When you think of East Cleveland, the first thing that comes to mind definitely isn’t a bustling part of town, full of promise and energy. However, when The Wombats and Ottawa played at the Beachland Ballroom in Collinwood last Thursday, they certainly challenged the negative stereotype of the East Side. It was apparent that a different, special kind of vibe would be radiating that day when I was told that fans had been lining up outside the venue since 1:00 PM- a full seven hours before the actual music was scheduled to start- just to make sure that they were as close as possible. Considering the dedication of the fans before the show even began, I knew that it was sure to be killer.
Up first was Cleveland’s own Ottawa, a vibrant and soulful rock group. Their opening song, “The Good Kind”, already had everyone dancing and clapping along. Lead singer Dale DeLong’s vigorous vocal breadth, comparable to John Newman or Matt Shultz (Cage the Elephant), combined with dynamic guitar riffs, were an instant crowd pleaser, especially during songs “Rockefeller” and “Roman Candle”. Full of authenticity, passion, and heart, Ottawa’s short but sweet set was the perfect way to get people excited before The Wombats.
The Liverpool-based indie rockers had a high-energy start to their set with synth-heavy “Give Me a Try”, and kept the bar raised as they went on. An unbelievably enthusiastic crowd could not stop dancing, and I’m not exaggerating when I say that every person was singing along with every lyric to every song.
The band played several older fan favorites, such as “1996” and “Tokyo (Vampires and Wolves)”. They even played a fan-requested track, “Pink Lemonade”.
Lead singer Matthew Murphy showed his support for the city and its people by dedicating “Be Your Shadow”, the third single off of the newest album Glitterbug, to the Cavs and wishing them good luck in the finals.
For an encore, the ballad “Isabel” gave bassist Tørd Knudsen and drummer Dan Haggis time to rest as Murphy showcased his dynamic vocals, before finishing off strong with “Greek Tragedy” and “Let’s Dance To Joy Division”.
The consistent energy of the band, combined with the everlasting playful synths and insanely on-point vocals were a huge surprise to me – I was expecting a great show of course, but I was entranced by how good of a performance it was. It was incredible how close all of the tracks sounded to their studio versions. It came as an even bigger shock to me when they announced that this was their first headline show in five months! That showed how truly dedicated and talented The Wombats are.
By the end of the set, I think that the band was as impressed with the crowd as I was as impressed with them: “We weren’t expecting to see so many faces! We’re definitely coming back to Cleveland!” I, for one, can’t wait until they do.
Check out more of Lois’ photos here.