California comes to Cleveland: Annihilation Time, Fields Of Fire with 9 Shocks Terror at the Grog Shop


This was a crucial show—August 9, 2002—at the old Grog Shop on Coventry in Cleveland, Ohio. In George W. Bush America, post-9/11, I didn’t want to hear complacent or arty music. We were under attack. From our own government. Sound familiar?

The music was incredible. Seriously. Here were three of the best bands at that time on the thrash / hardcore axis, laying it down onstage. Heavy. Fierce. Punishing.

First up was Fields Of Fire from Los Angeles.

9 Shocks Terror Tony Erba Fields Of Fire Annihilation Time Grog Shop Cleveland Ohio 2002

Ben Edge fronting Fields Of Fire from Los Angeles. Noel on drums. All photos: Sean Carnage.

Through them I met lead singer Ben Edge aka Ben Merlis, who has always been very kind to me—especially when I relocated to L.A. in October 2002.

Ben says: “Fields Of Fire at that point was me, Chris Grande (bass), Jamie Sanitate (guitar), Noel Sullivan (drums).

“The only other factoid is I was the only Angeleno in FOF. Noel and Jamie were high school friends from Goleta, Graham was from Oak View, and Chris was from Oxnard. Noel and Jamie had already graduated, but still living in Goleta.”

9 Shocks Terror Tony Erba Fields Of Fire Annihilation Time Grog Shop Cleveland Ohio 2002

Fields Of Fire. Photo: Carnage.

Later, I booked Ben’s classic bands like Bad Reaction many times on Sean Carnage Monday Nights at Il Corral.

9 Shocks Terror Tony Erba Fields Of Fire Annihilation Time Grog Shop Cleveland Ohio 2002

Sharkey (clothed!) and Shaun Filley watch Fields Of Fire do their thing at the Grog Shop. Photo: Carnage.

Check this out—Ben Edge’s tour diary from 2002, with his impressions of Cleveland, the people and the show:

Ben Edge Merlis Fields Of Fire Annihilation Time Tour Diary Grog Shop Cleveland Ohio 2002 Ben Edge Merlis Fields Of Fire Annihilation Time Tour Diary Grog Shop Cleveland Ohio 2002 Ben Edge Merlis Fields Of Fire Annihilation Time Tour Diary Grog Shop Cleveland Ohio 2002

Next band to play was Annihilation Time, this crazy-heavy Oxnard/Ventura, CA-area band that blew our minds on the 9 Shocks Terror tour earlier that spring.

Ben Merlis has the edge on the particulars: “Annihilation Time was Fred Hammer (vocals), Graham Clise (guitar), Chris Grande (bass), Jamie Sanitate (second guitar), some dude named Clinton filling in on drums just for that tour. Tony Melino was the regular AT drummer at that point and he just couldn’t do the tour. A couple years later Noel Sullivan became the AT drummer.”

Now I thought these next photos were of Annihilation Time—but they’re not. Why the confusion?

It’s because Jimmy Rose, from CLE legends Puncture Wound and Gordon Solie Motherfuckers (GSMF), joined AT pretty soon after this show.

Ben again: “Fred Hammer (O.G. AT singer) was still in the band. Jimmy was our roadie, and he quit in Cleveland and stayed there. Then Jimmy joined AT later on. I don’t remember exactly the month/year, but probably within six months of that tour ending.”

Clevo rage + Socal vibey, post-SST hardcore = some amazing shit, man! AT was just beginning a climb to rock immortality. You could feel the legend building with every guitar lick—I’m not even exaggerating. If you don’t know Annihilation Time check them out (and watch this site for photos coming soon).

But for this particular show at the Grog, it seems I have no Annihilation Time pics. WTF? I’m super bummed.

9 Shocks Terror Tony Erba Fields Of Fire Annihilation Time Grog Shop Cleveland Ohio 2002

Jimmy Rose fronting Dirtbag. Photo: Carnage.

Which means, this band must be Jimmy’s Dirtbag, a transitional band between GSMF and AT.

9 Shocks Terror Tony Erba Fields Of Fire Annihilation Time Grog Shop Cleveland Ohio 2002

Dirtbag with Jimmy Rose. Photo: Carnage.

9 Shocks Terror Tony Erba Fields Of Fire Annihilation Time Grog Shop Cleveland Ohio 2002

Dirtbag—with Sharkey in the buff! Photo: Carnage.

Sharkey got naked, certifying the evening as a most successful party.

9 Shocks Terror Tony Erba Fields Of Fire Annihilation Time Grog Shop Cleveland Ohio 2002

9 Shocks Terror, 2002-edition: Tony Erba, Steve Peffer, Jim Konya, Kevin Jaworski. Photo: Carnage.

9 Shocks Terror headlined. The band—with rad metallist Jim Konya (aka Jim Sadist) still hanging onto the drum throne after spring tour—was having a moment for sure.

All the fests and D.I.Y. shows they had been playing over the years had culminated and here they were—heading up their own musical movement.

9 Shocks Terror Tony Erba Fields Of Fire Annihilation Time Grog Shop Cleveland Ohio 2002

Lean Steve and Kevin from 9 Shocks Terror. Photo: Carnage.

9 Shocks Terror Tony Erba Fields Of Fire Annihilation Time Grog Shop Cleveland Ohio 2002

Mic gargle by Steve, riffs by Jaworski. 9 Shocks Terror lets loose. Photo: Carnage.

9 Shocks Terror Tony Erba Fields Of Fire Annihilation Time Grog Shop Cleveland Ohio 2002

9 Shocks Terror. Photo: Carnage.

9 Shocks Terror Tony Erba Fields Of Fire Annihilation Time Grog Shop Cleveland Ohio 2002

People were going nuts—9 Shocks Terror was just SO good during this era. Erba on bass. Photo: Carnage.

The opening bands gathered around as they ripped through classic jam after classic jam. I really felt like I was leaving town on a high note.

9 Shocks Terror Tony Erba Fields Of Fire Annihilation Time Grog Shop Cleveland Ohio 2002

Mike “Roder” Rodemann in the crowd, Tony Erba on bass, Lean Steve Peffer. Photo: Carnage.

9 Shocks Terror Tony Erba Fields Of Fire Annihilation Time Grog Shop Cleveland Ohio 2002

Steve, Erba, Kevin. Photo: Carnage.

9 Shocks Terror Tony Erba Fields Of Fire Annihilation Time Grog Shop Cleveland Ohio 2002

9 Shocks Terror in full rock mode. Photo: Carnage.

9 Shocks Terror Tony Erba Fields Of Fire Annihilation Time Grog Shop Cleveland Ohio 2002

Thrash at its best: 9 Shocks Terror slays the Grog Shop. Photo: Carnage.

I wish I could remember more details. Maybe you do? Maybe you even have video or photos?

Please hit me up!

Here’s more from my final months living in Cleveland:

The best 9 Shocks Terror photos I ever shot, at the “new” Peabody’s

The best—and last—damn concert I saw in Cleveland

Electroclash in the Flats: The Foreign Exchange Students with The Cassettes at Pat’s

Under the bridge, Cleveland-style, with Brian Straw at Hart Crane Park; Or, how I learned to let loose in the middle of the Zika epidemic

Follow me on Instagram for Cleveland scene pics & more

+ There are no comments

Add yours

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.