The Crofoot Ballroom
Wednesday February 18, 2015
Story and Photos by: Music Director Anthony Spak
A little glitter and glam can go a long way.
Ariel Pink and Jack Name performed at The Crofoot Ballroom in downtown Pontiac, MI Wednesday February 18th on one of the coldest nights of the year.
Jack Name took the stage at exactly 9 p.m. and started off the evening by performing a short set of gothic electro-pop. Name and his band played songs from his new album Weird Moons,released on Castle Face Records, a label run by John Dwyer of Thee Oh Sees.
Name’s set had a few moments of brilliance. “Under the Weird Moons” was the best example of Name’s snarling guitar playing meshing with the pounding electronic drums of his other two band members. At its finest, Name’s set sounded like the soundtrack to a really cool and creepy 80’s arcade game.
However, most of the opener’s set was plagued by indiscernible vocals buried in the mix of the synthesizer, drum machines and guitar. It didn’t help that the band seemed to coast at one steady level of volume and momentum, presenting a performance that lacked much dynamic variation.
Somewhere towards the end of the droning, Name took his guitar off, faced the crowd and bid them an abrupt farewell. “Thank you. Have a good night. Buh-bye.”
After Name’s set, the ballroom began to fill. Wild outfits began to appear in the crowd: a bright paisley shirt here, a man dressed in 1980’s woman’s clothes there. The majority of the crowd appeared to have just raided the local Goodwill and sported their haul to the concert.
In a sea of odd outfits, Ariel Pink’s was the oddest. Around 10 p.m. the male singer took the stage wearing spiked purple pumps, sequined short-shorts and a dark women’s t-shirt embroidered with a gold sequined leopard design.
“We’re in Seattle, right?” Pink said into the microphone to no one in particular, then launched into a cover of “Man in the Box” by Alice in Chains. The crowd embraced the oddball cover with giggles, applause and additions to their Snapchat stories.
Pink’s performance was Bowie-esque; dolled up in glitter and glam, the singer belted out an hour’s worth of varied material, most of it off of pom pom, his newest album released in November of 2014 on 4AD. Pink and his five band mates covered everything from the doom metal sludge of “Four Shadows” to the creepy, gothic synth pop of songs like “Lipstick” and “Not Enough Violence” to a slow, sexy funk number featuring a wailing saxophone solo to moments of soft and sweet pure pop melodies on “Put Your Number in My Phone” and “Dayzed inn Daydreams.”
On his album pom pom, some of the songs listed above sound weak. Most of Pink’s studio work features a lo-fi recording style that can give his songs the retro feel of the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s pop music that he draws influence from. Often times it ends up in recordings that sound thin and underdeveloped.
Live, loud, pounding drums from Don Bolles, formerly of The Germs, helped to bring the songs to life, sounding much fuller than their studio counterparts. Pink and Bolles even shared a bit of a drum duet on “Not Enough Violence” when Pink hopped up onto Bolles drum riser, picked up a spare drumstick and began to pound out polyrhythms on Bolles mounted high tom.
With the weight and volume of a full band behind him, Pink stuck to vocal duties with some guitar and tambourine work sprinkled in. Onstage, Pink was a diva in the truest sense of the word: sassy and temperamental. The singer strutted all over the stage as if it was his own Goth catwalk.
“It’s too hot in here!” Pink sneered into the microphone at one point, taking off his sequined leopard top and dropping it to the floor. On one of the coldest nights of the year, it was odd to see anyone taking off anything, but the crowd met the shirt’s removal with cheers.
Pink didn’t spare the audience in his sass, calling the crowd “losers” and “awkward.” His remarks must not have been too heartfelt, as Pink later leaned down into the crowd to sign a few copies of his albums on vinyl for two pleading fan girls at the front of the stage.
“I’m tired. Chicago wore me out. Here’s one more,” Pink told the crowd, hunched over his microphone, drained from an hour of singing and sauntering. “Black Ballerina,” the funky dance banger, woke the crowd up and led to swaying arms in the air again. An extended version of “Picture Me Gone” followed with soaring three part vocal harmonies.
Despite all of the makeup and gimmicks, the man could sing.
“Drive safe wherever you’re going. Thanks for tripping out with us,” Pink said, then left the stage.
But the crowd didn’t let Pink get off that easy. A “one-more, one-more” chant soon started up, and Pink took the stage once again. His encore was funny, but underwhelming. Pink played “Plastic Raincoats in the Pig Parade” and “Jell-o”, the two goofiest songs on pom pom. The night ended with its first mosh pit during the last minute of “Jell-o”, breaking up only when the music faded down and the diva descended from the stage one final time.
Gregory Alan Isakov
Ann Arbor, MI
January 18, 2015
Story and Photos by: Lelia Cotton (@RhymesWTequila)
On Sunday night, Gregory Alan Isakov, performed for a sold out show at The Ark in Ann Arbor. The Ark is a small venue based on acoustic and folk performances. Seating is a mix between a half fish bowl and lecture style of stacked rows with a maximum of 400 people. The room was very dimly lit and the only thing on stage with the equipment was a globe that glowed bright orange. Though, this is a norm for The Ark’s decor, it felt metaphoric because the artists in the lineup are both those who’s life has been a journey around the world.
The Ark is a non-profit organization dedicated to enhancing the human spirit with the conservation of the roots of folk music and the arts. From a campus ministry coffee house to an acclaimed ethnic club, The Ark is a staple for artists coming to Ann Arbor.
Nathaniel Rateliff was the only opening act for the night, and he was just enough to get the crowd started. In comparison to Isakov’s shy manner, Rateliff was the perfect amount of extrovert to set the mood. While opening, he made a comical and obviously sarcastic remark of how his set would be filled with tons of tunes that we would all know and be able to sing-a-long to. Although Rateliff normally plays along with his Soul and R&B band, “Nate Rateliff and the Night Sweats”, he was solo on stage this particular evening.
Although there’s a “small-time” feel with Rateliff, he is known in Denver, Colorado’s music scene pretty well and has played with big names like Iron & Wine, Bon Iver, and Mumford & Sons. It makes you question whether or not he wants anything bigger.
Ratliff looks and feels comfortable sitting up on stage alone. Hearing his voice for the first time was captivating. His melodies are strong but velvety, and his dominant lyrics make everything he says feel relative. Everything about Rateliff pours out his passion for what he does and it’s inspiring. After each song the crowd continued to renew Rateliff and his saucy banter.
After a brief intermission, the sold out crowd took their seats to welcome Isakov. Isakov and his four-man band took the stage. After playing the first in his set, he introduced his band, which were all his best friends from home. He said that he knew it was really early in the set for introductions but he was just excited to have his best friends up on stage with him. Then followed up with a joke under his breath of, “now that that is over..”
Isakov is very wholesome and is a strong believer in his morals. He has a farm in Colorado; him and his engineer, Jaime, herd sheep together. He spoke of how he had a great day of fatherhood today because one of his sheep back home had a little lamb and they still had to come up with a name for it. At all of his shows, he requests that we only take photos during the first three songs, and then put our phones away for the rest of the set.
Isakov uses a “Green Bullet” microphone with gives an enticing lo-fi megaphone sound for his vocals. Before playing “The Universe” from the 2013 album “The Weathermen” he requested the staff turn off all of the lights. In the blackness he sang to us, “she’s beautiful, beautiful, beautiful, beautiful, beautiful.” This album was recorded in a cabin in Colorado and recorded on old tape machines, analog gear, and old microphones. He says this album came together very easily, though he and Jaime “took their time on it.”
At one point, Isakov and the crew then came off of the main stage area and got right in front of the first row of listeners; surrounding themselves as closely together to one microphone as possible. They pulled out a banjo and began playing “The Stable Song” from the 2007 album “The Sea, The Gambler.”
After leaving the stage with a standing ovation, the crowd waited just about three minutes before welcoming both Isakov and Rateliff on stage for an encore. As the more gregarious of the two, Rateliff did all of the talking and opening of the encore. Afterward, Isakov humbly waved to the crowed and walked off nonchalantly.
The Ark was the perfect ambiance for the show, but Gregory Alan Isakov could have played out in the wintry streets and the crowd still would have been lured.
The Loving Touch
November 29, 2014
Story and Photos by: Amber Lemons
Let me set the scene for you. You’re at a small bar that doubles as a concert venue. The place is packed with hipster men and women, and everyone seems to be having a good time. As soon as the first opener band strums a guitar chord, everyone cheers. Sounds like a great time, eh?
With my WXOU press pass and camera in hand, I spent my Saturday night chillin’ at The Loving Touch seeing Frontier Ruckus. Boy, was I glad I had the opportunity to attend this show!
The Kickstand Band was the first opener and they presented a chill vibe. Most of their songs mentioned summer in them, and it made me wish it were! I can picture myself hanging out on the beach listening to them. The crowd seemed to agree with me because there was some head bobbing to the beat going on.
Mexican Knives took the stage next. The first thing I noticed was how laid back they all seemed to be. Most of them were drinking a beer when they began to play. This band is great if you are looking for grungy rock n’ roll. The lead singer, Ruth, had some vocals I was not expecting AT ALL. As soon as she opened her mouth I thought, “dang girl, get it!” Her voice is was powerful and I loved it. Mexican Knives had a bit awkward stage presence. Ruth would end up facing the opposite way than the crowd, which I found a bit odd. The crowd didn’t seem to care much though; they still hooted and hollered to show their appreciation.
Last but not least was the main act, Frontier Ruckus. You could tell the crowed was very excited for them to perform because almost every single person there fought their way onto the floor so they could be as close as humanly possible to the stage. I thought they had a great set list; a few of their older songs and some from their new 4th album, Sitcom Afterlife. We have this album at the station in our music library and I highly recommend you listen to it if you are into folk rock at all. I would describe their genre as garage band meets folk.
The band put on a great show, especially with the banjo and trumpet solos that the crowd loved. They were also very interactive with the crowd. It’s so much more fun when the band will actually talk to you rather than just perform and get off the stage.
At one point in the night, the lead singer, Matthew Milia, commented on how warm it was in the venue due to how many people were there. “This is the best kinda warmth, human generated warmth. Y’all should come live in my apartment with me all winter long.” Although I’m sure some of the fans would love to live with him all winter long, it might get a little crowded.
Overall, this was a great show with some great bands. I look forward to seeing all three of these bands again.
Death From Above 1979
The Crofoot Ballroom
Story By: William Georges
Show Date: 11/26/14
After ten years of anonymity, a band whose whereabouts have been shrouded in jet black helmet hair since their savage 2004 release I’m A Man, You’re A Woman, Death From Above have not lost a beat. Immediately, the duo spared words and let the thick electric-bass guitar wobble our ear-drums. As the first bass riff struck it’s note, The Crofoot’s crowd rushed the stage in assaulting mosh-pit fashion. Grainger and Keeler opened up with the bread and butter tune, “Cold War,” only to break out the keyboard on “The Physical World”.
