Well, Goddamn!

With all the things Sara & I have been doing lately, we seem to have less and less time to get out together. Even when we find the time, there seems to never be any good shows to get out to at the right time, so Friday was a much needed treat. In rare form, we found ourselves without the kids and it just so happened to be a night that one of our new-found favorites was going to be in town. We have recently been finding ourselves getting more & more into gutterbilly music and at the top of the list right now is The Goddamn Gallows. If you don’t know what gutterbilly is, it’s kind of a more folk-country version of rockabilly/psychobilly. It’s like taking a rockabilly band and adding a vaudevillian flair to it. Standing bass, banjo, harmonica, accordion, washboard, etc – pretty much anything that you could imagine on some front porch in a mountain being played by some barefoot yokels, except those yokels just happen to be condemned souls waiting for their moment to show the dark lord all the wonderful little evil things they promote – MUAH HA HA!

So, 3 nights ago: we get out of work and get ourselves cleaned up. 1 kid already at his mother’s house, another at his girlfriend’s house and 1 to be dropped off and it just didn’t seem to be able to happen fast enough. I was hungry, Sara was hungry and she was somewhat disappointed with the shirt that she had been tailoring, so the evening was starting to take a slight downward turn. We were trying to figure out what we were going to eat and nothing seemed to be ‘jump out at you’ agreeable. We are trying to get my daughter to her mother’s house and along the drive, there’s a theater on fire which diverts all the main street traffic to the side streets – a nice mess to aggravate the situation even more. After finding our way through traffic and finally dropping the last child off, we still hadn’t decided what to eat. We still had an hour before the doors open, probably 2 hours before the first band and we wanted to sit down and have good food with some tasty pre-game, too.

After about 10-15mins of driving around aimlessly and being complete crab-asses with each other in our indecisive hunger, we decided to land at the newest brewery on the Westside Market strip. It’s right down the street from Great Lakes and the Market Garden brewery and it’s called Nano Brew. I had read about this place already and didn’t have real high hopes for it, but come on, it’s a Cleveland brewery, so I would be doing myself a disservice if I didn’t at least check the place out. We go in & there’s no hostess in the crowd of hipsters standing close to the door (I’m sure just waiting for the next American Spirit break), but there is a table open close to the back of this small place, so we rush over and grab it. The bartender/waitress comes over fairly quickly and asks for our first drink order. I tried the house black IPA and Sara tried their pale ale. The pale ale was better than the black, but they were both pretty much just average craft beers – not bad, but nothing I would go out my way for. A male bartender/waiter had come over while we were decided what to eat and I was already thinking of how these people were going to get a nice tip. Then it stopped. We waited about 20 minutes before someone came back to take our food order and when he took it, I told him I wanted the check with the food. We realized while sitting there that the food was actually contracted from the restaurant next door (the Black Pig), so the servers at Nano were obviously not too concerned with food service.  After finally getting our food (without the check), we ate somewhat quickly and had our focus to get out of there. I will say that the Black Pig is pretty good. Somewhat spicy – just like I like it. We had the pumpkin bisque, the Breakfast burger and the Braised burger. We shared and the food really made me feel better. It was already after 8 and we didn’t know when the first band would hit the stage. I had to call the girl over to get the check and luckily we had cash on hand, so I walked the check over with $40 in it (on a $38 bill) and handed her the booklet. I didn’t wait for change and they sure as hell didn’t even deserve the $2, but we just wanted to leave.

So, now we get to the Beachland Tavern. It’s been awhile since we’d been here. Last show we saw at the Beachland was on the ballroom side and that was Anti-Flag with Aiden & the Cancer Bats back in January of 2010 – which was a great show. Too bad they don’t have too many shows like that there – I really like the aesthetic of the place. We go in and the first thing we notice – these are our people. It was easy to be comfortable with knowing that I probably could trust the crowd so I wouldn’t have to concentrate more on protecting my wife than actually having fun. She runs to the restroom & I go to the bar and start looking for my first flavor. Some guy hands me a beer list and I hadn’t settled on anything when the bartender pounces on me, so in panicked form (because you never know how attentive the bartender is, or how quickly they will get back to you, I order myself a Great Lakes Christmas ale with Sara’s Founders Porter. As he’s bringing my beer back to me, I see a glorious little morsel in the cooler that isn’t on the beer list – damn you nice gentleman! But, we’ll get back to that in a minute.

The first band -The Struttin Cocks- gets on stage and the crowd is still kind of thin. They are obviously not enjoying the idea of having to play yet, but they were trying to make the most of it. I liked their set – they have a very cool old school-ish punk sound and are pretty fast paced. I can’t find the reason, but the singer kind of reminded me of Johnny Rotten (I told Sara and she looked at me like I was nuts). I don’t think they got the response they deserved. This just wasn’t the crowd for them. These people came here for gutterbilly, not punk. I was irritated by the douche in front of the stage that wasn’t even paying mind to band, but rather texting or whatever the fuck he was doing with his phone. That shit’s just rude, no matter whether you like the band or not. I want to see them again, but maybe with a more punk-style lineup.

Time to get my next beer. No mistakes this time – had the barkeep get me that Sierra Nevada Narwhal Imperial Stout that I was eyeing up as he was walking over my fall-back Christmas ale. It was everything I’d hoped it to be. This was a great beer. I wish they had these in the local stores by me – I didn’t think I would ever get to try one unless I went to Colorado.

Next up was Jayke Orvis and the Broken Band. These guys are actually half of The Goddamn Gallows. They have more of a folk-country sound that I can appreciate, but it’s just a little more mellow and country for my taste. I think Sara likes them more than I do, but still not anything that would drive us from watching from the side. I do have to say that the sound combination of Jayke’s mandolin, the standing bass, the banjo and the girl rocking that violin was a force to be reckoned with. They have built a fantastic sound together that I’m sure will find some rotation on my iPod.

Before the Goddamn Gallows hit the stage, I caught their bass player over at the merch table and introduced myself. I wanted to talk with him about the compilation for a minute and Jesus Christ! I knew this guy was tall, but he made me feel like a fucking midget. I got a bit of good info from him and he was an overall good guy to talk to. I didn’t want to hold him for too long, though since I knew they had to get ready to play. I bought a couple of shirts and headed back to Sara. The band hit the stage and after only one song was knee-deep in Y’all Motherfuckers Need Jesus.  It set the tone for the rest of the set. A few more songs in, Sara & I finished our beers and headed into the crowd. We found our normal spot – right in the middle at the back edge of the pit – it’s like the no-man’s land that so many people seem to be afraid of. Our bodies just aren’t young enough to go moshing anymore without repercussions, so being the wall that contains the pit is just the right median for us. There was this big, heavy guy who, I thought was going to be the dick of the pit, but actually kept it going at times and never acted like an ass in there. That’s the way it should be. No elbows, no fists – just good, clean moshing. When Sara and I had moments of just bursting into hand-in-hand dancing, the crowd closest to us even cleared a little to give us space. The band played a great set, with many of our favorites and when they were ready to stop, Mike answered the call for “ONE MORE SONG!” with “OK, but we’re gonna slow it down a little. Ain’t gonna be no moshin”. He looked exhausted. He started the final little acoustic set with himself and the guitar player from the Broken Band playing Nature Of The Beast and after a few songs, left the other guy to play a few more on his own to close it out. While Sara was in the bathroom, I talked with Todd (the heavy guy from the pit) and replenished fluids. This was a night that we’ve been needing for some time now and I’m glad we were finally able to blow off a little steam. Hopefully it won’t bee too long before we can have another.

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