Peabody's DownUnder

Endgame: Artists Confront the Machine
Rumors have been circulating for months, but it's finally official: On July 14, Peabody's DownUnder will be no more. The club, located on the East Bank of the Flats, will be changing its name to Earth. While Earth will still host some live acts, it will primarily feature a mix of dance and pop music that will complement Heaven, the dance club that's located in the upstairs portion of Peabody's. The Peabody's stage has been torn down and replaced by dance risers.

"We just decided to make the change, because our dance club upstairs was doing so well that it was time to expand," says John Michalak, who since 1995 has co-owned the club with Dan Bliss. "So we expanded down, which is kind of weird, because usually people expand up. We'll be playing modern pop hits downstairs in Earth and then techno upstairs in Heaven, which we will redecorate to make more upscale. We'll have DJs in both rooms, and our sound system downstairs will be unbelievable -- it will be the best in the city as far as dance clubs are concerned."

The club will also have two rooms -- a patio and a back room -- where live bands will play. But the types of bands won't be the same as in the past. Over the course of its 18-year existence, acts such as the Melvins, Anthrax, Pearl Jam, and Kid Rock, as well as a number of local hip-hop, hard rock, and metal acts have played at the club, but that era is over.

"We're not going to book any metal bands. It will be dance-oriented or pop rock," says Michalak. "We may do some bands that aren't dance, but they'll sound like mainstream bands such as Dave Matthews or Matchbox Twenty. We've got Liquid Soul coming in August, and usually that's a $15 ticket, and it will be either free or only three bucks to get in."

Michalak maintains that Peabody's, which will likely move to the West Bank of the Flats by fall, will not be forgotten either.

"I think it's better suited having Peabody's someplace else," he says. "We'll take all the nostalgia with us. I know the local bands are very disappointed, but when we move, it will be better than what we had. As good as this room was, the other locations we've been looking at have been better. We're also looking to put it on the market as soon as we relocate it."

The grand opening of Earth will take place on July 14, with an invite-only VIP party from 6-9 p.m. The club will then open to the public at 9 p.m., and Robert Bradley's Blackwater Surprise will perform. Tickets are $7. For more information, call 216-621-0440. The Jamaican dancehall artist Lexxus will make his Cleveland debut on July 15 at the Cotton Club (13199 Miles Avenue). His debut, Mr. Lex, is one of the best dancehall releases of the year -- its booming bass, rapid-fire vocals, and sexist lyrics are just as aggressive as any hardcore gangsta rap act. The song "Let the Monkeys Out," for example, samples the rapper Redman, whom Lexxus met at a celebrity soccer match in Jamaica. Tickets are $20, and the Venom Band, Kiprich, and Elephant Man will open the show. For more information, call the club at 216-283-2582.

Pantera drummer Vinnie Paul owns the Clubhouse, an all-nude strip club in Dallas, Texas, so it shouldn't come as a surprise that the speed-metal band will be making an in-store appearance at the Record Exchange (6271 Pearl Road, Parma) with porn star Kira Kener. The band and buxom brunette will be there at 4 p.m. on July 19, a day before Pantera plays at Blossom as part of Ozzfest. Famous for roles in flicks such as Nurses, House Sitter, and The Bet, Kener will sign autographs and peddle her latest DVD, Dyanna Lauren Presents Interactive Body Parts, which Vivid Video is billing as "the first fully interactive puzzle game in which the player is rewarded for building the perfect woman." Oh yeah, the members of Pantera will be signing copies of their latest disc Reinventing the Steel -- music to listen to while you build your perfect woman, no doubt.

Marcus Schmickler, Pita, and Fennesz, experimental electronic artists from Germany, will make their only regional appearance on Monday, July 17, at Speak in Tongues (4311 Lorain Avenue). Schmickler, who has recorded with Can drummer Jaki Leibezeit and Mouse on Mars multi-instrumentalist Jan Werner in the past, has established himself as an avant-garde composer with his ambient and minimalist recordings, which he has made at his warehouse turned studio in Cologne. Tickets are $10, and doors open at 9 p.m. For more information, call 216-631-8790.

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Jeff Niesel

Jeff has been covering the Cleveland music scene for more than 20 years now. And on a regular basis, he tries to talk to whatever big acts are coming through town, too. If you're in a band that he needs to hear, email him at [email protected].
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