As I awoke for my comfy bunk around 11 in the morning, I made my way to the front of the bus as the Ninjas continued to rest. I looked out of the window to see the Agora Theater’s parking lot and a grey sky, a somber view of a city known more for its flaws. As they said in Spinal Tap: “Hello Cleveland!” Kin was next to wake up, so the two of us exited the bus/entered Cleveland’s icy coldness for coffee. When we asked one of the venue’s security guards outside what food options were nearby, she laughed and jokingly implied how the 10 min walk to McDonalds was unsafe in these parts (though we had a better chance of safety in day light… oh Cleveland). With that, we decided to go with gas station coffee that had more sugar than caffeine in it (a little later, Damon and I decided to rough out the strong winds and journey to McDonalds, only to regret it on the way back). Even more surprising than the lack of local food options, though, was the line of fans already outside the venue (in this frigid cold, let alone that early in the day). It’s a testament to how Cleveland (and the Midwest for that matter) is filled with music lovers who don’t get the fortune of too many tours coming through, so when they do they are truly appreciative.
After a slight delay, TFN finally hit the venue’s side stage, once again attracting a large group of early attendees. By the third song, anyone who were caught off guard by Twelve Foot Ninja’s turn of a dime style was bobbing along to the music. “That was so fucking tight!,” one fan screamed upon the first breakdown in “Shuriken,” while another one simply shouted “thank you” to the band for making the trip. Taking a cue from hearing every metalcore singer demand a circle pit during the prior day’s Wisconsin Metalfest, Kin jokingly instructed the crowd to form a circle pit during one of the band’s more off-beat songs from the Smoke Bomb EP. Without a second wasted, though, fans indulged Kin’s request and partook in moshing activities. In a day that likely saw numerous circle pits, this was hands down the most fun to watch of the day.
Upon leaving the stage (and in between long-needed shower breaks at the venue), the band received a surprise visit from four fans, half of whom traveled all the way from Michigan with the intention of only seeing them. These fans brought Twelve Foot Ninja the ultimate care package, including packaged food, snacks, socks, tea, cold remedies and even hand sanitizer. They simply wanted to help a band out that they truly believed in. Seeing this brought back to mind another surprise reaction Kin mentioned to me the day before. Having heard stories of how unruly American fans can be towards opening acts, the band was shocked to see the extent fans would go through just to see them specifically. One particular couple apparently saved up and traveled over 6 hours just to see Twelve Foot Ninja. Such an enormous reaction was the reassurance Twelve Foot Ninja needed that they were doing something right.
As the day went on in Cleveland, I caught a few more sets with the band, relaxed some more on the bus, and even watched some of Space Jam before catching the end of Dead Letter Circus’ set. Even though the band didn’t get to play the Agora’s main stage that day, their presence was known as Twelve Foot Ninja received massive cheers from the crowd upon Spencer Sotelo of Periphery’s shout out to his tour mates during their set. After seeing Sevendust for the second time in a row, I said my goodbyes and made my exit from the bus to head back home.