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  • Writer's picture The Vindicator

Why You Should Check Out The Cleveland Alternative Music Scene

Growing up I never felt like I fit in anywhere, spending a couple summers alone I found it very difficult to connect or click with anyone specifically my age. This is one of the main reasons why I found myself enjoying alternative music, AKA “Emo” music, which isn’t the most popular thing to be dedicated to, or be vocally passionate about. Making it easier to blend in rather than push to be different.

It wasn’t until my senior year of high school and going into my first year of college that I started attending shows regularly and started realizing how beautiful our Cleveland alternative music scene is. Being a part of something this rare makes it so simple to connect with not just fans of the music but the musicians, photographers and event planners that make these shows and celebrations come to life.

Alternative shows happen all over the Cleveland area, from local bands and smaller bands to well-known artists to even arena tours. Some of the best acts have played in small venues such as Mahall’s 20 Lanes, including pop-punk bands Neck Deep and Waterparks along with rock band Too Close To Touch and indie-rock group Aaron West And The Roaring Twenties. Mahall’s will also host smaller artists such as Marshall Traver, whether your band is just starting out or has already gained a larger following, this venue sets up a cozy intimate place. The venue also contains a fun bowling alley and a seperate room for a bar.


Photo by Carly Stuber

Among some of the best local venues you’ll find include The Agora Ballroom And Theatre and The Grog Shop. The Agora – which has been recently renovated – is a larger venue with two stages with in it, the ballroom being one of the rooms inside The Agora is smaller and darker and gets hotter quicker. When at full capacity, so hot that you can almost feel the walls sweat, but with a quality sound system it keeps fans coming back every time. The theatre is much bigger, fitting up to 1,800 people, temperature wise it’s cooler and plenty of room for you to have your own space. The Theatre’s stage quality is top notch full entertaining lights and fun effects along with a great sound system.

The Agora has hosted bands like All Time Low, Mayday Parade, The Wonder Years and Taking Back Sunday. While the Grog shop has held Moose Blood, Four Year Strong and State Champs. This venue is also quite small; it has two levels, the first is mainly for shows, which gets crowded fast, get to one of the rowdier of shows and concert attendees has been known to hang from the pipes on the ceilings. On the second floor you’ll find B Side Liquor Lounge & Arcade, which is exactly what is sounds like, a lounge with old-school arcade games and drinks, it’s been known to hold events such as Silent Disco’s and one of the venues for Emo Night.

Smaller venues like the Foundry Concert Club have been known to hold more popular bands including Hawthorne Heights and Hit The Lights, while places such as The Happy Dog and The Winchester Music Tavern (formerly known as The Bevy In Birdtown) will host more local bands along with bands like The Skulx. Each venue has comfortable environment and soothing sound systems.


Photo by Carly Stuber

Every show or event is put together has a hardworking team behind it –a prime example of this would be Bravo Artist, a company that provides attendees with a premium experience and is based within Ohio communities. They’ve booked shows from Senses Fail to The Spring Fling, going on it’s a fifth year is Cleveland’s own festival will be split into two days (June 2nd and 3rd) this year, past years included one date with multiple stages set up in The Agora. This fest has that tropical feel that you’ve been looking for all winter, long awaited and completely worth it.

As mentioned earlier, B Side holds events such as Silent Discos, which is essentially a dance party with headphones all connected to one speaker, which may sound silly, but the idea is in the right place and Emo Night, which has grown larger than ever before. Emo Night is held on the second and last Friday of every month at The Foundry and them again at B Side. In a nutshell it’s a bar party with all of your favorite pop-punk and alternative Emo songs new and old. Occasionally it’ll be a themed night, this past February was Valentine’s Day themed called Ohio Is For Lovers, where the lead vocalist of Hawthorne Heights, J.T. Woodruff guest dj’d alongside Amanda Schill, the regular dj. Photographer Andrew Wells set up a cute V-Day themed photo booth where you could a get your picture snapped with friends, your significant other or alone. The booth was complete fun props like heart antennas or sunglasses.


Photo by Andrew Wells

The alternative music scene in Cleveland connects you to others you may have never known otherwise. The atmosphere is accepting and warming at every show or event. It’s also important to acknowledge all of the dedication that goes into excelling attendees expectations of concerts and other festivities.

If you’re ever in the areas stop by, have some fun and meet new friends and have a good time!


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