Concert Reviews


Ezra Furman and Anna Burch

March 1, 2018

The Loving Touch – Ferndale, MI

Reviewed by:  Wade Panizzoli

After surviving a full day of school and driving through a snowstorm, a group of friends and I finally made it to the doors of the Loving Touch in Ferndale. Due to the responsibilities that we had: handing out flyers at the end of the show and reviewing the show, we thought were going to be the only ones in there as Michigan decided to drop a surprise 10 inches of snow in the metro-Detroit area. Shortly after the door time of 8 p.m., we were proven wrong, as handfuls of people started to file their way into the cozy venue. This 350-capacity room was full of conversation and interactions. Many people seemed to have gravitated toward Anna Burch before her 9 p.m. set time, as this would be her hometown show on tour with Ezra Furman.

Just two weeks after her record release show at the El Club, it appeared like many friends and family braved the storm for the songwriter. An hour later, the hometown hero took the stage to start the music for the evening.

Opening the set with a track that is near the end of her debut album, “Yeah You Know” brought lots of smiles on stage and in the crowd. Following the song, Burch was very apologetic to mention some sound & lighting difficulties to Alex, a new sound guy in the Michigan scene. Dimmed lights and equalized monitors lead into the darker and rocking track “Asking 4 A Friend.” Burch revealed that this song was her mother’s least favorite on the record due to its lyrical content. Song by song Burch serenaded the audience and surely converted any person watching and listening to a fan if the person wasn’t already. Burch’s 30-minute set was coming to an end, as she announced that she had only two songs left. Any fan could assume which two songs were left, and my friends and I were very excited to hear the chords of “What I Want” being played. As soon as the chorus hit, all my buddies turned to each other and started singing near the top of our lungs “I won’t play the victim, just because I can’t get what I want.” It was a sad moment when this three-minute song came to an end. Although it is a bummer that Anna Burch was about to play her last song, the smiles were brought back with the rocking “Tea-Soaked Letter.”

By this time, the crowd at the Loving Touch finally started to nod their heads to the beat of the music and get into it. Her set was composed of eight out of nine tracks that were on her debut record, Quit the Curse, which released in February of 2018.

The crowd was attracted to the front of the stage at the conclusion of Anna Burch’s set, as Ezra Furman was to take the stage in a short 30-minutes. Standing in the back and not knowing much about Ezra Furman’s group or music, I could tell that I was one of the only few who had the same stance. Ezra and the group, who marched from the back of the venue to the stage in their white tuxedos, confidently filled any open space on the stage and started to perform songs that were favorites of the audience. Anna Burch got the audience loose, and as soon as Ezra and his group started to perform they were quick to dance. Many sounds were produced from the group that included instruments from guitars to bass to xylophones to saxophones. It was simple to notice that the crowd was having the best of time on this snowy Thursday evening. Ezra Furman made their 75-minute set fly by while performing catchy tune after catchy tune.

The Loving Touch provided the amount of comfort needed on a snowy Thursday night. Being so comfortable and almost at home, the crowd was very resistant to leaving the venue so soon. A few street teamers for the Crofoot were motivators to the concert-goers as they were handing out flyers to upcoming events such as The Dears and Japanese Breakfast. Many folks were excited to look at the upcoming shows, giving them something to look forward to as the night all about Ezra Furman has come to an end.

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Tyler, The Creator

The Masonic Temple, Detroit

February 27, 2018

Coverage By: Dennis London

Photography:
Dennis London
Instagram: dennislondonphotography.jpg
Web: dennislondonphotography.com

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Mac DeMarco w/ Alex Calder and The Courtneys

The Crofoot

Pontiac, MI

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Photos and review by: Music Director Anthony Spak (@spakdaddy)

Mac DeMarco played to a sold-out crowd at The Crofoot.

Mac DeMarco played to a sold-out crowd at The Crofoot.

Mac DeMarco played to a sold-out crowd at The Crofoot on a cold Sunday night, his last of a month-long tour.

When the doors opened at 7 p.m., fans clad in Carhart beanies and backwards snapback hats that had been waiting in line for hours rushed to the front of the stage and set up shop for the next few hours. Those who got up front, stayed up front. No one wanted to miss a chance to touch Mac during one of his trademark stage dives.

The Courtney's

The Courtney’s

On the bill were three Canadian bands, starting with The Courtneys. Their chugging jangle pop was reminiscent of The Raincoats and eased the crowd into the night with pleasant melodies.

Next up was Alex Calder, an old friend of DeMarco’s who played alongside him in a past project, Makeout Videotape. Starting off rocky because of sound problems, Calder and company played their ragged brand of slacker rock – a darker DeMarco sound. Adjectives like, “chill”, “dreamy,” “subdued” and “stoner” came to mind while they played. The bass player’s Grateful Dead shirt also helped.

Alex Calder

Alex Calder

The highlight of Alex Calder’s set came in the form of a Led Zeppelin cover, a reggae-ish version of “Fool in the Rain.” DeMarco’s guitar player, Andrew “Andy” White, joined the band onstage to sing on the dad rock staple, drawing giggles from the crowd. White, with his long blonde hair and beard, looked like Robert Plant circa 1970 and fit the part well.

“That was a cover,” White said after the song, educating the young crowd. “It’s by Led Zeppelin.”

At 10 p.m., Canada’s most lovable crooner stepped to the stage, walking out to a piano playing, “Here Comes the Bride.” Amidst a roar of applause and a cloud or marijuana smoke, DeMarco took up his vintage Stratocaster, bearing a similar resemblance to the one Jerry Garcia used in the early 1970’s, and launched into “The Way You’d Love Her.”

Next came the usual activities of a Mac DeMarco show: teenagers throwing packs of cigarettes onstage as offerings of admiration, crowd surfing and bodies sauntering slowly in place to the music. The atmosphere was communal, positive and lighthearted. Every song was a sing-along.

New songs like “No Other Heart,” “Without Me” and “Just to Put Me Down” were slower and sexier than on DeMarco’s most recent record, “Another One.” When played live, these three songs especially were transformed into feel-good love bangers for people who wear Vans slip-ons.

In true DeMarco fashion, the band closed with, “Together.” The ballad is always the last song in the set, dating back to the ending of DeMarco’s second album, “2.” Though it was written for DeMarco’s girlfriend, the singer dedicated the number to all the members of the other bands who sat at the back of the stage, sometimes playing shakers and dancing.

The band’s typical closer took a turn for the experimental when Andy White started to play an odd solo, diving into his effects pedals to make harsh and heavenly noises. White teased the songs “Enter Sandman” by Metallica and “Over the Hills and Far Away” by Led Zeppelin, but eventually found his way back to “Together.”

DeMarco and bass player Pierce McGarry.

DeMarco and bass player Pierce McGarry.

The song climaxed with the typical Mac DeMarco stage dive into the crowd. Once there, DeMarco found his way up to a pole that lead to the balcony of the room, which he scaled. Once up above the main floor, DeMarco took a victory lap around the railing of the room, handing out high-fives to fans above, then jumped back down and found his way back to the stage.

Security at the front of the stage had their hands full with crowd surfers throughout the night. DeMarco made a praying gesture and bowed his head to them after they lifted him back to the stage, showing his appreciation for their efforts.

Exiting the stage briefly, DeMarco was quickly back for an encore amidst chants of, “MAC! MAC! MAC! MAC!” Picking up his guitar, the band ripped into a sludgy version of “Enter Sandman,” one of a few covers the band plays regularly. The cover twisted and turned its way through 10 minutes of continued crowd surfing, chanting by members of the band and loud instrumentation that felt like the apocalypse was upon us.

To end the night, DeMarco capped off a bottle of champagne onstage and proceeded to scream into the microphone like a demon that’d just stubbed its toe. It was truly primal screaming, as if DeMarco had been saving a shot of some internal pain for the end of his carefree-sounding set. Screaming until he couldn’t scream anymore, DeMarco bid the crowd farewell and exited the stage to cheers.

Setlist:

  1. The Way You’d Love Her
  2. Salad Days
  3. No Other Heart
  4. Another One
  5. Cookin’ Up Something Good
  6. Ode to Viceroy
  7. Without Me
  8. Reelin’ In The Years (Steely Dan cover)
  9. Just to Put Me Down
  10.  Let Her Go
  11.  I’ve Been Waiting For Her
  12.  Chamber of Reflection
  13.  Together
  14.  Encore: Enter Sandman (Metallica cover)

 

 

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Danny Brown’s Bruiser Thanksgiving IV

Club Fantasy, Detroit, Mich.

November 22, 2017

Review by: PSA Director Nick Marinelli

An anxiousness permeates the air from the queue outside to the hazy expanse inside. It’s Danny Brown’s last show for several months, and with him coming home to Detroit, it is made even more important.

The individuality of opening acts Jlin and Container affirm Brown’s commitment to the support of independent artists. Venus X and John FM continue to set the tone of the night with a mix of cathartic R&B and throbbing techno beats. Whereas Detroit Lines fuels the crowd with even harder EDM, designed to pulsate throughout our bodies.

It becomes clear by the time Danny Brown comes on stage, this event should be the blueprint for how one organizes a homecoming show.

With “Iron Man” by Black Sabbath playing as he walks out, Brown arrives onstage to a rapturous rock star-like welcome. Fittingly, he opens with, “Die Like A Rockstar.” The thumping drumbeat gives way to a menacing synth and Brown lets us know we’re off by way of his distinctive high-pitched frantic delivery.

His appearance is striking. Standing at well over six feet tall and dressed in tight jeans and a green coat, Brown challenges the stereotypical image of what a rapper should look like according to fashion standards. Considering Brown is known to indulge in post-punk and new wave music — evidenced by the title of his latest album, “Atrocity Exhibition,” an overt reference to the influential post-punk group, Joy Division — it shouldn’t be too much of a surprise that these inspirations have influenced how he presents himself.

Brown treats the crowd to several cuts off “XXX,” with “Monopoly” hitting especially hard five songs in. Brown then shifts into his 2013 offering “Old,” and “Dip” whips the crowd into a frenzy with the famous line, “Don’t let me into my zone”.

Brown’s last three albums, “XXX,” “Old” and Atrocity Exhibition” have often been referenced as a trilogy by the media, and the rapper alludes to this with tonight’s setlist, which functions as somewhat of a three-act performance, moving from album to album playing five or six tracks off of each.

Before we reach “Atrocity Exhibition,” Brown treats us to perhaps his most endearing cut, “Grown Up.”

“Grown Up” possesses the charm of invoking memories of adolescent days, and instantly wins over the ecstatic crowd with its smooth groove. There are still elements of Brown’s darkness present in the song, but the glimmering self-confidence of the line, “Whoever thought I’d be greatest growing up,” reminds us of his irresistible charisma.

(Author’s note: While doing some research following the show, I was pleasantly surprised to find out the song samples Gorillaz’s “Tomorrow Comes Today.” Additional author’s note: “Tomorrow Comes Today” is a lovely, intense reflective tune.)

“Ain’t It Funny” follows “Grown Up” with propulsive electronic beats and the “Atrocity Exhibition” portion of the show is on.

Brown’s breathtaking aggressive, frantic vocal entrance into the tune is one of his best yet, and he makes Club Fantasy literally bounce. The vibe then takes a pleasingly dark turn with “Really Doe.” It doesn’t matter that Kendrick Lamar isn’t here to deliver the chorus. Brown and the crowd combine to make it just as satisfying before transitioning into “When It Rain.”

Bringing the show to a close, Brown uses “Pneumonia” to level a final assault of unrelenting exposure to his personality. The experimentation of the chaotic track is powerfully realized in the live setting. The song clings and clangs, then wallops the crowd with speedy electronic drums. Driving many members of the crowd, including yours truly, into hysterics.

The venue at this point has been transformed into an “upside-down” atmosphere of thickening haze. Paralleling Brown’s daring, unwillingly to hold back, idiosyncratic musical vision. He pours his emotions into his music, and in turn, it publicly defines who he is. It’s poignant. It’s real.

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Tennis with Overcoats

The Magic Bag

Ferndale, Michigan

Review by: Nick Marinelli

3.10.17

Why didn’t I bring a hat? Really, just some amount of fabric to cover my head would be fantastic right now.

Frigidly, I trudged my way from my certainly illegal parking spot to the front door of the Magic Bag. It’s a quiet an intimate setting, right from the moment you walk in. The bar immediately facing to your right, and a view of the stage that’s visible from the door, the Magic Bag welcomes you right in.

As I headed down to the standing area near the stage I nervously wondered if I had missed the opening act. Deciding to make conversation I asked what quality about Tennis brought them to the show.

One cited their first album Cape Dory while the other referenced that their new album Yours Conditionally had been released earlier in the day. While gushing about my love for new album track, “Modern Woman” with old hits like “Bad Girls” and “Mean Streets,” suddenly the opening act appeared.

It was quite amusing to see that the crowd wasn’t sure what to make of them at first. Appearing in all white sweatshirts and sweatpants, the two women that comprise, Overcoats swayed dreamily from side to side at center stage, which produced quite a hypnotizing effect.

What followed was a series of brightly programmed dance beats with magnificent dually layered vocals delivered by both singers in faultless time.

“The future is women” lyric gathers a passionate response from the crowd. Overcoats’ lyrics were distinguishable in that I was able to pick up on a common theme, the theme being “he,” and the most striking but straightforward lyric coming several songs in, “Don’t you love him so.”

In a music culture dominated by the use of the word “she,” it’s quite refreshing to hear songs using “he” in a romantic manner. Overcoats rounded up their set with a few more danceable numbers, and with the lingering thought that I needed to discover more about this group when time permitted.