Throughout the performance, the big, light-up elephant display burst with juicy hues that synced with the time signature of bass picks and snare hits. As DFA ripped through their performance –newest to oldest songs, they would occasionally desert the crowd between tracks, leaving only a robotic voice emulator to spit random phrases. “Don’t do drugs”, “Put your seatbelt on”, “Do drugs”, “Go to work”, looped the voice as a hundred sweaty, mosh-pitters vocal cords bled, “DFA! DFA! DFA!” The duo reappeared shrouded in their black schema, and immediately Keeler’s sporadic bass notes transformed into the intro of “Little Girl,” followed up by “Black History Month.”
After one last disappearance from Keeler and Grainger, stoking the “DFA!” rages from the crowd, the strings warped and squealed for the last time that night with the song “Gemini.” As the Crofoot’s intimate lights purged the dark stage, the mysterious group vanished just as quickly as they left in 2006.
The Crofoot Ballroom
Story by: Rachel Williams
Show Date: 11/15/14
Escorted by WXOU’s own Jon “Yondie” Kassab (Follow him @JohnnyKassab), I had the pleasure of attending a Circa Survive concert at the Crofoot Ballroom on November 15. Opening acts were Tera Melos and Title Fight. As a die-hard old school music lover, I was definitely weary of this band with a following of people sporting various half-shaved heads, gauges, and tattoo sleeves. Though I was surprised with a great concert filled with extremely talented musicians.
Tera Melos came onto the stage at 7:30 pm. The band (consisting of three gentlemen) started with a quirky joke about PB&J and Red Bull. Once they began to play, I was put at ease as the guitarist literally shredded on his instrument. Throughout their entire set consisting of electronic beats mixed with loud vocals and energetic guitar riffs, I kept my eyes on the guitarist, whose hands flew, then moving to the keyboard/synth player who kept steady beat with pre-recorded ethereal sounds. Tera Melos left the stage welcoming Title Fight who epitomized every angsty, pop-punk band that has existed.
The Kingston, Pennsylvania natives played songs consisting of screams and angry, loud vocals. Vocalist and bassist, Ned Russin, was jumping around the stage throughout their 30-minute set creating a crazy energy for the crowd which began to mosh and throw people on top of one another. Guitarist Shane Moran stood off to the side “vibe-ing” (as onlooker TJ Carswell remarked), swaying back and forth in stark contrast to his bandmate Ned’s frenetic movements. The rest of the members had a strong energy as well and executed each song as angsty as was expected, while being clever within their genre (check out the giant cat in the picture below, which served as their emblem for the night). The crowd especially went wild when they played one of their more familiar songs “Symmetry”. They featured songs from their recent EP’s Spring Songs and album, Floral Green.
Finally, Circa Survive entered the ballroom and with them, an amazing light show display and technicolor backgrounds. It was completely psychedelic setting mixed with hard rock. The band parted ways from Atlantic Records in 2010 to become independent and ending up signing with Sumerian Records. Their latest album with Sumerian will be released on November 14. The band’s song “Schema” has touches of Brian Johnson mixed with Kellin Quinn-like vocals from lead Anthony Green. This, coupled with the emotional lyrics and visceral energy created a crazy live performance from the Philly natives. Up next for the group is the rest of their North American tour, then promoting their next album Descensus.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.
The Crofoot Ballroom, Night One
Story and photos by: Music Director Anthony Spak
Nascar fans were sorely disappointed when hometown heroes Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. made a triumphant return to Michigan Saturday night.
After playing 22 dates across the country over the last month and a half, the Detroit-based duo had two more shows left on their tour. Both shows were scheduled at The Crofoot Ballroom in Pontiac.
WXOU was in attendance Saturday night for the first of the two homecoming shows.
Local acts Flint Eastwood and Friendship Park opened up the show. Each band brought a different element to the table. Friendship Park was goofy yet melodic, while Flint Eastwood was more of a traditional rock band.
The choice of openers was interesting because Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. combines both of their respective elements along with dance and pop tricks to create a much more varied sound.
“I thought it was great. Three really good bands in a row which is different than most shows I have gone to,” said attendee Ian Ruhala.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. took the stage around ten p.m. They played through a blend of new songs, including their new single, “James Dean.”
“This one turned out to be our most popular song even though we didn’t mean for it to be,” co-founder Daniel Zott told the energetic crowd.
The band also touched on better-known songs like “If You Didn’t See Me On The Dancefloor”, “Run”, and their Michigan anthem, “We Almost Lost Detroit.” Judging from the amount of hands waiving in the air, this song was the fan favorite of the night.
The show ended with multiple encores – one of which included Zott and his former band The Great Fiction taking the stage to play one of their old songs.
After another exit offstage, the band came back onstage wearing different Nascar jackets – a poke at their band name and perhaps the misconceptions that it brings.
During the final encore, there was also a failed stage dive by Zott in which he jumped into the pit area in front of the stage to crowd surf. No one caught the airborne singer and he fell to the wooden ballroom floor…hard. The impact could be heard from ten feet away over the sound of the music onstage.
Zott recovered quickly, jumped back onstage and the group finished their set to a cheering crowd.
Wiz Khalifa’s Under The Influence Tour
DTE Music Theater
August 10, 2014
Story by: @DJ_Kobe
Photos by: Donnarice Photography
Needless to say music wasn’t the only influential ingredient in this display of young talent. From the beginning moments the crowd was informed that Detroit (technically Clarkston) would be the “Best stop on the tour” the night would live up to just that.
Newcomer Mack Wilds opened the show with his high-energy R&B set. The Staten Island native shows his hometown spirit by not only wearing a custom “Wilds” Yankees jersey but also with his hip hop samples including, but not limited to, Mobb Deep’s Burn and Jay-Z’s Dynasty Intro. With Mack Wilds being mostly known for his acting, it was refreshing to see his constant control of the crowd early in the night.
Up next was Rich Homie Quan kicked off his time with club anthem Walk Thru. Over the next half hour Rich Homie would deliver hits like Lifestyle and Get Out My Face. The highlight of this performance was hit single Type of Way. This performance set the tone for the rest of the event.
The west coast spell of the show would be led by Los Angeles crooner Ty Dolla $ign and cosigned by Bay Area artists Sage The Gemini and IAMSU. The first representative of Taylor Gang wouldn’t disappoint fans that sang nearly every song word-for-word including radio favorite Paranoid. I was least familiar with this lot of music but highly impressed, especially by Ty’s electric guitar solo.
IAMSU and Sage The Gemini are clearly the party portion of the tour, keeping the entire venue dancing there whole set. By the midway point of this performance I had to reposition myself amongst a smoke filled red-eyed crowd for a better view (yes I’m a seat switcher). If you dance in the club, there is a good chance you move to one of their songs.
Young Jeezy may be loved as much in Detroit as he in hometown Atlanta. Jeezy spelled out in life size lettering set the stage for an amazing showcase of trap religion. Jeezy took the stage in his everyday all black uniform, Slightly adjusted with a custom “Snow” Detroit vs. Everybody tee. Accompanied by a live band, the Snowman came out of the gate with classics like Go Crazy and Trap Star. For the next hour the crowd was hypnotized by flashing lights and thug quotes of inspiration.
The crowd didn’t miss one beat. The bar was raised once again as Big Sean appears through the fog to perform his verse on Show Out, definitely a great prequel to the night’s main event Wiz Khalifa.
The Main Event – Khalifa takes the smooth approach to get the vibes right, flaunting favorites Roll Up and Memorized. That wouldn’t last long though; the Iamsu cameo would be the turning point, welcoming the entire Taylor Gang to the stage to perform the crew title track. Somewhere in the mix-up Trap Wiz appeared, in a cut off tee shirt and shades to deliver Like Jimi, Foreign, and of course Black and Yellow. Wiz puts on an outstanding performance, I just wish he did more of his earlier work.
The entire concert ran smoothly without any major hold ups between acts. The night’s DJ/host DJ Drama did an amazing job keeping the party going and the crowd amped.
Below is an album of pictures we captured while we were at the show.
Disclosure, Schoolboy Q, Ryan Hemsworth, Tom Trago,Kevin Saunderson, & Erno The Inferno
Sterling Heights, MI
August 2, 2014
Story by: @JohnnyKassab
Due to my week-long vacation, it took me longer than desired to get to this review, but it was a hell of a way to leave the country. The day before I left for Cancun, Mexico for a week of relaxation, I spent my night vibing out to electronic mixes by the producers at Wild Life as well as hearing some hits from T.D.E.’s Schoolboy Q.
The fact that the weather was calm and the temperature was great only added to the outstanding atmosphere created by the legendary local producers that opened up the night. During their performances, art that was the same style as the above picture brushed across the large LED screens that were on the stage. It was very cool to be at a show that Erno the Inferno was part of; I interviewed Passalacqua here at WXOU, a hip-hop duo that Erno the Inferno worked with for their project Zebehazy Summer. The second local face at the show on Saturday was Kevin Saunderson, making a very big wave in the Detroit electronic scene. After his performance I saw at Freedom hill, I can’t wait to see what else he brings to the table at his future shows; I can see a lot of progress and growth out of an artist with that much potential.
Next up on the bill were Tom Trago and Ryan Hemsworth, both with fairly lengthy sets. They got the crowd ready for the feature act Disclosure as well as pumping everyone up for the man of the year, Schoolboy Q. I didn’t know this until he announced it on stage, but Schoolboy Q’s Studio is a nation-wide #1 hit. When I really thought about it, it made sense. I have been hearing it on the radio everywhere, and he’s definitely gotten more recognition since he dropped that new album. His video to Man of the Year got people talking, I’m sure.
With a bill this diverse, I.E.; 1 rapper and 5 producers, you can pretty easily tell who is there to see whom. It turned into a fun game I like to play, called “are they going to stay for the headliner?”. Surprisingly enough, no one really left between Schoolboy’s set and the headliner’s set. Disclosure wrapped up the night with a rowdy set and tons of smoke to fully blanket the Freedom Hill audience. Overall, this show exceeded my expectations and kept me thoroughly entertained throughout.
Panic! At the Disco
With Special Guest Walk The Moon and Magic Man
Meadowbrook Music Festival
Auburn Hills, MI
July 27, 2014
Story by: @JohnnyKassab
Well, this concert was one that I’ve been waiting for since I was a middle schooler. Full disclosure, my first CD that I bought with my own money was A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out. It took hours of convincing for my mom to let me buy that album, but it was the first album I could say was truly mine; in this digital age, its one of the few albums I still have on hard copy. That being said, saying I was excited to cover this concert is an understatement.
