Graduates of Akron’s Firestone High (the same school the Pretenders’ Chrissie Hynde attended), Black Keys singer-guitarist Dan Auerbach and drummer Patrick Carney started playing together in 2001. In 2002, they inauspiciously issued The Big Come Up, a gritty collection of garage-blues tunes, on a small label called Alive Records and set out on a national tour. Before long, Rolling Stone magazine was praising the band, and acts like Radiohead and Beck enlisted it as an opening act. Its music soon appeared in everything from TV ads to commercial films. In the wake of last year’s Attack & Release, its first album to feature an outside producer, the band’s popularity escalated even further. And yet, as Carney explains in a recent phone interview, the duo’s still proud to call Akron home.
Whether you’re performing on Late Night with Conan O’Brien or playing the main stage at Lollapalooza, you guys always identify yourselves as the Black Keys from Akron, Ohio. Talk a little about what Akron symbolizes for you guys and why you like the city so much. Well, Akron is our home. It’s where all of our friends are. We do that because places like Akron get written off. I don’t think you can’t truly appreciate Akron until you have either lived here or at least been here. It’s not one of those cities where people are waiting in line to come visit. That’s why we like Akron. It’s not flashy. There are lots of cool things, but you just need to know where to go. Because of that, nothing ever changes, which is cool.
It’s well known that Cleveland has a vibrant live music scene encompassing a wide variety of styles to entice any serious fan. Bands on the scene range from acoustic folk and polka to the heaviest of metal and intricate math-rock. The biggest challenge for any concertgoer traveling to CLE for the first time, however, is actually finding the spots where each kind of music gets performed. Cleveland is not like other large cities that have a critical mass of great music clubs on one street or in a small district. While the House of Blues, Blossom Music Center and other big venues are easy to spot, some of Cleveland’s best clubs are smaller and independently-owned. These local favs are distributed equally east and west of downtown. Each club adds a specific spice to Cleveland’s musical gumbo.
Saturday was a musical whirlwind. I wanted to see my friend Jason’s band, Rambler 454, play at The Grog Shop in Cleveland Heights. Jason’s band is full of guys who have day jobs and sailboats, but don deep fried, beer-soaked, Dukes of Hazzard-worthy alter egos at night with names like “Jesse” and “Cooter.” I enjoyed a great meal at Mint Cafe down the street (tofu and string beans, extra spicy) before hitting The Grog.
August 15, 2008 was a very special day for me. From the minute I walked into Cain Park I knew this was going to be a special event. The line waiting to get in was a long one. That is where you usually find me; the line for the lawn. We usually try to get there at least an hour ahead of time or maybe a little earlier than that to sit on the lawn. But this show was different. We had seats.
I purchased tickets almost three months in advance for this particular concert. That is something I never do, but I was so excited to see these bass legends that I wanted to be up close. (I missed Wooten when he was in town playing Beachland Ballroom recently and regretted it.) Also, I wasn’t sure about the weather and I thought it was my safest bet since it is an outdoor theater.
When my husband and I found our seats there were already about 30 people milling in front of the stage. My husband who is a musician said they were all checking out the set up and the gear. Yes, this was a real musician’s concert. There was even a guy walking around with his bass.
In my opinion, Cain Park is one of the best venues for outdoor concerts in the city. The great thing about Cain Park is that you can see from just about anywhere in the amphitheater. The Pavilion section at the front of Evans Amphitheater seats around 1,000 people and the lawn is located right behind. They divide the lawn into two sections, blankets up front and lawn chairs in the back so there is no obstruction to your view. The amphitheater actually reminds you of Blossom Music Center, only smaller and more intimate.
Because Cain Park is smack dab in the middle of a neighborhood, there is no parking lot. Parking is on the neighboring streets. There is also a bus that leaves Severance Shopping Center in front of Bally’s Total Fitness on concert nights. This runs an hour before concert time up to an hour after the show.
There are two entrances to the park for concerts I usually use the Goodnor & Superior entrance. It slopes down into a valley. For people who may be physically challenged there is a golf cart type of shuttle that will take people down the hill and back up to the entrance.
If you have never been to Cain Park (14591 Superior Rd at Lee), take a look at their website and plan on attending this year or next summer. There are events for everyone. –SS
I consider myself to be an avid fan of rock and roll music and one of the great things about calling Cleveland home is its reputation for memorable rock and roll concerts. Whether it’s a secret show by Akron’s Black Keys for 100 people at the Beachland Ballroom (in the small tavern side) or a comeback tour stop by Stone Temple Pilots and native frontman Scott Weiland at PlayhouseSquare’s 5,000-seat State Theatre, I’m never at a loss to see a great rock and roll show. This is, after all, the home of rock and roll.
Last Friday I took my fiancé to see the Foo Fighters in concert at Quicken Loans Arena for her birthday. We were running late to the show and with the Cleveland Indians playing next door at Progressive Field it could have been difficult getting to the show on time and finding a parking spot with all that traffic, but here’s a tip . . . take the RTA. We live close to a RTA Red Line Rapid Station which makes it very convenient to travel to downtown. In less than 15 minutes we arrived at Tower City Center and took the Walkway to Gateway that leads right into Quicken Loans Arena.
It was a homecoming of sorts for the Foo Fighters with Dave Grohl being from nearby Warren, Ohio. The Foo seemed to play harder, louder and longer. Pulling out all the stops for the hometown crowd, which included Grohl’s father, in a 2 ½-hour show that included a few surprises.
The band opened up an electric set with “Let It Die,” a track off their latest album and mixed in a few hits with “Times Like These” and “Learn To Fly” as well as a cover by The Who called “Young Man Blues.”
Halfway through the show the band took to a small circular stage about 30 feet from our seats and played an acoustic set featuring “Marigold” (a Nirvana B-side), “My Hero” and “Monkey Wrench” with Pat Smear, a former Nirvana bandmate, on guitar. The good times continued to roll with Kelly Pavlik, the middleweight boxing champion from Youngstown, Ohio, coming on-stage to lead the audience in a raucous “O-H-I-O” chant.
The band topped that with another lively cover of The Who’s “Bargain” with Supergrass’ Gaz on leads vocals and “Best of You” for the encore. Another fine show indeed –Cleveland style.