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5/6/13

Blowout 2013: Night 6

Night 6 of the 2013 Blowout, , Saturday, May 4th, 2013

After driving to Ferndale as fast I could from the derby bout at the Masonic, I came across food trucks in the lot behind the Rustbelt Market. They were packing up and leaving around 10 o'clock though. I'm not in Ferndale often enough to know if this is a regular thing, but with so few late night food options there, they need more of this.

The night club scene in Ferndale didn't forget about "May the fourth be with you", and Princess Leia was working the door at Grasshopper. Metro Times, how could you not incorporate this?

First thing I saw that night that I liked was Odd Hours at the Ferndale Library. I only caught a portion of it, so I'm not sure when those backup singers actually participated. I left wondering, how much thought should one put into crafting lyrics, when the vocals will be so distorted that no one can make them out?

After circling around to find something else worth listening to, I came back to the library for Rogue Satellites. I think I've seen them before, but they didn't make much of an impression on me. This time I was digging their catchy lo-fi electro backed pop-rock. (Does that jumble of words make it sound like I know what I'm talking about?)

The Detroit Party Marching Band piled into the library after Rogue Satellites finished their set. They're not just about showing up unexpected any more. If you got to see them years ago, you can tell that they actually rehearse now.

One of the best acts of the weekend was Fur at the Loving Touch. The last time they played there the lead singer broke his wrist. This night was turning out much better than the last two.

Jeecy and the Jungle were doing a Detroit music history retrospective at Rustbelt Market. I heard a John Lee Hooker song, something from the Motown era, a few bars of an Eminem song, and a song from the Stooges.

You know what's better than Alexis doing their synth-pop thing at the Garden Bowl? Alexis doing their synth-pop thing alongside Lightshow Bob. Every performance is better with Lightshow Bob.

Another great performance that night was Electric Fire Babies at Como's. They had the room about 3/4 full. The best turnout that room had all weekend.

Amy Gore and Her Valentines had the Rustbelt Market about half full, after playing at the derby bout earlier that day. I'm getting more in to this band as I harbor less resentment for Amy for not reuniting the Gore Gore Girls.

The marching band piled into the Rustbelt after Amy Gore finished. This was the best night of the Ferndale leg. More hits than misses, and everything is better when the Detroit Party Marching Band shows up.

Bands I saw that night that I'm putting in the "whatever" category: Briscoe County Vultures, Dolfish, Luddites, Touch the Clouds, and The A-Gang.

Despite moments here and there of a band playing to a congested room, turnout for both the Hamtramck and Ferndale weekends felt low overall. For the five minutes that I watched Sponge at PNA Hall, it was 1/3 full, and that was the largest crowd I saw in that room this year. At last year's Blowout, The Dirtbombs had that room packed.

While I can't dismiss that some people were boycotting the whole Blowout because of the expansion, I think that part of the problem is that there weren't any big "can't miss" acts on the lineup. I think Sponge is scheduled to play another show before the month is even over. Meatmen reunions won't be that rare, since the band is going to release new material again. Jessica Hernandez and the Deltas are awesome, but they played at St. Andrew's Hall less than a month or two ago. Amy Gore and the Valentine had another performance the very same day.

Even though the expanded Blowout only ventured about a mile into the suburbs, it still played into the narrative of urban disinvestment. Metro Times Publisher Chris Sexson didn't make it any better when he said, "But I've found, even among some of the younger music and creative people, that some people don’t want to go down there, the same as some people might not want to go into downtown Detroit".

Brett Callwood of the Metro Times has been more tactful, saying, "The Blowout had to change to survive".  He would make a stronger case if he would give out wristband sales figures from the last several years, but I doubt that's going to happen.

The Metro Times could try to make the case that since bar patronage across all of Hamtramck is declining year after year, that a partial move to the suburbs was inevitable. If they had expanded to Corktown instead, the outrage would have been about gentrifying neighborhoods. Is there some way to restore three full worthwhile nights to Hamtramck, while still recreating what happened Saturday night in Ferndale? Does an event in Ferndale need to tie into the Blowout to get noticed?

Whatever conclusions are drawn about this year's Blowout, I just know that I'm going to catch a bunch of shit from my Hamtramck friends for openly admitting that I enjoyed the last night in Ferndale.

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I'm a dork, I live in the Detroit area, and sometimes I take blurry photos on an outdated camera