The rain during the first portion of the concert did put a slight damper on the overall feel of the show, but at least I now have an umbrella in my car. I sadly missed Magic Man’s performance due to the heavy rain and terrible Meadowbrook traffic. Walk The Moon warmed up the crowd with their signature single Anna Sun. I particularly liked the transition song they used between Walk the Moon and Panic! at The Disco, it was the same song used in the intro to the hit TV show Portlandia. A few memorable songs from Panic! at The Disco’s set were The Only Difference Between Martyrdom and Suiciude is Press Coverage, Miss Jackson, and 9 in the Afternoon. One very cool part of the show was the screen behind the band during their performance. The screen they were in front of was displaying ever-changing effects that worked with the rhythm of each song and added to the atmosphere of the show. Their stage show was very well done and choreographed; smoke machines, multiple graphic screens, and fluorescent lights all were present on stage. The coolest moment of the show was the backflip on stage during the song Ms. Jackson. No one saw that coming. Everyone had their phones lit up during the show, creating a field of white light to show the fan base that was there. they didn’t just stick to P!ATD songs, they did a few iconic covers during their show; among these covers was the iconic song Bohemian Rhapsody. I’d like to thank to movie Wayne’s World for helping me learn the words to that song.
To conclude, this concert was everything I expected from a Panic! At The Disco show and then some! I definitely recommend seeing them any chance you get.
Goo Goo Dolls and Daughtry
DTE Music Theatre
July 7, 2014
Story and Photos by: @Timothy_Pontzer
On the first Wednesday of July, the DTE Music Theater was graced by the summer tour combination of the Plain White T’s, Daughtry, and the Goo Goo Dolls.
Billed as a ‘special guest,’, the Plain White T’s opened the evening with a seven song set. The pop punk band from Villa Park, Illinois delivered a mix of new material and chart topping favorites. They opened with the title track from their latest album (released in February of this year), entitled “American Nights.” After that, three songs from the “Should’ve Gone to Bed” EP were featured as well as platinum hits, “Hey There Delilah” and “Rhythm of Love” to close out the set.
After a short intermission, co-headliner Daughtry took the stage. Over eight years removed from his splash into the mainstream on American Idol, lead singer and band namesake Chris Daughtry addressed the crowd with high enthusiasm.
“This is one of my favorite cities to play,” Daughtry said. “You guys always come out ready to throw down. I know y’all will come out strong again tonight.”
The rock band opened with “Baptized,” the title track from their latest album. Classic tracks such as “Over You” and “What About Now” brought the near-capacity audience to its feet. Daughtry claimed to add his smash hit “It’s Not Over” to the set right then and there on stage in order to “see all the ladies out there dance” to one of his most famous songs.
Daughtry called “Wild Heart” his favorite on his new record, and before playing the ballad he dedicated it to his wife. “Battleships” followed that, and the frontman revealed to the crowd that his band had just finished the music video for the track, and he hoped that every single one of his fans in attendance would call up the radio stations and tell them to play it more.
The popular tune “Home” was dedicated to the armed forces who Daughtry praised as “sacrificing so much more than we ever do up here on stage. We are forever grateful.” An encore performance of “Waiting for Superman” and “Long Live Rock and Roll” closed out the band’s night.
While the temperature never topped 80, the decibel level surely did as the Goo Goo Dolls opened with anthems “Lazy Eye” and “Naked” in rapid succession. Following the two songs, bassist Robby Takac recalled old times in the Motor City and remarked on how far his act had come.
“I remember a few sweaty nights over at Saint Andrews Hall,” Takac said. “They wouldn’t let us play in a place like this back then, but look at us now.”
The throng of supporters roared their approval. Inside the pavilion, the near capacity crowd stood and danced for the whole show. Above, on the Verizon Lawn, a significantly younger crowd as compared to their pavilion counterparts stayed on their feet as well, singing along to hits such as “Slide” and “Name.” A bare patch of grass could not be found on the huge hill.
Lead singer Johnny Rzeznik called “Come to Me” a “straight love song that everyone should enjoy, and there is no shame in admitting that.”
“Black Balloon” followed that, with dozens of actual black balloons being released into the crowd. Later in the set, Rzeznik prefaced the radio favorite “Better Days” as being the song of the night, saying it belonged to everyone.
As the sun went down, a sea of glow necklaces and smartphone flashbulbs came alive, bobbing and weaving to “Let Love In” and the mega-hit “Iris.” After the crowd clamored and begged for an encore, the band returned to play “Sympathy” and “Broadway” before calling it a night.
Steve-O’s Live Comedy Tour
June 1, 2014
Story by: @JohnnyKassab
Steve-O was recently on the air with us for an interview that played during The Edge Show on Memorial Day. Incase you missed the interview check it out here. He joined us on the air because he recently went on a comedy tour of his own that passed through Michigan titled Stand-Up From a Jackass as the marque stated.
The night started out hot since we waited outside for about an hour longer than we thought it would take. There was confusion with the show times, as the two shows (7pm &10pm) were combined to make it one show that started after 9. Based on the seats we got for waiting in line that early, it was well worth the wait.
The opener to Steve-O started off slightly rocky, but his Jimmy Johns jokes really got me laughing, and he showed a lot of personality in his set. I think a major aspect of a good comedy set is the ability to show the audience aspects of yourself through your music. It helps people relate to your comedy, thus making it more comfortable to laugh at. His set was around 30 minutes and overall I think he did a good job pumping up the crowd and getting them ready for a packed house of Steve-O fans.
Steve-O straight killed it, which was surprising for how long his set was. Steve-O went all the way until roughly 11, probably a little after 11 to be honest. Steve-O’s jokes were on-point all night. He had a large variety of jokes, while also keeping his jokes to a certain theme. He tried talking about the ‘new Steve-O’, as he liked calling it, but later reverted talking about the ‘old Steve-O’. I honestly liked each part of the set for different reasons. The first portion made me respect Steve-O and the control he has in his life now; while the second half of the set tells some pretty crazy stories involving a few Jackass Easter eggs.
Steve-O was throwing out jokes left and right for roughly an hour and a half. I am saying these times as approximations, since Steve-O seemed pretty strict about the no phone policy during his set; due to this, we also have no photos other than the marque photo and the selfie with Steve-O. Another aspect of seeing Steve-O live was the fact that he stayed to take a picture with every single fan that came to the show. Albeit, the line was long, he still did it. Along with the picture, he signed any merchandise bought there, including his #1 New York Times Best Seller Professional Idiot which has phenomenal reviews on Amazon (incase you were wondering).
If this AMAZING experience sounds like something you’d love to watch, go right to his website and check out the tour dates, might be coming to a town near you soon!
With Special Guest QuESt
Story by: @JohnnyKassab
Photos by: Nick Mahar and Johnny Kassab
Logic is an intellectual hip-hop artist and he’s rising in the ranks. He has put out a few mixtapes & is on his way to release his debut album under his newly signed contract with Def Jam Recordings. Def Jam has signed countless artists that have ‘made it big'; Method Man, LL Cool J, DMX, Funkmaster Flex, Ludacris, Kanye West, etc..The list just goes on! Logic was signed to DJR through No I.D., the iconic producer of songs like Kanye West’s Heartless and Jay Z’s Run This Town. One thing that made this specific contract signing significant was the fact that although Logic is a part of Def Jam Recordings, he made sure that the label that managed him on the come up, Visionary Music Group, was to stay as the group to manage him after he was signed. This way Logic gets the financial security of a major record label backing him, while he has the creative control of an indie label; the best of both worlds.
You’re probably asking yourself why did I just tell you all that? Well, Logic was just in our humble city of Detroit and I got the chance to see him perform his upcoming EP. He has been releasing select songs from his While You Wait EP which is supposed to hold over fans until he drops his debut album later this year, talks of which suggest it’s release sometime in September. Along with the EP he played a myriad of classics, some of which I’d never heard live before. He kept it live the whole time, once even bringing an eager fan onstage to help him spit a few verses. Although it was a Detroit hip-hop show, Logic kept it extremely peaceful; he repeated his creed of peace, love, and positivity throughout his performance.
Logic wasn’t the only performer that night, he brought along his tour DJ Rhetorik as well as his fellow Visionary Music Group artist QuESt. Logic is a Maryland MC and for quite sometime his features were limited to where he lived, as most independent artists are. One thing that sets Visionary Music Group apart is the fact that while Logic is from the DMV, QuESt is from Miami Florida, and DJ Rhetorik is from Virginia; talk about a versatile team!
DJ Rhetorik pumped up the crowd by playing tons of hits, some which I could spot from his Spring Minimix. I think the fact that DJ Rhetorik was the DJ for QuESt and Logic really helped smooth over all of the transitions from artist to artist that night, the switching of DJs for each artist always seems to take the most time at concerts, but with a uniform DJ for everyone, each artist can just hop on immediately after the last performer.
QuESt did something that I’d never seen before, at least not to the extent he did it. When QuESt came on stage, he immediately started spitting fire verses. He probably went 2 or 3 songs in (I wasn’t exactly taking notes on a college-ruled notebook) before he stopped and talked to the audience. His motivation behind this was what intrigued me; he said that since not every fan knows what QuESt sounds like, he wanted to prove himself in front of us before he started talking about his music. In my opinion, that is a very smart way to go about your live show. If someone doesn’t know how good you are and they immediately hear you talking about your upcoming music and all that, they might tune you out since they don’t value your music YET. With QuESt’s approach, he lets people know what they came to hear and shows them that he deserves their attention. It definitely got my attention, as well as those around me. Last time I saw QuESt, it was at the basement of St. Andrew’s Hall in the iconic venue The Shelter and he wasn’t signed to Visionary Music Group yet. Seeing him come back to the same building with the same team felt good as a long-term fan.
If you missed Logic this time around, he will be back (I hope) to tour after he drops his highly anticipated debut album!
Meadowbrook Music Festival
Auburn Hills, MI
Story by: Emily McGee | @mcgeeemily
June 9, 2014
Indie rock band, Vampire Weekend hit the stage at the Meadow Brook Music Festival on Friday, June 6 for a campus concert. Opening for them was Cults, who started off the night with a set of indie pop tunes, including their most notable song, “Go Outside.”
I received my tickets after hearing about the arrival of the band on Oakland University’s campus with excitement. I have played numerous songs from Vampire Weekend during my radio slot on Thursday evenings, and jumped and the opportunity to hear them perform live. At 8:00, I pulled up to Meadow Brook with my partner in crime Maxwell, who was accompanying me on an indie-themed adventure.
As the sun went down, every inch of space seemed to be occupied with teens and young adults, anxious for the show to begin. Once Vampire Weekend entered the scene, cheers echoed through the venue, reverberating off the wooden structure.
