Author Archives: Mike Scherf

TVD Live: Beck at the State Theater, 6/19

PHOTOS: ORIANA BELAVIC | A story about a handjob in a downtown Cleveland mall put the entire Beck show into perspective.

Near the very end of his set, during a breakdown interlude of “Where It’s At,” Beck told the story. He relayed that earlier in the day he was in the Tower City Mall and saw a woman giving a gentleman a handjob under his gym shorts while a gospel band played nearby. Beck proclaimed that this very moment IS the essence of Cleveland. The crowd went fucking bananas.

I don’t know if this story was true, but the point is I want to believe it. Beck has that way about him; he’s the carnival barker. The traveling tent preacher.

I sincerely call him those things in the most complimentary way because everything he’s selling you is wrapped together in the most wonderful, joyous package and it’s impossible to not buy in. He’s a complete showman and the show he puts on is just as important as the substantial music he is performs. This is two sides of the coin coming together to provide a complete experience.

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TVD Live: Cloud Nothings at Mahall’s, 5/9

PHOTOS: ORIANA BELAVIC  | “We’re Cloud Nothings and we’re from Medina and Westlake.”
Dylan Baldi, Singer, Cloud Nothings

That’s how the show started last Friday at Mahall’s in Lakewood, OH. Not the standard “We’re from Cleveland” crowd pandering, oh no! Hyper-specific suburban Cleveland pandering!

It was perfect because here was one of the most beloved indie rock bands, playing a small converted billiards room in a bowling alley, in their hometown of Cleveland. It felt like something was happening in that room on that drunken, sweaty Friday night. That night, Cloud Nothings went in.

“But I’m not, I’m not you. You’re a part of me, you’re a part of me.”
“I’m Not Part of Me”

Cloud Nothings never did fully feel part of the Cleveland scene. The tale has been told many times, but Baldi basically got his start writing lo-fi rock in his parent’s basement while a freshman at Case Western Reserve University under a fuck ton of different band names. One was Cloud Nothings, he got an offer from a small indie label and he was off. Literally and figuratively, Baldi was a shooting star that never really became a “thing” in Cleveland more than anywhere else, and it happened quickly.

He lived in Brooklyn. The band recorded in Austin. He lived in Paris. Never a fixture on the local scene, Cleveland was always part of the story, never a functional element of the band’s history.

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TVD Live: The Both and Nick Diamonds at the Beachland Ballroom, 5/6

PHOTOS: ORIANA BELAVIC Things I learned when I saw The Both:

• Their first show as The Both, they were so talkative that they only got through one song in 30 minutes.
• Dee Dee Ramone has a hip hop album.
• On Dee Dee Ramone’s hip hop album, he “raps” in half German on a track. (Editor’s note: HOLY SHIT THIS EXISTS.)
• Ted Leo now drinks hot cranberry juice on stage because it’s good for his vocal chords. (Editor’s note: Gross.)

• Leo believes “punk rock doesn’t need tuned guitars” is bullshit. Related: he tunes his guitars obsessively.
• Apparently there’s a very detailed drawing of a bird with both male and female parts in the Grog Shop’s backstage area.
• Aimee Mann refers to that bird as “titty bird.”
• Leo is a big fan of The Hobbit and has led some online discussions about it. (Editor’s note: Sorry readers, couldn’t find evidence.)
• Mann once shook Jeb Bush’s hand.

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TVD Recommends:
The Both (Aimee Mann and Ted Leo) at the Beachland Ballroom, 5/6

The Both was born out of the typical story:

Boy meets girl. Boy and girl have a mutual professional admiration. Boy and girl go on tour, write music and make a cool record together. Wait, what?

Maybe it isn’t the typical story when the boy and the girl are Ted Leo and Aimee Mann, two well-respected performers on the indie music scene for a long time.

This will probably be a big waste of time to lay out here, because you should know this stuff, but the credentials of each performer deservs to be documented to show what a big deal these two sharing a stage really is.

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TVD Live: Margot and The Nuclear So and So’s, Empires, Kate Myers at the Grog Shop, 4/27

PHOTOS: JARED PERRY | On a show where the majority of the acts provide a quiet, more introspective journey into a songwriter’s mind, it takes a complicit audience to make the experience perfect.

While all three acts on Sunday night’s bill showcased great material, and played it well, the entire audience wasn’t fully along for the ride.

Let’s start with singer/songwriter, Kate Myers. I really felt awful for the amount of noise she put up with during her set. I wasn’t familiar with her work before the show, but she has an incredible voice and some really interesting songs to put with them. However, she was put in the shitty spot of being an opening act (as a solo singer/guitarist) on a show with three bands. First acts have a long illustrious history of being pissed on by inattentive audiences, but she didn’t deserve this.

The middle act on this tour, Empires, didn’t really have this problem because they were a full on rock outfit and never really took things down a notch. Kind of a later era Killers meets early Coldplay thing happening. I wasn’t really feeling their stuff, but I could understand why people would. It was cool and I’m not mad at them. Do your thing, Empires.

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TVD Live: We Are Scientists and PAWS at the Grog Shop, 4/23

PHOTOS: ORIANA BELAVIC | There’s something shocking about bands that actually get along and smile on stage. 

It all seems so counterintuitive because being a musician for a living should be kind of awesome and fun. To us working stiffs, driving around to play shows and have beers every night in different cities sounds pretty damn cool.

However, many bands put up emotional barriers, not only from the audience, but from each other. I don’t know if it’s for the sake of looking cool, or just a general disdain artistic types have for people around them, but it’s jarring to see people actually have fun while playing music.

For indie scene vets We Are Scientists and their opener, PAWS, that joy is still there.

Both bands openly chatted, at length, with both themselves and the audience while on stage. Were the jokes sometimes corny and silly?  Sure. But we’re at a rock show not a comedy show, and it helped the audience identify with the bands and who they are at their cores.

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TVD Recommends: Margot & The Nuclear
So and So’s at the Grog Shop, 4/27

Peel back the onion that is the history of Margot & The Nuclear So and So’s and you’re in for a really interesting journey.

Back in 2005, they were seemingly poised to be indie rock darlings with the release of Dust of Retreat, a monumentally underrated piece of indie rock/chamber pop/folk rock that walked a fine line between intricate songwriting and controlled chaos. While the record was an achievement, the live shows were a revelation. They were loud, raucous, and a must-see live act.

Then things changed. Not sure if it was necessarily for the better or worse, but they definitely changed.

In 2008, they were signed to Epic records and after recording in both Indianapolis and in Chicago, they couldn’t agree with Epic over which songs to include on the release. So (I guess) both parties said “what the hell” and released two records that year, Animal! (the record the band wanted to put out) and Not Animal! (the record the label wanted to put out). It’s esoteric to have the discussion which is better, but both moved into a more eerie and dark sound, away from the energy of Dust of Retreat.

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TVD Recommends:
We Are Scientists at
the Grog Shop, 4/23

Remember We Are Scientists? I do.

They take me back to those simpler days in the mid aughts. Before I had a nine-to-five job. Before I owned a house or car that worked consistently. Before I kind of became an adult.

These were the times when I would spend every Sunday night hanging out at the bar under the Grog Shop, drinking beers and dancing to indie rock like We Are Scientists.

I never thought there would come a day I would be writing about the “sound” of the mid 2000s, but here we are. When you put on one of We Are Scientists’ records, it takes you back to those simpler pre-recession times when indie rock was danceable and vaguely poppy.

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  • SUPPORTING YOUR LOCAL INDIE SHOPS SINCE 2007


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