choreography, and a touring band tighter than a hipster’s skinny jeans. Each song felt special, as a clear amount of consideration and craft went into them. I especially enjoyed the modifications made on earlier songs to fit the vibe of the current tour. “Your Lips are Red” was particularly face-melting.

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TVD Live Shots: Lucy Dacus and Bartees Strange at Beachland Ballroom, 10/14

When Lucy Dacus first announced her 2021 fall tour in support of her latest critically acclaimed release, Home Video, I was sad to see that Cleveland didn’t make the cut. But thanks to the misfortune of our Canadian friends (the Toronto and Montreal shows were postponed), a last minute show at the Beachland Ballroom was added and my wish granted. An added bonus? Bartees Strange opening.

Right off the bat, Bartees Strange took the crowd by surprise. They were captivated. Jumping from genre to genre seamlessly, he impressed. I could literally feel his fanbase growing.

Then it was Lucy’s turn and a similar hush fell over the Ballroom as she began with an acoustic version of “Trust.” Her lead guitarist Jacob Blizard recently tested positive for COVID (but is fortunately fine!) so “we’re changing things up,” she divulged. Bartees Strange’s bandmates took turns joining her band on stage, filling in nicely.

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TVD Live Shots: Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats at Jacob’s Pavilion, 10/13

We’ve got ourselves a little bit of a second summer happening here in Cleveland and given how our winters go, I’d say we deserve it.

October has been a bonus month of outdoor shows and boy was the crowd out and ready to party with Nathaniel Rateliff and The Night Sweats at Jacob’s Pavilion. Even boats cruising along the Cuyahoga paused to listen to their soulful serenades echoing across the Flats.

The setlist was littered with fan favorites, pulling from all of their critically acclaimed albums. Opener, the lovely Margo Price (who sadly didn’t allow photography), joined the band for “Say It Louder.” After that, there was not a butt in a seat, as the sold-out crowd danced the night away.

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TVD Live Shots:
Glass Animals and Blackstarkids at Jacob’s Pavilion, 10/1

British pop rockers Glass Animals brought their good vibes to a very happy sold-out crowd at Jacob’s Pavilion last Friday. Even a massive barge floating past the venue along the Cuyahoga River seemed to be enjoying the show: a series of honks caused singer Dave Bayley to pause and acknowledge the “big fucking boat!”

The vision of their 2020 album, Dreamland, was fully realized on stage thanks to the technicolor lighting and stage design, complete with vintage computer graphics, a basketball hoop, a swimming pool diving board, and of course a pineapple (a trademark of the band since their 2016 song, “Pork Soda”). Up-and-comers Blackstarkids kicked off the night with their nostalgia-filled pop tunes. The Kansas City band’s debut album, Puppies Forever, is due out this fall.

Jacob’s Pavilion typically ends their season in September, but their extension into October has been a success—and a treat for Clevelanders who get more of an opportunity to enjoy an outdoor show before the inevitably long winter arrives. Glass Animals’ crowd took full advantage of the beautiful fall night, boogying until the bitter end.

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TVD Live Shots: Dave Matthews Band at Blossom Music Center, 9/29

“I like Blossom!” Dave Matthews blurted out after concluding an inspired version of “The Stone” with his stellar backing band.

He’s not a talker on stage, so hearing Dave say anything other than his signature “Thank you very much,” sent the crowd into a tizzy. On a perfect fall night—the last at Blossom Music Center until next season—DMB delivered exactly what their fans have been yearning for since the original show date was postponed back in 2020: a full-on jam.

Pulling from their 30-year catalog, DMB plowed through many fan favorites (“Pig,” “The Song That Jane Likes”) and some signature covers (Prince’s “Sexy MF” being my personal favorite). Nostalgia was thick in the air, as I overheard several fans reminiscing about seeing Dave at Blossom in high school (me included). Their tour continues through November, ending with a two-night run at Madison Square Garden.

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TVD Live Shots:
Big Freedia at the
Grog Shop, 9/23

The Grog Shop kicked off their 29th anniversary weekend with a little New Orleans flair. The queen of bounce, the queen diva herself, Big Freedia, brought the dance party to Coventry Road last Thursday night.

“It’s time to see some azz every-fucking-where,” Freedia declared before bringing a handful of booty-shaking audience members onstage to show off their twerking skills. “You’re here to let that shit go and wiggle!”

On stage or not, there was not a still body in the house. Even the bartenders couldn’t resist Freedia’s beats. From her older hits (“N.O. Bounce”) to her latest (“Goin’ Looney”), Big Freedia kept everybody moving. Her BDE (Big Diva Energy) Tour continues through October and if you’re looking to sweat up a dance floor, then I suggest you grab yourself a ticket.

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