Nestled on the outskirts of the city, Cleveland's dive-bar-gone-music-venue Now That's Class! has played home to some of the best tours of the past couple years including Every Time I Die's fall tour and several Title Fight headliners. Harboring an eclectic mix of hardcore, punk, indie and experimental music, the small sub-300 cap venue is known for its cheap booze and rowdy crowds which were exemplified to the extreme at Saturday's show.
The night's roster was stacked with the best Cleveland locals that anyone could ask for. Alternative hardcore band Harvey Pekar opened the night with their own brand of groovy chugs, playing through a poetic slew of tracks from their newest release Upward, Not Northward. The performance was captivating, keeping eyes and ears focused on the stage of new fans. If attendees hadn't heard of Harvey Pekar before, they won't soon forget them.
Ashtabula's favorite screamo clan Citycop. took the stage next and kicked up the intensity. Rifling through their split with Les Doux, the spitfire "Family Ties" dropped into the twangy "Rain Song" and the stompy "Hospital Beds." Vocalist Eddie Gancos fell, rolled, and hobbled around the stage over and over again as the rest of the band's chaotic movements created a curtain of pure discordance. After playing through an unspecified amount of new songs, they ended with a couple old ones from their breakthrough EP Seasons.
Not long after Citycop. left the stage that the young genre-twisters Ages dominated the room with a short yet intense burst of punk. Opening with the moody "I Bend And Fold" from their newest EP Rest Your Head, the grunged-out guitars carried the volume of Daylight's newest tunes but with the drive and emotion of Title Fight. After the opening songs, the mosh pit lit up for "Faith, Only There & Then" and "Rest Your Head." Several stage divers jumped shoulder first straight into the ground while some carried others around on their backs. The band's set concluded, and bodies hung upside down from the rafters just above the crowd and dropped down as the distortion ceased.
Nothing could prepare the crowd for the absolute havoc that Lovechild was about to bring. The ear-piecing distortion preluding "Strangers" from their debut In Heaven, Everything Is Fine caused torsos to fire off in all directions. Fans went straight for the riot with a pit of thirty or so moshers overtaking most of the small standing room of the venue. "One Bar of Xanax" and "Oh, love." kept the bodies moving, the heads banging and the beers spilling. Lovechild's blitz saw them play through their discography in a matter of twenty minutes or less and ended with a handful of tracks highlighting police brutality. It was hardcore in it's purest form.
After amps and drums were carried off and on the stage for the last time of the night, the lights dimmed and the crowd pushed into a mass before Old Gray. The three-piece has a huge aspirational sound that is surprising in person: only three musicians grace the stage, but if you were in the bar a room away, you'd think there would have been six or seven. "Wolves" cued the opening of their set perfectly much like how it does on their recent full length An Autobiography. It's cyclical lyrics kept the crowd on their toes and their throats busy before kicking into post-hardcore jam "Coventry." After a new post rock tune and a harrowing rendition of "Show Me How You Self Destruct" the set concluded with a fantastic display of emotion as fans belted out their hearts over reverb and crashing drums. The brief set certainly left a lot to be desired, but maybe it was in the best interest of everyone to not be overwhelmed with such heaviness all at once. Cathartic and poignant, Old Gray left the stage just as quickly as a fleeting emotion or memory, but the memories made of this show will stick around for a good, long time.