Lagwagon has been a punk rock staple when it comes to music for me since my teenage years. When they announced they were touring to celebrate “30-ish” years as being a band tour with a stop in Cleveland, it was a no-brainer for me to make sure I was there.
I was shocked yet stoked they were playing Mahall’s and not another Cleveland venue. I knew it was going to be more of an intimate performance within a small club. I couldn’t have been more right, the night was everything I could have wanted as a fan.
Lagwagon is a California punk band that started in the late 80s. I’d assume you have probably heard of them if you are reading this, so really there is nothing much more to say other than they rule. They have toured the world over and over and have a fanbase like none other.
For a Wednesday night, the club filled up pretty quick just after 8 and people wasted no time drinking all the hipster beers made available at the bar. I was impressed to see so many folk slamming Black Labels there. Back in my day we drank that shit because it was like $3 a 6-pack.
I should as well add that people of all ages were at this show. Young and old combined to see a band that had a major impact on their lives and I for once did not feel like grandpa punk.
Cleveland sweethearts Heart & Lung opened the show and warmed up the crowd with their catchy ass pop punk fun and never-ending humor. By the time their set was done, a few strings were broken, maybe 1 or 2 egos were diminished within the band, but the club was packed with people who really enjoyed their set.
Grumpster, as bassist/vocalist Donnie Walsh explained: “spelled G-R-U-M-P-S-T-E-R”, were just awesome. I recently got into this up and coming Cali punk act and will say they gave it their all. The place was packed as they busted through song after song and everyone seemingly was eating it up. I can see why Lagwagon asked them to play some shows with them.
Lagwagon finally took the stage and the place was just packed and everyone lost their shit the second they started playing. I seriously felt like I went back in time for a moment there and was living my teenage years all over again. What a feeling.
I may have geeked out slightly seeing Joe Raposo (he’s played in Mad Caddies) playing bass as well as marveled at Chris Flippin just shredding away mere feet in front of me. Joey Cape, however, was mostly the focal point as he went through a decent set of songs spanning over the band’s career.
Standing close to the pit, I sang along as almost everyone else did there and for a brief moment, I let my guard down and immediately someone fell/slammed into me almost knocking me off my feet. This was the one time I am glad that mirror pillar to the left of the stage existed as I quickly grabbed onto it and saved myself from falling onto the ground. I cannot say others were ask lucky as the fans were letting loose and recapturing their younger years. All in good fun.
The setlist included so many great songs including “Violin”, “Sleep”, and even “Mr. Coffee.” I tried hard to keep a record of them all, but honestly I just was sucked into the night and wasn’t taking too many mental notes. Sometimes a fan just needs to be a fan.
The “encore” was humorous as 1/2 of the band left the stage while others kind of just hung out explaining to the crowd what was happening. Cape stole Flippin’s guitar while who left for a moment and started playing “Alien 8” solo only for the big man to come back and almost lift him off the stage by the guitar strap as Cape tried to continue to play.
Ending the night with “May 16”, the band concluded a night I know personally I needed. It wasn’t cut short, people were living it up, and best of all there were so many smiles in the crowd. If you were not having a good time at this show, there was clearly something wrong with you.
Cape said it best “we wouldn’t be doing this if it weren’t for you” as he closed out the night in a most humble way. It was true, the band’s success was based off the fans and on a Wednesday night in Cleveland, it was apparent that many of the fans came out to celebrate over three decades of the band doing their thing. What a wild night.