The Grog Shop, Cleveland, June 9
by Phil Goldberg

The blood begins to boil at the onset of Cleveland summers when you’re an eager rock concertgoer. Having known the line-up of big name and small name acts coming to our humble city for sometime, you always hope for something special to happen early on, as if it were going to set the tone for the umpteen shows you’re planning on hitting up while the weather is ideal for, well, rocking. Last Tuesday night at the Grog Shop was that something special for the 350-plus in attendance for headliner Isis, Pelican, and local sludgers Keelhaul.

The Cleveland Heights venue was as packed as anyone had seen it in quite some time, with all parties taking frequent breathers outside as a matter of necessity, as not to overheat from the hard rock eruption going on inside. After local veteran Keelhaul finished their respectable 35 minutes of controlled mayhem, Pelican delivered an Australasia heavy hour-plus long set of their own. Judging from the frenzy that Pelican sent the crowd into half way through their performance, there was significant overlap of fans between them and the headliners, making for an especially special, albeit insane, vibe (I guess).

Enter Isis, who have just released Wavering Radiant, an epic accomplishment for a band who has gone from the basements of hardcore festivals in which they hardly fit to rock arenas just this past summer, where they opened for their mainstream counterparts, Tool. Let it be said that Isis delivered a set that was worthy of any arena or thunderdome for that matter. Rarely straying from their most recent release, the band delivered their own brand of doom-groove to a crowd of very appreciative and very exhausted fans. After their one-song, 10-minute long encore, there was no doubt in anyone’s mind that this was the kickoff of one rocking summer in Cleveburg.