The set consisted of many well known songs produced by the band, starting with “Diane Young” and including the ever popular “Horchata” and “Oxford Comma.” Several technical issues with microphones made for a couple stilted transitions, but overall the show had a chill vibe, with swaying and smoke swirling through the flickering air.
On a non-musical related note, indie music tends to draw out a specific crowd, and with that comes a specific wardrobe. Friday’s attire consisted mainly of high-waist shorts, crop tops, or quirky pineapple covered dresses. It was a hipster night for many, and people watching was prime time.
Additionally, the set was really cool, with the main decoration being a giant mirror on the middle of a 70s looking wallpaper. No explosions or pyrotechnics needed here, with light flashes being the main source of visual cues. It seemed that the band was simply letting their music speak for itself, which I thought was a nice plus.
In all: great bands, great crowd, and great memories are my final conclusions for the Vampire Weekend show. Its relaxed atmosphere on the lawn proved to be an extremely enjoyable evening, and a night I was absolutely happy that I could participate in.
The Palace of Auburn Hills
Auburn Hills, MI
March 17, 2014
Story by: Anthony Spak | @antspak
Photos by: Lauren Barthold | @bylaurenb
Arcade Fire made a stop at the Palace of Auburn Hills this past Monday as part of their Reflektor Tour.
After releasing their fourth album Reflektor (see Sam Boyhtari’s review of the album below), the Canadian indie rockers have been touring across North America in support of their recent double LP. The tour has seen Arcade Fire upgrade from theatres and music halls to arenas and stadiums. The shift towards larger venues was surprising; while Arcade Fire is one of the biggest bands in the business riding the crest of a critically and commercially successful album, it is still odd to see them headlining the same stages as artists like Justin Timberlake and Beyonce.
The turnout for the show was indicative of their awkward transition into bigger venues. The Palace parking lot was desolate a half hour before the band went on. Dan Deacon opened, a one man electronic act whose most recent release America from 2012 brought a warmth and depth to the electronic music output by the massive EDM acts of that time. Deacon’s blend of furious rhythmic pulsations, synthesizer modulations, and “Alvin and the Chipmunks”-style vocals was energetic. However, neither his music nor his tacky pleas towards the crowd to “run at each other as fast as you can and high five in a loving manner” brought enough excitement to energize the audience of aging indie rock listeners.
Arcade Fire asked attendees to dress in “costumes/formal wear”, which was written on the concert’s tickets.
The crowd obliged, most deciding on formal wear. Most of the attendees appeared to have come straight from the office, dressed in business suits and ties. A few colorful costumes stood out, the most memorable being a dancing figure in a glowing metallic reflecting suit who appeared on a smaller stage opposite Arcade Fire while they played.
As Arcade Fire took the stage, the floor seating gained a few more members, but the arena was nowhere near sold out. This created a certain closeness within the Palace; the lack of a crowd gave those who did bother to come an intimate experience with a band in the midst of several interesting musical and aesthetical changes.
Front man Win Butler began the set by singing a few bars from “My Body Is A Cage”, a song from their 2007 album Neon Bible, then transitioning directly into the title track from Reflektor. The song, as well of the rest of the album, serves as a striking departure from the band’s past efforts: the band’s first three albums are definitive, quirky indie rock, relying on heavy guitar strumming based in folk music, with eccentric string and accordion parts sprinkled over top. These elements gave Arcade Fire a rustic tone and image that they relied on for three albums worth of music and overall band image.
With Reflektor and its subsequent tour, the band has made a total shift both aesthetically and musically while still managed to keep their quirky indie rock elements intact. Gone is the heavy presence of the folky outfits and instrumentations. The new Arcade Fire is interested in throwing a party where you can dance to their newfound blend of dark, Caribbean-infused disco that still holds a conscious. “We Exist” from Reflektor held all of these qualities. The most disco-indebted track on the new album, “We Exist” was a highlight of the show musically and emotionally. Butler explained the song was about living as a gay teen male in Jamaica and “Having the most awkward conversation possible with your father” about your sexuality that is not as widely accepted. With all of the controversy surrounding gay marriage in our country, and Michigan specifically with the recent federal trial that challenges our state’s ban on gay marriage, “We Exist” was made more relevant after Butler’s explanation of its meaning.
Having gone on a trip to Haiti after the devastating earthquakes the ravaged the country in 2010, the band became interested with Haitian culture and the upbeat, percussive music from the island country. The Haitian presence was impossible to miss during the show; the tropical stage scenery blended with the sounds of steel drums and other Caribbean percussion instruments by newly added Haitian percussionists Diol Edmond and Tiwill Duprate highlighted the group’s current obsession with foreign sounds and looks from a foreign country.
As the show continued, Butler announced that $1 from every ticket sale went towards funding for new doctors in Haiti. “Thousands of them died in recent storms,” he claimed, explaining the need for new medical professionals in the country that lost so much to a devastating natural disaster and is still recovering. “Arcade Fire Loves Haiti” buttons and shirts were also for sale at certain merchandise tables throughout the Palace, with a portion of the sales going towards relief funding for Haiti.
Arcade Fire played for almost an hour and a half, touching on a good blend of material from all four of their albums. Some of the older songs were updated stylistically to match the dancier feel of the new Arcade Fire, but this being said, every song still felt like an anthem. Every song was filled with the giant hooks the band is known for, filing the under filled arena with fist-pumping songs that were suited for the large building. Regardless of their slim ticket sales, Arcade Fire played as if they were performing in front of a sold out house.
Their encore was no exception. As Arcade Fire briefly exited the stage, “The Reflektors”, a band of actors costumed in enlarged head masks and tuxedos, stood on the smaller, opposite stage and mock-played instruments as Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition” played over the arena. The crowd roared in appreciation of the hometown cover. Arcade Fire then returned to the stage, covering “Uptight (Everything’s Alright)”, another hit from the Saginaw-born Motown legend while Butler wore a box with screens on each side on his head as it flashed images of former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick.
The vintage cover was followed by “Here Comes The Night Time”, the clearest homage to Haitian culture and music on Reflektor. The steel-drum lead of the song overtop of the rhythm section’s heavy half-time feel provide the audience with the deepest groove of the night. As confetti and streamers were launched over the standing section during the song’s breakdown, spectators danced with the most energy of any of the songs from the night. As “…Night Time” faded, Arcade Fire ended the show with their trademark closer “Wake Up”, the final track from 2004’s Funeral.
February 14, 2014
Story by: Lelia Cotton | @rhymeswtequila
Photos by: Lauren Barthold | @bylaurenb
Known for their heavy riffs and effervescent live performances, it was no shock to anyone that the Arctic Monkeys sold out the Detroit venue, The Fillmore, early after ticket sales began. From their start in 2005 to their latest album, AM, their sound has grown tremendously. It began with Alex Turners quick-lipped, young scrappy alternative, and has evolved to a heavier indie rock. Though their sound has matured and thickened, it’s still just as easy to move your body to.
The UK band set the mood early on with the hit “Do I Wanna Know” off their most current record. The overwhelming sound of guitar and drums made the hazy, strobe-filled light show even more affecting. Rocking between different tunes like “Brainstorm,” “Fluorescent Adolescent,” and “I Wanna Be Yours,” they engaged their true essence of fusing together testy interludes.
Lead singer, Alex Turner, truly delivered to the packed house. His Elvis-like hip thrusts and jacket removal during “Arabella,” combined with the capability of wooing girls to tears during Favourite Worst Nightmare’s jam “505,” he charmed the pants off this crowd… Literally. Someone actually took their pants off, and passed them around the crowd. Behind the voice was drummer Matt Helders, guitarist Jamie Cook, and bassist Nick O’Malley. Together, they had the house vibing with their strong melodies. The band dominates their motifs with a healthy balance of consonance and muscle.
Before eventually returning for an encore, the crowd chanted the bands’ name feverishly. Once back on stage, they finished up their set with “Cornerstone,” “One for the Road,” and the jam everyone was anticipating, “R U Mine.” After several gyrations from Turner’s hips and the contagious energy from the band, it’s safe to say the Arctic Monkeys gave Detroit a night we won’t soon forget.
City and Colour
November 20, 2013
Story & Photos by: Lelia Cotton | @rhymeswtequila
Canadian grown singer-songwriter, Dallas Green, of City and Colour has officially closed out their North America 2013 tour with selling out back-to-back shows at The Fillmore in Detroit.
San Francisco-based band, Sleepy Sun opened for both nights and took Detroit back to the peace, love, and rock and roll days. Their set consisted of psychedelic-rock and a true feel for music as they played many long instrumentals. The music felt so personal, almost as if they were in their garage just having a jam session. The vocals from front man, Bret Constantino, were clear but almost lost within the house music and flashing lights. Fans were wooed by their sense of energy. It was electric and soothing at once. It was as if you were in an entirely different era.
The break between sets was an hour long, but this didn’t upset the crowd. They were too excited to see Dallas Green in action and they had every right to be. The sell-out show was well worth the wait.
The City and Colour set was jam packed with just under twenty songs total. The set list featured songs from the latest album, “The Hurry and the Harm”, but also several doses of tracks from previous albums like, “Little Hell” and “Bring Me Your Love”. It’s no wonder C&C has such a strong fan base; Green is a true artist. The clarity of his voice is unreal and is literally music to your ears.
The band opened with two songs from the newest album, “The Hurry and the Harm”, and “The Lonely Life”. Following that, they played a few throwbacks from 2008 and previous years before Green played a solo acoustic set for the Fillmore.
He opened his acoustic set with the 2005 hit “Day Old Hate” from the album titled “The Death of Me”. The sold out crowd was calm and loving the acoustics immediately. His solo set continued with “Two Coins”, from the newest album, “Northern Wind”, from 2011’s “Little Hell” album, and finished up with 2005’s hit “Hello, I’m in Delaware”. The full band came back to the stage to join Green in performing another set. They played “Little Hell”, “Sleeping Sickness”, and this album’s most popular hit, “Thirst”.
Green’s stage banter was an attention getter. He unexpectedly started giving a speech on respect and love. He went on saying that there is no room for judgments in this world and that if we open our eyes we’re all here for the same reason. He just said it more straight-forward and pretty explicitly. The building imploded with support to his words, as they had all night.
Dallas left the stage briefly before coming back out for two more songs before not only concluding the show but also the tour. He started the encore presentation with playing “The Girl” and adding a steel guitar to the mix to give the popular song more of a twang. The crowd sang every word to the popular song in unison. Then at one point during the song, Green pointed out in the center of the crowd and stop singing to ask a fan a question. The question was to a couple where a man got down on one knee (somehow in this ridiculous crowd) and proposed to his girlfriend. The C&C singer wanted to know if she had accepted, and without missing a beat he finished the song. He concluded with “Sometimes (I Wish)” which had the whole building singing the lyrics repeatedly, closing the show with a crowd pleasing goodbye.
