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


Another mystery show. Er, well, the date is a mystery. The show definitely happened. See photographic proof below. And it was a blast. I just wish I could remember more details. Can you? Contact me, please.

Until I get more info, let’s just say this happened in May 2002 in Pat’s in The Flats’ backyard.

I had one foot out the door to Los Angeles at this point.

You can read about my 2002 migration from Ohio to L.A. in these posts

And, I can reveal here now, that a major reason I was moving was that I was missing the inclusive, freaky “girls ‘n gays” party vibe of my early Cleveland experience at Cleveland Institute of Art. As much as Rock music is my ethos, I was feeling suffocated by the gnarly dude-wall of folded arms at every fucking show by this point. Enough! I needed to live. And dance.

Then I show up at this event and I was, like, this is the party I’ve been looking for, and I’m leaving…

Headliners were The Cassettes—such a wonderful band. You’ll remember The Cassettes from the iconic Speak In Tongues Rockin’ Holiday Party which also ended up being the venue’s penultimate, all-star event.

View the photos, re-live the vibe

By this time Cassettes’ drummer Jeff Ottenbacher had flown the coop, but band leaders Meredith Shantz and Nora Hartlaub were rocking with a new person behind the kit like nothing had happened. We danced and danced in the pea soup of the humid Ohio night.

The Foreign Exchange Students Shawn Lovejoy Danny Noonan Joe Williams Pat's in the Flats The Cassettes Cleveland 2002

The Foreign Exchange Students, as photographed by Sean Carnage.

The opening group was really interesting too—super unexpected. Danny Noonan is a dear friend and had been one of the main people at Speak In Tongues, and lead singer of Junking Theory—one of the best SIT house bands.

Read about Speak In Tongues’ life & death from my POV

Learn more about Junking Theory through this exclusive oral history

Joe Williams had been the co-founder and drummer in another of the scene’s best bands, Oblongata.

Read a mini-interview with Oblongata

See photos of Joe Williams jamming with Oblongata at the Grog Shop

But I never expected these guys to put together a slamming Electroclash group, even if it was a one-off or a joke.

Ladies and gentlemen, meet The Foreign Exchange Students!

I knew Danny loved Calvin Johnson but that did not prepare me for his ultra sexy dancing and wild disco vocals. And Joe’s beats—revelatory! Especially from a young guy who I associated with Screamo. But Joe was already determined not to be pigeonholed. He later became underground pop sensation White Williams so maybe that started here?

Foreign Exchange Students’ dancer/percussionist Shawn Lovejoy was new to me. He blew my mind as I was a somewhat closeted fashionista (there was no surer way to get the smackdown from the Ohio bro squad than to say you loved faa-shun). But here he is—dancing in Moschino trunks—and I get that. It was like a slap in the face. Take that, bros. (And, wake up, Sean! Geez. I really needed to get out of town.)

This subtle-yet-boldly-ironic statement still makes me laugh.

[Speaking of irony, I moved to L.A. and booked art gallery concerts for over a decade. Among the regular attendees was Jeremy Scott, who later headed up Moschino. Full circle moment.]

The Foreign Exchange Students—did they ever play another show? I think not but I’d love to learn more. Hopefully someone recorded them?

Enjoy the photos.

The Foreign Exchange Students Shawn Lovejoy Danny Noonan Joe Williams Pat's in the Flats The Cassettes Cleveland 2002

The Foreign Exchange Students: Joe Williams, Shawn Lovejoy, Danny Noonan. At Pat’s in the Flats, Cleveland, Ohio circa summer 2002. All photos: Sean Carnage.

The Foreign Exchange Students Shawn Lovejoy Danny Noonan Joe Williams Pat's in the Flats The Cassettes Cleveland 2002

Joe, Danny, Shawn.

The Foreign Exchange Students Shawn Lovejoy Danny Noonan Joe Williams Pat's in the Flats The Cassettes Cleveland 2002

Joe Williams.

The Foreign Exchange Students Shawn Lovejoy Danny Noonan Joe Williams Pat's in the Flats The Cassettes Cleveland 2002

Moschino trunks—a radical statement for Cleveland, Ohio!

The Foreign Exchange Students Shawn Lovejoy Danny Noonan Joe Williams Pat's in the Flats The Cassettes Cleveland 2002

The Cassettes at Pat’s In The Flats’ backyard circa 2002. Meredith Shantz, Nora Hartlaub and not sure of the drummer’s name. Photos: Carnage.

The Foreign Exchange Students Shawn Lovejoy Danny Noonan Joe Williams Pat's in the Flats The Cassettes Cleveland 2002

Nora, Danny.

The Foreign Exchange Students Shawn Lovejoy Danny Noonan Joe Williams Pat's in the Flats The Cassettes Cleveland 2002

Shawn, Danny.

The Foreign Exchange Students Shawn Lovejoy Danny Noonan Joe Williams Pat's in the Flats The Cassettes Cleveland 2002

Meredith, Nora.

The Foreign Exchange Students Shawn Lovejoy Danny Noonan Joe Williams Pat's in the Flats The Cassettes Cleveland 2002

The Foreign Exchange Students Shawn Lovejoy Danny Noonan Joe Williams Pat's in the Flats The Cassettes Cleveland 2002

The Foreign Exchange Students Shawn Lovejoy Danny Noonan Joe Williams Pat's in the Flats The Cassettes Cleveland 2002

The Foreign Exchange Students Shawn Lovejoy Danny Noonan Joe Williams Pat's in the Flats The Cassettes Cleveland 2002

The Foreign Exchange Students Shawn Lovejoy Danny Noonan Joe Williams Pat's in the Flats The Cassettes Cleveland 2002

The Foreign Exchange Students Shawn Lovejoy Danny Noonan Joe Williams Pat's in the Flats The Cassettes Cleveland 2002

That was so much fun! Yay!!

See all my Pat’s In The Flats posts

Danny Noonan’s Junking Theory was one of the best bands of 1999—a real Noise Rock Nugget

Here’s everything I’ve written about Speak In Tongues

U.S. Rocker chronicled Cleveland bands, happenings & people—download issues for free

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