ekoostik hookah & The Neville Brothers :: 11.20.04 :: House Of Blues :: Cleveland, OH

Cleveland rocks in a whole new way now that there's a brand new House Of Blues downtown! ekoostik hookah and The Neville Brothers helped to open the new venue by playing a double-bill to a packed house.

Like all of the HOB venues, the Cleveland property is easy on the eyes as well as the ears. Bright colors fill the walls with funky, bohemian-style artwork while texture exists everywhere – in the wallpaper, on the wooden posts and on the gigantic satin and velvet curtain that hides the stage. Flat-screen televisions suspend from the ceiling to provide birds-eye views of the stage and also to advertise upcoming shows during the breaks. Portraits of Picasso-like characters hang innocently on the walls, eyes toward the stage as if enjoying the night's rhythms along with the bar's patrons.

The Neville Brothers
Located on the SE corner of Public Square in Cleveland, only a few blocks from the lake, the House of Blues is going to prove a great spot for those who like to travel for music. Conveniently located between many hotels, the immediate area makes for a great party scene. The Holiday Inn Express, always a post-hookah hot-spot, is only a few steps away, and will undoubtedly be the late-night venue for many HOB shows to come.

While the building doesn’t look like much on the outside, the familiar font on the House of Blues logo delivers exactly what it promises on the inside. Plush couches and soft blue lighting decorate the foyer between bar and restaurant and even the Tarot-Card reading Bathroom Attendant sang the blues.

The Neville Brothers started the show with a nice range of smooth and sultry blues mixed with their trademark N'awlins funk. The Brothers held probably the largest crowd of the evening as those dining in the restaurant made their way over to enjoy the entertainment of the famous family. It was a great kick-off to a landmark such as the HOB, and a good energy pick-me-up before a rockin' hookah show.

ekoostik hookah
Once the heavy curtain lifted and ekoostik hookah launched into "Sundial," the night had officially begun. Looking around, I noticed many faces from my hometown of Columbus, meaning a good portion of this audience had traveled and were making a night of it in Cleveland.

A relatively new song, "Sundial" has already proved itself a crowd favorite, getting incredible response this past summer. A strong opener, this tune coupled with another new one, "Thumper," suggest that great things can be expected from the next studio release from ekoostik hookah.

Steve Sweney
"Schwa," a testimony to happiness and living for the moment, came next, really letting the crowd bounce around, testing the new venue's durability and christening it with some good old fashioned hookah fun. Ed McGee added a bit of nostalgia with "Only Falling," a song that had debuted in Cleveland almost exactly three years prior at the Thanksgiving weekend shows at the Agora.

An appropriate choice for the opening of the new House of Blues, "Sure Cure for the Blues" brought keyboardist Ivan Neville back to the stage. Ivan jammed both on keys and with vocal support, and made a huge impression. The spirit of the House of Blues was alive in that moment, taking talent from around the country and combining them to make powerful music.

The ever-popular "Dragonfly" picked the pace back up just in time for a crazy cover of "Jesus is Just Alright" – a song that seemed perfect in a venue that would host a Gospel Brunch just hours later.

ekoostik hookah
Set II was as energetic and wild as the crowd had hoped. Opening with a lively "When the Sun Goes Down" set the mood for a long and reeling "Yumaliealla" > "Alexander" > "Yumaliealla" that was clearly the highlight of the evening. The large venue suddenly seemed small and intimate, a new setting suddenly very familiar and inviting.

"Life Is Good" brought the evening to a close, using its funky beats to calm the crazy souls anxious to continue the party at the hotels across the street. The jazz-oriented tune took it down a notch and set up a killer "Don't Do It" encore.

Dave Katz & Ed McGee
The House of Blues is a great addition to the Cleveland scene, and ekoostik hookah was a great band to show the HOB management how Ohio can party.

The band enjoyed such success at the new venue that it has already been booked for gig number two. If you live in Ohio, be sure to check out the encore performance on 12.30.04 at the House of Blues Cleveland!

Set 1:
Sundial, Thumper, Schwa, Only Falling, Deal With It, Sure Cure For the Blues*, Blow 'em Away, A Better Man, Dragonfly, Jesus Is Just Alright

Set 2:
When the Sun Goes Down, Ohio Grown > Grass, Yumaliealla > Alexander > Yumaliealla, Life Is Good

Encore: Don't Do It

*with Ivan Neville

Samantha Hanford
JamBase | Cleveland
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