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Special Event Review: Half an Animal Album Release Party

    On Monday, April 10th, I attended local Cleveland band Half an Animal’s album release show for ‘How Can You Love What Is Perfect?’. The event took place at The Magalen, a space in one of Cleveland’s oldest neighborhoods, Slavic Village. The space was formerly Magalen Furniture, which closed in 2015 after 63 years of successful locally owned and operated business. Now called The Magalen, the space serves as an art gallery for local artists, and on this particular night, a music venue.

    When I arrived at the show, the venue was filled with members of local Cleveland bands and local artists of all mediums. As a former furniture store, the venue is a very large, open space now featuring a bar on one side and a staircase leading down to the middle of the room. Near the entrance this night’s creative performers placed a custom blanket fort, and beside the fort was a booth where local artist Kero Johannes sat, painting attendees’ faces with glitter and plastic gemstones. The theme of the show truly encouraged participants to embrace their inner child.

    The members of the band spent time roaming around the venue, greeting friends and guests. Marcia Custer a performance artists and Half an Animal vocalist, rocked a sparkling gold dress, Alec, the drummer, disguised himself as a ship captain, and Beth, the most down to earth member of the band, dressed as herself.

    The first artist supporting Half an Animal did not take the stage, but instead took the form of a larger-than-life cardboard jukebox. The jukebox, named NRML GRL, featured local musician Alyssa D'Amico behind the DIY machine. Users were prompted to insert cash into a slit in the box, then, through a pair of headphones, were requested personal information from the user, information used to create a personal song for them. NRML GRL was busy singing private, custom songs for attendees from doors until the first act, Salad, from Columbus, Ohio took the stage.

    Salad played a set consisting of experimental sounds filtered through a synthesizer, a drum machine, a microphone, and loop pedals. The set went through phases of soundscapes to groovy highlights that got the crowd dancing.

     The room was filled with anticipation as Half an Animal’s performance neared. The band took the stage, but front woman Marcia was nowhere to be seen. Alec and Beth checked their instruments and hit the first notes of their set. Marcia’s voice was heard off stage, using a wireless microphone. She then appeared with a spotlight at the top of the staircase. She changed into a bright pink prom dress, and adopted a childish, debutante-style persona during her performance.

    Marcia’s songs are carefully choreographed, leaving viewers feeling as if they are watching a teenager performing in front of her bedroom mirror. The dancing continues into the audience as Marcia twirls with audience members. Alec enters the crowd at one point to ask for help playing his floor tom. My favorite moment was when the audience waved goodbye to Marcia’s “alien boyfriend” as he returned to space in the song ‘Alien’. The band played the new album in its entirety and later returned for an encore with an earlier song.

    Half an Animal takes their performance beyond rock ‘n’ roll by including comedy and performance art into their shows. See them live by following them on social media and listen to ‘How Can You Love What Is Perfect?’ below.

Written by: Andrew Yadon