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Kling Thing’s Distinctive D.I.Y


A five-minute drive from Downtown Akron a house on Kling Street. It manages to stand out amongst the busy university houses like an oasis for music lovers (if your idea of an oasis is a piece of shit house). The house became a home to music in 2007 when renter Jordan Welker and his friends began hosting D.I.Y. shows in the basement. It’s a Kling Thing has made its name as one of the longest-standing punk venues in the Midwest.

                                                        photo by loch lemke; edited by chris capuozzo invasive species drummer amber worrell

We caught a show on a random Saturday that seemed to encapsulate the D.I.Y. punk scene of Akron. All three artists on the setlist had members that were trans or part of the queer community or both. Elyria’s,  Scorpio Death Club opened the night with a quick but hard set. 

Invasive Species traveled from Columbus for an elbow-throwing, beer-spilling, kickass time. Their set lasted a little less than 10 minutes but left the pit out of breath. This is their first show outside of central Ohio and the basement was packed.

Vocalist Izzy Davis said the band’s first experience at Kling was excellent and the band is honored to be a part of the venue’s history. “The community gave us such a warm welcome and made it a night to remember,” Davis said. “The space is extremely intimate and allowed for a lot of crowd interaction.” 

Kling has made its mark as an all-inclusive, no-nonsense safe space for all. In between sets, patrons can wander the home’s first floor or get some air outside. The living room houses the merch table as well as entertainment between sets (an old arcade game). When you walk in, the front table is loaded with pamphlets about community resources such as mental health.

photo by: loch lemke; edited by: chris capuozzo invasive species bassist anna

To end the night the trans-hardcore band SOWN made their debut performance. They pushed through technical difficulties and delivered a uniquely queer hardcore set. They paid homage to the famous queer band g.l.o.s.s. with a cover of “outcast stomp.” 

Kitty O’neal is an active member of the Akron D.I.Y. scene and plays guitar in SOWN. She plays in a handful of other bands, including bass in the shoegaze gaze band Funeral Comercial. This is her first band that advertises themselves as transgender hardcore. “A lot of our lyrics have themes of trans liberation, things like that, and again, being oneself and conquering adversity through,” O’Neal said. 

photo by: loch lemke; edited by: Chris capuozzo SOWN  bassist, kitty o’neal

The members of SOWN hope to provide a sense of community and representation in the queer and music scene. Vocalist Zach Clifford says the lineup of the show couldn’t have been better, “It was really cool to have a bill that was stacked to be fully queer and see all the queer kids in the crowd.”

Gerald “JJ” Smith fell into the role of Kling Thing tenet and venue operator in 2017 when he moved in shortly before the 10-year anniversary of the venue. JJ recalls his first magical moment at Kling, “The first show I actually watched [after moving in] was the 10-year anniversary show. There was a band I was listening to since high school and they’re playing in my back patio with my cats watching from the window,” JJ said. “I just sat there a thought ‘Man life is really weird; life is really cool.”

After JJ and the other tenants signed the lease in August, the landlord

 put the house on the market. The venue is mostly non-profit and the tenants use the income from their day jobs to pay the rent. 

In an effort to raise money for the house, the tenants set up a GoFundMe that was widely circulated around social media. So far they have raised a little over $18,000. JJ says the support from the community is overwhelming and the venue has even gotten support from major bands that have passed through like Mom Jeans and Ratboys. JJ and the other current Kling tenants are working with past tenants to put a down payment on the home and eventually work out a partial ownership of the house and the landlord has since taken the house off the market. “The response to that was insane,” JJ said, “Absolutely overwhelming.”

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Lochlan Lemke
Lochlan Lemke, Producer
Lochlan is the current producer of Kentcore. He also writes for the site and goes above and beyond for his team. When he's not working, you'll find him making soup, playing with his cats, or watching Bob's Burgers.
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Charley Fox, Writer
Charley is a host for kentcore. Charley is going to be famous, no doubt about it. She speaks her truth 24/7, creating a relatable yet safe space for her connections.
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    Zach ButcherOct 20, 2023 at 11:56 am

    Really cool, but Scorpio Death Club are from Elyria. They are not a Kling house band.