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The Ruiners wsg The Handcuffs, The Wanton Looks - Northern Lights 12/15/12

Chicago's The Wanton Looks opened the show, which recently reduced membership from a four- to a three-piece, parting ways with their rhythm guitar player. After experiencing this band, one cannot help but wonder whether she was prerequisite. This tight, Ramones-esque all-female trio with five-string fuzz bass, catchy guitar, solid punk rock drums and droning, clever vocals, completely filled the room with sound. The crowd quickly became enamored with Traci Trouble's musings, but she also packed quite a punch on the mic and the bass. Inga Olson shredded comfortably with the steady hands and feet of Meg Thomas on the throne. This band was well-worth showing up early for; watch for their return. Pick up their self-titled CD, too.

The Handcuffs, also from Chicago, brought kind of a Sex Pistols/Blondie vibe with better drumming. Brad Elvis is outstanding, and there is certainly something about singer Chloe F. Orwell (and her boots.) All around great musicians Emily Togni, Ellis Clark, and Alison Hinderliter rounded out the rest of The Handcuffs. Strong songs, great movement, superb drumming; The Handcuffs kept everybody happy.

Stylistically, these two Chicago bands really complemented one another and set the stage for a great Detroit act...

This would be the point at which the garage glam of The Ruiners stole the stage. Filled with high energy, sometimes hilarious but always entertaining, this particular show went over the top when Rick Ruiner finished the set wearing some sort of twisted Captain America/Superman getup. Nina Friday (also wearing cool boots) put on a stellar show as usual, and the backline featured drummer Rob Moon, guitarist Justin Hall, stand-in bass player Jerri Allen, theremin/keyboard player Victor Peraino, and even Tino Gross sat in on drums for a tune- all these guys really showed up to play; seemingly without dropping a note, which is hard to do when your lead singer suddenly appears wearing superhero tights with a giant- well, at least uppercase, 'S' on the front. Phallic jokes aside, The Ruiners is a very solid, pro street punk glam band with surprising depth in the art of simplicity; one that creates perfect sexual tension, mastering the temperament of male/female vocal roles in garage punk, exploiting them at every turn. This is definitive Detroit music which we should be proud to call our own.

Michael Welchans