Our Cleveland, OH show was great and, well, different for so many reasons.
This is the only show we played where not only had we never been to the city before, but, we did not know a soul. Also, we had no idea where we were going to stay… And, we were playing on a Sunday night.
Why did we play there?
The Paramount Pictures film “Fun Size” which our merch is being used in was filming there and the art coordinator is from Austin and said she would bring out some of the art department people if we played there. Yay! Awesome, at least we know someone will be there to see us! Also we have kind of really grown to love the mystery of playing in a new city. We had no idea what to expect. It was exciting and adventurous and we had the opportunity to add a new market to our tour route.
I, mean, “Cleveland Rocks”, right?
Here is how it went down-
After getting to bed around 5am after our Cincinnati show we woke up around 9ish, had breakfast, packed up and got on the road for Cleveland by about 11. We had a mission on our journey to Cleveland; we had to find a Guitar Center so Rob could get another Line 6 FloorPOD power adapter and a new set of Ernie Ball Slinky Strings. Oh, I think I forgot to mention that he broke a string on stage in Cincinnati because he had not been able to find his trusty “Super Slinkys” in the previous towns we were in.. (no worries, he changed the string on stage in about 20 seconds flat, I don’t even think most of the audiences knew that he had broken a string).
But I digress, Guitar Center found, items procured, we head off for Cleveland without really any idea what our destination is other than the venue that our gig is at, Now That’s Class.
We decide that we will stop at an exit about 20 minutes outside the city of Cleveland and where our gig is and get a hotel (this is the only time we stayed at a hotel on the tour). We also decide that we will just “know” when it “feels right” to stop. Amazingly this actually worked with only one minor spat because of a wrong turn made…
We tend to stay at Choice Hotels because we participate in their rewards program like it might actually payoff some day and for some reason we like their crappy breakfasts where you can make your own waffles.
We found what seemed like a very new Quality Inn. We have to stay in a new hotel because we don’t want bed bugs! That would just add insult to injury on the road. We check-in and unload our stuff, we are exhausted and delirious at this point and decide to get our lunch/dinner at the gas station next-door so that we don’t “waste time looking for something good that fits our nonexistent budget” when we could be napping instead (also we have to get a Rockstar Sugar Free Energy Drink, because we are really going to need it tonight). We had some “Lunchables”, string cheese and mixed nuts. Oh, and I’m 99% sure we saw a drug deal go down in the parking lot of our hotel.
We were able to nap for a little over an hour before we had to start getting ready for our show, and head off to find Cleveland proper.
Driving into Cleveland was funny because we expected to see some big sky scrapery types of buildings. Nope. Just neighborhoods… Unlike any I have ever seen in person in my sheltered-ass life. I started to feel like I might be on the set of a movie. Oh, and I am 99% sure I saw a drug deal go down on the street.
We found Now That’s Class. Let me just express to you that this is most definitely the most punk rock club I have ever played and quite possibly the most punk rock club I have ever set foot in. I immediately identified the dude from one of the bands we asked to play with us, Chip from The Lowlies. Yes! Some familiarity! I had never met Chip in person but we had emailed and talked on the phone a few times and he seemed really nice… So meeting him in person in this unfamiliar place was kind of comforting.
For those of you who are not in bands; often when you book shows on a tour, the venue promoter will ask you to find some local bands to play with… I spent hours listening to Cleveland bands on Reverbnation trying to find a good band with a sound that I thought would fit well with us… I finally found The Lowlies and they helped us get Stupid Beautiful Heaven on the bill as well.
Chip helped us load in and find parking. Oh, and I am 99% sure I saw a drug deal go down across the street while we were loading in.
The first band to go on was Stupid Beautiful Heaven. Great musicians, energy and stage presence. They were super fun and got me all pumped up to play. One of the coolest things about this venue is that there was a 1/4 pipe for skate boarders on the wall opposite the stage. Guess what? The lead singer of Stupid Beautiful Heaven, Todd Thurman, used the fucking 1/4 pipe! It was one of the coolest things I have ever seen…A dude rocking out on stage, singing his heart out throws down a skate board and skates across the room like it’s no big deal, then jumps back on the stage and keeps singing like nothing even happened! AWESOME AWESOME AWESOME!
We went on next and were super grateful to all of the Paramount Pictures peeps who showed up to support! By the way check out laurenfitzsimmons.com, she is the Art Director for FUN SIZE. Honestly, this was my favorite show we played this whole tour. I always say, “I am most comfortable when i am outside of my comfort zone.” I don’t know if it was this ultra punk rock venue, the fact that we were playing a show that didn’t really make sense on our tour route or just the fact that it was the last gig of the tour; but I was feeling really great! I had some combination of freedom, confidence and commitment to our songs that made me feel really alive. It felt like we were liberated, hot and uninhibited; the show became effortless. I loved playing and I loved what I was getting back from the audience.
The Lowlies graciously agreed to go on last on a Sunday night. They… Tore.It.Up! Incredible musicians with great songs… These guys are the real deal and they are around about in the same age range as my dad. There is no vanity involved in their look or image… They just play really great music. In fact, even though there was only about 5 people left in the venue when they played, we all demanded that they play an encore. They energetically obliged. Wow! That was a great show! The truth is, if these guys were sexy, young, whippersnappers with some sort of contrived image and backwards hairdos instead of being dad-like dudes, they would very likely be signed and making large sums of money. They should probably try to strike some sort of Milli Vanilli type deal with some sexy, brainless, teenagers. The name of the band can be, “Sexy Brainless Teenagers.” You’re Welcome!
Well the night eventually ended and the Lowlies, in another dad-like move, gave us their door money because we were “such a long way from home.” Honestly, that $20 meant so much to us!
While we were loading out, I am 99% sure I saw some sort of prostitution deal go down. Also some shifty thug made menacing kissy faces at me as he walked by and I had to let my self-preservation instincts override my natural inclination to tell him to, “fuck off”, for fear of getting knifed or worse… I was particularly glad Rob didn’t see this go down because I think his protective instincts may have overridden common sense and then there would have been some sort of verbal exchange and I don’t think it would have ended well for us… We packed up and got in the car as fast as possible. Totally creeped out.
Conversation about Cleveland on the way back to the hotel:
Kate: The vibe here isn’t 100 percent “Midwestern”.
Rob: Yeah, I think it feels kind of like up East.
Kate: We are as far East as you can get in the Midwest, we are really close to Pennsylvania here, that is probably where that comes from…
Rob: Yeah, Cleveland is like the Middle East.
We wanted to get a six-pack of beer to enjoy in our hotel room but every convenience store looked rather dangerous, the kind of danger that isn’t worth it for a six-pack. We finally stopped at the gas station that was right next to our hotel only to be informed that we were 10 minutes too late to buy beer. Oh well, we had a 13 hour drive the next day.
Totally sober. Hotel. Sleep. Awesome crappy breakfast with self-made waffles. On the road for the journey back to Austin.
Cleveland does indeed rock! Next time we are there I hope to check out the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.