Mac DeMarco w/ Alex Calder and The Courtneys
Sunday, November 8, 2015
Photos and review by: Music Director Anthony Spak (@spakdaddy)
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.
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.
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.”
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.
- The Way You’d Love Her
- Salad Days
- No Other Heart
- Another One
- Cookin’ Up Something Good
- Ode to Viceroy
- Without Me
- Reelin’ In The Years (Steely Dan cover)
- Just to Put Me Down
- Let Her Go
- I’ve Been Waiting For Her
- Chamber of Reflection
- Encore: Enter Sandman (Metallica cover)
Big K.R.I.T. Review
November 3, 2015
Review and Photos By: Jake Rapanotti
A 90-minute drive to Lansing is well worth it to see Big K.R.I.T. and opener BJ the Chicago Kid.
BJ’s opening set was solid. He sang a few original songs, but really got the crowd moving by doing his verses from Schoolboy Q’s “Studio” and Dr. Dre’s “It’s All on Me.” Although the young singer from the Chi-town has made songs with K.R.I.T., they were never on stage together.
Big K.R.I.T. finally entered the stage after 11 p.m. to join his DJ, drummer, and bassist/keyboardist. He stepped on stage wearing the fedora that’s featured on the character on the cover of his latest mixtape, It’s Better This Way. The crowd came to life and any space there was to move got closed up by bodies reaching for K.R.I.T.
Krizzle immediately connected with his fans. He asked everyone to imagine that they each own “that one car” from “that one year.” He asked that we pretend we were all born in “that same year.” He was of course hinting to the 1986 Cadillac that he frequently references in his music. It does not take the crowd long to catch on as everyone yells “86! 86!” Of course, K.R.I.T. then proceeded to shake the building with the song “86” from It’s Better This Way. He performed most of the songs from that last mixtape as well as a good portion of his last album, Cadillactica.
It was clear that Big K.R.I.T. had some points he wanted to get across on Wednesday night. After his first set, he told us – with his Southern Mississippi draw – that he had never been to Lansing before and that tonight would not matter unless he let us know how country he was. He brought the dirty South all the way to Michigan and played songs like “Country Sh*t” and “Shakem Off.” It was during this set that Krizzle’s performance really stood out. He would run across the stage spitting verses. By the time he would get to the bridge of a song, his eyes would get wide and he jumped like he was trying to stomp through the floor. For every chorus, he stood on the raised border of the stage and stared into the eyes of his fans with passion. His performance was so intense; I felt the songs through every bone in my body.
Halfway through the show, K.R.I.T. left the stage hurriedly after a song for a break. During this break, his DJ and band played a super mix of songs from his 4eva N a Day mixtape. This was great to keep the crowd dancing, but I was disappointed he did not perform them himself, as that is my favorite mixtape of his.
When he returned, his next point was to show how much he appreciates his “day one” fans. He went through a set of his early music, and then moved into slower, more R&B sounding songs like “Third Eye.” He also paid homage to Southern hip-hop pioneers, Outkast, by playing “Spottieottiedopaliscious.” When he finished, he explained that even though most of us did not know the lyrics, those are the songs he knows he needs to play from deep in his heart. He wanted to give the full K.R.I.T. experience, and teach us to love the songs that are not pop, but from the heart.
The coolest part of the show was near the end when Big K.R.I.T. cried out “K.R.I.T., why aren’t you at the award shows? Why don’t we hear you on the radio? Why are you so underrated?” His answer was simply, “It’s Better This Way,” the title track of his mixtape. It’s a song about why it does not matter if mainstream culture recognizes him. The people that know and love him will follow his career. He wants to avoid corporate pressure and the garbage that floods the mainstream… and it’s better that way. His last song was “Mt. Olympus,” a perfect finisher that calls out all of his haters and critics – and provides the crowd with one last banger.
Big K.R.I.T.’s new album, All My Life is slated for release this month on the 20th. Expect another conscious, heartfelt masterpiece.
Knuckle Puck Review
October 15, 2015
The Crofoot Ballroom
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
August 5, 2015
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.
Brand New, Basement, Desapareidos
July 30th, 2015
Meadowbrook Music Festival
Story and Photos by: Zach Micklea
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.
July 25th, 2015
DTE Energy Music Theatre
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.
