Show Review

Bully @ Beachland Tavern 9/18

Lisa Sanchez
                                                                                                                                                                   (Sanchez/2015)
​When Bully's first album, Feels Like, was released, I listened to it until I became physically ill. The four-piece Nashville alternative band comprised of Alicia Bognanno, Stewart Copeland, Clayton Parker, and Reece Lazarus has been busy since the album's release, touring with Best Coast this past summer and now heading out on their own headlining stint. Lucky for me and Ohio fans alike, Bully played their first show of the tour at Beachland Tavern.

I haven't been this excited to see a band since I was much younger and was much more capable of feeling deeper sentiments. The members of Bully were very accessible, hanging around outside, by the stage, and in the tavern while opening bands Fake Limbs and Heat performed. Although they were clearly visible throughout the evening, when they took the stage, the crowd's energy was ecstatic and giddy. The fans made it feel like the world's biggest rock band had just entered a 50,000-seat stadium instead of four musicians from Tennessee setting up from their van.

Considering Bully only has one full-length album out, they played almost the entirety of Feels Like for their set. Bully played their songs in the same arrangement as what's on their album, which was a surreal experience when I realized what they were doing. I had listened to Feels Like so much I didn't even fully process they were performing live in front of me. When the band broke into their first song, "Trying" I wasn't sure where to look, whether I should focus on the powerful, hoarse vocals, the clashing drums, sliding guitar, or driving bass. 

The band performs just as well live as they do on album, from the dichotomous "Trying" with smooth bass and vocals that builds into wailing confessions to the pure brooding aggression of "Trash", and upbeat, sunny "Milkman." Bully delivered on every front, including the band's third song, a cover of "Black and White" originally by The dB's. Bognanno introduced the song by asking her band mates "You want to play a cover?" Smiling, she clearly knew the answer, and the band launched into their typically powerful delivery.

It was great to see that most of the crowd was singing along with many, if not all, of Bully's songs, showing that what the band may lack in fandom they make up for in dedication. When the band played "Six," an especially jagged, gripping narrative about love, I had to sing along, too. Although the band doesn't have many songs, each one hits with the personality and power that some bands don't put into an entire album.

Throughout the performance, while tuning her guitar, Bognanno repeatedly thanked Cleveland and the Beachland Tavern for accommodating the band. She mentioned how people had bought her drinks and thanked her for coming. The whole band appeared happy to be there, play, and make some new friends on their trek through life in the United States.

The band ended their unfortunately short, 12-song set with a song I've never heard before and can only find the title attributed as "Who the Hell Was in My Room Last Night?" The final song was a shocker but appropriately raw and driving, per Bully's normal style. Now that I've heard it, I wish I could find "Who the Hell Was in My Room Last Night?" anywhere else other than in my memory of Bully's live show, but it does add to the band's appeal. Just when I thought I had all of their discography internalized, they throw me a curve ball. Well played, Bully.  

On album, Bully reach into you and play your emotions like a keyboard, but live, they shove their fists against your still-beating heart and pummel it into submission. Watching the band's performance was a singular experience and I'm sure they will only become more popular as they win fans over with their sincere lyrics, unique sound, and realistic delivery.