In Concert: The Uncanny and others Play Cleveland

On September 17th, 2011, a concert was held in Cleveland, Ohio at the music venue Wilbert’s Food & Music that featured several musical acts that each had something unique and/or unusual to offer the audience in attendance. The concert featured four musical acts, which included The Uncanny, Twelve on the High and Mutts. One other act participated, though I missed them due to time restraints. The three acts mentioned, however, were all good and talented bands that gave very energetic performances and made for a very enjoyable event.

The first band on the roster was Twelve on the High. The Brunswick, OH band is
a trio made up of Zach Griffin on lead vocals and guitar, Nick Harley on bass
and Ben Taylor on drums. The trio started off the night with great modern rock
music.

While both Griffin and Taylor were good on their instruments and seemed to
enjoy what they were doing, it was Harley that really kept my attention
throughout most of the band’s thirty-five minute set: Rarely do you see a bass
player who looks like he is having fun on stage, but Nick Harley was smiling,
swaying with the beat, ultimately looking like he was enjoying himself.

The band played music from their 2010 five-song self-titled release. Their
music has a sound that could easily remind you of bands from the mid to late nineties.
Their sound is very reminiscent of Weezer, so it was not surprising when the
band broke into a spirited version of “The Sweater Song”.

Twelve on the High was a great band to start the night of music off. Though
young, the members of the group seem to have the talent that should take them
places.

It was with The Uncanny that the night really started to get interesting. But,
of course, whenever lead singer XeLa (in picture) takes to the stage at any venue, you know the night is going to be interesting.

XeLa (or Alex Alvarez in a different life) has a style and sound all his own,
and has released several albums that feature XeLa in a solo setting or with one
or two people filling out the sound. But with his relatively new band, The
Uncanny, XeLa’s music takes on a whole new life. And for the concert on
Saturday Night, XeLa was joined by three of his band mates from The Uncanny.
Along with XeLa on guitar and vocals, the rest of the nights line-up included:
Noah Feher on bass, Mike Marotta on keys and Chris Maneri on drums. (Due to
limited stage size, the remaining members of the band were not in attendance
that night.

About half of The Uncanny’s seventy-minute set included songs off of the band’s
2010 release, Worx of Odd. “Allways,” “Lady Buggin,” and “Sukkin Teeth” helped
create the variety that each set from The Uncanny is known for. But, of
course, the song “$ Sandwiches” (or ‘Money Sandwiches’) is one that really
conveys the “oddness” that is XeLa. The refrain from the song says it all: “I
eat my Money Sandwiches. I put my money where my mouth is”. Lyrics like that
make XeLa “XeLa”.

Along with XeLa’s unique writing style, it is also the choice of cover songs
that also makes a concert from The Uncanny unusual. Along with the theme song
to The Muppet Show (done instrumental), the band also launched into another
song that can be attributed to Jim Henson and his company; if you know Sesame
Street, you should be familiar with what XeLa refers to as “the number song”.
Sing with me now: “One, Two, Three, Four, Five. Six, Seven, Eight, Nine, Ten.
Eleven. Twelve.” When the band launched into that, you could see smiles flash across the faces of those in attendance.

Once XeLa and his band The Uncanny were finished with their set, it was time
for Mutts to take the stage. This was a homecoming of sorts for Greater
Cleveland native singer/keyboardist Mike Maimone, as this was the first time
Maimone had been back to Cleveland since he formed Mutts with bassist Bob
Buckstaff back in Chicago. Maimone, Buckstaff and drummer Joe Muller set up on
the Wilbert’s stage and waited to see what Mike’s hometown area thought of this
new band.

While Mike Maimone creates music on his own that reminds you of Tom Waits (with
the raspy voice and all), the music from Mutts allows Maimone to show his wild
side both on stage and on their recordings. The sound of Mutts is part rock,
part punk, even part heavy metal, while all being played on piano, bass and
drums.

Once Mutts took to the stage at Wilbert’s, they let loose and never let up for
the forty minutes or so they were performing. Their powerful set featured “Masquerade,” “Junior,” “Terranaut” and “Symmetry” from the band’s most recent release The Tells of Parallels. The set also included plenty of material from the band’s
previous releases, as well.

While Mike Maimone is definitely the frontman of the group, it was also
entertaining to watch the band’s other founding member of Bob Buckstaff as he
plays the bass during their shows. Between the two musicians, the audience is
entertained visually as well as audibly.

The set for Mutts was loud, energetic, fast and over way too fast. It was a great
first Cleveland appearance for Mike Maimone and this band. Hopefully, they’ll
be back.

Between the modern rock sounds of Twelve on the High, the unusual nature and
unique blending of styles of The Uncanny and the heavy nature of the music from
Mutts, the Saturday, September 16th show at Cleveland’s own Wilbert’s Food & Music proved that real rock and roll music still exists and there are still bands out there that want to create new music that is fresh and entertaining.