Thursday, April 11, 2019

Video Day #tzaupbeat

Robyn released her new video for Between the Lines, directed by SSION(!!), giving a playful sense of what goes on behind the scenes.  Hot Chip drops this WTF video for Hungry Child.  Ezra Furman released his animated new video for Suck The Blood From My Wound.

Bonus:  This is the non-single by Grimes, who is one of the most enigmatic figures in pop music right now. She self-produced this song and video, seemingly as an experiment.  There’s much more to explain about this, which you can read for yourself here

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Article: Why We Need To Support Cleveland's Grassroots Music Venues

Here’s an important article you should be reading.  This is regarding what I believe is one of Cleveland’s greatest assets - the small, independent music club.


"Venues like the Happy Dog pay the same taxes as large ones, like Quicken Loans Arena, but receive none of the help from taxpayers, who subsidize construction at The Q. They do all of the cultural heavy lifting of a nonprofit without any of the foundational support, or the public helping-hand offered through Cuyahoga Arts and Culture. They organically drive foot traffic, tourism, intellectual expansion and development.

For that beat to get louder, the venues need a stronger backing track.

Watterson believes another study would give advocates hard data to approach policymakers. It worked in 2013. After the Remix study was released, a coalition of music figures used the findings to lobby the city of Cleveland to lower the admissions tax from 8 percent of ticket sales to 4 percent for venues with capacities of less than 750 people.

The effort was a success. But the reduced rate is still problematic for small clubs, which pay more here than in any other large city in Ohio. Columbus imposes no tax at all. Cincinnati clubs pay 3 percent, the rate for most Ohio cities. Over the past five years, the Happy Dog paid $25,000 in music licensing fees just to host bands, and another $10,000 in admissions taxes. To a small venue, that’s the difference between scraping by and prospering.

Or in Barber’s case, the difference between paying your Saturday night act and replacing the Beachland’s worn, storm-damaged roof.

‘We might be guaranteeing [a band] $5,000 but only get $3,000 at the door,’ Barber says. ‘We’re still paying 4 percent of that $3,000 even though we lost money.’

Everyone else, meanwhile, gets extra help. Admissions tax revenue is paying for part of the renovations at Quicken Loans Arena. The city keeps 3 percent of The Q’s admissions tax payment while the other 5 percent goes to pay off existing Gateway loans, reports. The nonprofits get double benefits too. They pay no property and sales taxes, and no admissions tax.

Why shouldn’t small clubs get similar assistance? With the vast value they provide to the community, one could even make a convincing case for zeroing their admissions tax rate out altogether."

(Via Why We Need To Support Cleveland's Grassroots Music Venues.)

Crystal Swan @ Cleveland International Film Festival #ciff43

I was fortunate enough to attend the Cleveland International Film Festival this year and saw a lot of great films.  One of my favorites was Crystal Swan.  It’s intriguing to be able to see what life was like in the 90’s in Belarus, a landlocked republic between Russian and Ukraine.  This film takes place just after independence from the USSR and shows the struggle of an aspiring DJ trying to get to America.  Chicago actually, as she’s in love with house music and wants to experience its birthplace.  Ultimately this is an intimate look at the struggles that existed in that country during this time of upheaval, and showing the lengths some would go to find a better life.  This film oscillated between humor, pain and incredibly touching moments, all underscored by a fun soundtrack.  Topping it off, the festival provided a chance to talk with the director after the film. Check out the trailer below.

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Video Day #tzaupbeat

RÜFÜS DU SOL released a gorgeous new video for Treat You Better.  Cub Sport just released their video for Lift Me Up featuring "iPhone vids and snippets from [their] and some of [their] best friends’ stories”.  Yumi Zouma has a delightfully sweet new video for In Camera.

Bonus:  An incredible 15 minute video from Congolese-Belgian musician Baloji who "created a visual declaration about the zombie-fying effects of communication technology.”  Gorgeous.

Mdou Moctar (3/29/19)

What an incredible show.  I was surprised to be seeing Mdou Moctar performing at Now That’s Class, but putting these unusual elements together, the result couldn’t have been better.  Mdou has a great story, which you can read a little about in the Pitchfork review of his album below (8.0!).  He was raised in Niger but has this incredible ability to weave together his culture of music with the West.  Blistering jams filled the night, ones that you kinda wished never ended (as you might pick up from some of my video below).  I’m still stunned, and will be enjoying this album for quite awhile...

Mdou Moctar  3 29 19

Mdou Moctar  3 29 19

"Whether it’s stories about African-American legends reared on plantations in rural Mississippi or the apocryphal tale of a young Jimi Hendrix carrying around a broom until his family could afford a real guitar, blues and rock aficionados love a hardscrabble creation story. So it makes sense that in the discourse around one of the year’s most incandescent examples of guitar music, much ado is made about Mdou Moctar’s first instrument. The Tuareg guitarist was raised in northern Niger by a deeply religious family where music was verboten. He made his first guitar from a piece of wood strung with brake wires from an old bicycle, his many hours of practice kept clandestine."

(Via Mdou Moctar: Ilana (The Creator) Album Review | Pitchfork.)

Opening was Guerrilla Toss from NYC.  Not the band I would have imagined being paired with Mdou Moctar, but a thoroughly enjoyable band in their own right.  Throw in lead singer who brings in a violin into a jam-based rock show, and I’m impressed.

