Concert Review: PEARS at Now That’s Class
Written by Miles Purdy on October 18, 2017
By: Miles Purdy
Photos by: Kendra Taylor
Late last Saturday night, me and Kendra Taylor made the trek up to Now That’s Class in Cleveland. Having discovered PEARS early this year, I was looking forward to what I was hoping to be an excellent show.
The show started up with a couple local acts, and Speedfreak was the first to bat. Hailing from Kent, they played a short but strong set. While I headed down stairs into the one of to interview Zach Quinn from PEARS, Heart and Lung started to set up. From the get-go, I knew these guys were there to have fun. Still adjusting their equipment, one of them asked “Who’s ready for church tomorrow”. Immediately some dude in the crowd was offering them to come on down to their place for some fried chicken after church was done. Their set was more fun than Speedfreak’s, with an almost pop-punk sound. I must admit I got a kick out of the bassist after holding a moment for silence for the now defeated Indians. And although the crowd hadn’t really begun to fill up yet, those who had come out early were met with a strong start.
I think the next act, Russian Girlfriends, described the feeling of these smaller shows the best: “You don’t know who the fuck we are, but by the end of the night we’re gonna be real close.” It took a minute, but by the end of their set I was enamored by the band’s almost spastic energy on stage . Building off of the energy of the last two acts, the crowd went from decent head bobbing to a few kids trying to start a mosh pit. About “Hey, did we find a place to stay?” when the answer came back as yes, the resounding cheer would make you think the Indians had come back into the world series. When they played a new track, which I immediately found myself thrown off my feet and onto a pile of equipment by the edge of the pit. Of course, I acted like nothing happened.
Not long after, Big Up’s frontman jumped onto the stage, his shoes squeaking loudly. When he started bouncing one foot to the other, side to side, dangling the mic from the cord to his shoes to magnify the squeakingI knew I was in for something a little different. The sound of his shoes was the beat they kicked off with
What I was soon met with was an unexpectedly impressive performance. They started with an almost post-punk, trudging start. The frontman’s vocal style would drop to mumbled verses, only to later climb up into screaming with the heavy beat of a heavy, grunged-up hardcore sound. Not only did it sound great, but, they had an attitude that I would be happy to see at times later in the PEARS set .
The frontman was a performer to say the least. Minor stunts like walking in circles around the same three people, wearing the stool next to the stage around his neck and screaming on the show floor were just a few things. Oddly, these acts actually enhanced the tone of the act, especially the track “Negative” and “National Park”. Near the end of their set, I found myself in the front row, which had become mostly members from Russian Girlfriends. After what Russian Girlfriend’s frontman called “the best set he’s seen in 3 years”, I was firmly on that bandwagon.
After their set, as I was talking with Big Ups and Heart and Lung about whether a certain local venue is called MAY-halls or muh-HALLS, it was about 10:30 and PEARS had started their soundcheck. For the first time that night, the entire venue’s patrons packed in by the stage. It was at this point that Zach asked why exactly anyone was standing around while they did a soundcheck. This joking and some fun elevator music was the prelude to what the crowd had been waiting for all night. And then they started the set.
The energy was explosive, it was loud, and it was pure and raw punk rock. A beer bottle broke immediately on the floor, sending most of the moshers spinning to the ground. I noticed Miles from Heart and Lung started to mime a janitor, sweeping the floor as he walked around the back of the now beer-soaked pit. To be frank, I was a bit to busy being assailed by the sound and attack of PEARS music to care much either way; it was the excellent hardcore punk I had been hoping to see. What followed only a few songs after I can only describe as the most heartwarming thing I’ve heard at a punk show. The band stopped playing for a minute to tell how they found a kitten on the side of the road on the way to the show. They told the crowd they named him “Highway”, and found it a home here in Cleveland.
I’ve got to say though, congratulations to the guy from Speedfreak who moshed while eating a chicken sandwich. Can’t say I’d ever risk my dinner like that at a show, but that’s just me. It wasn’t long after that they asked the crowd if they’d let them try something they started the night before partway. A few moments later, and I heard an unexpected cover of Green Day’s “Basket Case'” and probably my current favorite version of “Judy is a Punk”. Not only were the covers performed well, but they made the tracks PEARS tracks. Seemed like I wasn’t the only one who thought it was a good time, as the band made sure we knew that this was the best show of the tour so far. It was during the song “Breakfast” that I realized that Zach had the thing that makes Iggy Pop or Henry Rollins such a force on stage. The man carries a certain energy; for a second I saw a predatory look in his eyes, a tilt in his head before leaning over the crowd . That combined with the skill and energy of the rest of the band on the raw punching power of their closer “Green Star”, it’s no wonder they were one of the best live punk acts in the circuit.