Clevo Hardcore Histories : Documents & Evidence

1986 IMMOLATION was supposed to be a metal band that praticed once in the attic of my parent's house.
It was 1986, I was still in a back brace and no one had been through treatment, yet. Aaron Melnick played guitar and sang, Pete Russ played bass, and I tried to play the drums. It was horrible and we never praticed again, but Alejandro de Acosta took a bunch of pictures of us on Princeton Road, you know, for the album art. After that afternoon, Pete Russ' bass sat up in my parent's attic for almost two years before Aaron took it to his parent's basement to jam on.

Jerry Beck Confront Logo CONFRONT were an anomaly - a midwest straightedge band that played fast hardcore that was more Buzzcocks than Minor Threat. And when they played out, a huge fist-skanking circle pit would always burst out on the floor. Ripping through songs such as “Join The Circus” and the soon-to-be-self-parodying “Macho Man,” Confront’s sets were sloppy, brutal, and fun. It was not until that Project X show at Irv’s Pizzeria on Coventry when the NYHC Straightedge scene came thundering through our cow-tipping punk pastures. After witnessing the hard dance buffness of the Youth Crew, Confront become self-conscious about their sound and place in the larger "Straight-Edge Scene." Their whole set list was rewritten to include more of those turnip-picking-elbow-throwing breakdowns indicative of a “dancing hard" pit. The songs got better and worse at the same time. Confront became a real force to be reckoned with and yet, never fully got the recognition they so richly deserved.

Jay of Today Dancing Hard Kelly Ulrich’s Pre-Youth of Today Show Pool Party, July 3rd 1988

On one of the hottest days of one of the hottest summers in Cleveland, the NYHC frenzy was kicked into full throttle ass munching. All summer long, the Youth of Todays were seemingly always coming to town, in town, or about to come back through town. Or at least it felt that way. One of the major draws of Cleveland, beside the very active jammyz-clad straight-edge click, was the Mentor, Ohio luxury crash pad at Kelly Ulrich’s. Kelly had been dating Brian of Confront for what everyone thought was forever. Kelly’s parents were very wealthy. Or at least scoring more points in the Reaganomic Trickle Down game than the rest of our failing liberal hippy suburbanite families. Kelly’s house had a huge backyard pool, a fully air conditioned three story ranch mack pad, all the vegan candy bombs you could spit roast over the built in fire pit, and did I mention the arcade games in the garage? The sleep over parties were legendary even before the New Yorkers came mufflering in with their big blue Econoline.

It only stood to reason, then, that the day before the Youth of Today show in downtown Cleveland, Kelly would throw a backyard pool party/ cookout punk show. The open invitation was circulated by word of mouth around the tight knit Coventry straight-edgers. The blazing afternoon sun was unforgiving, cooking the brains of the seventy-five or so people who arrived to see Outface, Confront, Beyond, and False Hope peel through truncated, sweaty sets. The highlight for many a party-goer was when NY Amp Jockey, Gus, hollered out a brief cover set featuring SSD, Side By Side, and a Crippled Youth songs. Jay of Today might still talk about it if you ask him nicely. What I remember most of the day was for some ungodly, self-conscious dipshitery, I wore black jeans to the party and I was incredibly hot all fucking day - like verge of passing out hot, actually.

Here are some pictures from the event from the collection of Libby Watson.

Tom hamming it up Tom & Dwid Outface Outface

Cover Band Gus Sings Confront Confront

False Hope False Hope Vic Beyond

Straight Edge Birthday Cake Knights Of Columbus Hall, Lyndhurst Ohio - Feb. 18th, 1989 was rented out and Scrogbal, Outface, Die Hard, Confront, False Hope all volunteered to play a Saturday matinee which was supposed to be a surprise eighteenth birthday party for me. The whole thing was amazingly kept under wraps until the Mark Konapka asked me on the night before if I was going to see Outface play some kids’ surprise party the following afternoon. The fact that he did not know I was the kid, should inform you as to my popularity in the scene at that time. My mom was the one who really organized it, and I think she really enjoyed the punk kids I was hanging out even if it meant there was never any 5ive Alive left in the fridge. She was also really into the whole DIY ethic. At first, I felt guilty and embarrassed that the show was in my honor since, as I said, I was pretty much a nobody in the scene. I wasn’t in a band, my first zine was still months off, and basically I was shy and aloof. Still. It was a whole hell of a lot of fun. As these pictures, I hope show.

Chubbie Fresh, Pete Russ, and Tomfront bum rush the surprise.
Scrogbal, featuring the vocal stylings of Paully Wog founder of Non Commerical Records, played first.
Die Hard ripped it up next. How many Hillbrook Hillbillies can you spot in this action photo? As we were all still unfamiliar with the sing-a-longs, so Mean Steve participates with his hard dancing.
Confront played the show without Tomfront, who had twisted his wrist or ankle or something.
I think I gave all the Outface photos to Charile or Derrick.
False Hope were everyones' favorite band. And if they try to tell you different, they a damn lie. Everyone patiently waiting as False Hope sets up.
Dave Araca setting up his drum set. Dave 'spike' Evey chikkachiiikaaacaaaing. Positioning yourself during a hardcore show is an artform. Sam slaps that fat bass.
Spike & Araca, Araca and Aaron, Araca and R.JXP, Alejandro de Acosta guarding the bowl of M&Ms, Stork, A Double, Tomfront, Pete Russ, Erba, Kids in the scene, Waiting for the show to resume.

