Failure: Grog Shop (7/5/15)

Failure is the best band some of you may have never heard of. Plain and simple. After an 18 year absence, they made their triumphant return to Cleveland last night to remind everyone that they are back with a vengeance.

My evening started with the VIP soundcheck/meet and greet, which being a fan since 1992 and never having the chance to meet them, it was a must for me. Lisa, Failure’s incredibly nice tour manager, brought the VIP’s in to watch the soundcheck. What a great experience to have the opportunity to watch a 2 song private performance with just a handful of people. Immediately following soundcheck, the guys came out for the meet and greet. I was a ball of nerves, but they were extremely kind and accommodating, signing all of my vintage setlists and ticket stubs from shows I attended between 1996-1997. I then got a picture with the whole band, we said our goodbyes, and off they went to get ready for the show. If you are a Failure fan, do yourself a favor and do the VIP package. You will be so happy you did.

Queen Kwong opened the show, and they were a pleasant surprise. Led by singer Carré Callaway, they plowed through a blistering set that found Carré tossing water bottles, jumping into the crowd, and just generally being a badass. They seemingly won the entire crowd over by the end of the set, and it was easy to see why. I am looking forward to hearing more from them in the future.

When it came time for Failure to hit the stage, I was going through many different emotions. I was thinking back to one particular Cleveland show on the Fantastic Planet tour, where it was obvious there were some issues going on. There obvious tensions on stage, and certain members may not have been in a good place in their lives. Even though they sounded amazing, there was no way to hide the problems. But I knew that was all in the past now. I knew this was going to be a different band. One that would be healthier, happier, and firing on all cylinders. Turns out I was right on the money.

From the moment Failure appeared, starting with ‘Segue 4’ into ‘Hot Traveler,’ it became apparent that the evening took on a triumphant, even celebratory tone. Old school fans like me were ecstatic to see the band at its absolute best, lean and mean, with something to prove. Fans that never had the chance to see the band in the 90’s were overjoyed they were finally able to see their musical heroes in the flesh. And the band? Well, let’s just say there were smiles last night…and to the best of my recollection, I don’t remember much smiling in the 90’s. They could feel that they were missed, and they were going to deliver an unforgettable performance.

The amazing new record, The Heart Is a Monster, was well represented by tracks such as ‘A.M. Amnesia,’ Atom City Queen, and the beautiful ‘Mulholland Dr. (featuring Greg on piano),’ as well as tracks off of the first three records. For me, being such a massive fan of the Fantastic Planet record, I was overjoyed that record was well represented by tracks such as ‘Sergeant Politeness (featuring Kellii’s signature bashing),’ ‘Pillowhead,’ and ‘The Nurse Who Loved Me,’ as well as the entire three song encore. My highlight of the entire set took place during ‘The Nurse Who Loved Me,’ when Ken sang the lyric “she acts just like a nurse,” then motioned for the crowd to finish it, and the entire crowd screamed back “with all the other guys.” I freely admit that my eyes immediately welled up with tears at that moment, because it occurred to me that whether the people in the crowd were old or new fans, at that moment, we became one strong fanbase that is going to see the band all the way through this comeback.

Segue 4
Hot Traveler
A.M. Amnesia
Another Space Song
Atom City Queen
Counterfeit Sky
Sergeant Politeness
Segue 1
Mulholland Dr.
Smoking Umbrellas
The Nurse Who Loved Me
Stuck On You