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Show Reviews: I Love Lightning Bugs, The Smiths United, Fur and the Blueflowers 12/09/2011

Last Friday in Ferndale was a fantastic night, as the city hosted a couple of excellent shows with local bands during their annual Winterfest. I heard there were ice sculptures and a Ferris Wheel, but I didn’t see any of that, what I did see were some excellent bands playing at the Rustbelt and Magic Bag.
I kicked off the night at the Rustbelt market with I Love Lightning Bugs. If you haven’t been to the Rustbelt, it’s worth checking out as dozens of local artists have their works for sale. The Luddites played first with a fun set of jazz swing music. I Love Lightning Bugs came on next playing a short but sweet set of their delicious indie pop that included a chugging version the Pixies “Head On”. Their other songs pulled from their recently released “Kensington” album. Here’s their performance of “Head on.”

A short cold stroll across the road brought me to the Magic Bag where four of the area’s finest local bands were all on the same bill. Unfortunately, I missed John Nelson and his Girlfriends, but I did catch Fur midway through my favorite song by them, “Pretty Thoughts.” Fur is always great live. There is the comparison to She Wants Revenge, but after seeing both bands play with only a week between, I honestly think Fur played a more engaging and tight set. Here’s a video of one of Fur’s songs from the night:
The always brilliant Blueflowers played next with Kate at her pitch-perfect best. With this latest incarnation of the Blueflowers I think they have really captured their best sound yet. It’s an edgy, Americana sound where Tony Hamera’s understated guitar work shines next to Kate’s vocals. The fullness of the sound is rounded out nicely with acoustic guitar and backup vocals. Here’s a video of them performing the title track from “In Line with the Broken-Hearted.”

Capping off the night is the band that salutes the band that meant more to me than any other, The Smiths United. I think I’m on my second hand now on counting the number of times seeing the Smiths United play, and let me tell you, they get better with each show. They probably have close to 50 Smiths/Morrissey’s songs they can play, so they always keep the crowd guessing which songs they will include. Tonight’s set ranged from the crowd pleasers like “There Is A Light..” and “How Soon Is Now” to a few obscure tracks like Morrissey’s “Boy Racer” (which was played for “the infamous Boy Racer” in attendance) and “These Things Take Time” which I caught on video below.
One more mention the music in between the sets was DJing from Jennifer Jeffery. If you know her from her shows on Strangeways Radio, you’ll know she has a knack for playing those special “under the radar” songs from years ago that make you feel so happy to hear again.