Not long after Overcoats set, Tennis arrived. Beginning with the opening track to Yours Conditionally, “In the Morning I’ll Be Better,” immediately brought the crowd into their world. “Never Work for Free,” came quite quickly after and a series of cleverly crafted pop anthems followed. This fellow, in particular, was overjoyed to hear “Mean Streets,” an extra track from third album Ritual in Repeat played with great exuberance mid-set. Lead singer, Alaina Moore and lead guitarist, Patrick Riley were at the forefront for the performance’s entirety, their bond of strength and love on display for the whole audience.

“Modern Woman,” proved to be a special moment and the crowd instantly connected with the tune. Announcing the song, several audience members shouted out opening lyric “Kate! Kate!!” as Moore vaguely commented on the song being about “a certain woman.”

This moment along with many others highlighted the loving, relaxed, warm environment Tennis creates with their music.

As the song swelled the crowd enthusiastically joined in with the astonishingly, relatable chorus, “I think I might have made it real, I think I might have made it so real.”

Instantly it transports one to the feeling of a friendship that ceases to be just surface-level human interaction.

The set breezed by with a swiftness that only became apparent once it was finished, so easy was it to get lost in the succession of a keyboard and guitar melodies.

As they left the stage to much adoration, the crowd clambered for their return. It didn’t take long, and soon they were back on stage, however this time it was just Moore, Riley and his guitar. As Riley played the opening notes to “Bad Girls,” a wave of elation ran through the crowd.

Once Moore started singing, all of the audience, including yours truly, was with her for every word, sending us off into the night with newfound optimism.

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Slow Hollows and Cherry Glazerr at El Club

01.25.17

Detroit, MI

Reviewed by: David Bugg

A large diverse group of people gathered on the streets of Mexican Town, Detroit in anticipation for

Cherry Glazerr and Slow Hollows on Wednesday, January 25th, 2017.

El Club, a fairly new venue in Detroit, was packed with concertgoers ready to enjoy the West-Coast

sound that Cherry Glazerr and Slow Hollows produces.

People waited patiently for the opening act, and while waiting for the opener, many audience members

took the time to point out the paper vaginas that decorated the ceiling above the stage. Time continued

forward and it was about an hour before the opener, Slow Hollows, took the stage.

With deeply woven lyrics and perfect crescendos and decrescendos, Slow Hollows captivated the

audience and gained the approval of the Detroit fan base. Not a huge surprise as Austin Feinstein, the

guitarist and vocalist of the band, has personally worked with Frank Ocean on his latest album.

The vocals resonated with emotion as Feinstein deep voice serenaded the crowd while the

instrumentals contributed to the emotion that the vocals carried with it. The Bass and drums

complemented the set with warm tones and a groovy rhythm.

The room was filled with emotion as Slow Hollows is able to connect with the crowd by relating to

common issues that most of us experience throughout life. In particular, being in a band just out of high

school, most of their material was influenced by the experience of growing up.

In terms of song structure, the transitions between Intro, verse, chorus, interludes and outros were

absolutely flawless. They captured the attention of everyone in the room.

While chatting with the band, they stated that this was is their first tour outside California.

They opened strong with one of their more well-known songs The Art School Kids and continued that

momentum throughout the rest of the set.

They left the stage with a respect and love of Detroit.

It was not long before Cherry Glazerr came out after them and opened with Sip O’ Poison off of their

recently released album “Apocalipstick.” The crowd went wild and cheered relentlessly.

Everyone fell in love with Clementine and the rest of Cherry Glazerr as they danced the night away to

every song that they played. There were points where people would crowd surf and stage dive. Even

members from Slow Hollows join in with the crowd and danced around with everyone.

Clementine would entertain the audience in between songs with cheesy jokes and funny remarks. The

crowd fed their energy to Clementine as she began thrashing around on stage.

Playing her previous hits Trick or Treat Dance Floor and Grilled Cheese allowed for the crowd to relax

and slow dance to the fun and soft grooves that make those tunes popular. While Cherry Glazerr’s more

hard-hitting songs like Had Ten Dollaz riled the crowd.

The drums shook the venue around like it was weightless while the guitars & bass kept the groove going

and inspired people to dance. The Keys added beautiful undertones that added a sense of completeness

to each song.

People begged for Cherry Glazerr to come back on stage for an encore once they exited. After cheering

for roughly five minutes they returned on stage to finish off the night.

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Warped Tour Review

Palace of Auburn Hills

Auburn Hills, Michigan

Review by: Program Director Kenny Kott

Photos by: Matt McCormick

Some call it nostalgic. Some call it classic. I call this year’s Warped Tour lineup perfect.

In the parking lot of The Palace of Auburn Hills, Warped Tour brought back the gritty, pop/punk ska, an edge that made it popular, to begin with.

Ballyhoo

Playing on a smaller stage might present a challenge to bands, but not Ballyhoo.  I’d argue the modest crowd size at this stage played to their advantage.  Their style of reggae rock had plenty of booties shaking turning the parking lot into a dance floor. Their repertoire included mellow songs such as “Walk Away” “Girls” and “Morning Sunlight”. All and all a simple yet delightful set for this Maryland band.

Reel Big Fish

Olé Olé Olé chanted the crowd as these ska veterans marched onto the stage.

I had seen them headlining tours before but being new to the Warped scene I wasn’t sure what to expect. Judging by the crowd I could also guess about half had never seen Reel Big Fish live before.

However, they certainly did not disappoint, starting off their set with their upbeat ska hit “Everyone Else is an A**hole.” Beyond the music, they’re an extremely charismatic band on stage with their well-choreographed moves and amusing banter. They were quick to provide a laugh when covering 90s hits such as, “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and “My Own Worst Enemy” in true Reel Big Fish fashion.

They ended things with their signature cover of “Take on Me” leaving the fans excited for their hopeful return to the tour in years to come.

Less Than Jake

First and foremost, Less Than Jake was by far the most patriotically dressed bands on the Tour. Lead singer Chris DeMakes was sporting a blue starred jacket, long red pants, and an American flag bowtie while trombone player Buddy Schaub rocked a long American flag necktie much to the crowd’s amusement.

They got everyone fired up early on with, “Sugar in Your Gas Tank” one of their older punk/ska songs. They continued through their set with their more popular thrashers such as “All My Best Friends are Metalheads” and “Plastic Cup Politics.”

 

Given their wealth of prior Warped experience, they knew exactly which songs we all came to see them play and they sent us all home happy.

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Review By: Promotions Director Drew Marczewski

For a sampling of the artists featured in this recap, check out this playlist on Spotify

Lollapalooza: an extraordinary or unusual thing, person, or event; an exceptional example or instance.

Over the past 25 years, the music festival of the same name has been just that: a safe haven for art, community, and lifestyle associated with alternative culture. Of course, a lot has happened since; newborn infants grow into adults; innovative technology changes the way that society operates; cultures evolve into entities that are completely unrecognizable to previous generations.

Lollapalooza is no exception to this rule, but change is not necessarily a bad thing. While the summer gathering has no doubt adapted to keep up with the times, it has stayed true to itself, refusing to compromise the things that make it so weird (in a good way).

 

THE FESTIVAL

Lollapalooza was originally conceived by Jane’s Addiction frontman Perry Farrell in 1991 as a farewell tour for his band. In the time since, Lollapalooza has grown to be one of the largest musical festivals in the world; it has diversified its lineup to encompass nearly any musical genre imaginable, embraced modern technology, embedding throughout the grounds.

In celebration of Lollapalooza’s 25th anniversary, event organizers went all out by scheduling a legendary lineup of acts and extending the duration of the festival to four days long to accommodate performances by all 170 artists (a trend that will continue into next year).

Headliners included big artists like J Cole and Lana Del Rey, as well as Lollapalooza vets like Radiohead, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, and LCD Soundsystem.

By The Numbers:

This year’s festivities took place on Thursday, July 28 – Sunday, July 31 on the grounds of Downtown Chicago’s Grant Park, the festival’s permanent home since 2005. General admission passes for the weekend went on sale in late March and sold out within one hour, with single day passes following just two hours later.

Attendance figures totaled an estimated at 400,000 for the weekend, averaging out to a staggering 100,000 for each of the festival’s four days.

 

 

Like A Virgin:

Being my first time attending Lollapalooza, and just my second time ever in Chicago, I made a few errors, such as booking sketchy Airbnb’s, staying in a hotel 45 minutes away from the festival grounds, and booking a room for the night I arrived. The resulting circumstances presented a few obstacles, but after working my way around them, they ultimately added a memorable element to the weekend that would follow.

The Windy City:

Downtown Chicago pulsated with life as concertgoers flowed through the streets to the festival gates on that inaugural morning. Unlike most other large-scale music festivals, which primarily take place in large fields or forested areas, the urban setting of Lollapalooza was truly humbling. Eight stages, hundreds of tents, and countless (smelly) outhouses were scattered throughout the 115 acres of Grant Park designated for the event.  A backdrop of larger-than-life skyscrapers lingered over every view; repurposed city roads teamed with hordes of roaming concertgoers; Buckingham fountain, one of the largest in the world, acted as the heart of the festival both geographically and metaphorically.

Organization:

Adding to the aesthetics of the festival was the tedious effort evident in every level of organization. For example, on the opening day of the events rain clouds loomed overhead and delayed the opening of the gates for a few brief moments, but did not interfere with the day’s set times. Tech-infused wristbands streamlined entry through the gates and onto the grounds of Grant Park; on any given day of the weekend, the process of entering the festival grounds lasted no more than 15 minutes, which was a pleasant surprise. On days when it rained, the Cottonelle tent had concert attendees covered (literally) with their seemingly endless supply of ponchos which they eagerly distributed. Stage crews kept fans occupied during the time between sets with interactive games like Flappy Crowd, festival trivia, and fan-submitted photos. Hydration stations were never out of sight and medical staff was, for the most part, quick responding and easy to find. Festival signs, sign language interpreters, and green initiatives like “Rock & Recycle” were a familiar site having attended Orion Music Festival a few years ago, which was booked by the same C3 Entertainment booking company that handles Lollapalooza.

The Chicago Police Department deserve a standing ovation for the safe environment they maintained throughout the duration of the mass gathering. Although it’s unfortunate, given the reality we live in today, myself and many others stayed vigilant of any suspicious activity. A string of phone thefts and drug-related hospitalizations aside, concertgoers had very little to worry about.

Munchies:

When you think of Chicago, you think of deep dish pizza. The two words are nearly synonymous for a reason, and that’s because in Chicago pizza is a tradition. But as I quickly learned, pizza isn’t the only dish that Chicago has to offer; festival organizers made sure to represent the city’s wide palette of local eateries throughout the half a mile stretch of food tents known as “Chow Town.”  Meal options included staples of the region’s cuisine like pizza from Lou Malnati’s, Pizano’s, and Connie’s pizzerias, Chicago style hot dogs from a variety of vendors, and untraditional dishes like gourmet poutine, bacon dogs, and fried ravioli. Meals were no more expensive than at comparable festivals, but at Lollapalooza, you’re guaranteed to get what you pay for.

The People:

One of the most profound things I experienced over the weekend, and possibly in my entire life, was the sense of community that could be felt throughout the city. On its own, Chicago is a city where you are bound to interact with complete strangers, whether it’s asking for directions on the streets or making small talk with fellow commuters. When you add to the equation 100,000 people converging on the city for a single event, you get an atmosphere full of love, respect, and camaraderie.

This was reflected in nearly every aspect of the experience, from making friends on the Amtrak ride into town to the crowd clearing the way for medical staff for those in need, and even late night sing along sessions in the subway cars.

The festival’s bright wristbands made it easy to identify and meet fellow concertgoers and exchange stories, tips, and wisdom. The reach of this community transcended physical interactions and even held a presence in the digital realm through the devoted Lollapalooza subreddit, which was a source of vital information throughout the weekend. The weekend as a whole felt spiritual, almost like a pilgrimage to Mecca but for music fans.

I met and gained perspective from people of all sorts, hailing from various states and world nations as far away as Belgium. Hearing thousands of fans sing collectively while just as many of them bravely dance together was a life-changing moment for me.

It showed that despite all of our differences, music is the great equalizer, and its power is unmatched by anything else in existence.

Also in attendance of the festival were a diverse mix of celebrity guests, including Bob Saget, members of Cage The Elephant, and Kid Cudi. Chi-town natives Dwayne Wade, Chance the Rapper (who would make several guest appearances throughout the weekend) and the notorious Malia Obama.

THE MUSIC

Music aside, Lollapalooza is a festival that differentiates itself from nearly any other mass gathering on the planet. But it is, after all, a music festival, so onto recapping the performances. This year’s festivities were based on a lineup that rivaled, if not surpassed, the offerings of any of its competitors, no matter the genre (which is no surprise given that it had a full extra day of artists when compared to the standard three-day format of comparable events). The scheduling of acts couldn’t have been better, with the daily lineup progressively getting better over the course of the weekend.

Thursday:

My personal itinerary of performances began on Thursday with a set from up-and-coming Run for Cover Records act Pinegrove performing to their largest crowd to date. The band’s unique style of post-pop-punk and country/folk is something that must be heard in person to be fully appreciated and their performance made me an instant fan (an occurrence which would become common throughout my four days in the windy city.) After that, it was on to an hour-long set by the enigmatic trio Autolux, followed by an unscheduled visit to the Bud Light stage for Melanie Martinez, who’s off the wall baby themed theatrics caught my attention.

 

Melanie Martinez brought the #crybaby tour to #Lolla. Photo by @charles.reagan

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Later in the day, Wavves brought his west coast vibes and surf-rock hits to the Midwest, performing an energy filled set at the grove. After the band left the stage, Kurt Vile was my next act to see. His chill on-stage demeanor complimented the slacker folk melodies which would soon fill the cool afternoon air of Grant Park.

 

Kurt Vile on the Petrillo Bandshell at #Lolla. Photo by @maclayheriot

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Dan Auerbach and The Arcs filled the sub-headlining slot at the Lakeshore stage with a set featuring a backing choir, several vintage guitars, and not one, but two drummers.

