In the past year alone, I’ve traveled to concerts in Montreal, Buffalo, Rochester and even flew out to Portland, Oregon to see Sleep play Holy Mountain. (Portland’s a great city, I just wish it was closer.) But the best place to see a show south of the border in my books is The Mistake by the Lake–Cleveland, Ohio.
Don’t get me wrong, there are parts of Cleveland where I’d be dead if I set foot in. I’m told that the local nickname for East Cleveland is “Mad Max,” which says it all, really. But when you’re busing it into town with the sole purpose of seeing a metal gig, it’s the best place I can think of within a seven-hour drive.
In Cleveland, the Greyhound bus terminal is on Chester Street, which is right downtown on the campus of Cleveland State, and a short walk from the city’s theatre district. Your next street over is Euclid, home to Peabody’s, the local mid-sized metal bar. It’s a 10-minute walk, tops. You’ll hit the Comfort Inn before you get there, as it’s only a block from the venue. It’s a decent place to stay for a hundred bucks (that’s after taxes and fees, BTW) and comes with free, serve-yourself breakfast the next morning.
If you’re in town for something bigger, the Agora Theater is a mile eastbound on Euclid. There’s also a cheap university hotel along the way that’ll cut down your post-gig hotel commute, though I can’t speak for the niceness of the place since I only found out about it while walking back from the Agora to the Comfort Inn in October. Something tells me that Manowar didn’t stay there, though…
And while inner-city Cleveland is predominantly African-American, there is still a solid core of old-school metal heads in the area who know their shit, guys who have Technical Ecstasy as their cell phone wallpaper and not only saw Accept at the old Agora in ’84–but still have the t-shirt to prove it.
Some other things I like about Cleveland…
- They’ve got a neato instro sludge/math/tech/prog/whatever-core band called Keelhaul that opens for most of the doom/sludge bands that come to town. They were the main local support when I caught the Cleveland date on the Pentagram/TGOS tour last winter, and will be the first band on the bill when the Metalliance tour hits town next weekend. I’ll be heading down for that one as well–looking forward to seeing Saint Vitus and Crowbar!
- Their arena (Quicken Loans) is pretty nice, although they won’t serve you alcohol with a Canadian passport (an Alberta driver’s license was considered acceptable, however). There are lotsa bars in the area that will, though, I am sure.
- They were the first city to play Rush on the radio. Seriously. Check out Beyond the Lighted Stage if you haven’t already…
- They’ve also got this thing called the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame. It’s pretty awesome. I spent a whole day in there, without stopping for lunch, and still had to rush through the top two floors before they closed.
It sure beats the hell outta Detroit. Don’t believe me? Try going to a gig at Harpo’s sometime. I’ve never been, but the stories are enough to scare me away…
P.S.: I’ll be playing tunes from all the bands on the Metalliance tour tonite on Smokin’ Green, namely Helmet, Saint Vitus, Crowbar, Kylesa, Red Fang, Howl, The Atlas Moth and Keelhaul. Be sure to tune in from 1 till 3 am at 88.1 on yer radio, channel 947 on yer TV or www.ckln.fm on yer computer! Playlist and podcast posted over here afterwards.