Fitz & the Tantrums and Capital Cities
Story & Photos by: Lauren Barthold | @bylaurenb
Fitz & the Tantrums (Fitz) and Capital Cities (CC) joined forces to create “The Bright Futures Tour” along with opening act, Beat Club (BC). The west coast indie pop bands certainly brightened The Fillmore on Sunday, 11.17.
As fans poured into the venue at 6:30pm, the giant foam Wayfarer sunglasses lined with lights immediately gave away that CC would take the stage first. However, there were three drum sets on the stage. With no knowledge of an opening act, four gentlemen took the stage who were not Fitz or CC at 7pm. The band, later introducing themselves as Beat Club from Los Angeles, California began playing an instrumental called ‘Globetrotters’. From the first few notes, I knew I would love them. Their music reminds me of a cross between dark Depeche Mode and the synthesizer sound of The Cure. BC only has three songs available on iTunes, and I purchased all of them as soon as I got home.
At 8:30pm sharp, the lights dimmed and a short and oppositely tall man walked to center stage. Ryan Merchant and Sebu Simonian opened with ‘Kangaroo Court’, and went into ‘Origami’, ‘Patience Gets Us Nowhere Fast’, along with some others from their first record. In the middle of the set, CC covered the Bee Gees’ ‘Stayin’ Alive’, mixing in the chorus of Weezer’s Undone (The Sweater Song). They finished with ‘Chasing You’, ‘Love Away’, ‘I Sold My Bed, But Not My Stereo’, and of course, ‘Safe and Sound’. It was during the second to last song that horn player Spencer Ludwig blew the audience away.
CC uses horns a lot in their music, and they simply could not have chosen a better musician than Ludwig to play the parts. They ended their show with a dance party to a remix of their own hit ‘Safe and Sound’, leaving the audience sweaty and shirtless for Fitz.
At 10pm, the lights dimmed once more and the line ‘More than just a dream’ echoed as a neon pink heart lowered in place of the sunglasses. Michael Fitzpatrick and Noelle Scaggs took the stage to ‘Get Away’, moving into ‘Don’t Gotta Work It Out’, ‘Break the Walls’, ‘Breakin’ the Chains of Love’, ‘Keepin Our Eyes Out’, and ‘Spark’. They too perfectly covered an older song with ‘Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This) by Eurythmics. Before ‘House of Fire’, Fitzpatrick told a very detailed story about having a great day and leaving work only to come home to find your girlfriend cheating on you with another man. They went into ‘Fools Gold’ and ‘Out of My League’. Fitzpatrick and Scaggs sang ‘Last Raindrop’ face to face before going into one of my personal favorites, ‘6AM’.
After two more songs, CC’s horn player Ludwig joined Fitz’s horn player James King for an improvisation battle. At one point, King even threw in the recognizable melody from ‘Baker Street’ by Gerry Rafferty.
I felt as if I attended three concerts that night. They were all unique, yet blended together perfectly. Each act introduced the next appropriately, without being forgotten about in the end. I highly recommend catching any three of these bands if you can. Beat Club, Capital Cities, as well as Fitz & the Tantrums make music the way it should sound.
You Me At Six
October 15, 2013
Story by: Music Director Ashley Allison
British rockers, YOU ME AT SIX, jumped over the pond to embark on their first US headlining tour this fall. The tour stopped at The Shelter in Detroit on October 14th.
They opened the show with “Mr. Reckless”, their most popular song in the US from their most recent album, Sinners Never Sleep. Immediately the sold out crowd was into it, leaving their feet and dancing with one hand up in the air.
The band was obviously more matured and more confident in their stage presence than ever. Singer and front man Josh Franceschi showcased his awkward but amusing dance moves as the set progressed into songs from their second album, Hold me Down.
The guys seemed to be genuinely having a great time and that radiated into the audience. Franceschi even made comments about the length of the set, excited to, “play more than half an hour.” They even broke out into Eminem’s track, “Lose Yourself” since the venue was used in his film 8 Mile.
A little over halfway through you could tell the heat was getting to both the crowd and the band. The venue felt as if it was 100 degrees and if you add the extra heat from the amount of screaming and jumping fans, even hotter. They took the opportunity to slow things down with a few ballads. Franceschi ‘s voice shined in these slow songs.
Before a dramatic ending, the band played a song of their forthcoming album, “Lived a Lie”. The song takes you back to the Take off Your Colours days but with a mature edge. The song seems much more upbeat than the past few singles and sets a great tone for what to expect from the album. They even brought back the classic You Me at Six chants, this time with “We are Believers.”
And then as if it couldn’t get any crazier or hotter, it did. They concluded the set with the track, Underdog. But, not before Franceschi made his way to the bar, in the middle of the venue, and jumped off asking the crowd to bring him all the way back to the stage.
The UK band certainly made splash in motor city, if you didn’t come to the show as a You Me at Six fan, you left one. The band left fans even more excited, telling them that they will return in the spring.
To listen to a WXOU exclusive interview with Chris (drummer of You Me at Six), click here.
Five Finger Death Punch
Wrong Side of Heaven Tour
October 8, 2013
Story & Photos by: Lauren Leming
At 6 p.m. October 8th, the doors to The Fillmore Detroit opened its doors and the venue soon filled its capacity with hundreds of Knuckleheads, the followers of the band Five Finger Death Punch. Amongst the Knuckleheads were also fans of the opening acts: The Gemini Syndrome, Miss May I, and Escape the Fate. It was easy to say The Fillmore was in for a treat of metal and rock.
Gemini Syndrome took the stage around 6:45, each member made their way to the stage one by one dressed in all back, till the lead singer, Aaron Nordstrom, an older gentleman adorned in all white and sporting a pure white beard and medium length hair, carrying a cup of tea. Yup, a cup of tea. The band just dropped their first album “Lux,” and after seeing their stage presence and performance live, it’s safe to say this L.A. hard rock band had convinced me to grab the album.
Next, not so far from home, Ohio’s Miss May I took to the stage delivering a performance that had the crowd moshing and bouncing. Having just seen lead singer, Levi, at the station a few days prior and seeing how much a down-to-earth guy he is, it was crazy to hear the screams that came out of this guy’s vocals, there wasn’t a single person in the crowd who didn’t have their head banging or fists in the air. They performed music from their latest album and some crowd favorites from previous albums, closing with the ground shaking, “Hey Mister.” After these two bands, I had high hopes as the second to last act for the night took the stage.
Escape the Fate, fronted by Craig Mabitt, took to the stage preparing the crowd for the main act. They electrified the stage, Escape the Fate fans pushing up against the rails, crowd surfing and doing anything they could to get close this heavy rock act. The band refrained from playing any music from their albums with the previous lead singer, Ronnie Radke, playing songs from their newest and latest albums, including the crowd favorite, “This War is Ours.” With three acts down, we Knuckleheads were pumped and ready for Five Finger Death Punch.
It seemed like forever between Escape the Fate and Five Finger Death Punch, but around 9:45, the band took to the stage, opening with, “Under and Over It.” The band consists of: Ivan Moody (lead vocals), Zoltan (guitarist), Jeremy Spencer (drums), Chris Kael (bassist), and Jason Hook (guitarist). Having seen the band before I had high expectations, and they definitely blew them out the door, setting a whole new bar. They played their newest single, “Lift Me Up,” as well as “Hard to See,” “Burn MF,” “Burn it Down,” and “The Way of the Fist,” before slowing it down. I was surprised when I first heard “Remember Everything” on the bands album “American Capitalist,” as it sounded like an 80’s rock ballad, I instantly loved it with the powerful lyrics and vocal styling of Ivan, but it didn’t prepare me for the live performance. The lights dimmed, and Jason Hook sat on a stool with an acoustic guitar in hand. It was safe to say there weren’t many dry eyes in the venue as Ivan acoustically sang such a powerful song, after performing another deep single, “Coming Down.”
He wasn’t done with the show there though, opening up conversation about the Lions and how they weren’t helping his fantasy team as of late, he then changed into a Lion’s jersey, connecting even more with his fans in Detroit. He then brought a special guest on stage, a young girl of 17 who was celebrating her birthday. HE proclaimed on the road, we were his family, as he cuddled up the young girl, letting her help him sing the first verse of “Far From Home” acapella style before he had her exit the stage and he, unaccompanied by his band, finished the song. With two songs left, he performed an LL Cool J song, “Mama Said Knock You Out,” and closed with a classic, “The Bleeding.”
After the last song, all the band members reached out into the crowd handing out guitar picks with their names on them. And Ivan took off the Lions jersey and threw into the crowd, and moments later a fight erupted between a young girl who had caught the jersey and another male, as he was beating her up. Security broke the fight and we all had to head out of the venue per their request. It was a crazy, energizing, amazing, phenomenal show all around by all bands. Most members of the bands were chilling by their merch tables on the way out, letting fans snag a few photos before leaving the hot and sweaty venue and emerging into the chilly crisp Detroit air and making their way to where ever they were headed.
Empire of the Sun
September 14, 2013
Story & Photos by: Lauren Barthold | @bylaurenb
Empire of the Sun (EOTS) traveled from Sydney, Australia to The Fillmore downtown on Friday, September 13th as part of their ‘Alive’ world tour.
Alpine, also from Australia, was the opening act. Two soprano female singers named Phoebe Baker and Lou James front the indie/pop band. I had never heard any of their music before the show, but they did what they were supposed to do as the opener and convinced me to download some of their songs.
By 9:30pm, the lights went out and four women dancers dressed like aliens (I think) took the stage to ‘Lux’. Luke Steele and Nick Littlemore then appeared with instrumental ‘Old Flavours’, and went on to play for about an hour and a half with two acts of 14 songs.
The first act consisted of ‘DNA’, ‘Standing on the Shore’, ‘Half Mast’, ‘We Are the People’, ‘Concert Pitch’, and ‘Celebrate’. The duo then went backstage to change, and Steele returned in an ensemble very similar to my prom dress. (Think ‘Rainbow Fish’). Between ‘I’ll Be Around’ and ‘Ice On the Dune’, blue confetti fell across the audience. They finished with ‘Swordfish Hotkiss Night’, ‘Walking On a Dream’, ‘Alive’, and finally, ‘Tiger By My Side’.
The sound of EOTS paired with the intimate setting of The Fillmore was a perfect pair. I can honestly say that it was one of the best concerts that I have ever been to, and highly recommend you catch them if you can!
Meadowbrook Music Festival
Auburn Hills, MI
August 18, 2013
Story & Photos by: Anthony Spak & Sam Boyhtari
The two bands are in the midst of a co-headlining summer tour that made its stop in Rochester this past Sunday. Promptly beginning at seven p.m., Umphrey’s opened the show with an hour and a half set chalk-full of extended jams. The six piece from Chicago had the crowd wiggling to their blend of deep grooves and intricate lighting arrangements. These elements of sound and vision synced up very well together.
