Show Review

Cleveland, Now That's Class, May 29th

Christopher Rivituso
Nothing brings out the masses like a warm Memorial weekend, and this year's definitely didn't disappoint. Folks gathered at Now That's Class to socialize, drink, be seen, and to check out four of Cleveland's finest rock 'n roll bands. The show was free and the music was loud. Just right for this native.

First on the bill was Founding Fathers, a melodic, frenetic four-piece that makes me think of mid- to late-90's emo smeared on top of a grungy base. In short, listening to FF makes me feel young. The music is at times both shoegazey and headbang-inducing, with singer/guitarist John Kalman's voice barely rising above the instruments, and bassist Carol Schumacher's backing vocals providing melodic accents at all the right places. All the while, the band is driven like horses by drummer Stanton Thatcher, and John Neely's grand mal guitar style adds to the rhythm. Opening acts usually don't draw the big crowds, but by the time Founding Fathers was finishing, the dance floor was full of bodies.

Second was Uno Lady. A layered, a cappella delivery of an opera quality voice, the Lady is a refreshing, harmonious punctuation mark on the Cleveland music scene. All the while she is singing, she is turning dials, recording loops, operating a laptop. Building her songs right in front of us. Throwing in dainty, minimalist dance moves and coy looks to audience members, it's as if dear Uno Lady is finding time to flirt with the audience while spinning musical yarns. Her voice is wide ranged, effortlessly sliding from whisper to shout, from alto to baritone. The perfect music for downing a bottle of wine with some friends in the back yard. Or for whatever you happen to be doing while listening.

Next up was Coffinberry. Going on ten years together, the band has evolved from a standard indie-rock outfit to a stadium-worthy rock and roll juggernaut. One could almost feel sorry for their amps and the P.A., if one weren't totally engrossed by the music. Danceable, urgent, sincere and loud. As the years went by, the band concentrated on playing their newest material at shows (much to my dismay), but they did manage to dig out an old tune off their first ep, "From now on now." If you've never seen Coffinberry, do so the next time they play. Guitarist Tony J. is moving in August, and the band will surely go on to do something different. It would be a pity never to experience Coffinberry live. And no one should miss Pat's sexy bass moves. After what could be described as a long-ish set for the band, the crowd demanded an encore. The guys obliged, and the night marched on.

Headlining was the show was Freedom, a heavy orchestra of doom. With a rotating cast of local musicians, the band's sound, while definitely heavy as a neutron star, is tough to pin down. This night, Steve Mehlman's blistering beats assaulted the audience with the force of a cannonball, and CK1's synthesizer screams cursed and berated the patrons like a mythical bird of prey. Truly something to hear, Freedom made my ears ring even with earplugs.

This is summer, people. There's music to be heard. Find it.

Freedom