Saintseneca warms up Grog Shop with personal folk

Mike Suglio, Staff Reporter

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While many were celebrating Lebron James’ triumphant return to Cleveland last Friday, July 11, some music aficionados enjoyed folk rock at the Grog Shop.

Opening musician, Max Sollisch, who performs as Dolfish, is a Cleveland Heights native who recently moved back to Cleveland after a stay in Columbus.  Since his return he’s been seen at the Grog Shop and other local venues, such as the Bottlehouse, and made an appearance at the Short. Sweet. Film Fest.

Dolfish set the folk mood with strong picking and heavy lyrics. Even though Sollisch mentioned that all of his songs were sad, he is a rather cheerful person on stage.

Without question, Dolfish is a natural storyteller and gave great insights to many of his songs throughout the set, which included anecdotes about working with an elderly security guard named Jack, or about his guilt upon buying a foreclosed home, knowing that this caused someone to lose theirs.

As mellow songs poured from the stage, Dolfish often sang about Cleveland as he tapped a tambourine with his foot.  Dolfish performed one of his title songs, “Your Love is Bummin’ Me Out,” a sad and mildly comical tune.

Following Dolfish, Traveling was a more rock/pop type band made up of three members from Bloomington, Indiana.  Their songs ranged from dreams about the apocalypse to traveling west and drinking lots of coffee.

Traveling’s songs “Idealist Temperament” and “Future Ghosts” were the right balance of deep lyrics and fun pop rock, which brightened the mood in the Grog Shop.

After Traveling, the headlining band, Saintseneca, took the stage as several friends and family members of the band cheered.  Saintseneca hails from Columbus, Ohio and frequently performs in Cleveland.

Lead singer-songwriter and creator of the band, Zac Little, originally hails from the rural hills of Appalachia, where his isolation shaped his introspective and reflective lyrics.

Little began the set with a short solo, which blended into the five-member band rocking out.  Loud, folk, rock music filled the Grog Shop as the audience truly began to come to life.  Audience members often called out to their friends onstage throughout the set, which added a personal touch to the performance.

With the start of each song, band members often swapped instruments with each other, delivering personal solos and then following them up with larger-than-life folk rock. I was constantly engaged, not knowing what to expect from one song to the next.

Little did not partake in much storytelling, but other band members could not help but toss jokes about Lebron James returning to Cleveland, or throwing thanks to the audience for spending time at the Grog Shop on such a festive evening.

After immense applause Little returned on stage when Saintseneca finished their set.  Little performed a chilling solo and then the band returned to finish the night with their title song, “Happy Alone.”  Heavy instrumentals and jamming ensued.

While many of us were excited for Cleveland sports that night, there is no question that Cleveland has a growing music scene with both wonderful local and national acts gracing the stage.