For 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
June 5th, 2015
The Majestic Theater
Story and Photos by: DJ Zach Micklea (@OUUnderground)
Alejandro 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.
The 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.
Shakey 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.
Pike Room @ The Crofoot
May 28, 2015
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.
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.”
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.
The Loving Touch
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.”
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.
Saturday February 21, 2015
Story and Photos by: Promotions Director Jon Kassab
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Crofoot Ballroom
Wednesday February 18, 2015
Story and Photos by: Music Director Anthony Spak
A little glitter and glam can go a long way.
Ariel Pink and Jack Name performed at The Crofoot Ballroom in downtown Pontiac, MI Wednesday February 18th on one of the coldest nights of the year.
Jack Name took the stage at exactly 9 p.m. and started off the evening by performing a short set of gothic electro-pop. Name and his band played songs from his new album Weird Moons,released on Castle Face Records, a label run by John Dwyer of Thee Oh Sees.
Name’s set had a few moments of brilliance. “Under the Weird Moons” was the best example of Name’s snarling guitar playing meshing with the pounding electronic drums of his other two band members. At its finest, Name’s set sounded like the soundtrack to a really cool and creepy 80’s arcade game.
However, most of the opener’s set was plagued by indiscernible vocals buried in the mix of the synthesizer, drum machines and guitar. It didn’t help that the band seemed to coast at one steady level of volume and momentum, presenting a performance that lacked much dynamic variation.
Somewhere towards the end of the droning, Name took his guitar off, faced the crowd and bid them an abrupt farewell. “Thank you. Have a good night. Buh-bye.”
After Name’s set, the ballroom began to fill. Wild outfits began to appear in the crowd: a bright paisley shirt here, a man dressed in 1980’s woman’s clothes there. The majority of the crowd appeared to have just raided the local Goodwill and sported their haul to the concert.
In a sea of odd outfits, Ariel Pink’s was the oddest. Around 10 p.m. the male singer took the stage wearing spiked purple pumps, sequined short-shorts and a dark women’s t-shirt embroidered with a gold sequined leopard design.
“We’re in Seattle, right?” Pink said into the microphone to no one in particular, then launched into a cover of “Man in the Box” by Alice in Chains. The crowd embraced the oddball cover with giggles, applause and additions to their Snapchat stories.
Pink’s performance was Bowie-esque; dolled up in glitter and glam, the singer belted out an hour’s worth of varied material, most of it off of pom pom, his newest album released in November of 2014 on 4AD. Pink and his five band mates covered everything from the doom metal sludge of “Four Shadows” to the creepy, gothic synth pop of songs like “Lipstick” and “Not Enough Violence” to a slow, sexy funk number featuring a wailing saxophone solo to moments of soft and sweet pure pop melodies on “Put Your Number in My Phone” and “Dayzed inn Daydreams.”
On his album pom pom, some of the songs listed above sound weak. Most of Pink’s studio work features a lo-fi recording style that can give his songs the retro feel of the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s pop music that he draws influence from. Often times it ends up in recordings that sound thin and underdeveloped.
Live, loud, pounding drums from Don Bolles, formerly of The Germs, helped to bring the songs to life, sounding much fuller than their studio counterparts. Pink and Bolles even shared a bit of a drum duet on “Not Enough Violence” when Pink hopped up onto Bolles drum riser, picked up a spare drumstick and began to pound out polyrhythms on Bolles mounted high tom.
With the weight and volume of a full band behind him, Pink stuck to vocal duties with some guitar and tambourine work sprinkled in. Onstage, Pink was a diva in the truest sense of the word: sassy and temperamental. The singer strutted all over the stage as if it was his own Goth catwalk.
“It’s too hot in here!” Pink sneered into the microphone at one point, taking off his sequined leopard top and dropping it to the floor. On one of the coldest nights of the year, it was odd to see anyone taking off anything, but the crowd met the shirt’s removal with cheers.
Pink didn’t spare the audience in his sass, calling the crowd “losers” and “awkward.” His remarks must not have been too heartfelt, as Pink later leaned down into the crowd to sign a few copies of his albums on vinyl for two pleading fan girls at the front of the stage.
“I’m tired. Chicago wore me out. Here’s one more,” Pink told the crowd, hunched over his microphone, drained from an hour of singing and sauntering. “Black Ballerina,” the funky dance banger, woke the crowd up and led to swaying arms in the air again. An extended version of “Picture Me Gone” followed with soaring three part vocal harmonies.
