For fans of Cleveland’s music scene, the name of the newest single released by British punk band IDLES looks pretty familiar. On Sept. 28, IDLES put out “The Beachland Ballroom,” which is named for the popular music venue on the East Side. The song is steady and soulful, guided by the raw, emotional lyricism of vocalist Joe Talbot.
IDLES guitar player and songwriter Mark Bowen says the lead single gives listeners the perfect taste of what’s to come in CRAWLER, their studio album releasing Nov. 12.
The four-minute single offers a strong metaphor for the journey the band undertook to make it to this point in their career — a journey from the tavern to the ballroom.
When it comes to the actual Beachland Ballroom & Tavern, it’s hard to imagine a Cleveland music-lover who hasn’t heard of the spot. The venue comprises two separate stages: one in front connected to the bar known as the tavern and a larger stage in the back called the ballroom — a set up that allows for bands of all sizes and notoriety.
“When we played the Beachland Tavern, there were maybe 50 people at it — probably less,” says Bowen. “And when we were there, we looked in at the ballroom next to it and there was a guy polishing the floors, so we weren’t allowed to step in, and it felt like there was this gap. Someone said, ‘One day you guys will probably play in there.’ ”
Less than a year after that performance at the Tavern, IDLES came back and played in the Ballroom, a journey that’s encapsulated in the new single’s title and message of growth.
This isn’t the first time Beachland provided a haven for a rising international act. In the 21 years since opening, bands such as The Black Keys and The White Stripes riffed their way in and out of the ballroom amid the early parts of their careers. In fact, this isn’t even the first time a band has named a song after the titular venue. British musician Glenn Tilbrook named one of his own songs “Beachland Ballroom” in 2009.
Being a stepping stone for acts on their way to stardom is part of Beachland’s mission, as bands growing out of the tavern into the ballroom is a tangible example of musical success.
“For him, for Joe, I feel like The Beachland was a catalyst for him to feel like he could do this job and be a successful musician,” says Beachland Ballroom and Tavern owner Cindy Barber. “That makes me proud because we’re always trying to help bands get from one level to another. This is a really nice modern-day statement that we’re still doing that.”
IDLES returned to the U.S. for tour on Oct. 7, their first live performances outside of the U.K. since the pandemic started. While there isn’t a Beachland date for the current tour, that doesn’t mean an appearance at the venue isn’t in store for the future.
“I mean, it’s got to be on the cards,” says Bowen. “You can’t have a song that’s named after a venue and not play that venue again.”