Capping off the night was one of the biggest names in the game, J Cole. The rapper set the bar high for any headliners set to perform in the following nights with a high energy show that would be tough to top. One of the things that sets J Cole aside from the rest of his competition and makes him so appealing to me is the way that he distances himself from the pettiness and braggadocios behavior associated with many successful rappers. He used his voice to make biting criticisms of American society through songs like “No Role Modelz,” in addition to addressing his discontent with Giant Douche in between songs (another trend that would become common throughout the weekend). The North Carolina MC made it clear through his unwavering sense of confidence and fierce intensity that although he doesn’t believe in the rap god title or care about wearing the crown (he was responsible for destroying it in “Fire Squad”), he is no doubt one of the most significant forces in modern rap, and possibly of all time.

 

 

Friday:

The second day of performances was defined by rainy weather once again and a legendary performance by alternative rock legends Radiohead. It began with a set from Modern Baseball, from which I left to catch the final minutes of the Struts, a band I had heard praise for in the weeks leading up to Lollapalooza. The band draws influence from many stadium rock bands of the 70’s and although I thought it would be impossible, front man Luke Spiller lived up to the Freddie Mercury comparisons with his seemingly limitless vocal range and crowd working ability. Even though I was only in attendance for the rising act’s final three songs, they definitely lived up to the hype and even surpassed my expectations. The set was followed up by the jazz-funk outfit Lettuce, who played what is possibly the most entrancing jam session I’ve ever witnessed during their hour-long set. Across the lawn, a party was about to start as electronic funk-pop duo Cherub began their set, blaring synth-laced melodies that got the large crowd off their feet. Having only listened to a small sample of the group’s catalog going into the festival, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the duo incorporated guitars, drums, and talk boxes as a means of producing their music rather than just computers, keyboards and drum pads. The band would become a staple of my daily music consumption in the weeks following their performance.

 

 

After Cherub concluded their set, I began the long trek to the opposite end of the park to see an artist who I was quite familiar with heading into the festival. M83 (pronounced “M quatre vingts trois” as I found out through a conversation with a fellow concertgoers from Belgium) was the sub-headliner for the night; a perfect fit in the role of setting the atmosphere for what would follow later in the night. Just as with Cherub, I was glad to see another band utilizing live instruments, including what appeared to be a midi clarinet, as a means to achieve their sound live. The ensemble regularly swapped instrument playing duties throughout a set comprised of hits like “Midnight City,” tracks from the new album “Junk”, and deep cuts from their extensive catalog. The drowning synths and spacey instrumentals eventually faded into silence as the nearly hour-long wait for Radiohead began.

 

Radiohead closing out Day 2 on the #SamsungStage. #Lolla photo by @cambriavision

A post shared by lollapalooza (@lollapalooza) on

 

Playing one of only six North American shows scheduled for 2016, it was surreal to be fortunate enough to see a band which will be looked back upon for decades into the future as a representation of our times’ sound. The music reverberating throughout the sea of fans was just as full and complex as the band itself. Thom York’s onstage antics left me wondering if the man was crazy or too sophisticated to fully comprehend, and if there is even a difference between the two. Most notable were the senile ramblings and animal noises he mumbled as the band transitioned from song to song, dance moves that that appeared to be the inspiration for Drake’s “Hotline Bling” music video, and a response to the crowd’s chants to play “Creep” in which he sarcastically mirrored this famous laughter. The band progressed from an opening sequence that featured several tracks off of their new album “A Moon Shaped Pool” and dove into their seemingly endless catalog of hits derived from every phase of their legendary career. One of the most profound experiences of my life occurred during the lone chorus of “Identikit,” during which the storm clouds from earlier in the day returned to Thom’s chants of “broken hearts make it rain” (so perfect of a coincidence that I’m convinced his moves must have been part of a rain dance). The band’s extended set came to a close long after the city mandated 10 o’clock curfew, and even though they left out some essentials like “Creep” and “Fake Plastic Trees,” I was far from disappointed.

 

 

Saturday:

Still being in awe over the previous night’s performance, I went into the third day of the festival not only questioning if there would be a band who would top Radiohead’s set, but also wondering if I could even enjoy a performance that was anything less than legendary on such short notice. Thankfully, I had nothing to worry about. I began the yet again with the discovery of another new band to add to the collection. This time around, it was The Joy Formidable taking the stage. The female-fronted trio from the UK delivered a memorable performance that I won’t soon forget. From their set, I left to see Nothing, a band I had been eager to see all weekend long. The Philadelphia-based shoegaze revivalists were set to perform from the intimate setting of the BMI stage and I was sure to arrive early claim a prime viewing space next to the barricade. Immediately behind the stage, the contrast between chaotic highway traffic and serene Lake Michigan waves provided a backdrop that complemented their music style in ways which lights and banners could never replicate, best described as loud and beautiful. “We are Jane’s Addiction” front man Nicky Palermo opened with jokingly as the band wrapped up their sound check. From there, Nothing launched into “Fever Queen,” the opening track off their newest effort “Tired of Tomorrow” and continued onto a set characterized by the band’s signature wall of sound, dynamic atmosphere, and distorted guitars. “This is a song about being dead” Palermo stated in a deadpan tone as the band leads into “Eaten By Worms.” By the time the band finished playing, the crowd had grown from a few dozen people to a congregation of people either hardcore dancing or entranced by the sound being driven out of the amplifiers.

 

Listens to Nothing once

A post shared by NOTHING – via Domenic Palermo (@bandofnothing) on

 

From there, it was a short walk over to the Pepsi stage to see another artist who was also bringing new life to an old sound. Leon Bridges set felt like a window into the days when the Motown sound reigned supreme, complete with the sounds and attire of the time. Bridges played an unexpected cover of Ginuwine’s, “Pony” which put other renditions of the tune to shame.

 

 

Afterward, Chris Stapleton was scheduled to start on the opposite side of the field. While I’m not a fan of most country music, its fans, or its culture, I decided that I would see what it’s all about first hand. Stapleton is the antithesis of most successful country musicians, mainly being that his music is genuine as opposed to the manufactured cookie-cutter bullshit that other modern country artists use to sell out stadiums. Unfortunately, my negative views towards country music were reinforced almost immediately as the woman next to me in the crowd leaned over and threw up onto my leg before the music even began, walking away without even acknowledging it had happened. Astounded over what had just transpired, I came to the conclusion that Country music is simply just not for me as I left to find a way to clean off the vomit. Later in the day, it was time to see the founder of Lollapalooza himself, Perry Ferrell, alongside his bandmates from (the real) Jane’s Addiction. The on-stage theatrics that the band is so widely known for, featuring stripteases and ladies being suspended in the air by back piercings, were almost as entertaining as the music itself. The band added to the show with a surprise appearance of Rage Against The Machine guitarist and Chicago native Tom Morello who played alongside Dave Navarro to the band’s crowd-pleasing “Mountain Song” (I was really hoping for an appearance by Flea as well, but this was by no means a bad alternative). Being in attendance for this set left me with a prime spot for watching the Red Hot Chili Peppers, who were slated to perform on the same stage shortly thereafter.

 

@chilipeppers were incredible on the #SamsungStage tonight. #Lolla photo by @jbajsel

A post shared by lollapalooza (@lollapalooza) on

 

Fans of all sorts went crazy as Flea made his trademark entrance, walking on his stands across the stage as the rest of the four-piece followed. Although the band members are all entering their mid-50’s (besides Josh), you could hardly tell given their eccentric attire and energy. Of my three times seeing the group, this was by far the best that they had sounded. The lack of a rigorous tour schedule left Anthony’s vocals unstrained, and Josh’s progression as a live guitarist was evident after being with the band for another album cycle. Nearly every song in their set was a hit that even a light listener would recognize, reflecting the immense level of success the LA funk rock outfit has achieved over their nearly 35-year run. Kiedis’ lyrics were sung in sync with thousands of voices in the crowd, even for newer songs from the band’s just-released album “The Getaway.” Given the Chili Pepper’s deep catalog, it came is no surprise that they would have to leave out a few songs, like “The Adventures of Raindance Maggie and “Suck My Kiss,” but having seen them before I had no objections. The performance also featured some highlights including a rendition of “Under The Bridge” during which Anthony sang and danced alongside one of the festival’s ASL interpreters and a ditched effort to play a spontaneous cover of The Blue Oyster Cult’s “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper.” Following an encore that extended the night once again past the city mandated curfew, the band closed as they always do with their career-defining classic, “Give It Away.” As they left the stage, Keidis offered the thousands in attendance this brief piece of wisdom:

“Let’s stay connected.”

“It’s weird times, we’ve got to stay connected.”

“Whether you’re a brother or a sister or a daughter or a girlfriend or grandmother, let’s stay connected.”

 

 

Sunday:

My Lollapalooza experience culminated with the final day of the festival which going into based on the lineup I expected to be my least favorite. Fortunately, I could not have been more wrong, as it ended up being my favorite of the weekend from the very start. FIDLAR was my first major act in the day’s lineup, and there were questions floating around about whether or not they would actually show up given their festival cancellations the previous week stemming from vocalist Zac Carper’s bout with a “serious infection”. Luckily for those in attendance, his ailment was no longer an issue, and the band was able to breathe some energy into the crowd, exhausted from nearly 72 hours of straight music. Many millennial-aged fans could be spotted throughout the crowd, which was no surprise given the FIDLAR’S DIY aesthetic and biting lyrics which center on growing up, partying, addiction, and adapting to the 21st century. The band (whose name is appropriately an acronym for Fuck It Dawg, Life’s A Risk) opened with their rendition of the Beastie Boys’ “Sabotage” and mosh pits erupted throughout the crowd almost instantaneously. The set ranged from catchy hooks to aggressive riffs and the crowd never stopped moving throughout.

 

 

 

After leaving the spectacle of a show put on by FIDLAR, I was transported back to the late 90’s with a nostalgic performance by Third Eye Blind. Radio hits like “Jumper” and “Semi-Charmed Life” had the crowd singing in unison in what became a huge singalong session. The 90’s outfit stayed relevant with the showcasing of their newest single “Cop vs …” and even made room for a wheelchair-bound fan to watch a song from the stage.

 

 

The most hype set of the weekend by far was put on by a psychedelic rap group that should be on everyone’s radar. Flatbush ZOMBiES, comprised of Meechy Darko, Zombie Juice, and Erick The Architect, stood behind a distinctly scented wall of haze that had begun to fill the air. The introductory track to the band’s first major release “3001: A Laced Odyssey” signaled the start of the show but was abruptly cut off and restarted from the beginning due to some audio issues. From that point on, I was in for a ride that made FIDLAR’s set look like child’s play. My obscured view of the stage left me with the impression that the rap group was using a backing vocal track, but I was amazed to find that the sound was completely organic. The performance was more akin to that of a hardcore show than anything else and needless to say, it was lit. Mosh pits, stage diving, and other rowdy behavior were visible on stage and throughout the crowd, which had grown too large to be contained by the small, fenced-in area lying directly in front of the BMI stage. I was amazed by the ensemble’s rotating vocal duties, showcased in a cappella fashion with recurring moments of silence in the backing track. Before they were ready to leave the stage, the trio asked for the audience’s attention one more time, calling out anyone leaving before hearing what they had to say. Four words of advice were all they had to offer: “Open your fucking mind.” Following up this set was one that was much less abrasive, put on by the Indie vets from the UK, Bloc Party. I was able to see some of my favorites like “Banquet”, “Helicopter”, and “Rachet” while filling the time before LCD Soundsystem was slated to go on. Nearing the transition between the two bands, I traversed the distance between the Lakeshore and Samsung stages one last time in preparation for a captivating performance to close out 2016’s festivities.

 

 

I was ecstatic to see the Brooklyn-based band, who I had just recently gotten into after they were announced to headline Lollapalooza, as well as nearly every other major summer festival. Founder and vocalist James Murphy’s chants of the phrase “The time has come, the time has come, the time has come today”, lyrics from the group’s opening song “Us v Them”, provided a fitting narrative for the final performance of the weekend. Fresh out of retirement, the band showed no rust; each member of the live ensemble, consisting of what looked like 8 members, meticulously toyed with a slew of instruments ranging from analog synthesizers and their disembodied wires to the humble cowbell. The group’s set was characterized by intensifying grooves, layered harmonic instrumentation, and elegant vocals building up to an eventual eruption of emotion. This combination may sound bizarre when broken down into its individual components, but one thing that was made clear by LCD Soundsystem’s performance is that they are a band that must be heard live to be fully understood. As the collective powered through a set full of hits like “Daft Punk is Playing at my House” and “Dance Yrself Clean,” the crowd went wild. The performance itself was basically a giant dance party to celebrate the weekend and everything that it stands for. Fans spent every last drop remaining after the exhausting weekend by dancing like there was no tomorrow and singing with no inhibitions. While the rest of the group tuned their instruments during the transition between “Losing My Edge” and “Home,” Murphy announced, “Thanks, you guys, we have four more songs.” After a brief pause, and an audible response from the audience expressing their dismay, he demonstrated his effortless ability to work for the crowd, adding, “Four is a long time, we have like 10-minute fucking songs”. LCD Soundsystem continued to jam into the goosebump inducing drop of their most popular songs “Dance Yrself Clean,” illuminated by the glitchy visuals of the stage’s screens. A beer thrown on stage during the song resulted in some sarcastically expressed frustration for keyboardist Nancy Whang, as well as leaving the rest of the band confused over what had transpired, although the group quickly regained their composure before heading into their finale. The band’s cult following gained at least one additional member following life changing live rendition of “All My Friends,” during which a group of strangers invited me and my friends into their dance circle to share the moment. After belting out the final verse with my new friends, I exited Grant Park’s gates for good, reflecting on the life- changing weekend that didn’t include single disappointing performance.