Despite all of the makeup and gimmicks, the man could sing.
“Drive safe wherever you’re going. Thanks for tripping out with us,” Pink said, then left the stage.
But the crowd didn’t let Pink get off that easy. A “one-more, one-more” chant soon started up, and Pink took the stage once again. His encore was funny, but underwhelming. Pink played “Plastic Raincoats in the Pig Parade” and “Jell-o”, the two goofiest songs on pom pom. The night ended with its first mosh pit during the last minute of “Jell-o”, breaking up only when the music faded down and the diva descended from the stage one final time.
Gregory Alan Isakov
Ann Arbor, MI
January 18, 2015
Story and Photos by: Lelia Cotton (@RhymesWTequila)
On Sunday night, Gregory Alan Isakov, performed for a sold out show at The Ark in Ann Arbor. The Ark is a small venue based on acoustic and folk performances. Seating is a mix between a half fish bowl and lecture style of stacked rows with a maximum of 400 people. The room was very dimly lit and the only thing on stage with the equipment was a globe that glowed bright orange. Though, this is a norm for The Ark’s decor, it felt metaphoric because the artists in the lineup are both those who’s life has been a journey around the world.
The Ark is a non-profit organization dedicated to enhancing the human spirit with the conservation of the roots of folk music and the arts. From a campus ministry coffee house to an acclaimed ethnic club, The Ark is a staple for artists coming to Ann Arbor.
Nathaniel Rateliff was the only opening act for the night, and he was just enough to get the crowd started. In comparison to Isakov’s shy manner, Rateliff was the perfect amount of extrovert to set the mood. While opening, he made a comical and obviously sarcastic remark of how his set would be filled with tons of tunes that we would all know and be able to sing-a-long to. Although Rateliff normally plays along with his Soul and R&B band, “Nate Rateliff and the Night Sweats”, he was solo on stage this particular evening.
Although there’s a “small-time” feel with Rateliff, he is known in Denver, Colorado’s music scene pretty well and has played with big names like Iron & Wine, Bon Iver, and Mumford & Sons. It makes you question whether or not he wants anything bigger.
Ratliff looks and feels comfortable sitting up on stage alone. Hearing his voice for the first time was captivating. His melodies are strong but velvety, and his dominant lyrics make everything he says feel relative. Everything about Rateliff pours out his passion for what he does and it’s inspiring. After each song the crowd continued to renew Rateliff and his saucy banter.
After a brief intermission, the sold out crowd took their seats to welcome Isakov. Isakov and his four-man band took the stage. After playing the first in his set, he introduced his band, which were all his best friends from home. He said that he knew it was really early in the set for introductions but he was just excited to have his best friends up on stage with him. Then followed up with a joke under his breath of, “now that that is over..”
Isakov is very wholesome and is a strong believer in his morals. He has a farm in Colorado; him and his engineer, Jaime, herd sheep together. He spoke of how he had a great day of fatherhood today because one of his sheep back home had a little lamb and they still had to come up with a name for it. At all of his shows, he requests that we only take photos during the first three songs, and then put our phones away for the rest of the set.
Isakov uses a “Green Bullet” microphone with gives an enticing lo-fi megaphone sound for his vocals. Before playing “The Universe” from the 2013 album “The Weathermen” he requested the staff turn off all of the lights. In the blackness he sang to us, “she’s beautiful, beautiful, beautiful, beautiful, beautiful.” This album was recorded in a cabin in Colorado and recorded on old tape machines, analog gear, and old microphones. He says this album came together very easily, though he and Jaime “took their time on it.”
At one point, Isakov and the crew then came off of the main stage area and got right in front of the first row of listeners; surrounding themselves as closely together to one microphone as possible. They pulled out a banjo and began playing “The Stable Song” from the 2007 album “The Sea, The Gambler.”
After leaving the stage with a standing ovation, the crowd waited just about three minutes before welcoming both Isakov and Rateliff on stage for an encore. As the more gregarious of the two, Rateliff did all of the talking and opening of the encore. Afterward, Isakov humbly waved to the crowed and walked off nonchalantly.
The Ark was the perfect ambiance for the show, but Gregory Alan Isakov could have played out in the wintry streets and the crowd still would have been lured.