Guerilla Toss  3 29 19

Guerilla Toss  3 29 19

Article: Cleveland’s Unlikely Queer Electronic Music Renaissance

Great piece.  So valuable to have In Training operating here in Cleveland.  Hoping for more routine performances in the area again!
"This is a mobilization characterized by a desire to help queer artists and friends gain ground in a place that has never been kind to them. There is no de-facto leader, and it’s more of a community than a formal organization or collective, but having a tacit agreement to be there for one another goes further than any label or doctrine. Ghost Noises and ADAB of Heaven Is In You, Fana فناء of Disco Paradiso, and Father of Two, Mx. Silkman, and Kiernan Laveaux of In Training have all committed to something that’s bigger than them. Electronic music in Cleveland was dormant for a long time, but because of these artists, and others like them, the reinvigoration of the scene has been brilliant in its blossoming of something new and exciting here.
These functions were started to get away from the traditional ground of music Cleveland had cultivated from their history of punk and DIY communities. While there was some queer music, and at the same time, EDM audiences in the city, the disinterest in the former and the heteromasculinity of the latter dissuaded each of these individuals from trying to breach scenes that didn’t want them. Bohan and Ercolea had been at the same shows before, utilizing elder influences like Voices From the Lake, Jose Luna, and Interdimensional Transmissions to form an ethos by which Cleveland techno could thrive. From talking to all of the showrunners, it’s clear their passions and enthusiasm led them to do something new, even if they didn’t have the money or prior experience to immediately pull it off."
(Via Cleveland’s Unlikely Queer Electronic Music Renaissance.)

Article: Why vinyl records survive in the digital age

Well put.

"I think the real reason for vinyl's return goes much deeper than questions of sound quality. As media analyst Marshall McLuhan famously wrote, 'The medium is the message.' In other words, 'the form of a medium embeds itself in any message it would transmit or convey, creating a symbiotic relationship by which the medium influences how the message is perceived.' Nowhere does this hold truer than in the world of recorded sound."
(Via Why vinyl records survive in the digital age | Ars Technica.)

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Tomorrow: TEEN @ Beachland Tavern

Teen is an alternative pop group from Brooklyn, NY and will be performing at the Beachland Tavern tomorrow night!  Their new album has a much more synth driven sound which elevates this Tavern show for me.  Check out some videos, and a great NPR quote below!  Opening is Port Lucian who I enjoyed opening for Lala Lala.
"As a band that defines itself through constant searching, TEEN sounds most stirring when coupling upbeat and elated sounds with such unflinching honesty. For all its yearning and heartache, Good Fruit lands on a self-actualizing message about working through personal pain and coming out stronger on the other side." - NPR Music

Better Oblivion Community Center (3/25/19)

I was able to catch seeing Better Oblivion Community Center at the Agora after having immediately sold out at the Beachland Ballroom.  However I thought the Agora show was sold out, as the FB event stated, but it clearly was not.  Kind of disappointing if some fans stayed away thinking there were no tickets left.

As for the show, i’m a huge Phoebe Bridgers fan, and have always appreciated Conor Oberst.  As the show neared, I really dug into the album and started liking it more (despite their atrocious band name).  The live show wasn’t as good as I was hoping - and I’ll attribute it to my perception of the performer’s interactions.  Conor seemed oddly boisterous and Phoebe didn’t seem to be engaging with it.  There were some other hints (Conor stating he’s alienated all his friends?) - but I’m ultimately speculating.  Still, I would have rather just seen a Phoebe Bridgers performance.

Better Oblivion Community Center  3 25 19

Luckily Lala Lala was opening!  Their last show at Mahall’s was great, and I was happy to see them again.  It turns out that the lead singer of Lala Lala and Phoebe Bridgers went to High School together!  Anyway - I captured much more of their set, which may be an indication of how much more I preferred it.

Lala Lala  3 25 19

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Article(s): Plain Dealer Pop Music Critic Chuck Yarborough delivers his State of the Concert address

(I’m a little late catching up on this - but still wanted to share)


Recently Plain Dealer /’s music reporter Chuck Yarborough released his “State of the Concert address"

"CLEVEAND, Ohio – Mr. Guitarist, Madame Singer, Honored Drummers (I’ll type slowly so you can follow along), Ticket-holding fans. I am here today, writing this august body to tell you the State of the Concert is . . . in trouble."

(Via Plain Dealer Pop Music Critic Chuck Yarborough delivers his State of the Concert address |

 Shortly thereafter, p.stoops countered with a perfect rebuttal.

"My State of the Concert? I think it’s great. Every year we get exposed to more and more artists because of our increased communication with each other. We saw experimentation in onstage electronics, new takes on old forms, and wild youthful abandon. Cleveland got a ton of fantastic acts like Jungle, Prefuse 73, Punch Brothers - just to name a few I really loved.

This past year the Beachland Ballroom, the Grog Shop, Mahall’s, and many other venues saw hundreds of wildly talented musicians come through their doors. Concertgoers fell in love with each other. Drinks were shared. People came together."

(Via A Rebuttal to the Plain Dealer's 'State of the Concert' Piece and Chuck Yarborough's Dislike of DJs | Scene and Heard: Scene's News Blog.)

Chuck Yarborough sounds like an old-school, rock-n-roll bred Clevelander who’s stuck in the arena rock days of music.  Oh the prices!  Oh the DJ’s!  Oh the phones!  Oh the Auto-Tune!

While the big venue business exists, and is a major money-maker for the titans of the concert world, Chuck is missing an incredibly vibrant, talented and crucial aspect to our state of the concert.