The highlights of their set include a nearly 20 minute version of “Booth Love,” a track from Umphrey’s latest studio album, 2011’s Death By Stereo. Very impressive and very technical jamming continued, with sparse but pleasant spurts of vocal work by singer/guitarists Brendan Bayliss and Jake Cinninger. The most pleasant surprise of their set came in the form of a classic cover: The Allman Brothers’ jam, “Jessica”. Cinninger’s guitar soared over the rest of the band with Bayliss’ guitar singing out just underneath, creating the most pleasant harmony of the night. This proved to be a huge favorite with the audience and was easily their most well received song of the night, highlighting Umphrey’s reputation for being the best-oiled of all cover machines. According to an anonymous men’s bathroom user that we overheard from a stall afar, “They did [Jessica] better than the Allman Brothers!”
Umphrey’s set concluded at eight thirty, giving way for STS9 to take the stage around nine o’ clock. And take the stage they did, blasting into a two hour long marathon set of jazz-flavored dance beats and colorful electronic soundscapes. An even more intricate and impressive lights display complimented their performance, filling the entire pavilion with futuristic illuminations worthy of the 2011 movie, Tron: Legacy. By this time in the evening, we had left our lawn seats and hopped the guard rail into the pavilion, for a closer and more intimate viewing of STS9’s set alongside hundreds of very excited and very sweaty neo-hippies. Two songs stood out in STS9’s set. An ultra-funky run through of “Wika Chikana” had nearly every audience member on their feet and slowly sauntering about to the deep groove of the drummer Zach Velmer‘s thick half-time beat. “Breathe In” was pleasantly reminiscent of the mid-1970’s Grateful Dead, offering a very sweet and very moving big grand piano part that differed greatly from the synth-heavy textures of the rest of their set. However, the one-song diversion from that style was well-received by the audience.
STS9 concluded their set and then proceeded back to the stage amidst unanimous audience applause. Joined onstage by Umphrey’s players Jake Cinninger and Chris Kris Myers, the band performed a nine minute encore of “Monkey Music.” The Umphrey’s additions were well-received and made for a fitting end to a night of dance-inducing jams.
DTE Music Theater
August 12, 2013
Story & Photos: by Lauren Barthold | @bylaurenb
Backstreet Boys (BSB) returned to Detroit on Thursday, August 8th at DTE Energy Music Theater for the first time solo since 2009 on their “In A World Like This” worldwide tour. There, I channeled my first grade self, and loved every second of it.
DJ Pauly D from MTV reality show, “The Jersey Shore” opened up the evening, followed by Jesse McCartney. At exactly 9pm, red and purple lighting fell over the outdoor venue, and five middle-aged gentlemen in white suits with matching shoes emerged from behind the stage with ‘The Call’. They then went into ‘Don’t Want You Back’ and ‘Incomplete’.
The rest of the evening was a mix of throwbacks, as well as some new songs. AJ, Brian, Howie, Kevin, and Nick performed exactly half of the tunes (6/12) from the new album, including title track ‘In A World Like This’. While the new ones are not bad by any means, the enthusiasm and overall energy of the crowd was certainly less than that of when they played their classics such as ‘As Long As You Love Me’, “Show Me the Meaning of Being Lonely’, ‘We’ve Got It Goin’ On’, ‘Quit Playing Games’, and ‘I Want It That Way’.
For the encore, backstreet came back alright with ‘Everybody’, and finished with ‘Larger Than Life’ around 10:30pm. (“Napoleon Dynamite”, anyone? It took everything I had not to form a butterfly with my hands.)
The only negative response I have towards this show is that there was not a live band, but a few men sitting behind a computer playing background tracks. However, as the six year old who blared the entire “Millennium” record in my Discman for months, the show was truly amazing. I would be lying if I said I did not choke up a little as I got closer and closer to my row five seat. I witnessed every drop of sweat, pelvic thrust, and synchronized move the boy band made up close, and I can only hope that they continue for another 20 years.
Justin Timberlake & Jay Z
August 7, 2013
Story & Photos by: Lauren Barthold | @bylaurenb
Justin Timberlake (JT) and Jay Z (JZ) made their mark on Detroit at Ford Field on Tuesday, August 6th with their short but certainly sweet Legends of the Summer North American tour.
The nearly three hour long show was jam packed with hit after hit, alternating between the two. The ticket start time read 8pm, but they did not take the stage until 9:30pm. I am not sure whether or not the new NFL Committee on Stadium Security policy (no bags larger than your hand unless they are see-through and a mandatory wand search) had anything to do with this, but seeing as it is an entire stadium tour, it should have been worked out.
Once the duo did finally hit the stage, they came out together with ‘Holy Grail’ as graphics of gargoyles flashed behind them. If you are a fan of Lifetime’s ‘Dance Moms’, you would have recognized the drummer as the professional dance choreographer who assists Cathy of Candy Apple’s Dance Center. The show was divided into five sections. Section one included both entertainers going back and forth. JZ owned section two, JT the third, and back to JZ for the fourth. By the fifth, the two reunited on the mammoth stage.
After ‘Grail’ was one of my personal favorites, ‘Rock Your Body’. They surprised the audience for the fourth song with a cover of The Jackson 5’s ‘I Want You Back’. Every time it was JZ’s turn, JT would play the piano or guitar.
For JZ’s first section, he played ‘Jigga What, Jigga Who’, ‘U Don’t Know’, ’99 Problems’ (SO GOOD), Kanye West’s ‘Clique’, ‘Public Service Announcement’, ‘Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem)’, and finished with ‘Heart of the City (Ain’t No Love)’.
JT took the stage with a song from the first part of ‘The 20/20 Experience’ (part two to come out this fall), ‘Pusher Love Girl’. He then went into four of his classics, ‘Summer Love’, ‘LoveStoned’, ‘Until the End of Time’, and ‘Cry Me a River’ before the brand new single from part two, ‘Take Back the Night’. He finished it off with ‘What Goes Around… Comes Around’ and sent it back to JZ. There was a small mistake in ‘Take Back’ when JT got to the part of the song where he says ‘And the horns say…’ and the horns, you guessed it, play. He pointed to them to play, and they did nothing until the following measure. However, I forgot all about it after JT pelvic thrusted to the audience (me).
JZ took the stage one more time with ‘Dirt Off Your Shoulder’, ‘In Paris’, and ‘Tom Ford’ before JT joined him singing Frank Sinatra’s ‘New York, New York’ which the audience immediately knew would send JZ into ‘Empire State of Mind’. By song 34 of the evening, JZ did ‘Encore’, this time sending JT into ‘SexyBack’. The encore was the long-awaited ‘Suit & Tie’ with the gentlemen dressed accordingly while sipping champagne. Some of the horn parts were replaced with the saxophone melody from JZ’s ‘Show Me What You Got’. I would have liked to hear the full song, but I thought the mix was unique nonetheless. For the second encore, the two dedicated JZ’s ‘Forever Young’ to Trayvon Martin and Detroit as fans waved their lit phones back and forth in the air.
Overall, I give this show four dicks in a box out of five. JT only did five songs total from his new album, including one with JZ. This is most likely because he will be world touring his complete album solo after the second part is released, which was not announced until May, three months after I purchased these expensive tickets. They went on late and played even later, finishing at 12:30am. It was exhausting, but I would expect nothing less when you have two major acts together in one show. Ford Field is my least favorite concert venue, but the two still managed to leave me an even bigger fan than I was walking in. Justin Timberlake and Jay Z are, without a doubt, the legends of my summer.
The Original Wailers
With Special Guest 1592
The Magic Bag
August 2, 2013
Story & Photos by: Jason Newman
Michigan welcomed The Original Wailers on August 2nd, 2013, at the Magic Bag in Ferndale. They traveled 14 hours from their previous show in New York the night before, to come perform classic songs from Bob Marley. The Original Wailers are led by Al Anderson, original member and lead guitarist of the Wailers, who contributed to both studio work as well as participated in the 1975 and ’78-’80 world tours with Bob Marley.
Opening for The Original Wailers was local band 1592. They performed for a roomful of eager fans who were blown away by their reggae roots and rock steady swaying tunes. Personally citing The Wailers as one of their big influences, they jammed their own songs, with references to Detroit, while wowing the audience with their smooth instrumental upbeat ska, showcasing their range of playing ability.
The Original Wailers were late in arriving but, took the stage promising to make it up with the songs they have come to share in the legend of Bob Marley. They played tunes from Bob Marley’s later years, featuring songs from the albums Catch A Fire, Natty Dread, Rastaman Vibration, Exodus, and Uprising. Since forming The Original Wailers, they have put out the album entitled, Miracle, in April, 2012. It was nominated for Best Reggae Album at the 55th Annual Grammy Awards in December, 2012.
The energetic sounds of The Original Wailers got the crowd dancing. Beginning the show with Bob Marley’s older tunes, they then introduced their newer work in between providing a smooth transition.The audience sang along to both their song, “We Are The Children” (in a 3 separate harmony part) and the classic “Buffalo Soldier,” with the crowd screaming the Woy! Yoy! Yoy! part with enthusiasm.
They dedicated their song “Justice” to Trayvon Martin and explained that their song “Backsliders” is to call out politicians who don’t keep the promises they make. The vibe created in the atmosphere was so powerful. The band was excellent, with lots of reggae dub which showcased great instrumentation as the crowd familiarized themselves with the lyrics. The highlight of the show was an impressive ten minute version of Exodus, which took place during the encore. Al Anderson performed an extended, mind bending guitar solo which revived itself after every few bars in the outro of the song which lead straight into drummer Francis (Paapa) Nyarkoh’s solo. His solo incorporated almost every drum on stage, with the audience cheering him on the whole time. Paapa finished his drum fills, speeding up and then slowing back down, with the entire band joining him on the last few beats of the song.
The Original Wailers have managed to capture the spirit of an original Bob Marley and The Wailers concert, but have also proven themselves as artists and musicians with their newest work, Miracle. I highly recommend any Bob Marley or reggae fan to check it out, as Miracle is proof that the Bob Marley legend lives on in reggae and continues to influence music to this day.
Boyz II Men, 98 Degrees, & New Kids on the Block
The Palace of Auburn Hills
Auburn Hills, MI
June 8, 2013
Story & Photos by Lauren Barthold | @bylaurenb
Boyz II Men, 98 Degrees, and New Kids on the Block (NKOTB) came together to create “The Package Tour”, making a stop at the Palace of Auburn Hills on Saturday, June 8th. And what a package it was.
