If you see the members of Coffinberry or The Dreadful Yawns on the street this week, be sure to give them a high five. They deserve it. Oh, you’re not sure you’d recognize either band? That’s understandable. Cleveland bands don’t look that different from the Cleveland music fans. The guy standing next to you in the crowd could be the headliner for the night, and you wouldn’t know it until he plugs in his guitar. In the case you’re not sure that the person you’re about to high five is in either band, it’s cool. You can give a complete stranger a high five.

Coffinberry, This Moment In Black History, The Pages, and The Lindsay. Beachland Tavern 05.05.07.

Perhaps no Cleveland band epitomizes the regular dudes rockin’ the f*ck out aesthetic better than Coffinberry. Although they may look the same on a night they’re playing The Beachland Tavern as they would look waiting in the line at the corner CVS/Pharmacy, don’t let that unassuming appearance fool you. When they hit the stage, they can rock with the finest. Drummer Antony Cross brought out a cement brick to keep the kit in place, but the way he pounds, he could really use eight or nine more. While the dual guitar attack of Nicholas Cross and Tony Janicek have only two settings on their amps: destroy and destroy.

Their set mostly consisted of tracks from the just released God Dam Dogs. On my cd review, I lauded the diversity and maturity they displayed on cuts like the piano ballad “Aims Retreat” and campfire jangle on “Earthworms In The Sun,” in addition to their heavy garage meets grunge guitars. In a live setting, however, even these cuts cannot escape the guitar onslaught. Though “Little Child of Dementia,” “Welcome To Hell,” and “The Ram” all translated great to the stage, I was most impressed with “Aims Retreat.” On record, it’s delicate and damaged, but live, it hardly resembles the album track as it’s bracketed by rowdy, wall of sound guitars.

This Moment In Black History‘s set featured loads of new material. I managed to scribble down the titles “MFA (Master of Fine Arts and/or Mother F’n A-hole)” and “Pollen Count.” I would say that the new material was thicker and heavier than It Takes A Nation, but with TMIBH, adjectives thick and heavy still need to save room for frantic. I was particularly impressed with “Pollen Count,” a number Chris Kulcsar had just named the previous night. It features an extended three or four minute jam intro where Lamont Thomas (drums), Buddy Akita (guitar), and Lawrence Daniel Caswell (bass) lay down some heavy, almost jazzy, grooves. It’s easy to overlook their musicianship when you have a manic frontman like Kulcsar.

I had expected The Lindsay to be the second band on the bill, yet when I entered The Tavern they were already half way through their set. I also didn’t expect to see so many kids in attendance. I don’t mean kids as in high school or college, I mean grade school kids, all seated along the bar, and all trying in vain to cover their ears. No matter, all I needed to hear from The Lindsay was their last number, “Life Is Fair.” Man, was that one top jam. It started off with some deep tribal drumming, bubbling bass, and snakey guitars, then, they just launched into glorious, destructive, noise. Though their friends and family may have been the ones paying close attention earlier in the set, that one jam made everyone else in attendance take notice. The Pages, a two man band of drums and guitar, followed The Lindsay and played a quick fifteen minute set of garage punk. I’d love to tell you more, or at least give you a link, but as you can imagine, it’s not easy to google a band named The Pages.

The Dreadful Yawns, The Dreadful Orchestra, and The Very Knees. The Parish Hall 05.04.07.

The Dreadful Yawns‘ vocalist/guitarist Ben Gmetro will be the first to tell you that The Dreadful Yawns on stage are not the same ones who recorded their latest album Rest. Actually, Gmetro is the only member of the current lineup that worked on that album. Additionally, they’ve already started to move on to different sounds. They’ve left the sunny California psychedelic sound, for something thicker and more VU influenced. The biggest addition to the band, in terms of sheer impact, may be vocalist Elizabeth Kelly who provides the harmonies to Gmetro’s lead. Prior to their set as a five-piece band, The Yawns performed as The Dreadful Orchestra, with a compliment of cello, violin, flute, piano, and string bass. Unfortunately, in the large, open set up of The Parish Hall, the intricacies of the orchestra were lost. The sound didn’t carry far enough from the stage to cover the casual chit-chat going on in the crowd.

I was asked to describe The Very Knees to someone who missed their set Friday night, and what came out of my mouth was “Trashy but not to trashy, and artsy but not too artsy.” I also like to call The Very Knees one of the great unnoticed bands in town, as they usually take the first slot on the bill. I don’t think I’ve reached beating a dead horse territory yet, so I’m going to keep saying it until I do: if you see The Very Knees listed early on the bill, make sure you get to the venue early. These rockers deserve your attention.