Saying goodbye to Cleveland: Coffinberry and Sean & Ian at The Invisible City


I should have posted these photos last month, as this show featuring CLE legends Coffinberry, and my band Sean & Ian, with Ian Colbert, happened on September 6, 2002.

Sean Carnage Coffinberry Cleveland

Poster: Sean Carnage.

I’ve been a little slow because it’s been an emotional thing for me, remembering and memorializing my final weeks in Cleveland, a place that still has my heart. [I’m posting these photos retrospectively twenty years later in 2022 -SC]

To be sure, this was the first of a series of “farewell parties” we had at the recording studio / loft space I shared with Mike Shumaker (from Primitive, Sheilbound, The Divine Invasion) in Cleveland’s “real” warehouse district near 40th and Perkins Ave, around the corner from CSU.  Mike was joining Hey Mercedes in Milwaukee.

Read all about Mike & Hey Mercedes

I was relocating to Los Angeles and already knew that I’d never be coming back to live in Ohio. It was sad because Cleveland was such an aspirational place for me when I was growing up in Erie, PA, my original home town.

But thirteen years later, with U.S. Rocker having long ago ceased publication, and Razak Solar System done—and there being an almost total dearth of media jobs for me in the Cleveland area—it was time to head out to the highway. Go west, young man. I most certainly did.

Follow the tale of my move to L.A.

Southern California had made a strong impression on me.

READ: 9 Shocks Terror’s SoCal tour with Tony Erba & Jim Konya changed my life

So we rounded up all our friends, bought a ton of booze, and had a send off. More gatherings followed, but this was the big one.

The Invisible City Cleveland Ohio 2002 Coffinberry Sean & Ian Sean Carnage Ian Colbert

Check out the bands that played, recorded or stayed at The Invisible City—classics! Photo: Sean Carnage.

The Invisible City deserves—and will get—its own series of posts someday soon. 150 recording sessions in six years is still kind of a big deal. I’m really proud of what Mike and I did there. See the roster on the wall above? We were not fooling around.

Surprisingly I don’t have a ton of memories from this particular night. This could be because I was playing music and that always tends to wipe all details from my brain, as I was mainly concerned with performing and sounding good.

We had gotten write-ups in the Free Times and The Plain Dealer (from John Petkovic, see further below):

Our Sean & Ian performance was highly awkward (to me) for two reasons. The first being that our friends—mainly punks and Noise Rockers—weren’t really into the lo-fi thing Sean & Ian were doing. Everyone loved us so they were there. But they were just kinda… Hmmm. Scratching heads and beards. It’s okay. Ian and I knew it wouldn’t be everyone’s cup of tea.

Sean & Ian was really astounding to folks at Speak In Tongues penultimate show, but removed from that friendly D.I.Y. venue where people worshipped Jandek and The Mountain Goats/John Darnielle, we never really connected with the Cleveland crowd.

The Invisible City Cleveland Ohio 2002 Coffinberry Sean & Ian Sean Carnage Ian Colbert

Sean & Ian unleash the Satanic synth pop. Photo: Sarah Wido.

Soon I’d be living in The Mountain Goats’ backyard and all would be right with the world.

The other reason this gig was super weird is that I invited my mom, who had never seen me play music, to the party—and (horror) she attended!

I have no photos of my mum at the show (I was jamming onstage—I think Sarah Wido probably shot Ian and I and perhaps developed these photos… thank you, Sarah), but it was my first time as an adult (age 30) performing with such a close family member just feet away, staring at me while I sang sweet, crypto-Satanic pop lyrics about anarchy in the streets.

My mom—and everyone else in attendance—would have to wait until 2020 to experience what the fuck Ian and I were singing about. Ha.

Coffinberry were such sweethearts, and a great headliner for a party. People danced and raged and I forgot to be sad for leaving for a little while.

F**k the Pit: Coffinberry, Brian Straw, Ted Flynn & more at Pat’s In The Flats

PS. I humbly think the poster for this show is the best one I ever created in Cleveland. Yes, it’s kind of penile. Sorry if that offends you.

Looking back I was so freaking frustrated, and I didn’t even know it. I’m, like, totally gay and need my partner to be the same. Cleveland was always kind of a bust for me in that regard.

READ: Noise Rock shows its Pride: Japanther, Early Humans & Black Eyes in DC, 2002

I look at this poster now and giggle ‘cuz obviously I was just burning with desire for liberation. I definitely found that in Los Angeles! I definitely took that too far in Los Angeles. But that’s a tale for future posts.

