"The Nolan Factor"
FRIDAY April 3, 2009
Speck Mountain with Bloodbird @ The Berkley Front
I didn't bring a pen or a pad of paper to the show, so I borrowed a 005 Micron pen from a girl in front of the stage after buying two draft beers downstairs from the 40+ taps at the Berkley Front. I collected napkins as the group Bloodbird began their set. On the edge of the platform they had placed a large stick of incense and a small table lamp. The bass player feverishly chewed gum while rubbing out slow moving lines. Reverberating guitar chords and clean melodies were reminiscent of Sonic Youth's Murray Street album. The raspy vocals and occasionally lonely themes were provided by a bearded man with a shaved head.
By this point in the night the two people running the sound were drunk and having difficulties of all kinds setting up for the headlining band Speck Mountain. A few broken cables later, a spilled beer all over the singer's electrical devices, and a monitor that wouldn't stop screaming in my ear, Speck Mountain was finally ready to play.
SUNDAY April 5, 2009
Motorcity Rock Review @ The Magic Stick
The Friendly Foes, a band consisting of a doctor, a lawyer, and an indian chief, were performing when I arrived at the Stick. If you can imagine what that would sound like you probably have a fairly accurate idea of what their music is like.
After a few minutes mingling at the bar and scribbling on my new Motorcityblog notebook, the Silent Years took the main stage. Employing a strange mix of instruments for the rock music they produce drew my attention immediately. I hadn't witnessed the Silent Years for a year or two and evidently forgotten how tight they play, or maybe they weren't that good before. A female cellist and a bassist held down the deep low end, with a pop rock drummer keeping everything moving. The vocalist sang passionately through both a regular mic and a telephone receiver taped to a mic stand, running through a vocoder which provided am etherial mix of echoes and delays to the dynamic sound of the band. Over-driven low-pass filtered guitars and a penchant for Modest Mouse like pop melodies with a tough edge filled out the rest of their set. Very energetic and entertaining onstage with a constantly changing mix of sounds and instrumentation.
The longtime Detroit band the Hentchmen were next up on a side-stage which had been erected in front of the soundboards. It was about the size of a kitchen, with just enough room for the band to stand while surrounded by their equipment. If you haven't heard the Hentchmen by now, you have seriously missed the boat when it comes to Detroit music, in fact you are at the wrong port, or more like no where near the water. It was strange to see two girls under the age of ten clamoring at the front of the stage to see the Hentchmen, strange enough just to see children in the Magic Stick. The keys were played to an amazing degree of skill through a red “Compact” Farfisa organ, embellished with a Polish design that looks like it was found in the Hamtramck Flea Market, held together with green clamps. With the keys on his right hand, the key/bass/singer has his left hand free to play the punk-inspired bass lines on a miniature Honer Bass-3 keyboard, which ran through a gigantic bass cabinet that looked as if it were a prop from Citizen Kane.
Any fears I may have had about the Hentchmen loosing some of their energy or grit in their old age were quickly squashed after they ran through a set of two minute tracks that blended from one to the next with no time to slow down. The small stage led to an unique stage act of stumbling over moniters, stretching and bending over the Farfisa, eventually reduced to stretching their legs on top of one another's gear.
I was distracted by the indian chief from the Friendly Foes during The Pop Project's set, but from what I gathered from the other side of the venue was that they had a sound somewhere between the Electric Light Orchestra and Neil Young.
They even played the theme from Step by Step...
The crowd was a weird mix all night. It consisted of men nearing senior citizen status, children here and there, underage short boys with their even shorter female counterparts, the occasional sophisto who looked lost, and about fifty 20-somethings who all looked like Hamtramck.
Deastro (pronounced: De as in deck, and stro as in Stroh's ice cream) capped the evening on the main stage. He took the stage with a pair of extremely oversized yellow sunglasses with blue lenses. A small card table covered in electrical devices, computer equipment, and blinking do-dads linked together with brightly colored cables adorned the center of the stage, flanked by sandwich boards covered in a disarray of magazine cutouts. His band consists of a guitarist, a bassist, and a drummer, all dressed like suburban kids in polo shirts.
His set was made out of his usual mix of Eurotrash dance beats, rock and roll guitar chords, and electronic noise. Spastic dance antics and an extremely energetic delivery. A tired and thinning crowd was encouraged to beat “Mark,” the man blamed for the lethargy of the audience at this point. After pleading with the audience
“Do you want to dance or do you want to be afraid?”
Deastro began another spaz-rock song and flung his parka of technicolor
felt balls into the rear of the dancers.
“I will never be afraid again because I am a Tiger!”
He next stole a red hat from a member of the crowd in the front and continued to dance like a man possessed before taunting the crowd
“You guys are pathetic.”
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