The Loving Touch
November 29, 2014
Story and Photos by: Amber Lemons
Let me set the scene for you. You’re at a small bar that doubles as a concert venue. The place is packed with hipster men and women, and everyone seems to be having a good time. As soon as the first opener band strums a guitar chord, everyone cheers. Sounds like a great time, eh?
With my WXOU press pass and camera in hand, I spent my Saturday night chillin’ at The Loving Touch seeing Frontier Ruckus. Boy, was I glad I had the opportunity to attend this show!
The Kickstand Band was the first opener and they presented a chill vibe. Most of their songs mentioned summer in them, and it made me wish it were! I can picture myself hanging out on the beach listening to them. The crowd seemed to agree with me because there was some head bobbing to the beat going on.
Mexican Knives took the stage next. The first thing I noticed was how laid back they all seemed to be. Most of them were drinking a beer when they began to play. This band is great if you are looking for grungy rock n’ roll. The lead singer, Ruth, had some vocals I was not expecting AT ALL. As soon as she opened her mouth I thought, “dang girl, get it!” Her voice is was powerful and I loved it. Mexican Knives had a bit awkward stage presence. Ruth would end up facing the opposite way than the crowd, which I found a bit odd. The crowd didn’t seem to care much though; they still hooted and hollered to show their appreciation.
Last but not least was the main act, Frontier Ruckus. You could tell the crowed was very excited for them to perform because almost every single person there fought their way onto the floor so they could be as close as humanly possible to the stage. I thought they had a great set list; a few of their older songs and some from their new 4th album, Sitcom Afterlife. We have this album at the station in our music library and I highly recommend you listen to it if you are into folk rock at all. I would describe their genre as garage band meets folk.
The band put on a great show, especially with the banjo and trumpet solos that the crowd loved. They were also very interactive with the crowd. It’s so much more fun when the band will actually talk to you rather than just perform and get off the stage.
At one point in the night, the lead singer, Matthew Milia, commented on how warm it was in the venue due to how many people were there. “This is the best kinda warmth, human generated warmth. Y’all should come live in my apartment with me all winter long.” Although I’m sure some of the fans would love to live with him all winter long, it might get a little crowded.
Overall, this was a great show with some great bands. I look forward to seeing all three of these bands again.
Death From Above 1979
The Crofoot Ballroom
Story By: William Georges
Show Date: 11/26/14
After ten years of anonymity, a band whose whereabouts have been shrouded in jet black helmet hair since their savage 2004 release I’m A Man, You’re A Woman, Death From Above have not lost a beat. Immediately, the duo spared words and let the thick electric-bass guitar wobble our ear-drums. As the first bass riff struck it’s note, The Crofoot’s crowd rushed the stage in assaulting mosh-pit fashion. Grainger and Keeler opened up with the bread and butter tune, “Cold War,” only to break out the keyboard on “The Physical World”.
Throughout the performance, the big, light-up elephant display burst with juicy hues that synced with the time signature of bass picks and snare hits. As DFA ripped through their performance –newest to oldest songs, they would occasionally desert the crowd between tracks, leaving only a robotic voice emulator to spit random phrases. “Don’t do drugs”, “Put your seatbelt on”, “Do drugs”, “Go to work”, looped the voice as a hundred sweaty, mosh-pitters vocal cords bled, “DFA! DFA! DFA!” The duo reappeared shrouded in their black schema, and immediately Keeler’s sporadic bass notes transformed into the intro of “Little Girl,” followed up by “Black History Month.”
After one last disappearance from Keeler and Grainger, stoking the “DFA!” rages from the crowd, the strings warped and squealed for the last time that night with the song “Gemini.” As the Crofoot’s intimate lights purged the dark stage, the mysterious group vanished just as quickly as they left in 2006.
The Crofoot Ballroom
Story by: Rachel Williams
Show Date: 11/15/14
Escorted by WXOU’s own Jon “Yondie” Kassab (Follow him @JohnnyKassab), I had the pleasure of attending a Circa Survive concert at the Crofoot Ballroom on November 15. Opening acts were Tera Melos and Title Fight. As a die-hard old school music lover, I was definitely weary of this band with a following of people sporting various half-shaved heads, gauges, and tattoo sleeves. Though I was surprised with a great concert filled with extremely talented musicians.
