Kids support scene; screw you, Cleveland!

The Gnome's been accused of spreading ill will in the past, but this week your correspondent would like to place a kiss on the forehead of all the music fans who made the Grandaddy show at the Crocodile and the Flaming Lips gig at the Showbox such a blast. Grandaddy's new album, The Sophtware Slump (V2), hasn't been released yet, but a sizable crowd made the Modesto, Calif., boys welcome, calling 'em back for two encores last Wednesday. The Lips' all-ages show Friday pulsed with energy despite Wayne Coyne's laryngitis and a bar setup that had those 21-and-over waiting in long lines simply to enter the liquor garden. Most adults were OK with this, but one angry man caused a stir when he confronted the Showbox's Sean Haskins, who'd rescued Ken Stringfellow from the line. The angry man said he'd had to wait 25 minutes to get access to the bar, and he accused Haskins—who graciously offered to calm angry man with a free drink—of giving the Posies and Saltine singer preferential treatment simply because Stringfellow was in a "popular band." After angry man had his say and skulked off, Stringfellow noted that he felt flattered that somebody had referred to one of his bands as "popular."

It warms the Gnome's heart to see that smart rock bands like Grandaddy and the Lips still have a place in our pathetic, Korn-encrusted musical society. Another good sign came last week when Sonic Boom threw a reopening bash in central Fremont that coincided with the on-sale date for Death Cab for Cutie's new We Have the Facts and We're Voting Yes. About 200 fans showed up to check out Death Cab's in-store set, and nearly half the crowd ponied up the bucks for the CD. Way to support the scene, kids!

Let's not forget the rock. Cobra Verde stopped in at the Crocodile Saturday to play Midwestern raunch 'n' roll , enticing one overzealous fan to yell, "Kick out the jams!" The band is from Cleveland, however, not Detroit, and singer John Petkovic noted, "We don't play covers." Cobra Verde's sly grooves and surging rhythms stood up by themselves, and a theremin player added a layer of lovable screech. The Gnome detected an air of sadness about the proceedings, though, as if Cobra Verde were making a last-ditch plea for Cleveland's rock throne. The one thing that town had going for it was the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame, which was supposed to establish Cleveland as the place where, as Huey Lewis so coyly noted, the heart of rock 'n' roll was still beating. Now, with the Experience Music Project slated to open June 23, the world's ears and eyes shift back to Seattle. The Gnome hears that EMP has amassed a dazzling collection of rock paraphernalia, with archives of 7-inches, CDs, posters, instruments, and clothes from bands the world over, but especially from the Northwest. Yeah, they'll be housed in a funny-looking building, but at least it's not in Cleveland! You betcha!

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