For the first time in over a year I got to leave my apartment and see some Cleveland rock and roll up close and personal. Try not to laugh at my child like excitement but it was like going to see Wrestlemania or Jewel Kilcher in concert (both things I have done on multiple occasions so I know what I am talking about.) Midnight, my favorite Cleveland metal maniacs, rolled through town for a two night stand of evil deeds last week… it was a breath of putrid, polluted air.
Midnight always puts on a great show in Cle; between the whip wielding broads, broken glass and drunken mosh pits you are bound to leave swimming in a pool of vomit and blood (hopefully not just your own). I was hoping for more of the same when I caught them in Long Beach but I was really just happy to imagine that I was at Now That’s Class for one night.
I started off in good Ohio fashion by quickly draining a forty of beer before I was picked up for the trip to Long Beach which is easily the closest assimilate to my beloved Lakewood that I have found near Los Angeles. Once I got there I was pleasantly pleased to see Midnights resident shredder Sean nursing a pint of beer with a big Parma grin on his face. Man, I miss the shitty things we all used to get into ‘back in the day’. The fact that he was driving across the country playing what may be the least accessible Metal coming out of Cleveland further drove some nostalgic giddiness through me.
What made the night better; it was a family affair as my good buddy Ryan Harkins was playing in his stellar stoner-black metal band Sumerian Axe. Harkins is a Cleveland legend in his own right if only in my head and history: he played bass in my first band See World, drums in my baby Amps II Eleven and put an ugly stamp on Cleveland garage rock while playing in the Death Sweats.
Sumerian Axe is the only band in LA that sounds like they are from Cleveland. It’s gritty, funny, riffing and kind of tongue-in-cheek. Harkins is a formidable front man in the effect that you never know if he’s going to hurt you or himself at any given moment. I like that sort of thing (even though, at this stage in the game, I find myself ever farther in the back of the room during these types of shows). The songs are full of stoner rock abandon and Venom-esque vocals; the only problem here is that they sound a little too much like Midnight to be a good opening act for Midnight.
That being said Midnight still held their own. The crowd was thick with Mexican metallists and questionable punk kids, all of them a little rowdy but not at all accomplished at making a real-deal Cleveland debacle. Dressed to the nines in trademarked bee keeper masks and ugly tattoos (speaking of Venom… how is it I never noticed Jaime’s tramp stamp that reads ‘I heart Venom’?) the dudes brought their rapid fire assault sans any creepy girls on stage and easily mowed over every ones minds. It was fascinating to find out how far reaching their music has become as the crowd literally went berserker during the opener ‘Black Rock and Roll’ which seems to be the rally cry for a new generation of bands.
‘All Hail Hell’ is my favorite Midnight cut and it may be their ultimate anthem as nearly everyone in the room raised their fists in the air, calling out the chorus in unison. It’s simple, it’s quirky and probably not really all that evil but it works on a level that reaches us metal heads from the north coast to the west coast. And it was really all I came for; after they played that song I wandered to the beer patio to chug Jim Beam out of a plastic bottle.
I hope Midnight curates an even greater army of fuckups all over the world. They are on the cusp of becoming something special; maybe not a Metallica but they could at least be an Armored Saint. In the meantime I am only too happy to watch Sumerian Axe build its own legion of non-Cle kids who have never seen something like Harkins crowd surfing during a show in a party bus (that was the week before this show).
I have a dream, a noble, selfless dream. A dream that one day Long Beach will be rechristened Parma II. This time I’ll just watch from the back of the room as it slowly gets burned down.