Tera Melos came onto the stage at 7:30 pm. The band (consisting of three gentlemen) started with a quirky joke about PB&J and Red Bull. Once they began to play, I was put at ease as the guitarist literally shredded on his instrument. Throughout their entire set consisting of electronic beats mixed with loud vocals and energetic guitar riffs, I kept my eyes on the guitarist, whose hands flew, then moving to the keyboard/synth player who kept steady beat with pre-recorded ethereal sounds. Tera Melos left the stage welcoming Title Fight who epitomized every angsty, pop-punk band that has existed.
The Kingston, Pennsylvania natives played songs consisting of screams and angry, loud vocals. Vocalist and bassist, Ned Russin, was jumping around the stage throughout their 30-minute set creating a crazy energy for the crowd which began to mosh and throw people on top of one another. Guitarist Shane Moran stood off to the side “vibe-ing” (as onlooker TJ Carswell remarked), swaying back and forth in stark contrast to his bandmate Ned’s frenetic movements. The rest of the members had a strong energy as well and executed each song as angsty as was expected, while being clever within their genre (check out the giant cat in the picture below, which served as their emblem for the night). The crowd especially went wild when they played one of their more familiar songs “Symmetry”. They featured songs from their recent EP’s Spring Songs and album, Floral Green.
Finally, Circa Survive entered the ballroom and with them, an amazing light show display and technicolor backgrounds. It was completely psychedelic setting mixed with hard rock. The band parted ways from Atlantic Records in 2010 to become independent and ending up signing with Sumerian Records. Their latest album with Sumerian will be released on November 14. The band’s song “Schema” has touches of Brian Johnson mixed with Kellin Quinn-like vocals from lead Anthony Green. This, coupled with the emotional lyrics and visceral energy created a crazy live performance from the Philly natives. Up next for the group is the rest of their North American tour, then promoting their next album Descensus.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.
The Crofoot Ballroom, Night One
Story and photos by: Music Director Anthony Spak
Nascar fans were sorely disappointed when hometown heroes Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. made a triumphant return to Michigan Saturday night.
After playing 22 dates across the country over the last month and a half, the Detroit-based duo had two more shows left on their tour. Both shows were scheduled at The Crofoot Ballroom in Pontiac.
WXOU was in attendance Saturday night for the first of the two homecoming shows.
Local acts Flint Eastwood and Friendship Park opened up the show. Each band brought a different element to the table. Friendship Park was goofy yet melodic, while Flint Eastwood was more of a traditional rock band.
The choice of openers was interesting because Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. combines both of their respective elements along with dance and pop tricks to create a much more varied sound.
“I thought it was great. Three really good bands in a row which is different than most shows I have gone to,” said attendee Ian Ruhala.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. took the stage around ten p.m. They played through a blend of new songs, including their new single, “James Dean.”
“This one turned out to be our most popular song even though we didn’t mean for it to be,” co-founder Daniel Zott told the energetic crowd.
The band also touched on better-known songs like “If You Didn’t See Me On The Dancefloor”, “Run”, and their Michigan anthem, “We Almost Lost Detroit.” Judging from the amount of hands waiving in the air, this song was the fan favorite of the night.
The show ended with multiple encores – one of which included Zott and his former band The Great Fiction taking the stage to play one of their old songs.
After another exit offstage, the band came back onstage wearing different Nascar jackets – a poke at their band name and perhaps the misconceptions that it brings.
During the final encore, there was also a failed stage dive by Zott in which he jumped into the pit area in front of the stage to crowd surf. No one caught the airborne singer and he fell to the wooden ballroom floor…hard. The impact could be heard from ten feet away over the sound of the music onstage.
Zott recovered quickly, jumped back onstage and the group finished their set to a cheering crowd.
Wiz Khalifa’s Under The Influence Tour
DTE Music Theater
August 10, 2014
Story by: @DJ_Kobe
Photos by: Donnarice Photography
Needless to say music wasn’t the only influential ingredient in this display of young talent. From the beginning moments the crowd was informed that Detroit (technically Clarkston) would be the “Best stop on the tour” the night would live up to just that.
Newcomer Mack Wilds opened the show with his high-energy R&B set. The Staten Island native shows his hometown spirit by not only wearing a custom “Wilds” Yankees jersey but also with his hip hop samples including, but not limited to, Mobb Deep’s Burn and Jay-Z’s Dynasty Intro. With Mack Wilds being mostly known for his acting, it was refreshing to see his constant control of the crowd early in the night.
