It took a couple hours for the Grog Shop to wake up on Friday night. Lakewood’s Saint Ohio opened the show with a brutally dull set, where the overzealous drummer tried to make up for the rest of the band’s mediocrity by dancing around the stage with a tambourine and fastening his glasses to his head like a pair of safety goggles. The Cinnamon Band, up next, was a huge improvement. Still, sweet harmonies and the gentle pop of the Virginia guitar-drum duo still couldn’t shake up the crowd.
All restlessness ended, however, the minute the husband-wife team of the Handsome Furs stepped onstage. Dan Boeckner picked up his guitar, his sleeveless shirt showing off tattoos scattered across his skinny arms, while Alexei Perry kicked her way over to her synthesizer/drum machine table in a tiny romper. The two are straight out of Natural Born Killers, a pair of untamed, horny lovers on a trip around the world.
Handsome Furs began their set with “Legal Tender,” the first track on their new album, Face Control, and followed it with most of the album's other songs. Boeckner and Perry are two of the finest performers Cleveland will see all summer. While he hit hard, electric riffs on the guitar, pulsing forward toward his wife, she threw her head forward as if she was urging him to continue shredding. Perry was equally energetic — she bounced up and down and kicked her legs while keeping the beat and coordinating sleazy synths with the guitar.
The Montreal pair spit on each other, licked each other and even made out before the last song. It was strange to watch (is this music or softcore porn?), but the audience smiled along. Dan and Alexei, may your lust last forever. Or at least long enough for you to play Cleveland again. —Danielle Sills