Were you there? Were you at the Inaugural Cleveland Bachelor Show of the Month Evangelicals/Holiday Shores concert? Were you?
If you were, thank you. If you weren't ... well, I hope I'll see you at the Beachland when we promote the December show.
The show itself was a good one. Florida's Holiday Shores played a lot heavier than I expected, which is always welcome when the genre is indie pop. Something about indie pop with an angry guitar is just a perfect thing. The band didn't play terribly long though (and I missed the local opener's set as I was down screening my contribution to the weekly Saturday night Low Life Rank & File Film Series), so the live music portion of the night was pretty much dominated by the headliners, Evangelicals.
This didn't bother me in the slightest. Over the last couple of weeks, I'd immersed myself in their work and found myself becoming a bigger fan by the day. Unlike some bands, where repeat pre-concert listens have you tired out before the doors even open, the tide had yet to crest for me. Plus, frontman Josh Jones had been really cool when we chatted, about music stuff and non-music topics alike, so I was looking forward to seeing him play.
Once the show ended, and I made my way home, I reflected on it a bit. Musically, it was stellar. Visually, it was engaging, with smoke machine effects, strobe lights (controlled by a cool light switch addition to the bass player's instrument, and some crazy headless saran wrap mannequins posted on either side of the stage, lighting up and going dark on a timer like some fucked up holiday decoration.
It wasn't a perfect night, though. I heard everything I wanted to hear, but whenever I would pay attention to Jones, it would frequently seem like he was only half-trying. The moments when he was jamming were amazing, but those when he was tucked deep into his blue New York hoodie, sort of aimlessly wandering around the stage reciting almost listlessly the lyrics into the mic, I kept finding myself thinking how cool this would be if he was really trying. I mean, it sounded great, but you knew you weren't getting dude's best effort. Imagine if you were.
It also reminded me of something I'd heard a couple weeks back, at the Rock Hall's Janis Joplin tribute night. That event is a blog post in itself, as it marked Roky Erickson's first-ever performance in Cleveland, a blistering mini-set by a couple of the original dudes from Santana (who'd a thunk?), and several other really wonderful moments. Plus, the fact that I was there as a +1 to someone who managed to score private box seats. The only thing that could've made this night better is if the boxes at Playhouse Square were like the ones at Progressive Field, with free dogs and wings and beers, and an anticipated visit from the dessert cart. But I digress.
What the Evangelicals set reminded me of was a comment Joplin herself made in an interview with Dick Cavett. Cavett asked her if she ever had a rough night, found it hard to get excited, maybe because of a bum crowd. Janis looked shocked at the idea, and rushed to answer that such a thing never happened, that if there was ever a moment where she wasn't feeling it from the audience, all she had to do was turn to her bandmates and what they were doing and she would get absolutely turned on by the music, and the show would take care of itself.
I remembered that quote and wished something similar would have happened with Jones. He is a smart and talented guy, and clearly a hard-worker on his recordings and most of the time on the road. And even his lazier moments on stage are pretty damn good. But hell if it wouldn't be awesome if he killed it all the time. Then he'd be great.
3 years ago