Up next was Rich Homie Quan kicked off his time with club anthem Walk Thru. Over the next half hour Rich Homie would deliver hits like Lifestyle and Get Out My Face. The highlight of this performance was hit single Type of Way. This performance set the tone for the rest of the event.
The west coast spell of the show would be led by Los Angeles crooner Ty Dolla $ign and cosigned by Bay Area artists Sage The Gemini and IAMSU. The first representative of Taylor Gang wouldn’t disappoint fans that sang nearly every song word-for-word including radio favorite Paranoid. I was least familiar with this lot of music but highly impressed, especially by Ty’s electric guitar solo.
IAMSU and Sage The Gemini are clearly the party portion of the tour, keeping the entire venue dancing there whole set. By the midway point of this performance I had to reposition myself amongst a smoke filled red-eyed crowd for a better view (yes I’m a seat switcher). If you dance in the club, there is a good chance you move to one of their songs.
Young Jeezy may be loved as much in Detroit as he in hometown Atlanta. Jeezy spelled out in life size lettering set the stage for an amazing showcase of trap religion. Jeezy took the stage in his everyday all black uniform, Slightly adjusted with a custom “Snow” Detroit vs. Everybody tee. Accompanied by a live band, the Snowman came out of the gate with classics like Go Crazy and Trap Star. For the next hour the crowd was hypnotized by flashing lights and thug quotes of inspiration.
The crowd didn’t miss one beat. The bar was raised once again as Big Sean appears through the fog to perform his verse on Show Out, definitely a great prequel to the night’s main event Wiz Khalifa.
The Main Event – Khalifa takes the smooth approach to get the vibes right, flaunting favorites Roll Up and Memorized. That wouldn’t last long though; the Iamsu cameo would be the turning point, welcoming the entire Taylor Gang to the stage to perform the crew title track. Somewhere in the mix-up Trap Wiz appeared, in a cut off tee shirt and shades to deliver Like Jimi, Foreign, and of course Black and Yellow. Wiz puts on an outstanding performance, I just wish he did more of his earlier work.
The entire concert ran smoothly without any major hold ups between acts. The night’s DJ/host DJ Drama did an amazing job keeping the party going and the crowd amped.
Below is an album of pictures we captured while we were at the show.
Disclosure, Schoolboy Q, Ryan Hemsworth, Tom Trago,Kevin Saunderson, & Erno The Inferno
Sterling Heights, MI
August 2, 2014
Story by: @JohnnyKassab
Due to my week-long vacation, it took me longer than desired to get to this review, but it was a hell of a way to leave the country. The day before I left for Cancun, Mexico for a week of relaxation, I spent my night vibing out to electronic mixes by the producers at Wild Life as well as hearing some hits from T.D.E.’s Schoolboy Q.
The fact that the weather was calm and the temperature was great only added to the outstanding atmosphere created by the legendary local producers that opened up the night. During their performances, art that was the same style as the above picture brushed across the large LED screens that were on the stage. It was very cool to be at a show that Erno the Inferno was part of; I interviewed Passalacqua here at WXOU, a hip-hop duo that Erno the Inferno worked with for their project Zebehazy Summer. The second local face at the show on Saturday was Kevin Saunderson, making a very big wave in the Detroit electronic scene. After his performance I saw at Freedom hill, I can’t wait to see what else he brings to the table at his future shows; I can see a lot of progress and growth out of an artist with that much potential.
Next up on the bill were Tom Trago and Ryan Hemsworth, both with fairly lengthy sets. They got the crowd ready for the feature act Disclosure as well as pumping everyone up for the man of the year, Schoolboy Q. I didn’t know this until he announced it on stage, but Schoolboy Q’s Studio is a nation-wide #1 hit. When I really thought about it, it made sense. I have been hearing it on the radio everywhere, and he’s definitely gotten more recognition since he dropped that new album. His video to Man of the Year got people talking, I’m sure.
With a bill this diverse, I.E.; 1 rapper and 5 producers, you can pretty easily tell who is there to see whom. It turned into a fun game I like to play, called “are they going to stay for the headliner?”. Surprisingly enough, no one really left between Schoolboy’s set and the headliner’s set. Disclosure wrapped up the night with a rowdy set and tons of smo