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Issue Date: September 2012


Rock Party


Justin Williams
williams@clevelandmagazine.com

Seattle-based rockers Minus the Bear have risen steadily through the indie music scene over the past decade on a wave of punchy guitar tapping, rollicking keyboards and unpredictable song structures. But they haven't forgotten the smaller clubs they played along the way. The band will take the Grog Shop stage Sept. 19 as part of a nearly three-week celebration of the venue's 20th anniversary. Despite having graduated to larger venues since last playing the Cleveland Heights music club in 2008, the group realized what a special opportunity it would be to go back.

"We heard they were doing [the anniversary] and we had the option to play that venue," says Jake Snider, guitarist and lead vocalist. "It felt like the right thing to do and the right time to do it. I'm glad we are there for that series of shows."

Minus the Bear is one of the many acts Grog Shop owner Kathy Blackman sought out for her club's milestone festivities.

"Obviously, I've known for a long time that it was going to be our 20th anniversary, but maybe about a year ago I started thinking about it," says Blackman, who opened the original Grog Shop on Coventry Road in 1992. "I reached out to all of my agents and told them this was happening and that we'd really love to make this a special celebration, love to have some of the bands that have played here over the years return."

The anniversary shows run Sept. 11 through the end of the month and will also feature a number of reunited local bands at the venue's 400-capacity space along Euclid Heights Boulevard, which has been the Grog Shop's home since 2003.

"You form relationships with these people in the bands over the years," says Blackman. "It's fun for them to come back to the Grog because it's much more personal."

Snider and his fellow Minus the Bear members agree.

"The audience there is always amazing and really aggressive and cool and fun," says Snider. "It's nice to have that option every once and a while to come back to a place you've always played."


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