Akron’s Simeon Soul Charger are in twin-attack mode. When the band’s not recording its Rust Belt-style of atmospheric arena rock in the studio (they’re working on a new EP right now to be released this spring), the five-piece is throwing bizarrely awesome concerts backed by performance artists, choirs and pizza parties. You can get a taste of both sides on Saturday, when Simeon Soul Charger take the stage at the Grog Shop, handing out their new single and playing live while local artist Trey Berry paints onstage.
“At the Grog Shop, we’re going to be giving out free copies of ‘My Radio’ until we run out,” says Jim Garibaldi, bassist and band co-founder. “We’re going to debut some new material as well — a few tracks off the new EP. Our lovely merch girls are going to be there dressed extravagantly, and Trey Berry, who did our [debut] EP artwork, is going to be there painting as well.”
On their 2009 self-titled debut EP, Simeon Soul Charger first discovered their talent for capturing industrial layers of shadowy rock wizardry. For six songs, the quintet orchestrated arena rock you might associate with Muse or Vast, backed by both haunting rock and classical music elements (guitars, drums, cello and piano on stage). You’d never realize singer-songwriter Aaron Brooks once fronted Cleveland’s punk purveyors Trendy (2000-2008), who Warp Toured along with great Cleveland albums like 2006’s Stupid Generation.
The band’s new single “Radio” (which is actually an old tune) captures the band’s schizophrenic personality in the vein of prog-opera rockers like Queen. “Radio” jumps from riff to riff every 30 seconds or so (going from theatrical to grunge to chamber pop), with Brooks displaying his vast vocal range: “My radio is singing poison songs to me — all-to-familiar manufactured misery.”
“It’s really raw, riff heavy and experimental,” says Garibaldi about the single. “We’ve been really working hard on harmonies — everybody’s singing now. That alone has opened up so many new, exciting possibilities. ‘My Radio’ is an old song; Aaron had actually recorded a version of this a while ago but when he brought it to the band we radically changed it. It’s all over the place and that’s what I love about it. It isn’t consistent with the style of the new EP, but I think that’s what I love best about this band. We cannot be pinned down to one genre.”
Simeon Soul Charger, the Uncanny Xela, the Modern Electric and the Townhouse Suite play the Grog Shop (2785 Euclid Heights Blvd., Cleveland Hts., 216.321.5588, grogshop.gs) at 9 p.m. Saturday. Tickets: $6. —Keith Gribbins