March 25

We Gotta Go Back, Back to the 2000s Tour!!


I really love me some down and dirty, hard hitting rock. So, I was in my perfect place at the “Back to the 2000’s Tour” show last week at Cleveland’s Winchester Music Hall.

The place was packed with a very enthusiastic crowd all fired up to see this great group of fantastic bands. As you walk through the crowd, you can hear people talking about their favorite songs and favorite out of the line up and it brought back to me that comfort of being with my kind of people. So, I spent a little time chatting with this person and that and what really impressed me was the vast knowledge that everyone had about these band members and the music they play. And its right then when I realized, these aren’t just any fans. And I soon found out why.
First up was Flaw who made their debut in 2001. Instantly enamored with the thick chops and gritty tones, the crowd’s groove and excited atmosphere, I knew this was going to get really good. Chris Volz’s vocals are not only fierce and aggressive but, his melodic interplay with the way he writes is a perfect formula the pulls you in and out of each song. Altogether a very tight and well-seasoned group of guys who have a great talent for really pulling you in to their music.
Next up was Ra. I cannot rave enough about this band. Ra came out in 2002. I remember driving down I-90 through Lake county when WMMS played, Do you Call My Name. A song that differed very much from a lot of what was being played at the time, its a mind bender of western Asian influence and west coast power prog all rolled up in this perfect all-American in your face lyrics that had me gripped from the intro. I’ve been a big fan of all that Sahaj has done since. Maybe about halfway through the show, Sahaj nailed that high note run from his song, Sky. Probably one of the most impressive things I’ve ever witnessed from a vocalist live. I’ve tried to sing that. It’s by no means easy. I also think it’s important to recognize that he does some really super controlled vocal runs that are present in most his works. Running down in notes is a common thing but, he does a lot of running up too. And that is something that is incredibly difficult to do once and this man is doing it all night. And I dare say…better than what has come across on the recordings of these songs. Every note…perfectly executed.

Sahaj comes to this line-up with less band members, holding down this beautiful ebb and flow to the writing style I love so much from him. You really wouldn’t know it if you had you eyes closed though. He came on like a champ with a big bold sound proving that he is the master of his craft.
Soil came out and completely shifted the room with their extra gritty, whiplash…”feel the pain” haymakers that they are known for. Being one of the first bands on the scene with that genre of sound and these guys dating the rest of the acts by a couple years, it was a good call home for the entire venue as the place completely erupted into fist pumping and lyric chanting.
They had every single person’s full attention with hard pounding and sharp cuts that move you to mosh. And I had every expectation that the crowd was going to take off into a circling pit of fists and elbows. It came really close to that but, the general mood of the room throughout the whole night was exceedingly friendly and joyous in seeing bands that they’ve been loving for over 20 years. One thing I really appreciated about the night was this great sense of comradery among the fans. Not one bad apple in the whole place. Everybody was super nice and just having a great time. And that’s what makes Cleveland such a bad-ass city for music.
Then, on to the finally. The Union Underground is a band that’s new to me. I really didn’t know what to expect. A few guys standing around me were telling me how awesome they were and filling me in on the history of each member. I had heard one song over the air on Sirius radio a few weeks ago by them and have been meaning to buy the tracks because it’s the first time in a long time I’ve been this excited about a band that’s “new” to me.
I am pleasantly impressed with them. But, how to describe them? Honestly, you really have to see them for yourself to fully understand what they are up to. It’s something you don’t want to miss. They have a sound that’s creeping in on the techno nuances without actually being techno. It’s a very creative and inspiring sound that comes across as strangely familiar and dark and sexy.
Drummer, Elias Andra is a tom master. And I love a tom heavy player. He had told me one of his influences John Bonham of Led Zeppelin and that certainly rang true with me being familiar with John’s playing. And that school of good, solid hard rock playing comes out pretty strong in the way Elias plays but, with his own sweet little tight snaps and chops that I suspect earned him the name, “Bones”.
Diego Ibarra (bass) has an incredible talent for playing in the pocket with just the right amount of headspace to give the songs this tasteful and gripping bottom. Also known for his talents as a guitarist and vocalist, the man is a metal machine!

The stage increasingly became an explosion of this highly articulated vocals and demanding presence of frontman, Bryan Scott. If anyone knows how to command a crowd, it’s this guy. He had every neuron in that room on him.

Photographer/Writer April Ely

Check out the rest of the photos from the show on the Domain Cleveland Entertainment Facebook Page.