Die Hard Berea Roll n Bowl DIE HARD played one of their first shows ever at the Berea Roll'n'Bowl on May 26, 1989. I remember that Scott Stearns would get so much guitar feedback between songs that he got the nickname Tweety, after these shows. I think he did it less to annoy everyone and more to try to drown out Dwid's tough guy banter. But what do I know?
Libby Watson snapped these pictures of the pre-tattoo'd bat wielding toughs.
#1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6, #7.
Dwid making up lyrics
Erba DAAA Edge
Years later Kurt Vaigl would still deny this sing-a-long photo even existed.
Die Hard posed after the show. Photo by Mike Thain of Noisy Concept fanzine.

I remember the night this Die Hard posse photo was taken in front of the Coventry Arabica. It was pretty late at night but right before most of the second row had to rush off to their midnight meeting at Club 24. Tony and Dwid were totally into the posed shot, trying to make it look like those cheesy Youth Crew photos, but Aaron and Scott were basically just going along because it was easier to show up and not smile than it would have been to try to argue about it.

Dwid Phantasy Stairs INTEGRITY managed to get their first show at the Phantasy Nightclub on Jan. 6th, 1990 opening for Outface and False Hope. While the band had been incubating on t-shirts and stickers stuck to guitar cases and street signs around Coventry for at least 2 years prior, it was only after the official break-up of Die Hard that gave Dwid’s sticker band a solid line-up. I took these photos in an attempt to be a zine guy photographer, I think with the intention of using the shots for a MRR scene report or press release.
The flyer for the show
Dwid muttering some lyrics.
Morose Band Shot posed on the backstairs of the Phantasy.
Smiling Jolly Chubby and hats on highheads.

    Back before the internet and text messaging cell phones, the best way to spread gossip and stir up a badass reputation for yourself or your scene or your band was to participate in the shit-talking drudgery of the fanzine interview. INTEGRITY, especially Dwid, were masters of the shit-talking fanzine interview. The reasons are complex. But the major factor for Dwid’s success at these turdfests was the fact that he has a vivid imagination which leads to some highly complex scenarios for elaborate putdowns. Looking back on the world of the straight-edge zine, I am not sure what I am more concerned about - the level of failing discourse or the horrible spelling.
        Overdose #1 featured this interview with Integrity.
        No Exit #1 featured the first ever Integrity interview erroneously credited 1989, when it was actually 1988. But that is hardly the only typo in the piece, as you will see.

Windpipe 7 inch WINDPIPE came together after the internal collapse of CONFRONT. Kurt Vaigl and Jay Kubler joined up with Chris Pellow and Chris Erba to start a sickly fast hardcore band. Gone were the jovial muscle shirts of Clevo straightedge, replaced by the horse tranquilizer gobbling boredom of west side suburban vandals. The Windpipe practice space, in the back storage room of a notorious drag queen leather bar, became impromptu gigs with long hair Pabst drinkers leaning in the hallway, laughing as Spot flailed on the floor to the short violent songs bursting forth from the tight closet practice space.
Kurt Vaigl, proudly crafted an entire set list of twenty odd songs that clocked in under 17 brutally fast minutes. It almost took Jay that long to unload and set up his drum set. Windpipe would become notorious for playing living room parties in Parma before shattering into a ruin of apathy and cancelled practices. The seven inch Kurt put out on his Forfeit Records label would end up inspiring at least one repress and launch a whole new sound in the Cleveland scene.I took these pictures of the band after one particularly grotesque practice.
Erba gets Jay to snot on his nipple
Jay spitting like a fountain
Erba chokes Jay

flyers I have assembled a sort of FLYER GALLERY of local hardcore shows from roughly 1985 on.
        These flyers are cutnpaste masterpieces of secret information that flapped down white picket fence suburban streets and curled in the sun of the local punk record shop front window. More often than not they were folded into tight squares then stuffed into the back pocket of filthy jeans. If not, then they were crammed into backpacks or were tossed into the damp backseat of your buddy’s dented, beat-to-shit two door hatchback. These flyers were usually made by the bands, themselves or friends of said bands, since the clubs or bars that hosted these events did not want to lose anymore money than they anticipated by hosting an all ages punk show. Some clubs, in Cleveland, even became notorious for their horrible flyers (The Phantasy, comes to mind).
        The hand drawn, poorly cut out, scribble that corrected magic marker mistakes, all contributed to the aesthetic quality of these flyers. The sloppiness was indicative of the D.I.Y. unprofessionalism of local bands setting up their own shows or scampering to promote an out-of-town local act who agreed to skid through our backwash city on the promise of a vegan meal and a gas money take from the door. Eventually, the posturing and primping of who was opening for whom began to muddle up the mix, but by then the scene was falling into the hands of middle management promoters and groupie-like agents. These flyers represent, for the most part, a time when anyone could slap down some band logos on a sheet of paper, surround it was some crude handwriting, and bury it under a mess of clip art then photocopy twenty-five copies to be passed out to people who already planned on going anyway. This whole shebang was considered, “supporting the scene, man. Supporting the scene!”