Aaron Lee Tasjan rocks Beachland Ballroom


Sunayana Jampanaboyana, Staff Reporter

Aaron Lee Tasjan pulled out a blank page from his notebook and a black Sharpie, titling the page “Cleveland Rocks.” He then casually posed a question to bassist Tommy Scifres: “Hey Tommy, what do you think we should open the show with?” They decided that “The Rest is Yet to Come” was the perfect opener.

He walked onto the stage dressed as a “cartoon sandwich condiment,” in a red floral shirt and a red vest under a mustard yellow jacket, and sat down at the piano to explicate that in fact, the rest was yet to come.

Promoting his most recent solo album, “Karma for Cheap,” released last August, Tasjan has been traveling since January with his road band, with a recent stop at Beachland Tavern on Sunday, April 14.

“Karma for Cheap” is a far shift from Tasjan’s previous two albums, embracing the influences of classic rock in conjunction with psychedelic British pop and his own unique style. The Beatles, Tom Petty, David Bowie and even Jakob Dylan, who Tasjan listened to in the back seat of his mom’s car, influenced the album.  

Although he first picked up a guitar in New Albany, Ohio, Tasjan resonates more strongly with Brooklyn, New York where he really created himself as an artist. Now, Tasjan is based in Nashville, Tennessee and continues to explore his sound while ironing out other influences. Tasjan expresses that there was nothing more to making the move to pursue a career as a solo artist than just wholeheartedly giving it a shot.

Returning to his birthplace, Tasjan took to the stage with Scifres and drummer Mark Stepro. Opening for Tasjan was the Nashville-based husband and wife duo Smooth Hound Smith, who captured the audience’s interest with an energetic set created at the intersection of folky blues and rock ‘n’ roll.

Tasjan refined this energy into crooning melodies and impressive guitar riffs. “It’s a smokescreen scene and nobody knows what’s real,” he sang, alluding to not only the current political climate but also the perfected images that so many of us seem to present on social media.

“If not now, then when?” he asked and expanded on the futility of trying to be better than everybody else in “Success.” In lilting tunes, Tasjan sang while playing the piano and finally closed with “Ready to Die” from a previous album “Silver Tears.” Walking off the stage, Tasjan yelled to the audience, “I love you and you’re all good people.”

“Ultimately, [in “Karma for Cheap”] I guess I’m trying to say something without being all too pretentious or precious, to say that s— sucks,” he explains. “And I guess I hope it’s reassuring in that you can find some reason to keep your chin up.”