Like fruitcakes and reindeer droppings, reunion shows are an unfortunate by-product of the holiday season. We don't know if it's all the Christmas cheer or what, but every year around this time we're deluged with reunion gigs -- most of them as unwanted as that handmade sweater Grandma spent the last nine months knitting. At least this year we've been lucky: The quality of said shows has been as high as the quantity. In the past few weeks, we've already seen comeback gigs by old-school crowd-pleasers Souvenir and Easy Street, as well as a show from '90s punk favorites the Heathers. All this nostalgia got us to thinking about what Northeast Ohio bands we'd most like to see get back together for a night. Allow us to take a moment, then, and reflect on the top five reunion gigs we'd pay to see.
This one isn't out of the realm of possibility, since Devo recently did some California dates as part of Tony Hawk's XXX tour, as well as playing Lollapalooza back in the mid-'90s. Easily one of the top five bands ever to come out of Ohio, Devo has left its fingerprints on everyone from defunct political rockers Rage Against the Machine to Cali punks Bad Religion to virtually every act associated with electroclash. Best of all, Devo's brusque new wave and idiosyncratic robot rock is as relevant now as it was in the late '70s -- both aesthetically and thematically. Comparing Devo's debut to what passes for modern rock these days, the band's devolution rhetoric appears to have been disconcertingly prophetic.
2. Death of Samantha
Pere Ubu supplied punk with the brains to match its brawn -- and then Death of Samantha came along and splattered those brains all over the Cleveland underground. The band's shows are talked about to this day, with stories circulating about drummer Steve-O dressing up as a female Elvis impersonator and frontman John Petkovic setting himself ablaze. But, aside from the chaos conjured at their gigs, one spin of the band's seminal Where the Women Wear the Glory and the Men Wear the Pants, a heady blend of glam, sarcasm, and vintage hooks, is all it takes to realize that the fire in this band's belly burned just as brightly as those they lit onstage.
If this band's name elicited a grin, an encounter with its uncompromising metalcore would quickly wipe away any smile. In the early '90s, Biohazard and Pro-Pain were gaining acclaim for perfecting the thrash-hardcore crossover initiated by groups like the Crumbsuckers, M.O.D., and Leeway. And the Spudmonsters were at the forefront of the second wave of bands taking the sound into a new era. Along with the badasses in Integrity, this bunch helped put Cleveland on the map, with thrash as harsh and rugged as the city's industrial exterior.
4. Tin Huey
To call this band Ohio's version of the Residents might be overstating its eccentricity -- but not by much. Just as surreal and absurdist as its Akron scenemates in Devo, Tin Huey was another strong contender from the area's fertile art-rock scene. What separated the band from most of its contemporaries, however, was that its chops were really pretty dazzling. Jazz, blues, punk, prog-rock -- Tin Huey did it all. Impressively, the band got a major label, Warner Bros., to pick up the tab. Even better: After they recorded the first album in a two-record deal, Warner actually paid them $50,000 not to deliver a follow-up.
5. The Librarians
While Cleveland has never had a shortage of quality female-fronted bands (the Tellers, Chump, Secret Servix, the Heathers), this power trio may well have written the book on loud, rude estrogen rock. It's too bad the Librarians splintered at the moment they seemed primed for a breakthrough. Before disbanding in 2000, they had reportedly garnered label interest from indie-rock prime-mover Kill Rock Stars and the trend-setting Beggars Banquet. Pure '70s-obsessed steamroller rock, without any of the shtick of the Donnas or cutesiness of the Bangs, the Librarians were way more into the Scorpions than the Runaways. Love at first sting, indeed.