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Tusco Terror

Sonic Madness at the Grog Shop. Pics and video by Elizabeth "Ilza" Wise

Tusco Terror.  The name strikes fear in the hearts of children and panic in the minds of parents, like some fabled beast that rises from the muck and swallows those unaware of the dangers that lurk beneath the surface of the local muck farm.  Seeing them perform live is a testament that even in a scene as geriatric and stale as Cleveland's, where copycat rock and sissy "punk" bands are the norm, true sonic art can exist.  Indeed, they are more "punk rock" than any of these Rancid-wannabe bands out here, if you're talking "punk" as in bucking the established trends and going with the popular flow of things.


They are not Blink 182.  

And seeing them play at a place like Grog Shop...well, that's just even the more dandy.  Particularly on New Year's Day, when the snow dumped from the heavens and down onto the streets.  The ride to the venue was a great way to break in the new year- flying sideways down the highway, as other cars spun all over the place, getting thrown around like hockey pucks in the gale-force winds.

The Grog Shop is a very special place in its own right, being the premier spot in the Cleveland area to catch the best collection of rad music.  This is because as the venue has expanded and improved over the years, they haven't gone the route of House of Blues.  Indeed, they've revamped and updated a lot of things in terms of music presentation- even moved to a larger building- but the general feel of the club remains the same: a local concert pub where you'll find cool music.

Their beer cooler is still covered with stickers from bands that have passed through, 7 million names I've never heard of, and Beulah.  And praise Jesus, they even have a sign that says, "No Ganja Smoking" with the "No" crossed out.  Certainly, this is a law-abiding establishment, but it's still nice to see a nod to things proper from time to time.

As for Tusco Terror, the time couldn't be better.  If referring to a genre is a must, then "noise" will have to do, but that is almost the point, the idea of not fitting into a cookie-cutter sound.  Their music doesn't follow traditional structures; hell, they don't even have a drummer.  That doesn't stop them from laying out raw emotion, pure expression from the speakers that transcend the idea that music can only be heard.  Using various equipment and instruments to manipulate distortion, their sound comes across like alien transmissions in a sci-fi movie, like that distorted distress signal in Event Horizon.  And just when you think you've found the pattern, they switch it up, some crazy bloke climbing up and down the speakers with a microphone, turning the already chaotic mess upon itself.

In this apparent mess, though, is the real beauty behind music as art: you can truly feel them through their sound. Whatever they are doing, be it subtly rebelling against widespread military abuse in Zimbabwe, telling the crowd to kill their parents, or just having a good time, this sound is theirs.  In a year where this country's politics are demanding conformity, bands like Tusco Terror are a refreshing break from the mold of things.



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