 

 

THE AFTERMATH

For me, the return from Chicago was met with live music withdrawals, post-concert depression, and an ever-constant reflection of the things I had witnessed over the weekend. The transition back to reality was a difficult readjustment; watching live music, traversing the city, and becoming friends with complete strangers had become routine. However, it was a small price to pay for the music I had heard, the people I had met, and the things I had learned. As in depth as this review is, I firmly believe that the only way to truly experience the magic of Lollapalooza is to do it first hand, something I plan to do again in the near future.

 

A glimpse into the sights and sounds of Lollapalooza 2016:

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Special Thanks To: Lollapalooza, Zarif Ghazi, and Erin Ben-Moche
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July 23, 2016- July 24,2016

West Riverfront Park, Detroit

Recap by:  Assistant Program Director, Sylvia Trocea, Music Director, Kevin Hawthorne and DJ, Haylie Presnell

July 23 and 24, one of the hottest weekends in Michigan, turned cool as the MoPop festival returned with upgrades from the previous year, and an impressive lineup.

Although the indie-rock festival is young, it really brought its A-game this year.

lineup_4.28

The two-day festival took place at the scenic West Riverfront Park in downtown Detroit and began on Saturday, July 23. The opener, local Detroit band Valley Hush, surprised everyone with their upbeat music and feel-good atmosphere.

The surprises didn’t stop there. “Alex G” had an early set on Saturday. The Philly songwriter played an eclectic set drawing from his plethora of albums and EPs.

He entertained the crowd with his purposely off-putting stage banter which included calling the crowd ugly and screaming “Shut the f*** up!” when they cheered.  He ended the set by proclaiming, “You’ve been a great audience but we’ve been a better band,” and played fan favorite “Icehead.”

Twin Peaks, a garage rock band from Chicago gave an electric performance, drawing in a huge crowd as they played fan favorite “Making Breakfast” and “Walk to the One You Love,” a song off of their newly released album “Down in Heaven.”

The most energetic artist at the festival was Tunde Olaniran, who instantly had almost everyone dancing and having a good time. Borns, a local artist from Grand Haven, sported a spirited pink Detroit shirt to represent the city and what the local festival stands for bringing people together through music. Needless to say, his performance of “10,000 Emerald Pools,” tied the set together.

The adventures of MoPop Music Festival told by WXOU DJs and Alumni

The adventures of MoPop Music Festival told by WXOU DJs and Alumni

On the Grande Stage, English band Glass Animals made their appearance to a packed crowd. Technically, the band wasn’t perceived as headliners, but you couldn’t convince those in attendance of that. About a hundred people (if not more) swayed to the band’s hits “Gooey,” “Toes” and “Black Mambo.” Festival-goers were also treated to the band’s tried but true Kanye West cover “Love Lockdown,” as well as surprised with the band’s version of “Gold Lion,” made famous by indie-rock group Yeah Yeah Yeahs.

As the night drew on, more attendees got excited for the penultimate band of the evening: Haim. The all-girl trio ascended to the stage just as dusk began to break. Possibly one of the more charismatic bands of the day, Haim kept a humorous conversation going with their audience as they played through classic from their album Days Are Gone, before going into a brief tribute to late icon Prince with a cover of “I Would Die 4 U.”

The band was flirtatious- with a particular audience goer named Brandon- and comfortable. Este Haim recalled a fan saving her life earlier that day by buying her orange juice for her low blood sugar. They brought about the aura of just a few friends playing for even more friends with their set and their banter.

Haim then played a newer song, “Give Me Just a Little of Your Love,” before performing one of the most iconic sets of the day. “My Song 5” was the most energetic song thus far at Mo Pop the raw bass and drums enough to make the venue’s sound system crunch and shudder.

There was not one person who wasn’t singing along to the song the band dedicated to awful exes. Haim had one of the most surprising sets of the night, and surely after they were finished, many left in droves before actual “headliner” G-Easy came on stage. If it was all the same to most attendees, the night was over.

Haim owned Mo Pop and there was nothing left to do.

Day two of MoPop began with a rainy morning and ended on a clear skied, hot summer night filled with music.

The Sunday opener was appropriately named, The Greeting Committee, who gave a lighthearted performance in the rain, giving everyone a pleasant surprise since they’re not as well known.

MoPop was one of their first performances outside of their hometown. The Icelandic rock band, Kaleo blew everyone away in a set filled with soulful blues. Two of the best sets were Mac Demarco and Father John Misty.

Mac Demarco jumps into the crowd

Mac Demarco jumps into the crowd during his performance at MoPop Music Festival.

They played back to back and each one had their own great energy.

Mac created a low key party vibe with classics like, “The Way You’d Love Her” and “Ode To Viceroy.” He ended his set by stage diving to his staple closer “Together.”

Father John Misty, on the other hand, created an intimate setting with the audience, fitting seeing as he lacked his usual backing band. The crowd hung on to every word, whether it was established songs like “I Love You Honey Bear,” or two brand new songs. Jokes were told, hats were signed and everyone left feeling like they’d had a conversation with a good friend.

Father John Misty

Father John Misty performs at MoPop Music Festival

Matt and Kim had some unfortunate technical difficulties during their set, leaving them with only a short amount of time to perform their own music. Awkward jokes were passed in between while the issues were being resolved.

M83

M83 closed the entire weekend with an energetic bang. It was the perfect end to a long weekend.

___________________________________________________________________________________

Common Ground Music Festival Day 1

Review by Drew Marczewski

Photos by Dave Bug and Drew Marczewski

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July comes around once a year, and along with it comes Common Ground Music Festival. This mid-tier music festival is certainly no Lollapalooza or Bonnaroo, but its musical diversity, proximity and affordability make it accessible to a much wider range of music lovers.

Unlike these super festivals, Common Ground features local acts, a hammock lounge and craft beer trucks.

Each day of the festival focuses on a different genre of music, spanning from rap to country, punk to alternative, and anything in between.

Not bad for a festival funded by a non-profit organization.

Day one of festivities took place on Tuesday, July 5, at the home of the 16-year festival Adado Riverfront Park in Lansing, Michigan. It featured an alternative-based lineup leading up to the headliner of the night, AWOLNATION.

Fellow WXOU DJ Dave Bugg and I made our way through the festival gates just as they opened around 5 o’clock in the afternoon. Local act Ellis had just started playing the first set of the week on the flag-covered Sparrow Stage. We caught part of their energy-laced set before moving onto the pavilion stage to see Michigander-another local act if you couldn’t tell by the name.

Many hours of the night were spent jumping back and forth between these two stages. Some highlights included a cover of the Killers’ “When You Were Young” by Finish Ticket, and a set of Civil Twilight that featured a baby in the front row, a violin bow and their singer migrating into the crowd.

After Civil Twilight wrapped up their set, it was onto the Auto Value Main Stage where the headliners of the night were scheduled to play. Joe Hertler and the Rainbow Seekers, another local act, were the first to go on. The band immediately caught my eye with the inflatable rainbow that arched over their drummer and the shiny costume being worn by their saxophonist.

They got the crowd moving with their funky sound and led into the last song of their set with an unexpected opera ballad by singer Joe Hertler.

Their unique performance proved to be the best of the night so far and made me an instant fan.

Next up on the main stage was German folk duo Milky Chance. Not being a huge listener of the group, I thought many of their songs sounded alike, but that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. Their sound was extremely relaxing and singer Clemens Rehbein’s voice was on point throughout their time on stage.

The large crowd that they drew in seemed to love the performance, as evident by the flower-crown sporting girl in front of us who danced along with every song. Milky chance closed out their set with a performance of “Stolen Dance,” the only song of theirs that I knew going into the night, and it did not disappoint.

Scheduled to play next was the bass and drums duo, Death From Above 1979.

I had been looking forward to seeing them for months leading up to the festival because they put out some of the rawest, energetic and loud music out there, both live and on record.

Unfortunately, it was announced by the band a few weeks beforehand that they would be unable to play Common Ground, along with the rest of their summer tour dates, due to AWOLNATION abandoning them on tour. Granted that AWOLNATION did this as a result of being offered an opening gig for the upcoming Prophets of Rage tour, which would be hard for any band to pass up, this left a somewhat sour taste in my mouth.

This saltiness that I felt came to pass when AWOLNATION took the stage for their headline performance. Watching their first three songs from the photo pit was surreal to me, as it was my first experience doing something like that at a festival. Front man Aaron Bruno led the band with an unwavering sense of confidence and calmness, which was no surprise considering that they had played the very same stage as a co-headliner just three years ago.

He convinced nearly everyone in the crowd to get involved by encouraging them to sing along, wave their hands in the air, jump and put their arms around the person next to them. This continued throughout the night as they played hits new and old, including “Bad Wolf,” “Run,” and “Kill Your Heroes.” Every song that they played was almost instantly recognizable, even for the non-heavy listeners, due to the bands catchy choruses and the presence of their songs on the radio and elsewhere.

I have a huge amount of respect for the band’s use of real instruments and their ability to improvise live, which could be seen in the form of a raging drum solo/instrumental piece that sounded more like Pantera than it did AWOLNATION. As the night drew to a close, the band ended their set with a live rendition of their career-defining hit “Sail.” Bruno placed the duty of singing the chorus to the crowd until the song came to an end and the band exited the stage.

Even though I didn’t get to see the band that I had looked forward to the most going into the festival, I felt extremely satisfied with day one of this year’s Common Ground performances as I exited the park over its trademark flashing blue bridge. I got to see local acts, found a new band to listen to, and watched one of the biggest alternative acts in the game perform live from just a few feet away. I’m grateful for such an awesome music event to occur every year just a few cities over.

I’m eagerly awaiting its return next summer.

 

 

July comes around once a year, and along with it comes Common Ground Music Festival. This mid-tier music festival is certainly no Lollapalooza or Bonnaroo, but its musical diversity, proximity and affordability make it accessible to a much wider range of music lovers.

Unlike these super festivals, Common Ground features local acts, a hammock lounge and craft beer trucks.

Each day of the festival focuses on a different genre of music, spanning from rap to country, punk to alternative, and anything in between.

Not bad for a festival funded by a non-profit organization.

Day one of festivities took place on Tuesday, July 5, at the home of the 16-year festival Adado Riverfront Park in Lansing, Michigan. It featured an alternative-based lineup leading up to the headliner of the night, AWOLNATION.

Fellow WXOU DJ Dave Bugg and I made our way through the festival gates just as they opened around 5 o’clock in the afternoon. Local act Ellis had just started playing the first set of the week on the flag-covered Sparrow Stage. We caught part of their energy-laced set before moving onto the pavilion stage to see Michigander-another local act if you couldn’t tell by the name.

Many hours of the night were spent jumping back and forth between these two stages. Some highlights included a cover of the Killers’ “When You Were Young” by Finish Ticket, and a set of Civil Twilight that featured a baby in the front row, a violin bow and their singer migrating into the crowd.

After Civil Twilight wrapped up their set, it was onto the Auto Value Main Stage where the headliners of the night were scheduled to play. Joe Hertler and the Rainbow Seekers, another local act, were the first to go on. The band immediately caught my eye with the inflatable rainbow that arched over their drummer and the shiny costume being worn by their saxophonist.

They got the crowd moving with their funky sound and led into the last song of their set with an unexpected opera ballad by singer Joe Hertler.

Their unique performance proved to be the best of the night so far and made me an instant fan.

Next up on the main stage was German folk duo Milky Chance. Not being a huge listener of the group, I thought many of their songs sounded alike, but that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. Their sound was extremely relaxing and singer Clemens Rehbein’s voice was on point throughout their time on stage.

The large crowd that they drew in seemed to love the performance, as evident by the flower-crown sporting girl in front of us who danced along with every song. Milky chance closed out their set with a performance of “Stolen Dance,” the only song of theirs that I knew going into the night, and it did not disappoint.

Scheduled to play next was the bass and drums duo, Death From Above 1979.

I had been looking forward to seeing them for months leading up to the festival because they put out some of the rawest, energetic and loud music out there, both live and on record.

Unfortunately, it was announced by the band a few weeks beforehand that they would be unable to play Common Ground, along with the rest of their summer tour dates, due to AWOLNATION abandoning them on tour. Granted that AWOLNATION did this as a result of being offered an opening gig for the upcoming Prophets of Rage tour, which would be hard for any band to pass up, this left a somewhat sour taste in my mouth.

This saltiness that I felt came to pass when AWOLNATION took the stage for their headline performance. Watching their first three songs from the photo pit was surreal to me, as it was my first experience doing something like that at a festival. Front man Aaron Bruno led the band with an unwavering sense of confidence and calmness, which was no surprise considering that they had played the very same stage as a co-headliner just three years ago.

He convinced nearly everyone in the crowd to get involved by encouraging them to sing along, wave their hands in the air, jump and put their arms around the person next to them. This continued throughout the night as they played hits new and old, including “Bad Wolf,” “Run,” and “Kill Your Heroes.” Every song that they played was almost instantly recognizable, even for the non-heavy listeners, due to the bands catchy choruses and the presence of their songs on the radio and elsewhere.

I have a huge amount of respect for the band’s use of real instruments and their ability to improvise live, which could be seen in the form of a raging drum solo/instrumental piece that sounded more like Pantera than it did AWOLNATION. As the night drew to a close, the band ended their set with a live rendition of their career-defining hit “Sail.” Bruno placed the duty of singing the chorus to the crowd until the song came to an end and the band exited the stage.

Even though I didn’t get to see the band that I had looked forward to the most going into the festival, I felt extremely satisfied with day one of this year’s Common Ground performances as I exited the park over its trademark flashing blue bridge. I got to see local acts, found a new band to listen to, and watched one of the biggest alternative acts in the game perform live from just a few feet away. I’m grateful for such an awesome music event to occur every year just a few cities over.

I’m eagerly awaiting its return next summer.Review by Drew Marczewski

 

July comes around once a year, and along with it comes Common Ground Music Festival. This mid-tier music festival is certainly no Lollapalooza or Bonnaroo, but its musical diversity, proximity and affordability make it accessible to a much wider range of music lovers.