Up first was Boyz II Men. The trio opened up the show at 7:30pm with a video introduction, followed by six hits including ‘Bended Knee’, ‘Water Runs Dry’, ‘I’ll Make Love to You’, ‘It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday’, ‘End of the Road’, and ended with ‘Motownphilly’. It was during ‘Make Love’ that thousands of red roses dropped from the ceiling.
98 Degrees took the stage directly after at 8:05pm. Nick and Drew Lachey, Justin Jeffre, and Jeff Timmons played nine songs. I admit, I only fully knew two of the nine, but that did not stop me from enjoying all 35 minutes of it. For song six, ‘My Everything’, the group pulled four lucky women from the audience onto the stage and sang directly to them. One young girl even cried tears of joy as Nick looked into her eyes and belted the tune.
Two stages were used by all three of the boy bands on Saturday. Stage one, a simple rectangular platform and two, a pentagon with five extending planks. I was fortunate enough to enjoy the show from a seat directly behind stage one. This gave me an inside look at who and what was coming out, as well as when it was all happening. As a matter of fact, just as NKOTB was going up the stairs to the stage, Donnie Wahlberg and I looked at each other and danced before anyone else could see them. (I know, right?!)
NKOTB was the main event of the evening. After a short intermission and another video introduction, the five played for two hours with five acts of a whopping 30 songs, including some special surprises. They played all of the hits, including ‘Summertime’, ‘You’ve Got It (The Right Stuff)’, ‘Step by Step’, and ‘I’ll Be Loving You’, along with some from their new album. It was during act two that a fan threw her bra at one of the band members. By act three; the band covered Prince’s ‘Kiss’ as purple lighting fell across the arena.
Complete with hot fire bursts (Read: REALLY hot fire bursts. Seriously. My plastic iPhone case was starting to melt), confetti, and falling fire, the show is not one to miss. Remember your favorite holiday gift? This memorable package was Boyz II Men, 98 Degrees, and NKOTB all wrapped up and tied together with a bow.
The Hart Plaza
May 25/26/27, 2013
Story & Photos by: Patrick Cymbalski
There’s a lot expected when it comes time for your favorite anything. Be it your favorite meal, your favorite movie, or in this case your favorite music festival. I have been going to Detroit Electronic Music Festival for years and it has consistently been my favorite festival. I am a fan of electronic music but it’s more than that. The Movement festival is a living beat and makes you forget about everything outside of the music. This year Paxahau put on yet another weekend jammed packed with music and full of fun. Spanning the three day weekend of Memorial Day, Hart Plaza hosted the complete experience that was DEMF.
There were plenty of positives to the festival, but expectedly it wasn’t perfect. This year Paxahau boasted an impressive 116 acts throughout the three day festival. Music was played non-stop for 12 hours each day over 5 different stages. There was always plenty to see, but some felt that the line-up lacked the big names that have been in attendance years past. There are always reoccurring artists but a few people I spoke with would like to see some different names. There was also some complaining over the ticket price, but that is unavoidable. Both Saturday and Sunday were days filled with sunshine and excellent temperatures. The sun kept everyone warm during the day and just as it started to fall behind the Detroit skyline the crowds helped heat it right back up. The same can’t be said about the final day of the festival which started with a cool breeze and quickly progressed into a strong rain. There seemed to be no break in weather unless you went underground or under a tree. Despite the less than perfect weather there was still a surprising amount of people there, dancing like there was nothing wrong.
The one personal complaint I had about this year were the different volumes of the stages. During the day I found myself able to have a normal conversation with my friends, regardless of my proximity to the stage. Perhaps some people liked that, but I was there to hear and feel the music. Luckily, as the day progressed so too did the volume… everywhere except where it mattered. The main stage (Red Bull Music Academy) seemed consistently quiet. During the day I could feel the bass from the neighboring Electric Forest stage. I understand, Hart Plaza is only so big! But the Red Bull Music Academy just wasn’t putting out main stage volume. During headliners such as Squarepusher and Derrick May & Kevin Saunderson the energy was lacking and it seemed entirely volume related.
Highlights of this year were abundant and I am so fortunate to have gone all three days. Even during the day I felt like the artists were putting on a good show. There’s nothing worse than seeing a DJ who’s just not into it. Along with the talent level, Paxahau also did a great job of creating a good environment overall. They had various art installments throughout the grounds of Hart Plaza and also allowed the festival goers to chalk all over some walls. Another thing that I treasured this year was the festival food. Everyone has experienced some awful food vendors, but that wasn’t the case this year! As always you could choose between your standard chicken strips and corn dogs but you could also hit up some Detroit catering with Slows Bar-B-Q. If you didn’t find any of those things appetizing no problem since they also had roasted corn and nuts! The food was definitely on point this year.
Musical highlights for me included the killer back to back to back ladies in the Underground (Nina Kravitz, Steffi, and Nicole Moudaber), Richie Hawtin, Mala, Stacey Pullen, Magda, Soul Clap, Masters at Work, Brodinski, Don Dada, and Gramatik. I found myself having a hard time staying at any one stage for too long since I knew there was a party to be found everywhere. Even on Monday, during the downpour, I couldn’t help but dance to the ear pleasing beats and riffs of Gramatik. Having a live guitar was something that really put his set apart from anyone else’s.
Movement, DEMF, Tech Fest, no matter what you call it you can expect the same thing, brilliance. Paxahau and sponsors continue to set the bar high for any electronic festival out there. Between the festival foods, the stage construction, the never-ending list of artists, and the colorful characters, the Movement is a festival that will continue to please for a long time to come.
The Used & We Came As Romans
The Take Action Tour 2013
February, 10, 2013
Story by: Josh Nagy
Photos by: Ashley Allison
The Fillmore Theater in Detroit was filled to the rafters on Sunday, February 10th for The Take Action Tour. The tour featured The Used and Detroit natives, We Came as Romans.
We Came as Romans left everything they had on the stage for their home audience. Opening with some old favorites including, “Roads That Don’t End and Views That Never Cease“ and “Broken Statues. “ I`ve seen WCAR six times live and this was honestly the best they`ve ever preformed. You could tell that performing on that stage meant something to them that night. They sounded fantastic, and their energy radiated into the audience. Lead singer, Kyle Pavone sounded way better than his recordings, and screamer Dave Stephens was on top of his game. Not only did Stephens scream his ass off, but he also hit some impressive high notes singing.
They even gave the audience a taste of their new album by playing, “`Let These Words Last Forever“ and “Hope. “ These new songs show how WCAR has matured as a band. Both songs sent a positive message to the audience and Stephens gave motivation speech on living with hope. The audience responded positively to the songs, crowding surfing their way to the stage and opening numerous circle pits. WCAR ended their set with fan favorites, “Understanding What We`ve Grown to be“ and “To Plant a Seed. “
Before leaving the stage, screamer Dave Stephens promised his hometown, “Detroit, We`ll see you this summer at Warped Tour. “
When The Used took the stage the crowd went crazy. It took me back to my days in middle school! I even noticed their fan base seemed a lot older than I thought they`d be. It kind of looked like the audience grew up to the Used`s music. Lead singer, Bert McCracken kept a promise to his fans throughout his entire set. This set was dedicated to the hardcore Used fans. They opened with some old hits including, “Listening“ and “The Bird and The Worm.“
McCracken stage presence was fantastic. He singled out faces in the crowd and talk to them as if he knew each of them individually. He even let one woman on stage to wish her daughter a happy birthday. Hell, he even kissed that lady and let her dance on stage with him for an entire song.
“Blood on My Hands,“ and “Pretty Handsome Awkward“ set up the audience for their encore. The encore was started with a tribute to Nirvana`s “Smells Like Teen Spirit“ and blended to the Used`s hit, “A Box Full of Sharp Objects. “ I would highly recommend any fan of the Used to go see them live. In my opinion they are way better live than they are on album.
Not to mention Used fans, McCracken says they will be back this summer.
The Scottish Rite
May 24, 2012
Story & Photos by: Luke “Diamond” Phillips
The prodigal son of Detroit neo-garage returned to his old stomping grounds this Thursday for his first solo-billed hometown show. Supporting his new debut solo album Blunderbuss, Jack White — the former frontman for The White Stripes and Third Man Records label owner — headlined a 2 p.m. matinee set that blazed through various touchpoints in his discography, with plenty of surprises along the way.
And this was only the first of two sets performed that day.
The midday crowd was piqued with anticipation as hundreds of fans milled in and around the Masonic Temple, where Jack was to perform his blues-based, sometimes rootsy garage rock inside the 1,500-capacity Scottish Rite Theatre. The diverse audience was a mixed bag of White acolytes, the hip middle-aged, Detroit scenesters, and bros who probably really dig it when commercials use those awful fake Black Keys-soundalikes as background music.
With the original evening concert selling out within hours of tickets going onsale, this matinee show was added to appease ravenous fan demand. However, in the type of Wonka-ian twist Jack White has become renown for within the last decade, tickets were only available for purchase at U.H.F. Records in Royal Oak. Within a few days of the show, those tickets also sold out. Also of note, White’s own Third Man Records Rolling Record Store was precariously parked in the lot behind the Masonic Temple, hawking wares to whichever J.W. superfans were clever enough to spy it.
Detroit-based opening act Pop Goes Duane (formerly known as Duane the Teenaged Weirdo) warmed up the crowd with his special brand of Prince-reborn-as-garage-punk shenanigans, including a bizarre moment where he sat on the edge of the stage while the Pallet Town theme from Pokémon washed over the monitors. Duane ended his set by running through his Third Man Records single “Postcard From Hell,” which made for a nice precursor for what was to come.
Several dapper, White-affiliated stagehands strode onstage, dressed in snazzy suits and fedoras, and set up equipment (Jack’s own amps were stacked in a row of three, matching the tri-column backdrop at the rear of the stage – the man likes his thematic symmetry.) While they tended to this, the audience’s eager restlessness was palatable. As the house lights finally dimmed and the stagelights bathed everything in hues of blue (Jack’s new favorite color of choice for this album cycle/tour) White’s tour band took the stage. Another offbeat aspect of this maiden solo tour is that Jack has been rehearsing and performing with two different but similarly-outfitted bands (one all-female and one all-male) and arbitrarily trading off who plays when. The all-female iteration of Jack’s band, dubbed The Peacocks, would end up playing the evening show at the Scottish Rite, but for this matinee set, we were witness to “Los Buzzardos,” the all-male band.
Clad in all black and trailing ever-so slightly behind his bandmates, Jack White III kicked the set off in the first of countless many crowd-pleasing moments – by tearing into the opening chords of The Stripes’ “Black Math.” After a loopy, tempo-shifting, (but still muscular) version of that fan favorite track, Jack stepped into his singer-songwriter mode, donning an acoustic guitar to run through several faithful versions of Blunderbuss tracks that established their rightful place alongside White’s ever-expanding canon.
