Show Review

Dead Stars @ Now That's Class 3/9/16

Nick Lotz

I arrive at Now That's Class and meet Ben: a cross-eyed inebriate, a well-spoken individual, and all around a pretty cool guy. I ask him what band he’s here to see and he says, “Wait, there’s a a band here tonight?”

We have an extended discussion about the perils of Xanax, which eventually culminates in the classic stoner convo about how marijuana should ‘definitely’ be made legal because ‘hemp, mane.’

I tell him about Dead Stars and he says, “Shit, that means I have to pay five bucks to stay here.”

He’s a fun guy, but I eventually drift away to cover the show. I had talked with John and Jeff earlier at the bar. They’re both the classic rocker types; laid back, long hair, and altogether from an entirely different generation, albeit playing hip, current music. We had briefly discussed the perils of modern musicianship, their backup careers as bartenders in NYC, and the downfall of the record industry as a whole. John told me that they don’t make much money from streaming services, but every once in a while a 74 cent ping will show up in their bank account. Jeff repeatedly reiterated that all of the money they made off royalties went back into the band, and that they only turned a profit when merchandise was sold (I make a note of this and later buy one of their vintage cassette tapes).
Now That’s Class has an interesting crowd. Kind of rough around the edges in that dive bar kind of way, a little bit odd, and yet all about having fun. Jaye, the drummer, was asleep in the van when I was conversing with the band earlier. He comes inside, haggard looking, and I quickly identify him as the old and wise member of the band. He says they “take it easy” at the start of their tour, and sits with me to watch the opener, an unnamed contemporary rock band, who is fairly awesome, but I’m not here to cover them so I focus mainly on my drink. After the first song they break a string and take a five-minute break. At this point, Jaye lets me know it was tough for them to find an opener at this venue. I neglect to mention that I recognize one of their members as an Uber driver.

Eventually, DS comes on, and despite the rough, punk nature of the venue, the acoustics post-sound check are nice, full, and lend themselves to the atmosphere of Dead Stars.

They open with “Calm Punk,” a fun tune with mellow vibes that feels a bit toned down for the intimate nature of the venue. “We don’t need to try / so take your time / cuz we’ll be fine,” it is quite fun, and I take my time with my drink, enjoying the good music.

Jeff says, “We’re Dead Stars, we’re from Brooklyn, happy to be back in Cleveland, it’s been like a year and a half.
They drop into “In My Mind,’ which has that whiny-yet-fun garage rock feel to it. “<something, something> never ends / in my mind / in my mind / in my mind.” This is what I hear as they play and its confirmed for me that the aliens speak to Jeff also.

John (the bass player) probably works it the hardest on stage, he’s got that long grungey hair that he isn’t afraid to swirl around in circles. At one point, Jeff mentions that this is the first show of their tour, saying, “It’s going to be like two weeks. Get that information. Put it in your brain.”
“It’s alright / we can stay here for awhile”

Yeah, I’ll stay here for awhile. I’m having a good time, so why not? After all, this song is mellow A.F. with slow jam, feel good vibes in that angsty teenage punk kind of way (which the guys pull of quite well despite being in their thirties).

Next they play “Bloomer;” this was my pick for best track off their new album, Bright Colors.
“I’ve been trying not to think / but reality something something.”
“I’m waiting way too long.”

I enjoy Dead Stars a lot more when they get into this kind of hard, steady, driven punk rock. Call me basic if you’d like, but feh.
Jaye is playing some powerful drums and doing back up vocals, and I take a moment to assess the crowd and my attire and realize that I look like a total dork. Everyone in the sparse, yet energized, crowd is dressed in full on punk hipster attire and I’m wearing hiking boots and a suit coat that hasn’t been dry-cleaned since last July. I also am teetering back and forth awkwardly, holding in a heavy stream of urine because I don’t want to miss any of the music. Then as if by magic, “They don’t want you around anymore.”

Okay, fine! I dart to the bathroom and relieve myself.

Last, they play “Crawl,” which is off one of their older albums, and is characteristic of that hard driving punk that I enjoy so much when they play; with less whine and more anger. It’s really kicking some ass and it ends abruptly into a freaking sick jam session that sounds so fucking angry and whiny that I love it. Then, someone blows a whistle. Where does that guy get off? No whistles allowed.

​Overall, the show was quite boss; one of the best I’ve been to despite the sparse clientele.