Unlike these super festivals, Common Ground features local acts, a hammock lounge and craft beer trucks.

Each day of the festival focuses on a different genre of music, spanning from rap to country, punk to alternative, and anything in between.

Not bad for a festival funded by a non-profit organization.

Day one of festivities took place on Tuesday, July 5, at the home of the 16-year festival Adado Riverfront Park in Lansing, Michigan. It featured an alternative-based lineup leading up to the headliner of the night, AWOLNATION.

Fellow WXOU DJ Dave Bugg and I made our way through the festival gates just as they opened around 5 o’clock in the afternoon. Local act Ellis had just started playing the first set of the week on the flag-covered Sparrow Stage. We caught part of their energy-laced set before moving onto the pavilion stage to see Michigander-another local act if you couldn’t tell by the name.

Many hours of the night were spent jumping back and forth between these two stages. Some highlights included a cover of the Killers’ “When You Were Young” by Finish Ticket, and a set of Civil Twilight that featured a baby in the front row, a violin bow and their singer migrating into the crowd.

After Civil Twilight wrapped up their set, it was onto the Auto Value Main Stage where the headliners of the night were scheduled to play. Joe Hertler and the Rainbow Seekers, another local act, were the first to go on. The band immediately caught my eye with the inflatable rainbow that arched over their drummer and the shiny costume being worn by their saxophonist.

They got the crowd moving with their funky sound and led into the last song of their set with an unexpected opera ballad by singer Joe Hertler.

Their unique performance proved to be the best of the night so far and made me an instant fan.

Next up on the main stage was German folk duo Milky Chance. Not being a huge listener of the group, I thought many of their songs sounded alike, but that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. Their sound was extremely relaxing and singer Clemens Rehbein’s voice was on point throughout their time on stage.

The large crowd that they drew in seemed to love the performance, as evident by the flower-crown sporting girl in front of us who danced along with every song. Milky chance closed out their set with a performance of “Stolen Dance,” the only song of theirs that I knew going into the night, and it did not disappoint.

Scheduled to play next was the bass and drums duo, Death From Above 1979.

I had been looking forward to seeing them for months leading up to the festival because they put out some of the rawest, energetic and loud music out there, both live and on record.

Unfortunately, it was announced by the band a few weeks beforehand that they would be unable to play Common Ground, along with the rest of their summer tour dates, due to AWOLNATION abandoning them on tour. Granted that AWOLNATION did this as a result of being offered an opening gig for the upcoming Prophets of Rage tour, which would be hard for any band to pass up, this left a somewhat sour taste in my mouth.

This saltiness that I felt came to pass when AWOLNATION took the stage for their headline performance. Watching their first three songs from the photo pit was surreal to me, as it was my first experience doing something like that at a festival. Front man Aaron Bruno led the band with an unwavering sense of confidence and calmness, which was no surprise considering that they had played the very same stage as a co-headliner just three years ago.

He convinced nearly everyone in the crowd to get involved by encouraging them to sing along, wave their hands in the air, jump and put their arms around the person next to them. This continued throughout the night as they played hits new and old, including “Bad Wolf,” “Run,” and “Kill Your Heroes.” Every song that they played was almost instantly recognizable, even for the non-heavy listeners, due to the bands catchy choruses and the presence of their songs on the radio and elsewhere.

I have a huge amount of respect for the band’s use of real instruments and their ability to improvise live, which could be seen in the form of a raging drum solo/instrumental piece that sounded more like Pantera than it did AWOLNATION. As the night drew to a close, the band ended their set with a live rendition of their career-defining hit “Sail.” Bruno placed the duty of singing the chorus to the crowd until the song came to an end and the band exited the stage.

Even though I didn’t get to see the band that I had looked forward to the most going into the festival, I felt extremely satisfied with day one of this year’s Common Ground performances as I exited the park over its trademark flashing blue bridge. I got to see local acts, found a new band to listen to, and watched one of the biggest alternative acts in the game perform live from just a few feet away. I’m grateful for such an awesome music event to occur every year just a few cities over.

I’m eagerly awaiting its return next summer.

Commonground continuted Kobe Gardner

Let me start by saying that Common Ground Music Festival is by far the most timely event I’ve been to in ages. From the front gates, everything ran smoothly with precision. This was a sign from the heavens seeing how I was about 25 minutes behind schedule. Nevertheless, I was there and ready for the show.

I didn’t know how many people to expect inside. IT WAS PACKED! French Montana was the first artist I saw to perform, and he didn’t disappoint boasting hits like “Coke Boy,” “Don’t Panic” and “All The Way Up” ft. Fat Joe.

French Montana rocked the house with his laid back New York swagger hypnotizing the crowd for the duration of his hour-long set.

From the front of the stage, I could see Icewear Vezzo navigating through the dressing room area backstage. I ran from the main stage across the festival grounds to the stage where Icewear Vezzo is set to go on next. When I got there, five people were there- one of which being DJ RJ Lamont who assured me, “We about to Turn Up.”

That we did.

Icewear Vezzo took the stage just after 8:30PM following a DJ set from RJ Lamont, who turned a five-person audience into a thousand person crowd very quickly. Opening the show with his club smash, “Thick *****,” 1,500 people sang in unison.

As the performance went on I couldn’t help but notice how diverse the crowd was. People of all ages, races and nationalities joined together to pay respects to the ‘Drank God.’

Vezzo rapped favorites like “Money Phone” and “Dancin.” He also teased the new album Price Goin Up, which has no set release date. Towards the end of the half hour set, I found my way to his manager to make sure that interview was still secure (It was).

After the show, we made our way back to the Iced Up Records trailer for the interview, which ended just as the night’s headliner A$AP Rocky took the stage.

Rocky opened his set with one of my favorite songs from the A$AP Mob “Lord Pretty Flacko Jodye.” A$AP Twelvyy and A$AP Nast joined the stage for the duration of the show helping out by throwing wads of 100 dollar bills with the late A$AP yams face on them.

French Montana even made a guest appearance to perform his new song, “Lockjaw.” Every song increased the crowd’s energy, climaxing during the smoke and confetti filled performance of, “Wild For The Night.”

Last to take the stage but certainly not least was the legend, DJ Quik. I had no idea DJ Quik has such an impressive catalog.

The first phrase out his mouth was, “Tonight, we’re only performing platinum and gold singles.” Then the beat dropped. For the next hour, I vibed out as Quik reminded us where the west coast sound came from with jams such as “Hand in Hand,” “Let’s Get Down” and “Pitch in Ona Party,” Though he didn’t perform, “Dollaz and Sense,” the show was for lack of better word “lit.”

All in all Common Ground was amazing. This was my first Common Ground experience so I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I will surely be attending next year. The scheduling of the performances couldn’t have been more perfect. You didn’t have to sacrifice seeing one of your favorite artists like at other festivals.

I rate Common Ground Music Festival 10/10

Special thanks to WXOU, Iced Up Records RJ Lamont, DJ Katastrphy, Icewear Vezzo Chanel Dominique and FGRadio.

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The Kills at Saint Andrew’s Hall

5.22.16

Detroit, Michigan

Review By: Haylie Presnell

A substantial amount of people gathered around the stoop entrance outside of Saint Andrew’s Hall in Detroit on Sunday in anticipation for indie-rock band The Kills.

The venue, albeit a little small, packed in the crowd just fine.

Concertgoers ranged from young hipster college kids to older, more mature attendees with a few adolescents staggered here and there. The audience didn’t need to wait long before Los Angeles-based opener, L.A. Witch came on stage, almost unnoticed.

L.A. Witch seemed as if they were a no-nonsense opener; their socializing with the audience was mainly saying their name, thanking The Kills for having them on tour and muttered thank you after the applause per song. What the band lacked in socializing, they packed in with their music.

The bass was throbbing, the drums were loud, yet not muddled and the guitar was fairly clean. What lacked were the vocals and the overall attitude of the band performing. The downfall of the lack of introduction or notification of what song was being played left some audience members confused while the messy vocal work left others wondering what the singer was saying.

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The only thing to describe the sound is the vocals, which appeared to be Stevie Nicks-esque with a slight edge. The audience bopped their heads not because they wanted to, but because they were trying to polite to a band that really seemed like they were bored playing up there.

L.A. Witch sauntered off – without much fuss or acknowledgement from the audience. From the looks of it, many were absorbed in their own conversations or drunken antics. The wait for The Kills was a short half hour, and that’s when the room began to look and feel alive again.

Guitarist Jamie Hince and front-woman, Allison Mosshart strutted on stage and acknowledged the crowd as if they were old friends that hadn’t seen each other in a while. Starting off with something from their sophomore album No Wow, the pair played the title track and the room felt electrified.

The dialogue was scattered here and there with Hince reminiscing to the crowd how Detroit was one of the first cities he and Mosshart played when they started the duo. The Kills went on to play hits such as “U.R.A. Fever,” “Kissy Kissy,” “Baby Says,” and their latest single “Heart of a Dog” thoroughly covering their entire discography with songs from each of their albums.

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Mosshart kept fairly quiet, but each song brought out a fire and snarl from her that was surprising and yet thoroughly entertaining. Mosshart was the definition of cool as she spat, snarled and screamed while Hince supported her with sharp guitar licks that echoed a controlled chaos the band that seemed to exude.

Unlike most artists, who wait for what feels like forever to return and do an encore, The Kills barely waited five minutes before returning to the stage. They powered through four more hits including their upcoming single “Siberian Nights.” The crowd knew every word and the warmth the band exuded was equally matched by the happiness of the crowd.

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5.18.16

Story by: Connor McNeely

The life of a contemporary touring musician includes grueling hurdles that paint life on the road differently than the lavished fame and fortuned experience that striving millennials dream of.

A more realistic example of the experience is meticulously chronicled through the perspective of Canadian punk quintet Pup in the music video for their song, “Dark Days,” released last July.

The video is an animated glimpse of the band’s touring life. While tirelessly driving a tattered van through snowstorms and flashing passports, the late-twenties Torontonian buddies FaceTime significant others on shattered phone screens and puke in empty dive bars from too much boozing between playing gigs and sleeping upright.

Their journey has high moments as well, though it is hard to overlook the rock star dream’s inevitable “disillusionment,” as singer and rhythm guitarist Stefan Babcock would call it.

“I started realizing in my mid-twenties that you’re faced with some sort of disillusionment at a certain point where you’ve grown up being told you can do anything you want,” said Babcock. “At a certain point you face up to the fact that, man, you’re pretty much grown up!”

“Maybe those dreams were not realistic or not compatible with your lifestyle or your skill set,” Babcock added. “You just have to learn to adapt and it can be a pretty cold, hard reality check but that’s called growing up ya know?”

The video for PUP’s “Dark Days,” which is an uplifting catchy punk anthem that is self-reflecting, accurately depicts their last two years of perpetual globetrotting. That record earned plenty of critical praise including Rolling Stone’s, “Break Out Acts of 2014.”

“Part of the success of that record probably was us just writing for ourselves,” said Babcock. “We didn’t expect the first record to be anything.”

On May 27, Pup will release their sophomore LP, which has many similar themes of “disillusionment and disappointment and frustration.”

It is titled, “The Dream Is Over.”

Babcock, who suffered from a threatening vocal injury last July, titled the new record after a conversation he had with the doctor who diagnosed his hemorrhaging. His screaming style is one of the factors that forced PUP to drop out of several tour dates with Modern Baseball, Jeff Rosenstock and Tiny Moving Parts.
“I don’t think there’s a PUP 2technical way to do what I do,” said Babcock. “The way I sing is technically incorrect but it sounds the way it does because I do it and I’m not really willing to forfeit that.”

The band’s constant performing was the contributing factor.

“There were times when we did thirty some shows in a row, which is a lot for your voice without a day off,” said Babcock. “Then there would be days during those thirty days where we’d play a show and someone would ask if we could play their house party after the show and we’d say sure, fine, why not?”

After two weeks of vocal rest, Babcock was offered the option of surgery, which would have cost him have six months to a year.

“I kind of got this once in a lifetime opportunity and I don’t know if it’s still going to be around in a year,” said Babcock.

Recently, Babcock has been exercising his voice to rehabilitate it and is looking forward to getting back on the road after just a handful of stationary months.

“I’m a little nervous but I feel a lot healthier than I did going into our last tour,” said Babcock.

“And it’s always nerve racking after spending so much time off but you just gotta get back on the horse and do it and I’m confident.” Babcock said. “I’ve been working hard on recovering so I’m confident that everything is cool.”

In June Babcock lead guitarist,Steve Sladkowski, bass player, Nestor Chumak and drummer, Zack Mykula will be back in their element—their van. They’ll be headlining the, “If This Tour Doesn’t Kill You, I Will” tour with Rozwell Kid. Charly Bliss and Pkew Pkew Pkew.

The tour opens at the Pikeroom in Pontiac.

“We’ve never played in Pontiac so I’m not exactly sure what to expect but I’m looking forward to it,” said Babcock.

“From what I know there’s a pretty solid punk rock scene out there and we’ve always had pretty good luck going to new towns in Michigan,” Babcock said. [Michigan] and Ontario’s stomping grounds are pretty similar so hopefully it will be good.”

“Our last Detroit show was a lot of fun so hopefully this one will pick it up a notch.”

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4.7.16

By Andrew Marczewski

The Loving Touch in Ferndale

Touring in support of their newly released third studio album “Stranger Things,” the London-based band Yuck rocked The Loving Touch in Ferndale Thursday, April 7.

Outside, the dreary winter-like weather set a bleak tone that was lifted almost immediately once entering the warm and intimate atmosphere of the Loving Touch.

As the lone opening act ran through their sound check, the venue was sparsely filled with fans occupying booths and barstools tucked away in the corners of the dimly lit bar.