While a scroll — yes, a scroll — ostensibly containing a rough set outline was originally laid out in front of the band, Jack would often mouth extemporaneous song cues to the players just as another song was wrapping up. Amongst the set highlights was a rendition of “Two Against One,” the Jack-assisted track from Danger Mouse & Daniele Luppi’s Rome project; lacerating, definitive versions of “I Cut Like a Buffalo” and “Blue Blood Blues” by The Dead Weather; a midset blues jam that mutated into a cover of “300 Pounds of Joy” by Howlin’ Wolf; and a further cover of Hank Williams’ “You Know That I Know.” Strangely, no Raconteurs tracks were covered (at least one has been played during previous shows,) which is especially odd considering that they are essentially a Detroit garage supergroup of sorts. Perhaps in light of this, Jack treated the audience to a generous portion of White Stripes songs, which were rapturously received by the crowd of devotees. These Stripes classics included a touching full-band version of “We’re Going to Be Friends” with a mild country lilt; a guitarless, piano-led “Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground;” early Stripes deep cut “Hello Operator;” and even a tease of the “Union Forever” intro. Thankfully, the fuller, five-piece setup didn’t diminish the inherent greatness of these White Stripes originals. In fact, more than anything, Jack and Meg’s arrangements were emboldened by the bigger band, and proved that these songs could be given a more fleshed-out treatment without sacrificing the charm of their initial spareness.
No longer restricted to playing with just his supposed sibling/actual ex-wife Meg, (or more ensemble roles in aforementioned side projects The Raconteurs and Dead Weather,) Jack utilized his newfound freedom to not only highlight the strengths in his recent solo material, but also within his crack backing band. The five members of Los Buzzardos often pulled double duty throughout the show, giving each song arrangement an intricate but still heavy bed (combos of pedal steel/fiddle, upright bass/bass guitar, and mandolin/harmonica were frequently interchanged midsong.) Clearly, the Buzzardos with the best reception from the audience were drummer Daru Jones and Ikey Owens, former keyboardist for The Mars Volta, who goosed Jack along the entire set with their frenzied playing and showmanship. Jones often preened over his drums as he played, his kit placed directly next to Jack’s equipment. Serving as Jack’s foil (in much the same fashion Meg did during Stripes live shows) Jack would consistently turn to face Jones and give direction. In comparison to Meg’s primal pounding, however, Jones’ drum style lended itself to a busier but nonetheless solid technique. Jack himself switched between playing electric guitar, acoustic guitar, and piano at a whirlwind pace.
While Songwriting Jack was in full-force, he also spent plenty of time reconfirming his guitar hero status during the set. Jack seared into volcanic guitar leads like an electric knife through our collective souls. His tone, placed ear-crushingly high in the mix, was a white (pardon the pun) noise blast of pure, perfect, raunchy raw power that leaped out of the monitors. The audience was beside themselves every instance in which he worked his way up the neck of his (thematically!) baby blue Telecaster. The sounds Jack wrung from his instrument drove the crowd to instantaneous cheering, whooping, hollering, and unselfconscious dancing in place. This fervor reached a fever pitch during the climactic, house-busting extended solo runs during perennial Stripes favorite “Ball & Biscuit,” which was played just before encore.
And what an encore it was. Upon returning to his still-blue stage with Los Buzzardos in tow, a now short-sleeved Jack ripped into electric Blunderbuss single “Freedom at 21,” teased the intro to his James Bond theme “Another Way to Die,” served the crowd some more welcome White Stripes manna with “The Hardest Button to Button,” and wrapped everything up through a tumultuous take on Blunderbuss‘s coda, “Take Me With You As You Go.” For a rare afternoon set by one of rock’s most enigmatic talents, Jack White certainly did not disappoint the sea of candy cane children that stood before him. What’s more, he proved that his personal brand of luddite rock is perfectly comfortable on its own, under a single vision, and without the facade of collaboration. Meg who?
May 25, 2012
Story & Photos by: Christina Venditti
Like ripping the cover off a pool, Eddie Money yanked the figurative poly-coated vinyl sheet right off of DTE’s summer concert series. Opening the venue for the 9th time, the Money Man rocked Detroit music-lovers of all ages.
“It’s not summer until Eddie plays here,” a crowd member said. And he was right. A large part of the crowd seemed to be there, not so much in appreciation of Eddie Money, but in celebration of summer.
Which explains his set list. Opening with Baby Hold On, Eddie took the stage looking something like a Goosebumps character. A skeleton in a suit coat, the 63-year old went on to play six or seven deeper cuts before bringing back the surface hits.
But the demeanor of the crowd never died down. Not even with his most recent flop, One More Soldier Coming Home. The Shock Top-induced fans kept rocking like it was 1979 – Eddie’s first stop in Detroit.
Making wisecracks much better than his dance moves, the rock star joked about the Detroit crowd.
“We’ve been together since 1979 – that was three rehabs ago!”
After hip-thrusting through his final song, Shakin’, Mr. Money explained that he wanted to dedicate the show to a ‘special friend,’ Frances. She was a cancer patient who was a long-time Eddie Money fan and he made arrangements to bring her out to the show. Although she was in rough shape, Eddie brought her onstage to thank her for coming.
And he thanked EVERYBODY for coming. And then talked about Nickelback. And then thanked us some more. And left us with one final comment that tied all Detroiters over 20-years old together-
“The best place in the world to play is DTE Energy Center,” he proclaimed. Waiting a beat to follow it up, he yelled, “PINE KNOB!”
The Palace of Auburn Hills
Auburn Hills, MI
May 23, 2012
Story and Photos by: Sean Varicalli
The Palace of Auburn Hills was in total Party Rock mode Wednesday night. LMFAO and their Party Rock crew rolled through the packed venue with their “Sorry For Party Rocking Tour.” I remember when I had first met group members, Sky Blue and Red Foo two springs ago, and in our interview they discussed writing the new album that is now famously known as, “Sorry For Party Rocking.” They could not wait to get these songs out to people not only via the record, but live on a tour of the United States.
With The Palace being their second stop on the current tour, I went in knowing that the energy brought to this show could be some of the highest I have ever seen in live music. I happened to be right. After sitting through the lackluster opening acts, it was finally time for Red Foo and Sky Blue to take the stage and deliver the music we had discussed hardly two short years ago. Opening up their set with a quick video of “Shuffle Bot” the duo emerged from a very expensive looking stage set up with ‘Sorry For Party Rocking.’
It doesn’t matter who you are or what your musical tastes may consist of, because LMFAO delivered on an entertainment value unlike I have ever seen before. I found myself staring in awe at the theatrical production that was taking place before my eyes. Quite honestly, not hearing the DJ, Red Foo, Sky Blue or even the band. Just watching everything from ribbons being shot out of a cannon to a dancing zebra. The group made their way through the set pleasing the audience at every chance they could with banter that personally, I could have done without. Red Foo would squeeze in a cheesy segue every chance he could, but the crowd of neon shirt, zebra panted wearing fans didn’t mind. He even cracked a testicle joke right before starting ‘I Am Not A Whore.’
For the ticket price, this show at every thing you could have hoped for when seeking more than just music at a concert. Red Foo strapped on a head set and flew through the air with other Party Rock crew members right before landing in time for a good old fashioned guitar/keytar riff battle. At this point, I was totally blown away by not only what was happening, but at the talent that both of these young band members had. To be honest, I hadn’t given much though to the guitar and keys guy, especially in a pop band like this. They battled back in forth, using riffs like Michael Jackson’s ‘Beat It’ and Black Sabbath’s ‘Iron Man.’ Before ending the segment with a cover of The White Stripes ‘Seven Nation Army.’ Truly, for me, being a rock and roll enthusiast, the highlight of the show.
After playing an older LMFAO track, a “deep cut” if you will, the song ‘Yes’ was ended by the pair introducing Quest Crew, which was a team of dancers from the television show, America’s Best Dance Crew. After about 10 minutes of break dancing escapades, LMFAO returned with the fan favorite/club anthem, ‘Shots.’ While the band drank from beer bongs and Patron bottles, the Party Rock Crew set up a bar on stage and did the same, with Red Foo and Sky Blue passing out on to strecthers. To my surprise, the entire stage cleared at that point. Not expecting the encores to begin so early, they did, with the video intro of the song that I’m sure funded most of this tour, ‘Party Rock Anthem.’ Much shuffling was done before going on to their second encore, ‘Champagne Showers’ which, to me, was another small surprise. The duo, who called this show, “somewhat of a homecoming” (both group members fathers were born in Detroit, Red Foo’s being Motown founder, Berry Gordy) doused the first few rows with champagne and confetti.
With yet another costume change by the guys, they stripped down with the rest of their dancers for the final encore, ‘Sexy and I Know It.’ In LMFAO style both group members used tearaway pants to play the remaining moments of the song wearing nothing but a Speedo, Sky Blue’s included a giant elephant trunk which he threw in to the crowd a number of times. Much to the delight of the teenage girls who were sitting in the first few rows. With that, the show was over and again, from an entertainment stand point, I was pleased. LMFAO and the folks at Cherrytree Records did a great job of putting together a show that everyone their could enjoy without being a true fan of the music. This group went from co headlining with ‘Girl Talk’ opening for ‘Ke$ha’ and now selling out one of the largest arenas in the country. Trust me, with entertaining shows like this, no matter the music, they will be for a long time.
Rival Summers CD Release Show
The Crofoot Ballroom
Story & Photos by: News Director Ashley Allison
The co-headliners were Shapes and Colors and Rival Summers, both releasing albums and both being very relevant local artists.
Shapes and Colors went first of the two. The set started off strong, getting the audience quickly into the mix. The strongest part of the band, in my opinion, was the singer. He has a strong voice, sounding similar to another local native, Danny Stevens of The Audition.
Another high point, was the interaction with the audience. The band, all members including, had a very noticeable stage presence that radiated to the crowd. As most pop-alternative bands, the guitar riffs were catchy and upbeat. The backing vocals were better than most bands I have seen before, and the slow tribute to the singers sister was a emotional touch.
The final band of the night was Rival Summers. Rival Summers is mostly known for being acoustic, so I was very anxious to see how the crowd reacted to the full band. Other than the electric guitar being slightly louder than I would have liked, it was great.
The crowds response was greater than I had ever seen at any other local show and Leo Bautista, the frontman and man behind everything, was beaming with energy the entire set. The new songs were as Rival Summers fan like them. The album takes you through a story where it comes full circle at the end, leaving you feeling as if you know the entire life of the songwriter. Halfway through the set they slowed it down with a tear jerker (it gets me every time) where Bautista played piano and the rest of the band took a break. The last song, Baby its Been a While, is a Rival Summers fan favorite and upbeat jam that was the perfect way to end the show leaving the crowd chanting for one more song.
If you haven’t seen the band yet, I highly suggest you do and do fast.