Music » Livewire


Tuesday, January 22, at the Beachland Tavern.


Mahjongg emerges from the shadows, heads to the Beachland.
  • Mahjongg emerges from the shadows, heads to the Beachland.

We really don't like referring to Mahjongg as an "art-punk" band — seeing that the categorization is becoming vaguer by the minute — but that's exactly how these Missouri-bred rockers roll. At least musically. They're sorta like hippies otherwise: They prefer to be called a collective and say things like "The body of human knowledge is our most prized asset, and the harmonic proportions of music are universal in other fields of endeavor." They're also inspired by "primal forces of other cultures" — which probably explains the somewhat left-field comparisons to Afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti.

But Mahjongg's many members now live in Chicago, and their new album, Kontpab, feeds on a predominantly midwestern vibe. These days, they sound like a mix of groove merchants LCD Soundsystem and your favorite art-punk band (like, say, Liars or !!!). New tunes like "Tell the Police the Truth" and "Problems" are sufficiently artsy, with heavy beats, laser blips, and a general casualness that suggests that Mahjongg may very well take over indie hipsters' coveted New Favorite Band slot before April. Then again, like many Pitchfork-approved groups, Mahjongg can be pretty obnoxious — fixating on repetitive grooves that are as dismally dark as they are needlessly spaced out. Judge for yourself where they fall, when they come to town this week.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Cleveland Scene. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Cleveland Scene, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club for as little as $5 a month.