Category Archives: TVD Cleveland

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:
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 Shots: Rage Against the Machine and Run the Jewels at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse, 7/27

It’s been a long time coming. First the thrill of the 2019 announcement that Rage Against The Machine was reuniting for a world tour after an eight-year hiatus. Then 2020 hit and, well, you know what. So here we are, two and a half years later, finally able to feast our eyes, ears and souls on their Public Service Announcement Tour. And boy does it live up to expectations.

Run the Jewels kicked off the evening doing what they do best: winning over every single person in the arena. Killer Mike and El-P are quite literally a dynamic duo. Social activists, feminists, comedians, hype men—and oh yeah supreme rappers—they do it all. Their set left me feeling empowered and energized.

Next up was Rage. Much needed Rage. A rageful call to arms. Emotional catharsis in the form of song. For a couple hours, Rage Against The Machine (Zack de la Rocha, Tom Morello, Brad Wilk, Tim Commerford) gave us permission to be angry and outraged at the state of our world; at the fact that their music, thirty years later, is more relevant than ever. They gave us permission to scream and stomp and laugh and clap. To cry and dance and sing. They gave us some healing. And I’m not sure there’s a better gift than that.

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TVD Live Shots:
Ben Folds at Cain
Park, 6/23

It’s not easy to command an audience when you’re the lone musician on stage, but Ben Folds is a seasoned pro.

Between his masterful piano playing, unmistakable voice, and humorous anecdotes, his presence can easily fill any venue. Clevelanders were treated to a beautiful night at Cain Park this past Thursday. It was the kind of night we dream about when we’re buried in our homes under piles of snow during the winter.

Folds provided a setlist spanning his 30+ year career that prompted singalongs, laughter, dancing, and tears. My heartstrings were especially tugged during his Ben Folds Five covers, as I was instantly transported back to jamming out to those records in high school. He plays Chautauqua Institution tonight before heading south to Nashville to play with their orchestra. Catch him on the road this summer!

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TVD Live Shots: My Morning Jacket and Indigo De Souza at Jacob’s Pavilion, 6/21

It’s been five long years without a My Morning Jacket show in Cleveland, but that streak was fortunately broken last week in a scorcher of a set (both literally—it was hot AF—and figuratively—the band itself also melted faces) at Jacob’s Pavilion.

The show kicked off MMJ’s summer tour, which unfortunately came to a grinding halt two days later, as frontman Jim James tested positive for Covid. Consequently their two Louisville homecoming shows were cancelled, Detroit and Columbus were rescheduled, and I’ve spent the last week feeling pretty damn lucky that I got to see them at all. MMJ is set to resume their tour in Madison, Wisconsin on July 1st and hopefully this is the last time that Covid interferes with their health and wealth.

As for the Cleveland show, it was full of everything I love about My Morning Jacket: soaring vocals, epic solos, full-on jam-outs, and thoughtful production lighting. Their band chemistry is simply off-the-charts—not to mention that they’re all musical wizards—and that combo makes for something seriously special.

Keyboardist and Lakewood native Bo Koster got a little extra love from the crowd after his solo on “Feel You,” but ultimately every member of the band dazzled. On more than one occasion I saw mouths gaping open all around me. It’s how you can identify new members of the flock.

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TVD Live Shots:
King Gizzard and
The Lizard Wizard
at the Agora, 5/20

If you know anything about King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard, you know that these Australian rockers are a prolific bunch. Since 2010, they’ve released 20 studio albums. Twenty!

Their musical style ranges from psychedelic to progressive to thrash metal (and everything in between), so it’s impossible to predict what’s in store when you buy a ticket to see them live. You can, however, expect a colorful, energetic, and tongue-wagging experience.

Such was their show at Cleveland’s Agora. Fans were even treated to two live debuts from the Gizzverse (“Presumptuous,” “The Grim Reaper”), and plenty of face-melting moments. Band members Stu Mackenzie, Ambrose Kenny-Smith, Joey Walker, Cook Craig, Lucas Harwood, and Michael Cavanagh hit the east coast next before touring Europe this summer. They’ll probably release a couple albums as well.

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TVD Live Shots: Turnstile at the
Agora, 5/18

Baltimore’s Turnstile have been around for a decade but are just beginning to get their credit due. Their 2021 release Glow On received critical acclaim for good reason—it fucking rocks. Ever since, this hardcore band has been catapulted into the mainstream. They’re also one of the most exciting live bands around.

Each member of the band—Brendan Yates, Franz Lyons, Daniel Fang, Brady Ebert and Pat McCrory—have such captivating stage presences that it’s hard to know who to focus your eyeballs on. Especially since you’re probably headbanging. Or crowd surfing. Or screaming along to the lyrics.

Catch them on tour this summer and you won’t be disappointed. That’s a promise.

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TVD Live Shots:
Lucius at Beachland Ballroom, 5/17

“Welcome home!” a lone voice screamed to native Clevelander Holly Laessig, one half of the vocal powerhouse that is Lucius, and the Beachland Ballroom crowd erupted.

There’s nothing Clevelanders love more than another Clevelander—especially a famous one. The other half, Jess Wolfe (who is equally awesome and from LA), addressed the crowd: “Of all the amazing experiences we’ve had, nothing feels as good as being here with you singing along to our music that we wrote from the bottom of our hearts. Thank you.” Then they dove into a gorgeous rendition of “Dusty Trails,” and made practically everyone weep.

It was nice to hear songs from their latest album Second Nature, live. Released last month, it’s Lucius’ first album since 2016. But don’t let that fool you—they’ve been very busy. Between touring the world with Roger Waters and lending their vocals to track after track for the likes of Harry Styles, Brandi Carlile, John Prine, Mavis Staples, and Jeff Tweedy to name a few, the women of Lucius have been busy as hell. Their new originals are as sparkly and vibrant as their outfits, and their disco vibe was perfectly capped off with a finale cover of Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love.”

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TVD Live Shots: Jacob Collier at the Agora, 5/13

“Did Jacob Collier just play five instruments in the span of 20 seconds…and we’re only on song one?,” I asked myself while sprinting around the photo pit, clumsily attempting to capture the musical savant as he dashed from one end of the stage to the other, conducting the crowd. Yep, he sure did.

And that’s the Jacob Collier experience: a dazzling multisensory explosion of sounds, colors, ideas, and talent. It can be overwhelming and potentially induce feelings of inferiority for not knowing how to play 45 instruments. But there’s no time to wallow because the Londoner’s innate charm and enthusiasm sweep you right up.

At 27, it’s not a stretch to refer to him as a virtuoso and I look forward to continuing to be astonished by him in years to come.

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TVD Live Shots: Interpol at the Agora, 5/10

One of the most magical attributes of music is its ability to allow the listener to time travel. And some bands do it better than others. One such band: Interpol. Upon the first riffs of “Untitled”—from their brilliant 2002 debut, Turn on the Bright Lights—the packed Agora erupted into cheers and then quickly quieted so as to not miss a note.

The entire show was a transportation: every instrument clear and precise; every song a spectacle of lights (cheers to whoever produced the lighting for this particular tour); every moment a cherished one by a member of the audience. Interpol has aged well, their music lasting the test of time and their musicianship at an all-time best.

Their tour continues through the fall with dates in the US, Europe, and South America. Get yourself a ticket.

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