Category Archives: TVD Cleveland

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:
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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TVD Live Shots: Dead & Company at Blossom Music Center, 9/7

Dead & Company kicked off the midwest portion of their summer tour on a perfect night at Blossom Music Center in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio with a rousing rendition of Sam Cooke’s “Good Times.” It was then that I knew we were in for a special night. But when it comes to the Grateful Dead, it’s usually always a special night.

Original Dead members Mickey Hart (drums), Bill Kreutzmann (drums), and Bob Weir (guitar), as well as Oteil Burbridge (bass), Jeff Chimenti (keys), and John Mayer (guitar) are in their sixth year of touring together as Dead & Company and their chemistry continues to be undeniable. The first set featured “Next Time You See Me,” a song they haven’t played live since 2008, but it was the second set that really took the show to the next level.

Mayer continues to shine on “Althea,” and Otiel taking lead vocals on “Fire of the Mountain” was a treat. “Eyes of the World” bled into one of the more creative “Drums/Space” sections I’ve heard in years. Dead & Co concluded with “Not Fade Away,” which seemed to magically duet with the lightning off in the distance. The crowd begging for more, the fellas returned to the stage for an encore of “Brokedown Palace.”

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TVD Live Shots: Ani DiFranco at Cain Park, 6/13

“How are you feeling?” a fan screamed at Ani DiFranco halfway through her set at Cleveland Heights’ Cain Park. “Well,” she began, “after two years of sitting on my ass writing a book I’m happy to be outside playing.” That’s saying something, considering that outside on that particular occasion involved downpours, hoodies, and even hail. “Sunny Cleveland!” she joked.

Backed by longtime friends Todd Sickafoose (a recent Tony Award winner!) on stand-up bass and keyboards and Terence Higgins on drums, this was the folk singer and activist’s first show in Cleveland since 2015. Fans were spoiled with a setlist heavy on favorites from Ani’s impressive, prolific career, which spans over two decades.

Ani’s tour heads west next with stops in the Pacific Northwest and Canada. I should also note that her recently released memoir, No Walls and the Recurring Dream, is definitely worth a read.

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TVD Live Shots: Slayer, Anthrax, Death Angel at Jacobs Pavilion, 9/9

Slayer and Anthrax touring together—who would have ever thought? These were, and continue to be, two very different bands with limited crossover potential. Slayer pushes the very boundaries of heavy metal, guided by satanic images and driven by aggression, while Anthrax fueled a culture of skaters and comic book geeks through a genre-defining thrash metal moment. Of course, they were both part of the Big Four alongside Megadeth and Metallica, but Slayer fans and Anthrax fans in many cases came from two different places. To see them come together for a tour is something I thought I’d never see.

Last week in Cleveland this became a reality with Anthrax touring in support of their new record For All Kings and Slayer touring in support of—well, because they can and should always be on tour. I’ve seen Slayer half a dozen times in my life and they continue to bring the fucking house down. The coolest thing about this time around is that axeman Gary Holt is no longer the “new guy” in the band. Holt doesn’t look comfortable, he looks commanding.

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If there was ever a question of whether or not Holt should be made a permanent member of the band, it was thrown into the bowels of hell in 2016. This guy is a fucking beast on guitar and is the perfect complement to Kerry King’s rip your face off Flying V onslaught.

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TVD Live Shots: Cheap Trick at the Cleveland Convention Center, 9/6

Worlds collided for me last week in Cleveland with my all time favorite band in the world, Cheap Trick in town at one of my favorite marketing conferences in the world. Taking a break from the band’s current tour in celebration of their well deserved (and better late than never) induction into the Roll and Roll Hall of Fame, the legendary rock foursome from Rockford showed a bunch of content marketers what it’s like. And corporate gig or not, it was f*cking spectacular.

The magnetism of Robin Zander, the charisma of Rick Nielsen, the thundering 12 string bass of Tom Petersson, and the bombastic drums of Nielsen’s son Daxx—the band didn’t bother catering their setlist to the corporate world. Instead they delivered a mix of classics, both old and new, along with the fan favorites.

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I have seen Cheap Trick live more than a dozen times now and they never cease to live up to the announcement that precedes this legendary quartet as they take the stage: “The best fucking rock band you’ve ever seen.” You could tell it was a genuine Cheap Trick gig even though the surroundings might have been a bit different.

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TVD Live Shots:
AC/DC at the Quicken Loans Center, 9/6

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When Axl Rose was rumored to be auditioning for AC/DC earlier this year, I thought it was the most insane thing I had ever heard. Then it became a reality and I ate my own words. Social media thought this was destined to be a train wreck, but then the world witnessed the first show and the critics were silenced. Fast forward to last week when I was lucky enough to witness this, for lack of a better phrase, “not in this lifetime” moment first hand.

I saw AC/DC earlier this year in San Francisco with Brian Johnson and it was one of the best shows I’ve ever seen in my life. What in the hell is this going to be like with Axl? As one of my favorite singers of all time, I was expecting something very cool, but also admittedly came in biased. What I got was the second best show I’ve seen this year—and actually one of the best I’ve seen in the past decade.

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From the very first note of the blistering opener “Rock or Bust,” it was apparent that Angus and company had taken an intelligent risk that would pay off tremendously. Axl hit every note absolutely flawlessly. He wasn’t mimicking Johnson, but instead brilliantly paying tribute to the original while maintaining his signature “fuck off” snarl.

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TVD Live: Waxahatchee at Beachland Ballroom, 7/20

PHOTOS: JUDIE VEGH | Katie Crutchfield loomed tall on center stage, wearing black leather shoes with thick soles. Her twin sister, Alison Crutchfield, seemed smaller in her ballet slippers and short, pixie haircut. They had been in bands together since high school until their last project, P.S. Eliot, disbanded and they each started their own separate projects. Katie Crutchfield started Waxahatchee, who I saw play at the Beachland Ballroom Monday night. This was her band, so she was taller. She was center stage. By the end of the show, she was the only one on stage.

It was only fitting the show ended the way Waxahatchee itself began—just one woman with a guitar, singing darkly into a microphone. But that wasn’t how most of the night went. The Waxahatchee of 2015 is a different beast from the band’s stark, sometimes brutal solo beginnings.

The band had an airiness about them, reminiscent of the Crutchfield sisters’ P.S. Eliot pop-punk days. Even as the instruments drown in the shallow waters of distortion, Katie Crutchfield’s vocals felt measured and comforting. It’s the resolute calm in her voice that made her solo offerings at the end of the night so haunting and the full-band romps the rest of the night breezy and joyous.

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