Big Thief kicked off their opening set nearly an hour later around 8:30 p.m. Those in attendance gravitated towards the stage forming a small crowd.

“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for both of us” said vocalist Adrianne Lenker as she held the microphone in her bandage wrapped hand.

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The band Big Theif performed Thursday April 7,2016 in Ferndale which is their second time performing in Michigan.

Their performance was short and sweet while their dynamic sound ranged from folk and country to alternative rock. They gave everyone in attendance a reason to listen.

The group’s relaxed demeanor was a perfect fit for the bill and set a great atmosphere for the remainder of the night.

Fans slowly trickled in until Yuck hit the stage shortly after 10 p.m. They wasted no time in introducing new music such as, “Cannonball” and “Hearts in Motion” to kick off their set.

Their euphoric sound filled the room with a calm energy while fans nodded their heads and danced along to each song.

Those who came to see Yuck’s older material were in for a treat, as the heart of their set consisted mainly of tracks from their self-titled album and “Glow and Behold.” As the show progressed, the band really honed in on their dreamy fuzz rock sound reminiscent of Dinosaur Jr. and other 90’s alternative influences.

Yuck’s sound remained crisp and on point throughout the entire night, which is no small feat considering the band has three members responsible for vocals. It was only their second time playing Michigan but they appeared cool and confident, almost as if they frequented the venue.

The band’s laid-back attitude didn’t involve them encouraging the audience to clap or sing along, but they still managed to connect with the crowd by bantering in between songs.

“People here have been apologizing for the bad weather all day, but we’re from the UK… we’re used to it” frontman Max Bloom said.

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Members of the band Yuck performed at The Loving Touch in Ferndale April 7, 2016.

Yuck closed out their set with the upbeat hit “Operation,” delivering one last wave of energy to the crowd before they retreated into the curtains behind the stage.

“Two more songs!” shouted some fans who weren’t ready for the show to end.  The four-piece reemerged after a few moments with guitarist, Ed Hayes, pumping a pool stick that he had found backstage into the air, which he then proceeded to hand to me.

The band delivered two more spectacular performances in “Yr Face” and “Georgia” before putting their instruments down for good. The show wrapped up right around 11:15 p.m., and members of both bands stuck around to converse with fans.

Overall, Yuck’s performance at the Loving Touch was one filled with good vibes and super chill music.  They played trance-inducing renditions of songs spanning their entire catalog and are a band that must be seen live to enjoy to the fullest extent.

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Knuckle Puck Review

October 15, 2015

The Crofoot Ballroom

Pontiac, MI.

Review and Photos By: Lelia Cotton

Thursday night, the suburban Chicago pop-punk boys of Knuckle Puck returned to the Crofoot Ballroom in Pontiac and they certainly proved why they were headlining this falls tour. This was their second visit with the ballroom within a year. Last year they visited with friends, Modern Baseball, and this time they brought plenty of their own pals. The lineup consisted of four separate openers, each with their own identifying sound.

Setting the stage for night was hometown band, Broke. Based out of Detroit area, these guys brought enough grit and spirit to the stage for all four openers. In my experience, it’s not often a crowd doesn’t disperse while watching the opening band. However, the Broke guys had all eyes on them, and that’s the way it stayed the entire set. Broke has a lot to offer as an opener and they wanted the crowd to see just that.  At one point, lead vocals, Andrew Scavo, jumped off the stage and performed into the crowd. The crowd rushed to surround him while he let a few familiar faces scream his lyrics into the mic. Not to mention the shower of beer he received. The stage presence they have is something that resonates well; something fans will easily be attracted to.

Scavo’s vocals are supported by bassist, Anthony Gaglio, who offers articulate and strength in his accompaniment. Easily said, Broke is tenacious enough to not have to run with two guitars, but they do and it gives their sound a husky flourish that a lot of punk bands aren’t offering these days.   As they shared the stage with the others, their equipment was set in front of Knuckle Pucks’ which gave a clear view of drummer, Danny Cicchelli. Usually in the back, the concentration of drums is slighted, but last night was another story. If you do not understand the term “drummer face” you may want to Urban Dictionary just that because his is the true essence of the term. They may be broke, but their appeal is wealthy.

Joining Knucklepuck on their 32-date tour are also Head North, Seaway, and Sorority Noise. This was only their second stop of the tour, and each band took moments to speak of the excitement they had to tour which each other. This being, Knucklepucks first ever headlining tour, emotions were high and that was observed in their performance.  There is already a relationship between Knucklepuck and Seaway, as they have toured together once before.

Now a days, pop-punk is a hard genre to break into and come out with success. Would I be wrong to say it had a peak about eight years ago? Is it still an essential genre? Of course. Fans will always be fond of the heavier, yet, heart-on-the-sleeve bands that sing of impassioned issues. It’s just that there is that “awakward stage” every pop-punk band “trying to make it” goes through. Seaway, Head North, and Sorority Noise have shown to progress through that stage seemingly unharmed. They can relate for the reason that their music is about feeling, experience, and failure. They perform on strategies that work. All three groups had a packed summer. Sorority Noise just stepping off their tour with Motion City Soundtrack, Seaway playing Vans Warped Tour, and Head North with their debut EP that came out in the spring.

Knuckle Puck took the stage at ten o’clock and within three minutes the stage was engulfed with members of the crowd surfing to the front to jump off into the mass of concertgoers. Most of their set was filled with songs from their first studio album, Copacetic, which was released this past July. Their album is filled with anthems that millennials have missed since the days of New Found Glory or Story of the Year. They are similar in the way the Taylor’s words are emotional and question relative topics that fans will hail to. However, Knuckle Puck has more of a hardcore melodic style with heavier riffs than NFG or SoTY ever gave listeners.

These guys knew what they wanted from their fans and they weren’t afraid to tell them. Singer, Joe Taylor, is connected to his crowd from the time he steps onto the stage until the moment he’s finished performing. He is consistently as close as possible to the crowd as he can be without getting in. Yet, at one point he asked the crowd to not leave without a piece of merch in their hands, and this did not ring well with me. I understand what he meant to say but it was not perceived well, and for a slightest moment it was quiet.

On bass, Ryan Rumchaks, who joined the band in 2014, plays with pure satisfaction. The energy he plays with is natural and with a constant smile, might I add. On the flip side of things, you have both the guitarists, Nick and Kevin, who aren’t as visually appealing when it comes to their performance. The talent is there. However, they are not as actively engaging as the rest of the pack. This might not have been as noticeable if they weren’t playing on the same side of the ballroom. Looking on, stage left appears to be lifeless.

Nonetheless, Knuckle Puck is young and has a lot to learn, but they have everything going very well for themselves. Touring alone is an education. They already have quite the faithful following. Their album was eagerly anticipated and took off after release. I expect nothing but high success from their first U.S tour.

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Father John Misty

9.27.15

Review by: Haylie Presnell

Photos by: Haylie Presnell and Kaley Barnhill

There was a line that wrapped around almost an entire block on Thursday night in wait to see Father John Misty at the Royal Oak Music Theater.

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As concertgoers filed in to the spacious venue, their excitement for the night’s performance began to wane as the crowd waited an hour for the night’s openers, Mikal Cronin, to show up and play.

When Mikal Cronin did come out to play, he and his band immediately skipped their sound check and jumped right into some loud raucous indie tunes in an attempt to make up for the audience’s silent wait.

Unfortunately for the opener, their skipped sound check seemed to hurt their performance. Some audience members remarked that most of the set sounded the same and anything that could differentiate the songs from one another was lost in what sounded like too much reverb on the guitars.

Their sound and their lack of banter (and lack of introduction to what song they were playing at the time) left many attendees bored and confused. Many left to go visit the merchandise table near the entrance or just went to get booze. At that point, the floor looked even scarcer of concertgoers than it was when the opener first began to play – which was odd since this show had been generating a lot of buzz over the past previous weeks.

That all changed when Mikal Cronin walked off stage. Suddenly, the entire floor had begun to shift closer to the barricade to get closer to the stage. The audience wasn’t necessarily packed like sardines, but there was certainly a sense of urgency in packing closer to one another to see Father John Misty.

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During the opener’s set teardown and the headliner’s sound check, the audience grooved and danced to tunes that seemed to have been pulled straight from a western film. After about 45 minutes, the lights dimmed and sensual French funk music began to play. The stage was illuminated with red light and then Father John Misty emerged with a sensual aura that made the ladies in the audience swoon.

Immediately, he dove right into crowd-favorite “I Love You, Honeybear” – dropping to his knees when he sang the song’s more passionate lines. The crowd loved FJM’s crazy antics: jumping off the drum set, sliding on his knees, and his snarl when he sang “you fuck the world damn straight malaise” complimented with his flipping the bird.

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FJM went on to play “Strange Encounter,” “True Affection,” and “Only Son of the Ladiesman” before stopping and having a discussion with his audience. Asking if there were any couples in the audience, FJM jokingly inquired if this was their first meeting outside of the online world and if the “façade” had fallen yet. He then dedicated “When You’re Smiling Astride Me” to those couples.

More tunes were played and FJM performed each song with as much passion and confidence as its predecessor and the crowd jammed along to each one. The entire theater went full sing-along when FJM finally performed “Chateau Lobby #4 (in C for Two Virgins)” and everyone in the venue seemed to be glowing.

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The setting got intimate when FJM began to play his self-proclaimed “meta-ballad,” “Bored in the USA.” The crowd laughed and cheered at the sarcastic presentation of the song as well as its dark humor. It was at this point FJM took a concertgoer’s iPhone and began to take video of him singing along with the audience. Unsatisfied with the first video, FJM actually redid the last stanza of the song before returning the fan’s phone.

FJM cranked out six more songs which included “This is Sally Hatchet” and “Funtimes in Babylon” before briefly leaving the stage ahead of his encore. After “Everyman Needs a Companion,” Father John Misty went around and shook as many fan’s hands as he could, ultimately making the night a memorable intimate experience, sure to happen on future tours.
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Jamie xx

August 5, 2015

Majestic Theater.

Detroit, MI.

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Above: Jamie xx performing at The Majestic Theatre in Detroit Michigan.

Review and Photos By: Zach Micklea

The xx formed in 2005 as a duo consisting of Romy Madley Croft and Oliver Sim with Jamie Smith, aka Jamie xx, joining a year later. Their first record,
xx, reached number one on the UK Indie Albums Chart and peaked at 92 on the US Billboard 200 in 2009. The album was a perfect example of what indie rock should be. It sounds as if it was recorded in a basement with Sim’s almost whispered vocals and smooth guitar licks.

Times have changed.

The opener was a London-based DJ named Mike Simonetti. He walked on stage without speaking to the crowd. In fact, Simonetti did not address the crowd at all during his almost two hour long set.

No one in the crowd really knew if his set had started or if he was just doing sound check. After 25 minutes, there were a handful of people dancing. However, the majority of the crowd was either on their phones or having personal conversations.

As the set went on, it started to drag. The crowd grew restless. Half of the front row had their heads down resting on the stage. Some people even left early.

Simonetti’s set was just simple house music at 120 BPM. Many songs played were not recognizable. Perhaps those on their phones were asking Siri what the song was.

There was no intermission between the opener’s set and Smith’s. When Simonetti was finished, Smith simply walked on stage during a song and took over on the tables.

The first half of the set comprised of funk and house samples intermixed with a few tracks from Smith’s debut solo album, In Colour.

The second half saw Smith acting as a more conventional DJ playing antique vinyl bought at the record store earlier that day next door to the venue and letting each track play almost without interruption.


It appeared as if half of the sold-out crowd left before Smith was done. The people who stayed were listening to bizarre songs they have never heard before.

The show was a disaster. Simonetti played basic house music without ever addressing the crowd and Smith did nearly the same. Outside the theater, one concertgoer said, “He didn’t even play any of the songs he produced. I’d rather just go home and listen to the album.”

It’s a shame The xx, who once transcended indie culture, has turned into a DJ playing obscure tracks to an uninterested crowd full of teens. The night was a hard truth telling the story of how what was once a niche subculture is now lost in the mainstream.

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Brand New, Basement, Desapareidos

July 30th, 2015

Meadowbrook Music Festival

Rochester, MI

Story and Photos by: Zach Micklea

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It has been over six years since the legendary rock band, Brand New, has released new music. Over the past few months, however, the band has been in the studio recording new material and even released a new single, Mene, in April for free.

Emo, pop-punk and alternative fans rejoiced at the sound of hearing Jesse Lacey’s voice again. Lacey plays guitar and sings lead vocals in the band and has been in the dark for the better part of the last decade, but he, and the rest of the group, took the stage at Meadow Brook Music Festival in front of more than 5,000 people on Thursday night.

Opening the night was a band hailing from Ipswich, Suffolk, England known as Basement. The band formed in 2009 and are signed to Run For Cover Records. From 2009 to 2012, the band released two EPs and two LPs, but, in November of 2012, entered an indefinite hiatus due to conflicting schedules of the band members’ professional lives.

In early 2014, Basement announced the hiatus had ended and they were ready to resume making music and playing shows. The band announced one show in Michigan in 2014 at the Pike Room in Pontiac. The show sold all 250 tickets in under an hour.

Basement, too, has been in the studio for the last couple of months recording their third LP, so playing a show with Brand New made perfect sense.

Basement took the stage at 7:30 PM and played classics like Crickets Throw Their Voice, Covet, and fan favorite, “Earl Grey.”

The band is currently finishing up a U.S. tour and will be playing with The Story So Far, Title Fight, and Adventures. Their third full length does not have a name as of right now, but it is due to be released later this year.

Next on the stage were Nebraska natives, Desaparecidos. Consisting of members of Bright Eyes and Little Brazil, the group with the inarticulate name just released their first album in 13 years called Payola, which is currently sitting at the number five spot on the College Music Journal’s Top 10.

The album has been skyrocketing through the charts and can be heard daily on WXOU. Desaparecidos played the album in full to a delighted, energetic crowd, but it was clear whom they were waiting to see.

