It’s not often your more makeshift venues (dive bars, coffee shops, clothing stores, etc.) are able to offer up the intimacy of a DIY punk den without giving up the sonic comforts of a proper PA. In fact, it pretty much never happens. Hence, we weren’t surprised at the lack of audible vocals upon walking in on Cheap Time’s set at East Side dive Dino’s on Friday night.
At the risk of sounding like whiny show snobs, another quirk of a successful show at Dino’s is the total lack of stage visibility for anyone beyond the third row. We’ve heard, however, that when one is robbed of one of their senses — in this case, sight — the others are heightened. So when we stared at the head in front of us hard enough, we could almost kind of hear frontman Jeffrey Novak’s snotty croon over the band’s slick and glittery glam-punk riffing.
During the break, we learned we’d missed local openers The Black Faces — an ear-splitting, noisy rock three-piece featuring Hate Life organizer Ben Swank along with Jemina Pearl and Chet Weiss — and so we drowned that particular sorrow while supplementing Dino’s absence of hard booze next door at No. 308. We made it back over in time for the introduction of Cleveland, Ohio’s Obnox. Singer/guitarist Lamont “Bim” Thomas has spent the last 20 years drumming for some of Ohio’s most notorious underground rock 'n' roll bands — none of which we can actually claim to have seen, and therefore it’s not too strange for us to see him step up to the mic and belt out a furious combo of Detroit soul and Memphis garage punk. He was armed with a lone drummer as backup, and we gotta say, for a drummer, Thomas' banter was almost as entertaining as his tunes — which we also gotta say were among the most invigorating and enjoyable of the evening. We could even hear him sing a little.
Next up, Thomas returned to his better-known role behind the kit with headliners Puffy Areolas. While we doubt that’s anyone’s favorite moniker in rock 'n' roll, this Ohio trio droned out on a jazzy, fuzzed-out, feedback-infused, virtually instrumental (see first paragraph) pyschedelic punk trip for a solid half-hour or so. When all was said and done, we'd seen a good show, and we got drunk for less than $10 — so we’ve basically forgotten whatever it was we were bitching and moaning about earlier.