I was invited to this particular event by Chad Kessler, drummer of Ted Danson and owner of 451 Spirits, and I was incredibly excited about this unique show. Unfortunately, that night, it was evident that I was overextending myself by doing multiple punk shows immediately following my surgery.
Ultimately, I had to leave during the She Bears set before Palette Knife could even take the stage because I was suffering more and more as the night went on. However, I am glad I made an effort to come out. This event had a bit of a "world's collide" feel as well-to-do music and spirit connoisseurs mixed and mingled with punk rockers who would choose Pabst's over even the finest of libations. However, Jesse Hubbard and Chad Kessler know their audience. This event clearly catered to the center cutlet of that Vinn diagram, a space where my husband and I happily reside. I genuinely enjoy this style of event and would like to see more of them locally.
Coxey's Army kicked off the show and put on a rousing performance. I am increasingly impressed with how the band manages to scale their sound and setlist for their venue and audience. This band can play the rowdiest punk club or the classiest upscale venue because they have the professionalism to pull it off. I wish I got their closing single, "You're Going to Make It," on video because it was beyond cathartic for me. Even when it is (another) relatively minor case, battling cancer is still an exhausting ordeal. However, feeling like you have what is perhaps the best working-class punk band in the state cheering you on is somehow simultaneously the most humbling, validating, and inspiring experience I have had since starting this blog.
Ultimately, moments like these separate the journeyman musicians from the master performers. Nate Rising and the rest of Coxey's Army made me feel seen for a few short minutes without explicitly calling me out. That takes a level of charisma that is unwieldy and difficult to master. I don't know what kind of trials and tribulations other members of the audience may have been enduring, but I genuinely hope they felt at least one ounce of the encouragement I received.
Sometimes all we need is a song to remind us of who we are, and that is all it takes to bolster our strength. Too often, as people and as a society, we try to ignore pain, dismiss it, minimize and distract from it. However, oftentimes, the most vindicating thing we can do is acknowledge it and recognize that it is temporary, even when the burden of it all seems overwhelming.
I am going to reserve my judgment for Ted Danson and She Bears. By the time both bands took the stage, I was suffering from a significant amount of post-op pain. It even got to the point that I was struggling to operate my camera rig. Still, both bands were exceptionally suitable picks for this event. Each offered ambient noise for the more high-end clientele and a satisfying mix of indie rock and cowpunk/alt-county for the music fans in the crowd. The sound mixing was also impeccable and made it easy to enjoy the music while allowing for intimate conversation.
I need to observe She Bears again once I have fully recovered because they seem to have a more contemplative, artsy candor to their sound, which, in my exploration, has been far more common within the Cleveland scene. It is refreshing to know that there are bands within our local scene capable of producing that same vibe. I would also like to see how Ted Danson evolves over the next few months. I loved Chad Kessler's work on the drums; however, the band's on-stage chemistry needs to blossom a little more. Both bands are #ontheradar, and I look forward to catching them again soon.
Ultimately, the star of the show was the Rag & Bone Rum, which I was lucky enough to sample on its own and within a cocktail. Now, I am far more of a craft beer connoisseur than a sybarite of spirits. However, 451 Spirits continues to distill spirits that tantalize the tastebuds and intrigue me as an epicurean individual. The coffee rum was robust, full-bodied, and smelled marvelously sensual with a smooth, slow burn. However, when mixed into a cocktail, it was simply sensational. It effortlessly creates a sense of indulgent sophistication while still being completely accessible to the average consumer.
My husband and I joked that Natalie's served "Cleveland-style" cocktails the night of the release. This joke stems from the fact that, in our experience, most establishments in Cleveland will serve you a cocktail where you taste the liquor because you are meant to sip it slowly. On the other hand, most establishments in Columbus will serve you something beautiful that you can drink quickly without putting hair on your chest. However, in this case, a "Cleveland-style" cocktail was far more ideal because the whole point was to taste the rum.
Simply put, I loved it. Rag & Bone rose above expectations. It's warm, robust flavors inspire my creativity and make me want to up my mixed drink game so I can pair some perfectly crafted cocktails with the elevated cuisine I prepare when I entertain friends in my home. Once this whole ordeal with my health is over, I need to stock up on some bottles from 451 Spirits in addition to purchasing a copy of Punk Rock & Cocktails from Jesse Hubbard to make the holidays more...or perhaps less...memorable.
I am eternally grateful that Chad Kessler extended this invitation to me , especially since it allowed us to enjoy a fabulous night out while still managing obstacles pertaining to my health. I sincerely hope there are similar events planned for the future. I love a hot, sweaty punk show as much as the next person. However, this event was such (albeit short-lived) romantic reprieve after the ordeal of surgery. The best way to elevate and expand upon what is happening within the local music scene is to incorporate more DIY culture, especially with what Chad Kessler is doing at 451 spirits. Yes, we need to make the scene more accessible to younger folk, but we can also push the scene to evolve with events like this so fewer folks "outgrow" punk rock.
Until next time, stay safe in the pit.
P.S. You can help keep Bands in the Bus free for everyone and prevent the use of pay walls by donating when, how, and what you can to our cause. Your local music scene thanks you for your support.