It's a packed house as the band takes the stage. Girls are lined up in the front two rows screaming, before the first note is played. I turn to my friend and say, "Geez — you'd think it was The Beatles on Ed Sullivan!"
But it's not.
It's a Saturday night show at Cincinnati's Mockbee, and the band (The Cathedrals) doesn't even have a Web site, much less a hit record (yet). But they are a fab four: They deliver a show worthy of all the screaming.
The Cathedrals — Philip Allen (vocals/guitar), Quinn Collins (bass/keyboards), Drew Klein (guitar/vocals) and Sebastien Schultz (drums) — are yet another new band bursting out of Cincinnati's vibrant Indie scene. And though they might be new (they formed in the summer of 2003), they show incredible potential.
It could be argued they already possess all the requirements for Rock & Roll success: youthful energy (their average age is 21); sexy, catchy songs, delivered with great musicianship. And — let's be honest — a hot, ultra-charismatic frontman.
Philip Allen is the love child that Jagger and Bowie would've had if their alleged romp years ago could've yielded progeny.
The Cathedrals are humble about the attention they get from the front rows. "It's all just our girlfriends," Klein sheepishly says. From the looks of it, they must have a lot of girlfriends.
But it's not just the ladies who are giving this band their full attention: I've been at nearly all of this band's shows. At each they have impressed some heavy hitters on the local scene (CityBeat staffers, major label employees and show bookers extraordinaire ... not to name any names).
Their first show was last fall at Northside Tavern with The Fairmount Girls. "They gave us our first chance," Klein tells me. "That got our foot in the door to play Cody's, and then we played in front of Puck (Dunaway, booker for Plush), and then we got the Southgate show (last year's CityBeat "Brink" showcase), and then the gig at Radio Down. It was like dominoes. But The Fairmount Girls really helped us out a lot."
Schultz agrees with Klein that the local scene has been good to them thus far. "People have been very receptive to us, and people have been trying to help us out. We completely appreciate that."
This is the group's first serious project. Klein, Schultz and Collins met at the University of Cincinnati, and Allen, the only non-student of the group, is from Klein's hometown, Findlay, Ohio. Though devoted to their studies, Klein says the band is open to other possibilities.
"If something really amazing happens before we're all out of school, we'll be willing to do it," he says. "I mean, no band is really full-time; everybody's gotta work. We devote a lot of time to it, we really do. We practice all the time. Maybe it's because we're just starting off, but I'd like to think it was because we'd like to see it go somewhere else."
"School's always gonna be there," Schultz agrees. "If the opportunity (for success) presents itself, I'm sure we'll all take it."
This reporter has the hunch that it will. Charisma aside, the band's music is impressive. Klein says of their songwriting process, "Usually Philip comes in with parts of songs written, and we work from there. It's pretty equal."
Allen, the esoteric one, interjects, "I don't think we write the songs: I think the songs already exist. They're inherent in the environment, and our job is to try to find them." He jokingly adds, "In every song I've ever written, I'm just trying to recapture the magic of '99 Red Balloons.' "
Joke or not, there are hints of early '80s groups like the "old" U2, and modern bands riding the recent '80s revival wave (Interpol, for example) in the band's sound. "I think we're influenced by Pop music more than we give ourselves credit for, actually," Klein says.
"All of us grew up on '90's Alternative — Smashing Pumpkins, Nirvana," Collins says." You can also hear tones of groups like Radiohead in their music. "We're definitely the product of all our influences," Klein adds.
At any rate, the sound they have is powerful. From the first song to the last, a Cathedrals set holds you in its grip. And Allen, Klein, Schultz and Collins are fascinating to watch.
The band has plenty of upcoming shows, so you'll have ample opportunity to decide for yourself what they sound like. That is, if you can hear them over all those screaming girls.
THE CATHEDRALS play Plush on Friday with Subrosa. On Jan. 31, they're at Top Cat's with Helifino.