Saturday, August 18, 2007


In Cleveland I was supposed to meet up with a friend at the hotel before going over to the venue. But first I had to get there and given my navigation skills that was a challenge. I did fine until I got near Cleveland, but then my directions said I was supposed to stay on a certain interstate. So I did, staying kind of in the middle left lanes (there were a lotta lanes as I recall). It was great, and I was able to zip happily along for several miles. Unfortunately, unbeknownst to me, these lanes split off to form an "express" section of the road that had no exits -- once on it, you stayed on it until it rejoined the rest of the interstate. The rest of the interstate ran right beside this express part, so I was able to very clearly see my exit, which of course, I could not make because I was still on the "express" part. The two part of the interstate remereged immediately after the exit I was supposed to take.

So I missed an big deal, just go to the next exit and turn around. Yeah, that was my plan too, but then I found myself in a huge road construction traffic nightmare. Getting the mile (maybe less) to the next exit took me about 45 minutes. But I did manage to turn around and from there I found my hotel with only a couple more wrong turns. Later than I'd hoped, but not bad.

Anyway, I get to the hotel call one friend and make plans to meet up sometime at the gig (we've never seen each other although we used to chat in Antenna nearly every evening) and then call the friend who is staying at the same hotel. We decide to drive over together (Yay! I won't get lost!) and head out for the venue. We get close and then start really looking for the venue which we soon locate because Steve is hanging out in the parking lot. We wave as we drive into the little parking lot (one huge benefit of getting there really early is easy parking :-) ) and he comes over and chats with us for a while. He's a fantastic mimic -- I imagine pretty much everyone he meets can get dredged up sometime. I do get the impression talking to him that everything -- every conversation, everything he sees, reads or hears -- gets filed away to be pulled up whenever it might come in handy.

We puttered off to take some stuff (another bottle each of Jager and Unicum -- I bought three of each because I got volume discounts. Ever the bargin shopper. lol) downstairs to the lounge area. It was hot as snot down there. There were fans, but all they did was blow the hot air around. Went back upstairs to check out the main hall and run into Davida who told us when they first got there they all walked in to what they thought was the hall and thought "oh. my. god." There are two performance spaces at Beachland Ballroom -- the the Ballroom and the Tavern -- and they had walked into the Tavern which is, well a tavern, with a very tiny "stage" (it looked like a large pallet about 8-10 inches off the floor). She said they just kind of stood there for a few seconds thinking "oh no, not again" as apparently it was reminiscent of one of the Florida venues. Much to their relief they were quickly directed to the Ballroom with is a big empty room (although they had rows of chairs set up for this show) with a stage at one end.

After the 20th Century Theatre this place looked so bare and utilitarian, but in retrospect it really wasn't bad. This place seemed to be in an odd location...fairly residential (kinda run down residential at that) with some small shops around. It didn't seem like a really happening place and I kind of wondered if there were going to be many people. I also felt a weird vibe, kind of a don't expect too much feeling. I just figured I'd enjoy it for what it was and the next day in Chicago the show would be really great.

But the Cleveland show turned out to be really very good. Despite one drunken moron who kept yelling at everyone to "stand up, stand up. This is a rock show" even though Steve tried to tell him that sitting was fine -- that's why the chairs were there (I always figure trying to reason with a drunk is pointless) the audience was generally appreciative and energetic. That really helped to lift the level, and what could have been merely decent turned into a lot of fun. And they even played the new "jazzy" version of Reptile which was the first time I'd heard it (and only the third time they played it), so that was extra special. I stood at the back, just beside the mixing desk and in front of (and below) the video cameras, and had a great view of the band. Although it was the furthest away from the stage I'd ever been at one of their shows, it worked really well for me. Since most of the audience was sitting I had a clear view and it wasn't crowded back there, so I didn't have any jostling, which was great. I was able to stand there and just let the music wash over me. It was the first show this time that I was able to just relax and really enjoy, and enjoy it I did. I couldn't wipe the smile off my face as I stood there listening to them and thinking how much I love that band. You know it wasn't the best show they did, or the even the best one of their's I got to see, but it was special to me all the same.

I did get to meet my friend from HW and Antenna (the one I phoned at the hotel) between Rob's set and the Church's. This guy (Perry -- posts as Awful Ache on HW) and his son drove down from Barrie, Ontario for the show -- their first ever Church show. I was really happy for them that it was a good one. After the show we got him a set list (which I think my friend -- who I don't think wants to be named, so I'm not -- got signed by all the band members) and then took them downstairs to meet Steve. I'm pretty sure they also got to say hi to Tim and Peter (Marty was still doing the grunt work :-D ). They found out the next morning they had stayed at the same hotel as the band when they were taking advantage of the hotel's free breakfast and found various band members and crew doing the same thing.

One kind of interesting little tidbit was during the show a cop walked through the hall along the side. When I saw him the first thing that went through my mind was "Oh dear, I hope he isn't here to arrest Steve." I kept a watchful eye on him. lol! Back downstairs after the show, SK was working on his blog (such dedication -- he does love that thing) and a few of us were sitting around chatting quietly when that same cop came down the stairs, stopped about three steps from the bottom and scanned the room. It seemed almost mechanical and was kind of creepy to me. Steve was typing away; Tim was typing on his laptop too; Peter was talking to someone -- everyone just kept doing what they were doing and he paused and then went back upstairs. I don't recall seeing police at any of the other shows, so that really stood out for me.


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