Upcoming Rock the Halls Benefit Concert to Feature 5 Bands Fronted by Women

Organizer Hannah Crandall talks about her annual show at House of Blues

click to enlarge TRUSS. - Geno Oradini
Geno Oradini
Hannah Crandall, singer in the local hard rock act TRUSS, says she always gets excited when she has the chance to meet another female musician trying to make it on the local music scene.

“For me, whenever I find another female-fronted band, it’s cool and different and interesting,” she says one recent morning over coffee at the Lakewood coffeeshop Roasted that’s just down the block from where she lives. Her annual Rock the Halls event, which returns to House of Blues on Saturday, Dec. 16, allows her to nurture that impulse. This year’s event, a benefit for Laura’s Home Women's Crisis Center, a Cleveland shelter and crisis recovery program for women, will feature five rock bands fronted by women.

“There’s not many female-fronted bands in Cleveland or around anywhere,” Crandall says between sips of a cold brew. “You have the big ones that everyone knows and loves like Heart and Alanis Morissette. When you go into individual cities, there’s not a ton, and if you do find them, there’s not a lot of local bands that are really prolific. Nine times out of ten, I’m the only woman on the stage. With Rock the Halls, we can spotlight women and empower them and have a cause that aligns with that.”

Crandall's band TRUSS will be among the acts slated to perform. The band officially formed in 2018 while members were students at the Ohio State University. The group played various college clubs, events and parties in the region. In May of 2019, the band released the single "Mayhem," which it recorded with friend Cooper Towns, an OSU student who needed a final project, at the studio in Ohio State's Wexner Center for the Arts. 

To date, “Mayhem” has amassed nearly 700,000 streams across various platforms.

After graduating from college, Crandall and Co. relocated to Cleveland. It performed its first major show after returning to town in June of 2021, opening for the ’90s alternative rock band Sponge. Later that same year, TRUSS supported national acts Puddle of Mudd, Alice Cooper guitarist Nita Strauss and all-women Led Zeppelin tribute band Lez Zeppelin. In July of 2022, the group released its self-produced debut album, Reset My Head, an album it self-produced.

The bill for the Rock the Halls concert also features the hard rock acts Snarls, Grumpy Plum, Cut Your Losses and LoConti.

“LoConti is a brand-new band on the scene,” says Crandall. “Grumpy Plum is pretty cool. They’re a three-piece indie kind of band. Cut Your Losses is coming in from Chicago. We played with them over the summer. Snarls out of Columbus, OH is co-headlining the bill [with TRUSS]. They’re a four-piece alternative band that’s doing really well and toured with [English singer-songwriter] Louis Tomlinson this past summer.”

Crandall, who grew up in Broadview Heights, has circulated on the local music scene for the past decade or so. She initially played in the alt-rock act Velocity when she was still in high school. She started out as a backing vocalist before becoming that band’s front person.

“I grew up listening to Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Prince, Elton John and Billy Joel,” she says. “My dad was big into '80s pop, so that is all I ever listened to. My mom loved Celine Dion and all the huge vocalists that everyone knows. At some point, I was into the game Rock Band on Wii. It was really popular at the time. Listening to music on there and playing those songs got me into a different genre of music. I started going to Warped Tour and began discovering those types of bands.”

Though the event is only in its second year, Crandall is optimistic that it'll continue to grow and expand.

“I hope so,” she says when asked if the event would return next year. "I would love to do it again. Last year, it drew around 500 people, and I would like to beat that.”

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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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