There’s an old saying that goes something like this, “Save the drama for your mama.” All I wanted was some cold Stroh’s and some Rock ‘N’ Roll. The Happy Dog has Stroh’s and they also had a free triple bill with Mystery of Two, Church of The Red Museum, and Chum. Seems like the perfect match, right? Well, it would have been a perfect match if it wasn’t for all of the high school theatrics that marred Chum’s set.
Chum features ex-members of Neil Blender and Poor Sailor, a couple local bands that could bring it loud. Poor Sailor’s noise was more in the pop, sloppy Pavement vein, while Neil Blender’s noise was more of the ear-splitting variety. Chum splits the difference. They played an enjoyable set that was ultimately marred by endless nastiness coming from stage left. Without getting into details, that near constant heckling ended in a rather ugly scene after Chum’s last number, with one female patron getting tossed. It was nearly enough for me to call it a night.
Columbus’s Church of The Red Museum were the middle band on the bill, and in spite of the short distance between the North Coast and the state capital, this was the first chance I’d had to see them live since reviewing their self-titled release back in February. Their six members: keyboards, organ, guitar, bass, drum, and violin/trumpet, could barely fit on the small Happy Dog stage. To their credit, they didn’t let the cramped quarters constrict their sound: a full, dynamic mix recalling the work of Nick Cave with the flourishes of violin and trumpet lending a modern gypsy rock feel. As drama was the ongoing theme of the night, COTRM’s set had some drama, too. At one point a rather large woman came in off the street to argue with the Happy Dog Staff in front of the stage, and I feared we’d get a visit from Cleveland’s finest. Thankfully, some skilled diplomacy allowed COTRM to finish their impressive set.
Mystery of Two were last on stage last night, and while you may not be familiar with the band, guitarist Ryan Weitzel and drummer Nick Riley are no strangers to the scene. Weitzel is active with the record label Exit Stencil, the Exit Stencil studio, as well as the west side venue, The Parish Hall, while Riley works the DIY venue, Tower 2012. Their quick set drew primarily from their soon to be released debut, Arrows Are All You Know, a fine addition to the Cleveland avant rock canon. At times, a stubborn effects pedal threatened to derail Mystery of Two’s set, and a couple quick recoveries were needed, but by the end they really found a swift, crunching groove.