- The Rev. Ivan Stang, king of all that is slack.
A recent transplant from Dallas, the Rev. Ivan Stang, a proud proponent of the subversive Church of the Subgenius, will be making his first performance in Cleveland since moving here last September. Stang, whose show combines elements of televangelist preaching with rock music, has been collaborating with keyboardist Chas Smith of Cobra Verde for nearly 10 years. Stang and Smith work together on a radio show called The Hour of Slack, which airs locally on WCSB. While a recent divorce has freed Stang to pull up stakes and move north, his press release stated that the move came about because there wasn't much of a "market for enlightenment" in Texas -- Stang maintains his shtick has always played better in the Midwest and Northeast.
"Most of our shows were up here anyway," says Stang, who likens his act to the psychedelic comedy troupe Firesign Theatre. "There's very little happening in Texas, where we just sound like the crazy next-door neighbor."
Recently voted "Fraud of the Century" by Time, the Church of the Subgenius is an anti-cult of sorts. With the mythical Bob Dobbs as its leader, the Subgenius congregation supports the same kind of devolutionary behavior that Devo promoted two decades ago.
"The Baptists were telling everyone they're going to hell if they're not a Baptist, and the Hindus were telling people they won't be reincarnated if they're not good," Stang says when asked about how the church came together some 20 years ago. "We've been told we're going to hell, so what was there left to do but start our own religion? It's great, because if you say it's faith, no one can argue with you. We like to be a little island of weirdness in an increasingly sane world."
The church has certainly yielded its share of product over the years. The band's website (er, subsite -- the URL is subgenius.com) offers everything from books to videos and a role-playing game. You can even purchase whizbangs, gimcracks, and geegaw (Subgenius-speak for coffee mugs, pins, and posters), and can become ordained if you wish.
Stang promises that he'll stick to the preaching and not attempt any singing this time out (he reportedly lacks the ability to hold a note). But don't even bother asking him for evidence that Bob truly exists. "Would you go up to Stone Cold Steve Austin and say, "Hey man, that wrestling stuff is all fake'?" he says. "You wouldn't do that, 'cause he'd break your neck and go, "How fake is that?' We've got pictures of Bob."
Cobra Verde and Einstein's Secret Orchestra will open for Rev. Stang on March 3 at the Euclid Tavern (11629 Euclid Avenue). Tickets are $6. Call 216-229-7788 for more information.
On March 2, Mark Leddy and Cindy Barber will open their new East Side club called the Beachland Ballroom (15711 Waterloo Road, North Collinwood). DJ Count Birdbrain will be spinning tunes. Leddy, who has been booking shows at Pat's in the Flats, hopes his club will not only be a good venue where national and local bands can play, but also "help stabilize the neighborhood." He says he plans to branch out from the typical punk and indie rock fare he brought to Pat's.
"We're looking at a lot more diverse booking than [Pat's]," he says. "We're hoping to fill in a significant amount of stuff that they booked at Wilbert's before that closed. We also are interested in doing polka shows, and given the neighborhood, that seems appropriate."
While Leddy and Barber, former editor of the Free Times and currently editor of Northern Ohio Live, are still scheduling acts for March and April, a few shows are already planned. Pat Dull and the Media Whores, the Marbles, and the Tellers will play on March 3; the New Salem Witch Hunters on April 8; and the Lazy Cowgirls and the Real Kids on April 16. The venue has both a ballroom and a small club area, both of which are still undergoing renovation.
Midnight Syndicate (Edward Douglas and Gavin Goszca) returns with another album of music for haunted houses. Slated for a March 6 release, Realm of Shadows is a concept album of sorts about a desolate village shrouded in darkness. It's spooky stuff, and Soundbites advises abiding by the album's warning: "dim the lights, but take heed." Posters, T-shirts, CDs, and calendars, all featuring the art of Joseph Vargo, will be given away at a release party at the Chamber (11816 Detroit Avenue, Lakewood) at 9 p.m. on March 4.
Strip will host a rerelease party for Home for Wayward Girls, which was completed last year, but not distributed because of what singer-bassist Gerard Dominick calls "legal problems." The group, which still includes founding vocalist Laurie Styron and guitarist John Gmerek, has two new players -- guitarist Matt Highley and former NY Surfgirl drummer Danny Basone. It will play with Bellacore, Trip Man Dead, and Dysfunctional Ray on March 3 at Peabody's DownUnder (1059 Old River Road). -- Jeff Niesel
Send local music info and pictures of Bob to firstname.lastname@example.org.