by Geoff Wilbur
Three nights of showcases surrounding a two-day music convention in Cleveland in mid-May. Time to pig out on great music! And several bands I saw "really" stood out.
Youngstown, OH's Love and War, for example, delivered powerful, heavy arena rock with hellacious, thick harmonies. They are masters at catching and maintaining attention via the recurring monster guitar hook.
Another noteworthy melodic hard rock band I saw was Cherry Bomb (Akron). The smooth, melodic, guitar-driven hard rock of this all-female act is stylistically similar to Doro Pesch's solo stuff... but catchier.
Detroit's Red September reminded me of Reigndance minus some guitars plus better harmonies... and with a big sense of humor. Catchy, hooky, strummin' alterna-pop.
Burst of Silence (Baltimore, MD) blew me away with a Del Amitri/Rembrandts style that featured big, full harmonies and, to set them apart, use of a second guitar line.
Jayne Sachs (Dayton, OH) put on the top Friday night showcase. Her songwriting is at the core, but her band's guitar-driven, Athens-style rock ranks alongside the signed acts. Her showcase drew passers-by in from the street!
East Lansing's own DT's packed their club and held much of the club-hopping audience with their brand of original, catchy, melodic, energetic, Midwestern college rock.
Kama Sutra (Niagara Falls, NY) wowed 'em with crisp, strong music and the booming voice of Andrea DeGolier, who contributes heavily to the band's peerless stage presence.
Sparks From the Wheel (Columbus, OH) delivered hooky, guitar-based pop/rock with country alternative vocals and occasional 3-part harmonies. Worth hearing!
Cogent Woe's (Cleveland) two vocalists delivered a Floyd-inspired evening of emotionally draining, enthralling musical voyages of jazz/blues/sometimes Celtic hard rock.
Squib's (Lakewood, OH) intimate-yet-stadium-filling, female-fronted arena rock recalled McVie-fronted Fleetwood Mac.
Fatal Charm (Cleveland, OH) was a heavier, groovin' Foreigner, but there's a nineties sense of urgency added to the mix.
Other impressive bands: Loud, sloppy, raucous, punkish, fun Drill Kitty (Cleveland); quite catchy, fiddle-driven rockers, the Jehovah Waitresses (Cleveland); Chicago's fun, moshable Crimson Glow (with a great attitude that shows in the music); bounceable/moshable, electric Irish pop/rockers The Fifth Wheel (Akron, OH); raw, alternative rockers Paranoid Lovesick (Cleveland), whose tuneful music carries force and conviction; hard, catchy, melodic, alternative, college-style party rockers The Incurables (Detroit); Mark Christopher, "the" eclectic Detroit acoustic coffeehouse singer; and a few more.
Undercurrents is a great place to catch some of this region's best unsigned bands, but there are many more. Let's support them all!