Less than two months from the date of this show I would be sitting in an iconic Beverly Hills high-rise as Larry Flynt’s personal assistant at Hustler, surrounded by sex. This gig flier was a bit of… foreshadowing. Anyhow, just a funny aside. No one, including me, knew where the subsequent weeks would take things.

Look at the crazy revenge I’ve taken on my late mentor Larry Flynt

Thanks again to all who came out this evening. I seriously love every single one of you. I’m still mourning saying goodbye.

Enjoy these never-published photos…

The Invisible City Cleveland Ohio 2002 Coffinberry Sean & Ian Sean Carnage Ian Colbert

“D.W. Neal” Filsinger is a WRUW mainstay, a classic U.S. Rocker writer & a friend to this day. Nice to see you, Neal. We would have a few adventures in our future after I moved to California—more in future posts! Photo: Sean Carnage.

The Invisible City Cleveland Ohio 2002 Coffinberry Sean & Ian Sean Carnage Ian Colbert

Sharkey & Sarah. I was really hoping Sharkey wouldn’t get naked until after my mom left (he didn’t—whew). Photo: Carnage.

The Invisible City Cleveland Ohio 2002 Coffinberry Sean & Ian Sean Carnage Ian Colbert

Katie, Demetri & Rob Resch in the background. I can’t remember the rest of these folks—do you? Contact me, please! Photo: Carnage.

The Invisible City Cleveland Ohio 2002 Coffinberry Sean & Ian Sean Carnage Ian Colbert

Jason Colbert (Ian’s bro) and Kevin Jaworski were in Cripple Kid, and Kevin was later in 9 Shocks Terror, Razak Solar System & more. Photo: Carnage.

The Invisible City Cleveland Ohio 2002 Coffinberry Sean & Ian Sean Carnage Ian Colbert

Sean & Ian do their thing. Photo: Sarah Wido.

The Invisible City Cleveland Ohio 2002 Coffinberry Sean & Ian Sean Carnage Ian Colbert

Look at the awesome crowd! Photo: Sarah Wido.

The Invisible City Cleveland Ohio 2002 Coffinberry Sean & Ian Sean Carnage Ian Colbert

Dave P. gives sound advice. Photo: Sarah Wido.

The Invisible City Cleveland Ohio 2002 Coffinberry Sean & Ian Sean Carnage Ian Colbert

I got my pentagram t-shirt on St. Mark’s Place when Ian and I mastered our record in New York City. Photo: Sarah Wido.

The Invisible City Cleveland Ohio 2002 Coffinberry Sean & Ian Sean Carnage Ian Colbert

It was always a pleasure to play music with Ian Colbert. Photo: Sarah Wido.

The Invisible City Cleveland Ohio 2002 Coffinberry Sean & Ian Sean Carnage Ian Colbert

The blue backdrop was acquired specifically for this show. “Blue skies” ahead—I was trying to keep things positive. Photo: Sarah Wido.

The Invisible City Cleveland Ohio 2002 Coffinberry Sean & Ian Sean Carnage Ian Colbert

Coffinberry was (L-R): Nick Cross, is that Stephe DK on drums?, Pat O’Connor, Tony Cross & Tony Janicek. Photo: Carnage.

The Invisible City Cleveland Ohio 2002 Coffinberry Sean & Ian Sean Carnage Ian Colbert

Coffinberry rocks the crowd. Photo: Carnage.

The Invisible City Cleveland Ohio 2002 Coffinberry Sean & Ian Sean Carnage Ian Colbert

“The Host of the North Coast” in the house—it’s Peanuts, from U.S. Rocker, Scene, etc., et al. Photo: Carnage.

Peanuts slipped me this really nice handmade, limited-edition postcard at the party. Peanuts knew I was obsessed with The Plain Dealer’s resident rock writer / Cleveland icon, Jane Scott. The card depicts an infamous real-life encounter where Jane joined L.A. icon Brian Wilson at the piano. Cleveland + Los Angeles—very thoughtful, Peanuts.

I love you, Peanuts. Thanks again, mister.

The Invisible City Cleveland Ohio 2002 Coffinberry Sean & Ian Sean Carnage Ian Colbert

We had already sold the furniture, so the floor was the only place to sit down! Photo: Carnage.

The Invisible City Cleveland Ohio 2002 Coffinberry Sean & Ian Sean Carnage Ian Colbert

Sound recordist & engineer Mike McDonald rented out The Invisible City during our last few months to record Doug Gillard’s solo album. Not sure who his friend is here. Photo: Carnage.

Sean Carnage Coffinberry Cleveland

More classic Cleveland from 2002:

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

Pointless Orchestra goes all the way out in Tremont

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

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

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

DC’s Black Eyes & rare Sheilbound quartet lineup at Mohawk Place, Buffalo 2002

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

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