The Blowout Handbook
Four fab days, a couple hundred bands and shooting stars, previewed!
Published: March 2, 2011
11:20 p.m. — Sheefy McFly and the Delorean: Angry mixed-ethnicity male bonding over pissed-off emcee'd street rhymes ("Fuck You" is a winning skewer aimed straight at Detroit's finest) and live punk rock-inspired rack-it. But good.
10:20 p.m. — Brain Rottar: Minimalist Motor City ghetto tech-wreck, like deranged calliope music — of the bedroom-created variety; it's as hypnotic as its thrift-store scenario is charming. Oh, and it features Detroit's other Dan DeMaggio.
9:20 p.m. — Smackmadam: Port Huron's own buzzsaw merchants who we adore mostly because of their straight-up low-rent purity: songs of poverty, beer and chicks flourish, and "Hair Dresser Blues" and "Moron Pills" are as funny as the Dictators. Mic stands tend to topple at Smackmadam gigs, and beer flies; one left us all sticky-icky sweet in Miller High Life.
Midnight — Kommie Kilpatrick: As one MT scribe said, songs hit fast and hard, like summer camp heavy petting. That and their 10-song debut clocks in at a whopping 10 minutes!
11 p.m. — Cold Men Young: As witty as the name, this cadre of young street poets represents a new breed of smart Motor City hip hop. The foursome crushes live.
10 p.m. — Charlie Slick: Slick's got irrefutable presence; he can dance, sing, drop albums and write authentic songs, and his live show mixes bubbles and glam with pelvic thrusts and a collective consciousness that involves two chicks and Prince throwbacks! What?
9 p.m. — Beekeepers: Post-mod jazz-pop instrumental freak-out of sorts, the sound of apathy turning into art for entertainment's sake; listen to "Eartha Kitt Tourniquet" — at once a fitting nod to the altar of Ms. Kitt and a kind of suicide soundtrack.
12:20 a.m. — JSB Squad: Formed around worthy songs of awesome-haired Jesse Shepherd-Bates of Satin Peaches; the band is more of a revolving door collective of local stars — see Augie Visocchi, George Morris, Mick Bassett, Alison Young, etc. — who meet sporadically and draw exhaustive song experiences with deviance, drugs, nightlife, reminiscences, and drinking beer in an atmosphere of equivalent rock 'n' roll.
11:20 p.m. — The High Strung: You can hear them weekly theme-songing Showtime's brilliant Shameless, but the boys of Strung have hung in long and hard (11 years), touring hundreds of thousands of miles, playing military bases, libraries, rock halls and living rooms, and making records of a way-more-than-respectable rock-show din that compares favorably to old Brit Invasion, Cheap Trick and Motor City thunder. They are the rock 'n' roll working class.
10:20 p.m. — Smash Television: Featuring the everywhere-at-once emcee Leaf Erikson, alongside Jah Connery, both of whom are joy to watch perform. ST bestows a certain intelligence on Detroit rap, with a wink and grin inside its grim realities: In a perfect existence "Idiot Blocks" would be a radio staple — an anti-inertia anthem telling us to smash all mass media in favor of literacy and original thought.
9:20 p.m. — Hi Speed Dubbing: Classic rock 'n' roll in an all-mod-con world; the guys in the quartet aren't exactly copyists and kinda defy categorization. They've a buzz in certain circles, and peer-to-peers might be the MC5, the Stooges and Peter Tosh, but it's close to what late-night basement jams sound like if thought of as metaphysical graffiti filtered through Marshall half-stacks. You know, kinda Wayne Kramer-y in lingo.
11:40 p.m. — The Sights: They've done their homework and understand that if you don't know music history you're doomed to repeat its wretched qualities like an illiterate stooge. Hence, the Sights are rock 'n' roll — with hints of soul, pop, country and blues — the kind that rouses true emotion and transcends the sensation of 12 beers gone down. Think how hard that is to do.
10:40 p.m. — Italian Picture Factory: Dale Wilson and Nick Cicchetti (Millions of Brazilians) plus surprise guest all-stars. It's a "hush-hush" gig but promises some sort wing-ding of a hummer. The sound? It covers "a broad range of genres from loud fast rock and psych with some sweetheart and lost love tossed in."
9:40 p.m. — Scarlet Oaks: Kind of a sonic parallel to the part of Detroit that's overgrown and fading back into earth — there's that country landscape melancholy. It also has youth and folk pop and Southern soul and sublime boy-girl harmonies. There's wisdom beyond its years.
8:40 p.m. — Tone and Niche: Nothing beats a violin harmony under a lead vocal; it's all lovely drone and counterpoint, which T&N have in spades — like baroque pop meets backwater renderings of the few really good Go-Betweens songs.
Midnight — Michael Seger & Everyone's Favorite Band: A young quintet whose radio-ripe, big-chorus alt-rock is well supported by thoughtful harmonies, and words detailing suburban lives, trophy wives, girls and the one that got away.
11 p.m. — The Black List: Four-piece punk rock maintaining the honor of SoCal circa early '80s; walls of distortion support knuckle-pummeling shout-outs, and the poppy ones stick — see if you're not singing "Lights Out" under drunken Hamtown stars long after closing time.
10 p.m. — Small Noises: Covering the Pixies might slightly give this young quartet away, but there's some preternatural shit happenin' too, and not just an electric mandolin and some white raga. Bonus: The singer sometimes sounds immodestly excited, like David Byrne crossed with Jack White.
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