Cassette & the Felice Brothers at the Beachland Tavern in Cleveland, OH, 5.10.10


(I’m not very familiar with their songs, so I wasn’t able to construct a playlist.)

Cassette has a violinist and a cellist. These are good things. Cassette also has a keyboardist who seems to enjoy the hell out of himself and a singer whose voice really shines from time to time. These are also good things. Their songs are of the softer, more subtle variety, which A) doesn’t seem like the best fit for a Felice Brothers opener and B) is not my favorite kind of music, to be honest.

Perhaps it was because they were on their last night of their tour with the Felice Brothers, but Cassette’s music lacked oomph and many songs seemed not so much to end as peter out. Their set ended, however, on a highlight as the band, especially the cellist and keyboardist, let go and played their hearts into a burning crescendo. More fire like that throughout Cassette’s set would serve them well.

The Felice Brothers

Greatest Show on Earth
Love Me Tenderly
Katie Dear
Murder By Mistletoe
River Jordan
Fuck the News
Run Chicken Run
Goddamn You, Jim
Whiskey in My Whiskey
Honda Civic
White Limo
Endless Night
Take This Bread
Frankie’s Gun!
Two Nickels (? – Farley song)
Ballad of Lou the Welterweight
Two Hands
St. Stephen’s End
Helen Fry

As soon as the Felice Brothers took the stage, it was obvious they were several sheets to the wind. This is not a bad sign where the Felice Brothers are concerned. If you want a neat, orderly show, the Felice clan was never going to be your best bet. Still, no one fell off the small stage, and the only casualties were some booze and a key from James Felice’s accordion (leaving the instrument on the floor near a dancing Ian Felice was probably not the greatest idea).

I’ve been to a few Felice shows now and can tell you they are consistent in their chaos. They pepper their always crowd-pleasing rabble-rousing tunes like “Frankie’s Gun!” and “Run Chicken Run” with sing-a-longs like “Whiskey in My Whiskey” and their cover of Townes Van Zandt’s “Two Hands” with new songs, like “Dancehall” and the funked-up “Honda Civic” and slow numbers that showcase Ian Felice’s stellar songwriting. This night’s “Greatest Show on Earth” was the most spirit-raising version I’ve witnessed so far, and I was immensely pleased to hear my new favorite, the as-yet-unreleased “Endless Night”, which is a bit of a departure in sound and just beautiful. Always a family affair, whether blood or adoptive, the lead duties were shared by James Felice, Greg Farley and Christmas/Josh/whatever-he’s-calling-himself-now, though the majority of tunes are always carried by Ian Felice – and rightfully so with his aforementioned songwriting skills and worn, dusty voice. They also brought Cassette singer Samantha Jones on stage to share vocals on “Ballad of Lou the Welterweight”.

The Tavern at the Beachland is a just a small bar with a stage at one end, making it an ideal setting for a Felice Brothers show as they always excel in intimate quarters where they can feed off the vibe of the audience. This night’s crowd was into it, and there were a number of avid fans littered throughout the room, which was heartening for the Brothers’ first show in the CLE.

Felice Brothers shows are always a good recommendation if you want a ramshackle good time and are especially illustrative of the joy and abandon that music can (and should) encompass if you are used to more removed shows in larger venues.

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