Promote your event / Contact MCB

email us anytime


SHOW REVIEW: The Infatuations, Shotgun Soul, Third Coast Kings and the Mike Hopper Trio at Northern Lights, Detroit, January 19, 2013

It was a night of great sound, great service, and full-on Detroitertainment at Northern Lights: top-quality homegrown music delivered the way only Midtown, the neighborhood of Motown, Detroit, can do.

The Infatuations
"Partying" in the women's bathroom at Northern Lights

Headliners The Infatuations was the treat of the evening, which is saying a lot, considering that the lineup included exclama-funk band Third Coast Kings, the mighty Shotgun Soul, and the sonically-large Mike Hopper Trio. Caleb Gutierrez is the super-frontman of The Infatuations, a group of creative, unabashed and well-polished singing musicians. Caleb has a warm and identifiable, thickly full-range voice that soothes and softens but scratches and wails through scales as well as just about anyone. His neat appearance is dichotomized by his ripping performance during which his very oh-the-huMANity appears to be torn apart and removed, reborn and replenished- all in a single evening. You seem to feel him coming to terms with his talent as he draws you anywhere the groove takes him, from the in-pocket, sweet tones of Stevie Wonder to the explosive stripped-down power of Aretha, this man has It and he makes you quite desperate to share. His confidence seemed to grow throughout the show, and his bandmates ate it up and reflected it into the room, strengthening the feeling of unity that is so powerful from this group- which includes Christian Draheim, Chris Polite and Nick Behnan on guitars, Wolf on bass, and Robert Myers on drums. (Jeff Lee sat in on drums for a tune as well.) The three guitarists use catchy riffs, counter melodies and very well-crafted chord progressions to create texture and harmony to melodically strong, deep bass lines pocketed with saucy drums and smart percussion- and everybody sings. If you like the volatile explosiveness of rock, the unflinching, melodic, bouncing pulse of P-Funk, and the sensibility and the beautiful, heart-wrenching soul of Motown, this band has it all in one fabulous live package. Very Detroit, indeed; see The Infatuations and you are going to rock to it, dance to it, and sing and smile to it, all the way home.

Nothing could be stolen away from the final act of the night, Shotgun Soul, a band that finished the evening with a hard, bellowing kind of rock and soul. Tiny Liz Gerard leads the group with her powerful crooning, joined by Jason Mossburger on guitar, Robby Berent on horns, Dave Bodayni on bass, and Jesse Wozniak on drums. There is a clear influence brewing the best of classic rock, 90's rock and classic Motown, and they put on a powerful show. Liz had the crowd up-front early-on and they kept it that way.

Second-up was Third Coast Kings, an incredibly talented and very tight, smartly-dressed James Brown-esque love-gospel funk-and-soul band. Sean Ike leads James Keovongsak on drums, Steve Barker on bass, Andy Filisko on guitar, Brian Einstein Lassiter and Alec Cooper on saxes, Ryan Dolan on trumpet, and Terry Kimura on trombone. These guys put the pro back into confessional, with tight brass, superb guitar, a strong rhythm section and sharp, soulful vocals- this is a band you should not miss; if you see Third Coast Kings on the marquis, stop in and stay awhile. These guys are the real thing.

The show opened with something completely different, the Mike Hopper Trio from Downriver. This smooth-driving, intelligently crafted three-piece features discernibly well-written lyrics and songs with Queen-sized sound, stylistically reminiscent of the Canterbury scene. Your ears will believe these guys are much larger than they appear in number, and filling raw aural space with beauty without ugly is their specialty. The more you pay attention, the more appealing and clever these guys play. Mike is joined by Wolf on bass and Robert Myers on drums, both of whom pulled double-duty with The Infatuations.

Usually with a four-act evening you might anticipate a long night, but this one went by far too quickly. The bill was filled with talent that transitioned well and one band followed the next in what appeared to be a well-orchestrated evening that sounded great. Kudos to everyone who worked behind the scenes and performed in this show, as it certainly satisfied a sweet and salty taste range of Detroit-sound palates.

Michael Welchans