I made the trek to Meadowbrook all alone. Summer was still suffering from a long trip back from California, where she had the misfortune of having to connect in Houston, where on-time flights are as common as planning and zoning.
The drive to the venue really is not bad. In my mind I thought it would take forever, but I was home, in Hamtramck thirty minutes after the band ripped through their last song, this includes walking to the car and maneuvering traffic to get out of the lot.
As for the show, glorious! I must admit that I am a bit biased about MMJ. They hail from Louisville, Kentucky; I grew up about 30 minutes from there. They started to get some local traction around the same time I was getting into live music. I have seen this band more times than any other, and I still love every show.
Jim James and company tore threw most of their albums at a volume I was not expecting. It was the first show in a while that I wished I were wearing earplugs. My ears were still ringing two days later...don't tell my mom. I can still remember our battles about my first Sony Walkman and the level at which I insisted on listening to Public Enemy and Ice Cube. If I ever do go deaf from all my loud music, I'll never hear the end of it from her.....
All the energy from a young My Morning Jacket is still there, but they have become experts at pacing the energy of the show. The mixture of slow, quiet tunes, and turn it up to eleven bangers are mixed with precision. James conducts the whole thing while bantering with the crowd and occasionally wearing a cape when the moment requires. The band came on at 8:30 and didn't let off the gas til 11:00.
The prices have gone up, I think after the fees a seat in the pavilion was $60, but if you can swing it, I guarantee you will leave rubbing your ears with a smile on your face.
Walking in I noticed a couple of things. First, the place was packed. Second, this was the most tattoos I had seen since moving to Detroit. I both like and dislike the setup at Small's. For a less crowded show it would be perfect. When you initially walk in the door, you are in the main bar. You can feel the A/C in here, drink prices are good, $5 for a 24 oz can of PBR, there are TVs to simulcast the show from the other room, and generally enough space to move around.
There is a hallway leading past the men's room, which is as small and graffiti covered as you would hope, to another room where the merch booth and another shot and beer stand are. This room has two doors leading into the main venue. In here, the temperature is about 20 degrees warmer than the main bar and people are packed in tight. There was tons of energy in there and people seemed really into it. It wasn't a room where you could slide in around the edges and have space while still keeping a good view of the stage. You had to commit or get the hell out.
As far as the show, I had a good time; it would be hard not to simply because of the amount of energy the fans bring to these shows. I can't say that I was really moved by the music, but I would certainly go to one of these shows again. I have lots of "live show bands" that I never listen to at home, but if a friend wanted to see them live, I'm in. Next time, I'd like to find a Lucero true believer and take a crash course in the band before I show up. It could only heighten the experience.
This show was a sleeper. Had I not been asked if I wanted to cover it, I wouldn't have even known the show was going on, and I would have missed out. Some of these Hamtramck places need to work on getting the word out for shows, having an accurate calendar on their website, or a website for that matter, would be a good start.
The New Dodge is about five blocks from our house and this was our first time going in. They have a good setup in there, big open stage in front of large windows. We bellied up to the bar right next to the stage. Beers were $2 and the bartender was great, even when things got busy.
Things got going around 10 with Detroit band, The Summer Pledge. I listened to a couple of their songs before heading in and I still had yet to form an opinion when they took the stage. This band is more rock n' roll than I expected, and I mean that in a good way. I really enjoyed the choruses, their use of harmony, and their willingness to build jams into their songs to loosen the formula and structure a bit. They are playing another show Friday August 31st at The Shack in Woodbridge. I've been assured this will be a rager, so I'll have to verify that. Come to the party and check this band out, you can buy me a beer.
The touring band for the night was a Brooklyn outfit called Shy Hunters. They only had two tracks available online, so I was unsure what to expect. After seeing them live, I am excited about hearing the full record they are currently working on. It's hard to describe exactly what they sound like. It could definitely be part of the score for a David Lynch movie or possibly a scene from the beginning, happier, part of Scarface when he is buying that Porsche and trying to hit on Michelle Pfeiffer.
It was good, and I have already texted and recommended that my friends go see them when they play their towns this week.
The last band of the night was another Detroit band, Phantasmagoria. This band was a guy and girl, him working a laptop and drum machine, her singing and playing some percussion instruments. They were solid too. She has a strong voice over a poppy bass line and ambient notes. It's a recognizable sound in this age full of expert knob turners, but they certainly pull it off. I'm listening to them as I write this and bobbing my head.
Blues at Kelly's, August 22nd, 2012
Hamtramck representing! I love this bar, and I love their blues night on Wednesdays. It really does feel like you are in someone's basement watching talented musicians jam. The crowd is mostly older men, and the majority of the crowd will be on stage at some point in the evening.
The show kicks off around 10:30 and when we left at 1:30, they were still going strong. It's a great pace for just hanging out too. Music is generally 20 minutes on, and then a 15-minute break before a new line-up takes over. This gives you time you head out to the patio and relax and talk during the break. Hamm's were $1 this night, mixed drinks come in mason jars, and there are plenty of $1 or $1.50 Jello shots if you are looking for a venue to host a sorority mixer. Bartenders are great, regulars are great, and you can get in the door for the astronomical price of free.
|Downriver Dan is reason alone to check out Kelly's.|
|The lovely and extremely talented Annie Trampus blew the crowd away with her vocals.|
|Yep, this is part of the bathroom. It doesn't get much better than this.|
Figured we would throw in some pictures from the 2nd opening at this art venue in Eastern Market. It's a cool space that you enter through dark, low arched tunnels and emerge in a large open white room. For these opening parties the booze is free and there are Vodkas and Red Bull as far as the eye can see! This one was definitely more crowded than the first. I think the gallery is open every Saturday, so check it out next time you head to the market.