by Bradley Thorla
Ohio’s weather is really heating up, and so is the summer show schedule! Giving everyone a heads up- June is looking primed for some face melting with 6 shows featuring some of the most incredible active musicians.
Starting things off, on Sunday June 4, Nashville will be sending the Grog Shop their dirtiest garage/sludge rock rippers, Thelma and the Sleaze. The all-female group’s singer, LG, says via text that anyone in attendance should expect “heavy handed hits excellently executed for maximum enjoyment. BANTER and hair flips, too (eye roll emoji).”
Then on June 6, another set of incredible (coincidentally female) musicians, in the form of Los Angeles’ Warpaint, are playing the Beachland Ballroom. Seeing their band name on the Billions’ booking agency webpage years ago led me to their MySpace page (yes that long ago). I then managed to catch their set at the Grog Shop shortly before the band released The Fool in 2010, and a few times since. The depth and strength of musicianship across all four members of the quartet lend the heavy, late night grooves a wonderfully heavy complexity. Catch them now, before they blow up after their run opening up for Depeche Mode (which is such a perfect pairing for them).
Less than a week later on June 13, Mary Timony will be at the Beachland Ballroom performing songs from her Helium catalogue. Make sure you get there early and catch Noveller’s set. A solo project by Parts & Labor’s Sarah Lipstate, you may have caught her opening for St. Vincent, the Soft Moon or Iggy Pop recently.
If your mind isn’t sufficiently melted by the shows of the first half of the month, June’s second half has plenty finish you off. On June 15, Chon and Tera Melos will be bringing to the Agora Ballroom a very new, specific brand of shred-prog tastefully mixed with indie rock tones and punk sensibilities. All of the bands shralp the gnar, but in particular Tera Melos’ Nick Reinhardt brings a newness of technique to the “progressive” genre, deftly using effect pedals and incredible technicality to wrangle previously unheard noises from his instrument.
June 21 marks At the Drive-In’s return to Cleveland, after quite a few years off. They played a shortened set at last year’s Rock on the Range festival in Columbus, but the band’s historical significance (and overall non-nu metal vibe) was lost on most of the crowd, though I did see Anthony Keidis from Red Hot Chili Peppers on the opposite side of the backstage area, transfixed, because “game recognize game.” That band still kills a stage after all these years—Omar still kicks over cabinets and Cedric does those trademark acrobatic, mid-chorus handstands.
On the jazz side of the game, one of the new monsters, maybe the biggest musical mind since Alice Coltrane hung up her harp in the 90s, Kamasi Washington is bringing his insane big band to the Tri-C Jazz Festival. First brought to notoriety by composing the incredibly complex string arrangements on Kendrick Lamar’s “To Pimp A Butterfly,” Kamasi then released his 3xLP debut album, the Epic. His two-drummer, two-bass player, 12-piece big band blends Jazz and Soul using the most intense, burning music heard in recent years and is not to be missed.
It’s looming months like this when it should be decided—brains are not really that important. Might as well give in to the musical madness when it is this available.
Bradley Thorla works at EarthQuaker Devices and spent nearly a decade booking bands. He has 20 releases with eight different bands to his credit, along with three zines and a book. He presently performs with Relaxer, This Is What We Are Now and as a solo artist under the name THORLA. His photography can be found on Instagram via @bradleythorla.