The stage was black while the crew set up Brand New’s gear. The audience screamed whenever a new body was seen in anticipation for the headliners.

White lights began to flash and a drum roll could be heard. It was Mene. Lacey ran on stage with his signature Jazzmaster guitar. During the chorus, the crowd chanted the lyrics, “we don’t feel anything.”

Two drummers were used for the majority of the set and flowers engulfed each of the three microphone stands.

After three songs, a spotlight shined down on drummer, Brian Lane, as he played a low tempo solo, which lead directly to the next track. Lacey wasted no time talking to the crowd. The band just kept playing track to track.

During the next song, a live, black and white video of Lacey played on the back of the stage to make the show more visible to the crowd on the lawn.

A beam of light shined solely on Lacey as he sang “hey, hey, Mr. Hangman. Go get your rope.” The song was You Won’t Know, which starts with Lacey playing a slow riff while singing lightly, but leads to a fast paced and hard rock chorus. When the rest of the band came in with their instruments, purple, red, white, and yellow lights flashed in rhythm with each chord.

Aside from seeing such a well renowned band on stage, the lighting took the show. The band played for nearly an hour and ended the set with one of their more poetic songs, Jesus Christ.

To no one’s surprise, “one more song” was being chanted throughout the crowd, and Lacey walked backed on stage alone.

He played one of the sadder songs written in the last decade, Play Crack the Sky. On the surface, the song is about a shipwreck, which is actually a metaphor for a doomed relationship. Lacey ends the song with the final words, “I need you like water in my lungs.”

The night was filled with bands making a huge comeback. Basement hasn’t put out an album since 2012, Desaparecidos since 2002, and Brand New since 2009. Desaparecidos released an album last June, while Basement and Brand New, both, have albums due out later this year.

These three bands could not have fit together more perfectly, which carried over to each of the performances.


 

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Photo Courtesy of Joe Orlando, DTE Energy Music Theatre

 

J. Cole

July 25th, 2015

DTE Energy Music Theatre

Clarkston, MI

Story by: News Director Jake Rapanotti & Jon Kassab

J Cole came on near the 9:30 mark gazing upon a packed DTE Energy Music Theatre. The audience gazed back at J. Cole to see what resembled a slanted corner of a colonial house resembling the cover of his most recent album. Throughout the performance he would stand or crouch on top of the house as if it were a simple platform on the stage. The stage was otherwise bare besides a 3-D backdrop showcasing rhythmic visuals. J. Cole did more than a few songs during his set. To start off the night, he asked everyone in the audience if he could play his entire album. With it being the 2014 Forest Hills Drive Tour, the crowd responded in a positive uproar of screams, hoots, and hollers.

Jermaine wouldn’t pause the music at any point during his set, playing beats in-between his songs. he would talk with the audience during this time about life, the album, and the fact that he doesn’t even know where St. Tropez is on a map.

I’m a big fan of the more aggressive side of rappers like J. Cole because it’s something that you don’t see often, which made his performance of Tale of Two Cities the highlight of my night.

J. Cole swiftly navigated through his whole album with amazing visuals behind him as well as a live drummer and a handful of women singing vocals on a few of the songs. He thanked everyone for coming out and proceeded to get off the stage. this turned out to be but a rouse, as he came back on stage with Jeremih in tow & they performed the popular ‘Planes’.

Big Sean was on the bill for the entire 2014 Forest Hills Drive Tour, but couldn’t make it to the Detroit date, his hometown, due to a scheduling conflict. As a consolation, to end the show, J. Cole sat on the peak of the slanted corner of the colonial house that rested on stage as Big Sean songs filled the pavilion & spilled into the lawn. It was easy to tell that Big Sean’s voice wasn’t coming from an MP3, Big Sean was there. Once Big Sean hit the stage, J. Cole was nowhere to be found. Sean finished up the concert & played a few favorites, the most hype of which was IDFWU. Being that Sean claims Detroit as his home, he had to let his hometown fans know that he had not forgotten them.

I highly recommend seeing J. Cole if he is coming in your area, this show was one of the best rap shows I’ve been to hands down. You get a lot more for your money than you would at any other show.


 

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros

June 26th, 2015

Royal Oak Music Theatre

Royal Oak, MI

Story and Photos by: News Director Erin Ben-Moche (@ebenmoche)

The Pajama Man is not your average performer.

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros rocked their first headlining tour down West 4th St. at the Royal Oak Music Theatre. The doors opened at 8 p.m. and new wave hippie fans were piling in to get down to the floor and claim their front row standing spots.

royal oakl signFor the opener, members of the band and a member of Mumford and Son came on to entertain the audience. It was an unusual set because instead of pumping up the crowd, they were mellowing them down with four sultry and romantic ballads. 

It was a little after 10 p.m. when smoke spread across the stage.

The stage lights were beaming and the band walk out. Lead singer Alex Ebert walked on stage and looked like he had just rolled out of bed wearing his wrinkled beige button down and matching beige khaki pants. He had a man bun and scruffy facial hair.

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Above: Alex Ebert’s stage presence reminded me of the late Freddie Mercury.

Ebert grabbed the microphone, smiled, and started the syncopated clapping intro to “40 Day Dream.” The crowd went wild and started singing along to every word. Alex Ebert then went over to stage left and pointed to the crowd for song requests. The group didn’t have a set list for their concert.

Songs that fans requested were   “Man on Fire” and “Life is Hard.”  Audience members that requested “Let’s Get High” used the song as an opportunity to light up their joints and smoke along to the song.

Alex Ebert shared similarities to the late Freddie Mercury from Queen. Ebert, like Mercury, moved across the stage singing directly to the audience and even jumped off the stage to personally dance with them.

Ebert cared about the music and his band members because he would occasionally forget to entertain the audience and turn his back to us just to rock out with his group mates on stage- which was equally as entertaining.

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Above: Ebert looking at lyrics to one of his songs on his phone.

The Pajama Man also loved to improvise throughout the concert. Some of the songs he was singing live sounded completely different from some of the songs he sang in the studio. He would add riffs, change the melody, add solos from the trumpeter or piano man, or look at his phone for lyrics he may forget.

Although Alex Ebert manned the stage, his bandmates were just as prominent.

Stewart Cole, known for his keyboarding skills also played ukulele and trumpet. Lead electric guitarist Orpheo McCord, had detailed solos which changed their sound from indie folk to rock n’ roll.

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros ended their concert at exactly 12 a.m. and left the audience feeling like Cinderella’s carriage, wishing they hadn’t turned into a pumpkin. The band left the crowd happy and wanting more.

I loved the concert and genuinely had a great experience watching the band perform. However, I had the same reoccurring question run through my mind as I returned home from that night:

Where was Jade?

Jade Castrinos was the main female vocalist and once romantic partner of Alex Ebert. Castrinos was voted out of the band exactly one week before their tour kicked off.

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Above: Members of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros minus former lead female vocalist, Jade Castrinos.

It was obvious that something was missing from the now all male group and I knew I wasn’t the only person in the audience waiting for her arrival. Throughout the night fans would yell “Where’s Jade?” or “Bring Her Back!”

It was most noticeable during the fan favorite love song “Home,” which is usually sung by Ebert and Castrinos. During the concert, Ebert cleverly sent the mic off into the sea of people so they could share their own personal love stories instead of reciting the spoken words that the couple would normally sing.

The band pulled it off and made the memorable song a duet between the fans and Ebert. The audience was happy they performed the song but also wished Jade would walk out and make a surprise appearance. 

As their headlining tour progresses, I wonder how many others will miss her presence. Regardless of her absence, the band still put on a great show and can go on without her.

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Flume

June 24th, 2015

Royal Oak Music Theatre

Royal Oak, MI

Story and Photos by: Emily McGee

The Flume show, located at the Royal Oak Music Theatre on Wednesday, June 24th, was a chaotic blend of colors, crop tops, and bass drops. This being the first EDM show that I have ever attended, I had vague impressions of what the night would be like (I was picturing a 90s style glow-stick rave). I was not even slightly disappointed with the outcome.

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Doors opened up at 8:00 pm, with concert-goers already lined up around the block to the sold out show. Pretty much everyone with a ticket looked the same: 18 to 25 range, boys in floral shirts or ironic hipster tank tops, and girls in shorts, barely-there shirts, and crystals decorating their face. It was truly awesome with how consistent everyone was.

By the time I was in the doors, the first DJ of the night, Louis the Child, was already hooked up and playing. There were two guys operating the equipment; the main guy and a hype man. The entire set was super high energy, with great drops that kept the entire crowd jumping (and sweating profusely). Overall, he was one of my favorite performers of the night. It wasn’t trying to be too much, and was effortlessly fun. Additionally, he sampled the 80s band Eurythmics “Sweet Dreams,” near the end of his performance, which was dope as hell.

After Louis the Child, the vibe changed entirely with the next artist, Wave Runner. This guy’s music sounded like it was straight out of a Miami beach club. Behind him, graphics of 3D dolphins, yin and yang symbols, and palm trees were rotating in neon colors on a background of waves. Everything was bright, with a tropical and more pop electric sound than Louis the Child. There were fewer big drops in the set, so I noticed that there was less dancing and jumping and a lot more smoke in the air. I’m pretty sure he was the least known performer of the night, but he kept the crowd rolling as it reached 10:00 pm.

Finally before Flume, DJ Mr. Carmack took the stage. By Googling him, I figured out that he has been established since 2006 (which would explain the hyped-up applause and following he received when he took stage). Again the vibe changed into a deeper, grittier sound, with ground shaking bass. Mr. Carmack was probably my least favorite DJ performing however. His drops were never when the audience expected, which left them trying to gauge when to go crazy but never quite getting it right. He also loved to use high pitch tones to contrast all the bass, but it sounded like nails on a chalkboard (a sound that gives me the heebie jeebies on most occasions). When midnight rolled around, I was ready to hear some Flume.

I do not know what kind of guy I was expected Flume to be, but it was not a 20 year old dude with mad talent. I will admit that I had not heard of Flume, or any other artist before this show, but I really liked his set. While the pre-show acts were on the side, Flume was on the main center of the stage, almost a complete silhouette the entire time against a background of abstract designs and colors. By this point, the crowd was going wild, mosh pits forming in the ground level next to the stage and many people attempting to surf the crowd. He covered songs like Lorde’s “Tennis Courts” as well as performed his own material, such as “Holdin’ On.” At 1:10 in the morning, Flume left the stage, only to be brought back on from a crowd encore to perform his hit track “You and Me,” by artist Disclosure.

In all, I had an amazing time. It was awesome to experience the feeling of unity that was spread throughout the night. All the artists performed great sets, and I would 10/10 recommend to anyone to go see an EDM concert if they have never been, especially Flume.

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Shakey Graves

June 5th, 2015

The Majestic Theater

Detroit, MI

Story and Photos by: DJ Zach Micklea (@OUUnderground)

image1Alejandro Rose-Garcia, better known by his stage name Shakey Graves, hails from the capital of the lone star state in Austin, Texas. His music has proven quite difficult to describe as he mixes bluegrass, rock and roll and country elements in his songs. His voice is a puzzle with even more pieces. The Texas-native can be heard chanting, howling, screaming, slurring and even dialoguing on his albums.

The name “Shakey Graves” came in 2007 when playing at Old Settler’s Music Festival. He and his friends were giving each other Indian names around a campfire, and the name stuck.

Rising to fame in late 2014 after an appearance on Conan, Shakey Graves began landing spots on multiple television shows including Late Show with David Letterman and Late Night with Seth Meyers.

Shakey Graves performed Friday, June 5 in front of a sold-out crowd of nearly 2,000 fans at the Majestic in Detroit. The stage was beautifully lit with the spotlight on a Texas flag, which was draped over a keyboard. Before the show started, the line at the bar looked endless. The beer was nearly as warm as the congested theater, but that was not taking anything away from the enjoyment of the concertgoers, who were laughing and dancing to “Pompeii” by Bastille playing over the speakers.

image4The show’s opener was a female singer by the name of Carson McHone. Like Shakey Graves, she too was from Austin, Texas. Her set started as a solo performance with an acoustic guitar. The venue was so loud that it proved difficult to hear McHone. After her first song, a guitarist, a drummer and a bass player joined her on stage. After the first couple songs, she had won the crowd over. Some pulled out lighters to wave and some began line dancing.

It became clear these musicians were truly living their dreams. The set was a perfect blend of old-school hopscotch country and modern day pop. It was a breath of fresh air to see artists like these on stage playing beautiful music rather than pop stars kissing rappers who do not like to be kissed.

As if the passion being projected throughout the theater was not enough, McHone’s breath-taking voice nearly floored the crowd. Sounding similar to Lady Antebellum’s Hillary Scott, McHone sang loud and she sang hard. She played for nearly an hour and as she walked off stage, those in attendance gave her a thundering round of applause.

At this point in the night, the venue was completely packed. Slowly, the entire audience quieted and awaited the man they all came to see.

It was time.

image3Shakey Graves ascended to the left side of the stage while the crowd greeted him with a passionate welcoming to the Motor City. Joining him on stage were guitar player, Patrick O’Connor and drummer, Chris Boosahda. The set began with an unfamiliar song. It was a slow build of the bass drum with bluesy guitar licks sprinkled in between. This build led to what could be considered perhaps his most complex track, “If Not for You.” However, this version was not parallel with the studio recording of the song. It was much slower and had a sentimental feeling.

In contrast to an overwhelming number of artists, Shakey Graves plays each song differently during a live set. It gives the audience a real reason to come down to Midtown Detroit to watch him play. This unique factor cannot be heard on any of his albums.

The second song began with very loud tribal drums, which led to the title track of his debut album, “Roll the Bones.” Again, this song was played very differently than the recorded studio version.

After a couple more songs, O’Connor and Boosahda left the stage for Shakey Graves to play some acoustic solo songs. Some of the songs included “Pansy Waltz” from his most recent album, And the War Came, as well as “Proper Fence” from Roll the Bones.

In between songs, Shakey Graves played with the crowd. He talked to people close enough to hear him, he danced, and even played “Push It” by Salt & Peppa.

When the band rejoined him, McHone took center stage. The four of them played the hit song, “Dearly Departed,” with McHone singing the part of Esmé Patterson — a folk singer heard on three tracks from And the War Came.

This very unique and intimate set went on for over two hours and each minute was better than the last. To see such a talent perform on stage so effortlessly was an absolute privilege. Shakey Graves thanks the crowd and was overwhelmed by the response. The crowd screamed for over two minutes and it appeared to have brought a tear to the eye of the humble musician.

Shakey Graves exited the stage only to be brought back by an encore-demanding audience. He played one of his more bluegrass ballads, “Hard Wired.” During the song, a female fan joined him on stage, and the two exchange words. It was unclear what was said, but they hugged and she jumped back into the sold out crowd.

When the song ended, the audience gave Shakey Graves one last ovation. The lights in the venue flipped back on and the show was over. The performance was well received by the attendees.

“The show was moving,” Anna Hoffman, a fan, said. “It was life-changing.”

The fan that jumped on stage — a girl named Tori Poloski — said, when asked why she did it, “When am I ever going to have the chance to do it again?”

Her friends forced her to jump on stage to ask Shakey Graves if she could do something very unique. “I asked if I could sing with him,” Poloski said. “He said ‘I’m sorry. Not right now.’ So maybe we will another time.”

When it was all said and done, the show was a very unique experience. Shakey Graves truly is one of the most talented musicians in the music industry today. His ability to mix different styles of music while staying true to the music’s roots is something to behold. The show was a spectacle of musical bliss; art in its truest form.


 

Jilian Linklater

Pike Room @ The Crofoot

Pontiac, MI

May 28, 2015

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Jilian Linklater grew up in Lake Orion, MI only a few miles north of Oakland University. She studied song writing at Belmont University in Nashville but has been writing, singing, and playing guitar for much longer. Thursday at the Crofoot was only her second concert. Her first was a few months ago in Nashville for the release of her EP, Walking Stories. I had the chance to see her show Thursday and then interview her the following Saturday. This review will feature bits and pieces from our interview.

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I walk in to The Pike Room while the openers are still performing and squeezed my way closer to the stage. The openers have the crowd warmed up, Linklater gets up on stage along with three others that will be her band for the night, and grabs her acoustic guitar. She seems nervous. She doesn’t have as much of a presence as the openers… until she starts singing. She opens with a song off her EP called, “Better Than I Know Myself.” It has a catchy chorus that captivates the crowd …then she kicks it up a notch by remixing the end of her song into Whitney Houston’s, “I Wanna Dance with Somebody.” The crowd sings along; she’s got them hooked.

She finishes the first set, which are mostly pop songs. “I’d say I’m acoustic pop for the most part,” Linklater says. “Being down in Nashville, I have a little bit of a folk side, which is like my song ‘Walking Stories.’ And then I have ‘Better Than I Know Myself’ which is like, straight up pop. And ‘Hard Candy’ which is pop.”

Her EP, which features five songs, actually took them about a year to put together. “I had been working with this guy named Travis Bergman who had been mentoring me since my freshman year of college and helping me with all my songs,” Linklater explains. “I had played him tons of songs over those four years and my senior year he said we should pick our favorites and make an EP.”

The EP is mostly acoustic guitar and vocals. The songs are very cool indie pop with a little country influence. Going into the show, I expected a laid-back, easy-listening concert. But, alongside a full band, her music was much louder and powerful. For the setting they were in Thursday night, the heavy hitting drums and the intense electric guitar fit very well. Linklater is versatile in that way, similar to how she can adopt different genres in her music.

Her band for that night sounded as if they had been practicing for months. However, the group had just formed a week prior. “Our first rehearsal was the Tuesday the week before…I sent them my songs and all the charts and lyrics and stuff,” Linklater said. “Then we had that first rehearsal which was a few hours. And then we just had a rehearsal the day of the show. I’m sure they practiced in between but we only had two rehearsals.”

Between sets, she gives a few funny or quirky comments. She semi-apologizes to her mom, who is in the crowd, about the next song she is about to perform which is called “Four Letter Word.”  This song features some really creative song writing. “The first verse is ‘you don’t give a F’ so that’s a bad four letter word.”  As the song progresses, that four letter word changes to HOME and TIME. “The last one is LOVE and it’s just kinda showing the simplicity of what we’re all looking for.”

The band leaves the stage for Jilian’s two-song acoustic set. She tells the audience, “living in Nashville gave me the chance to right some sassy country music. So here I get to pretend to be Miranda Lambert.”

Linklater begins to play and about 20 seconds in she stops. “I’m so sorry I have to start over, I’m playing in the wrong key.” She was really embarrassed but naturally drew sympathy from the crowd as she kept strumming to find the right sound. Everyone laughed and she played through the fun song titled “Long Gone, Don Juan.” Once again, showing her versatility.

“I co-wrote that song with a couple a friends,” Linklater explains. “We were in a six hour co-writing session and we weren’t getting anywhere. One of my friends, as a joke, said, ‘what if we wrote a song called Long Gone, Don Juan.’ So I said ‘I know your just joking but that would go well with this chord progression. It’s kinda funky, sassy, a little bit western sounding.’ So everyone said okay and that one was really fun to write.”

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Her band returns to play the most powerful song of hers, “Fighter.” She explains that it’s about a friend of hers who struggled with addiction for many years. It was the climax of the concert. The lyrics pulled on everyone’s heart strings as the music enveloped the crowd. The song also featured an awesome guitar solo, part of which can be seen in a video on WXOU’s Instagram (@wxouradio).

“I wanted to write her a song as a way to encourage her and to also get out the feelings I was having about it as well,” Linklater said. “I actually had a woman come up to me after the show and said she had a brother die – I’m assuming from something related to that – and she had to leave the room because she was crying. She thought it was such a good song. So that was encouraging because that is what I wrote it for.”

After thanking everyone once again, she closed her show by playing the title song from her EP, “Walking Stories,” which talks about how every human has a unique and beautiful story. The song features references to some historical and religious icons like MLK, Rosa Parks and Jesus Christ.

Expect to see Jilian Linklater’s name more in the future. She is versatile, creative and has a lot of potential. This show proved that Linklater can perform many styles of music. She’s not your typical indie artist, her songwriting is advanced and professional sounding. A musical product of both Tennessee and Michigan, Linklater brings something new to the table: something substantial and timeless. This girl’s career is far from over.
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Fucked Up 

The Loving Touch

Ferndale, MI

May 2, 2015

“I just want to say, thanks to everyone here for coming out tonight and deciding that live music is more important than a boxing match. That means so much to me.”

Those were the first words said by Fucked Up’s iconic vocalist and frontman Damian Abraham as he graced the stage at The Loving Touch during the last night of the Metro Times Blowout. The set was their second show at Loving Touch in the past year, and given the raucous live attitude the band has shown in the past – did not disappoint in the slightest.

The band opened with the opening cut from last year’s Glass Boys, “Echo Boomer,” and the crowd immediately launched into a mosh pit towards the front of the stage.

Abraham kept a wild stage presence as expected, jumping into the crowd and running around, hopping onto nearby tables and never missing a beat while the band, comprising of bassist Sandy Miranda, drummer Jonah Falco and guitarists Ben Cook, Josh Zucker and Mike Haliechuk – played with precision, as if Abraham had never left the stage. Cook and Miranda shared backup vocalist duties and harmonization for Abraham’s guttural delivery, mirroring the double part harmonies found on the band’s albums.

While that was only the first track of the set, the band continued to play a mixture of tracks from their discography, several from 2011’s critically acclaimed fan favorite David Comes to Life such as “The Other Shoe” and “Queen of Hearts” as well as selections from Glass Boys, their breakthrough album The Chemistry of Common Life and several from the band’s many seven-inch singles, including live staples “Police” and “I Hate Summer.”

DJ Andrew Grieve gets a bear rub from Damian Abraham.

DJ Andrew Grieve gets a bear rub from Damian Abraham.

On record, Fucked Up represent a sound that encompasses everything progressive and punk – two words that would seem to never go together, live they represent a great time. They could play for hours and this reviewer would never bore of them. Everyone in the band plays at 100% and they put on such a fantastic live show as a result.

If the band is the control keeping the music in check and the band consistently on track, Damian is the chaotic character threatening to disrupt the balance, but instead he’s having fun and making sure everyone in the crowd is having just as good of a time as he is. Inbetween tracks he continued to make conversation with the crowd on his wide variety of interests: drug policies, police, pro wrestling, the ongoing Mayweather-Pacquio fight and record collecting among other subjects.

The crowd stayed energetic as people began to file out of the venue throughout the set. As opposed to the band’s last show in July at the same venue which was a sold out show and had very little room to breathe during the band’s performance. Despite the lesser turnout, Fucked Up rocked out as if the venue was sold out regardless.

As the band left the stage, Abraham placated the crowd by remarking “Don’t worry, we’re just going to deliberate whether or not we’ll be coming back for an encore”, only to return after a few minutes saying that “we decided”, as the band ran back on stage to play one last song as an encore as the crowd rebuilt itself back into a mosh pit. Afterwards, Abraham stayed on stage and provided a vocal-only cover of a Detroit-area hardcore band Earth Mover before ending the set proper.

Damien stayed on the floor after the set chatting with fans and taking photos, where this writer snagged a quick picture with the man, the myth, the legend. Yes, he grabbed on to my beard and gave me a hug afterwards. It was well worth it.

Despite the dithering crowd, Fucked Up’s second show in a year was another short burst of hardcore energy and well worth the price of admission.


 

Theophilus London

The Shelter

Detroit, MI

Saturday February 21, 2015

Story and Photos by: Promotions Director Jon Kassab

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I descended, cold and excited, into the basement of the famous Detroit venue, The Shelter, where Marshall Mathers once battle rapped against the Free World.

When I roll up to a rap show, I expect nothing on stage but a mic and a pair of decks. I was hit with a wave of not only confusion but also anticipation; for the stage was filled with instruments most rapper don’t work into their sets. A bass guitar, full drum set, standard guitar, a keyboard, and an effects pad were all present on the stage.

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No openers were advertised for this show, but with how famous Theophilus has gotten in the last year alone, I knew he’d have someone performing beforehand. A duo came out and almost immediately won over the crowd. The openers in question are Awful Media Group’s own Father and Keith Charles, opening with their hit Look At Wrist (Prod. by ILoveMakonnen). They played other crowd favorites like Spoil You Rotten, Young Hot Ebony, and Why Can’t I Cry $$$. Father’s performance was very flex-heavy and I enjoyed the crowd interaction. Father and Keith Charles were very well-known in the present audience, as almost everyone sang along to their bangers. As someone who hadn’t heard of them prior to this concert, they did a great job of converting me to a fan and ended their set very gracefully.

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One might say that Theophilus London Can’t Stop once he gets a mic in his hand.

If there was ever moment when wide brimmed hats were the most common hat in any room, it was that Saturday night at The Shelter. Just like the bucket hat is to Schoolboy Q, Theophilus is a major fan of the wide brimmed hat (He doesn’t like the word fedora). He himself didn’t actually sport a hat, instead, he hopped on stage with a pink camo hoodie, army camo jacket, blue pants (not blue jeans), sunglasses, and cowboy boots. His attire makes you really question headlines like this. Outfit aside, I was enthralled with his performance. One thing that sets Theophilus’ performance aside from most rappers in the game right now is the use of real instruments rather than playing a recording of the track. Hearing authentic drums, bass, and guitar add an extra level of realism to his set.

Theophilus played tracks off of his new album Vibes, executive produced by none other than Kanye West. Theo (as many fans were shouting during the performance) took breaks between each song to give us a story or two. He talked about how Drake was originally supposed to be on Can’t Stop instead of Mr. West. Due to Drizzy having a new phone number every day, communication resorted to E-mail and the collaboration never happened. When Theo showed Ye the instrumental to Can’t Stop, he started bobbing his head with Kim there next to him and they immediately started working on that song as well as Kanye executive producing the album.

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Fan interaction was on 10 during his performance. Not only were fans singing along, but Theophilus London was bringing fans on stage during a few of his songs; some for him to sing to, and some to sing with him. The last song he played ended with the entire crowd, or as many as could fit, jumping on the stage of The Shelter to sing with him. All-in-all, that was an amazing concert. 10/10 would see again.

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Ariel Pink

The Crofoot Ballroom

Pontiac, MI

Wednesday February 18, 2015

Story and Photos by: Music Director Anthony Spak

Ariel Filtered

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.

Jack Name
Jack Name opened the show.

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.

A live band helped Pink's songs sound fuller.
A live band helped Pink’s songs sound fuller.

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 grew got hot on a bitter cold night.

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

The Ark

Ann Arbor, MI

January 18, 2015

Story and Photos by: Lelia Cotton (@RhymesWTequila)

 

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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.

 


 

Frontier Ruckus

The Loving Touch

Ferndale, MI

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!

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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_by_Rob_C

Death From Above 1979

The Crofoot Ballroom

Pontiac, MI

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.


Circa Survive

The Crofoot Ballroom

Pontiac, MI

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.

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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

Pontiac, Mi

Story and photos by: Music Director Anthony Spak

11/23/14

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.

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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

Clarkston, MI

August 10, 2014

Story by: @DJ_Kobe

Photos by: Donnarice Photography

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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.

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Disclosure, Schoolboy Q, Ryan Hemsworth, Tom Trago,Kevin Saunderson, & Erno The Inferno

Freedom Hill

Sterling Heights, MI

August 2, 2014

Story by: 

disclosure promo wild life pic

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 smo