Last Saturday night, MCB's Andrew Bender caught the action at the Fillmore for 93.9's Riverfest, before making his way to Small's in Hamtramck to see Eagles of Death Metal's under the radar performance. Read on for Drew's take on the evening and some photos from each of the bands.
As I approached the Fillmore at 7pm, the line of concert goers waiting to get into the downtown Detroit venue stretched around the block. Once I reached the box office, I saw that at 30 minutes past the advertised time for opening the doors, the venue was still not allowing entrance. As I waited for my ticket and photo credential, an unhappy customer was attempting to return his 4 tickets purchased only 10 minutes before, rather than continue to wait in line. Apparently, the cause for the wait was due to the bands' late arrivals resulting in all of them falling behind on their sound checks. After a short delay, the doors opened and people streamed in, followed soon by me. The former State Theater was over half full, and the $35 ticket price may have contributed to that less than stellar turnout. Putting on the show was 93.9 The River, the local radio station that plays an eclectic mix of music, much of which has never made it to a Billboard chart, featuring blues, reggae, rock, jam bands, and more - my kind of station. So I was looking forward to a night of good music.
Britain's One Eskimo was up first with a set of softer indie rock, featuring their singles Kandi, Hometime, and Amazing and for an opening band, they definitely had the crowd getting into their set. Vocalist Kristian Leontiou's soulful lyrics were well-supported by Pete Rinald's vocals and guitar, and Jamie Sefton's bass. Seeing Sefton simultaneously handle bass and trumpet duties (or was it a flugelhorn?) was also impressive while Adam Falkner's drumming (often some serious skin pounding) kept the whole thing together.
After a brief break where the largely white, suburbanite crowd refilled their drinks and jockeyed for a better position on the dance floor, indie heartthrob Justin Nozuka took the stage. Although the faces in the crowd - both on the rail at the front and throughout the venue - were of a wide range of ages, the young women up front were definitely enthralled with Nozuka's performance. Often illuminated by a lone spotlight against a dark backdrop, Nozuka demonstrated his mastery of his own ballads and his ability to rock out with his band.
After the first half of his set, I headed back to refill my own beverage before the headliners came on. I'd never seen the Avett Brothers before, and had really heard very little of their music. However, after seeing much of their performance on Saturday, they are definitely one act I need to hear a whole lot more of. Although I'm not the biggest fan of labels, the Avett Brothers epitomize much of the alt-country genre, as they combine bluegrass, pop, country, rock, and jazz to produce a uniquely American sound. Reminiscent of Uncle Tupelo and early Wilco, the band features brothers Scott Avett on banjo and Seth Avett on acoustic guitar with Bob Crawford on stand up and electric bass, kit drummer Jacob Edwards, and cellist Joe Kwon. Apparently, Kwon has been touring with the band for some time, but Edwards is a recent addition on drums, and a source of some debate among the fans as to his necessity. For me, seeing Crawford and Kwon facing off in a flash of bow on cello and thumpin' electric bass was pretty cool as the brothers vocals and playing kept the music soaring. As the band played fan favorites One Line Wonder, Telling Time, and an encore of Down With the Shine, the energy in the room was phenomenal, even with an undersold house. As slower ballads gave way to aggressively rockin' tunes, the dance floor was a blur of moving bodies. Not bad for a Saturday night.
However, I'd decided that since I wasn't a huge fan, I'd skip out a bit early and make my way up to Hamtramck to see Los Angeles rawkers Eagles of Death Metal. For the uninitiated, EODM is not a death metal band. Think now to a song by the band The Eagles (yes, Glen Frey, Don Henley, Joe Walsh, Tim Schmidt) - any song will do - and compare that to a real rock song. EODM are THE Eagles (of Death Metal). Yes, this almost-self-parodying band will rock your faces off. And they have the best song about masturbation I've yet heard (Solo Flights) off of their 3rd album Heart On. So, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to see the band, fresh from their headlining performance at the Land of Nod festival in Jackson. As rhythm guitarist and front man Jesse Hughes simultaneously sang and sweated at the audience the Small's audience, clad mostly in black t-shirts with ironic sayings, rocked out, apparently having a great time. For me, it was well worth the $15 to see this band that I've missed on more than one occasion. It was also a helluva a lot of fun to have arrived just in time to see Hughes giving a HUGE shout out to Motorcityblog - which he called the best and only music blog in Detroit. MCB's Moneypenny's has been a longtime fan of the band, and these days it's mutual. Hughes took a moment during the show to ask people to contribute to the fund for EODM bassist Brian O'Connor who's fighting cancer as we speak. Undergoing treatment in Los Angeles, O'Connor is not touring with the band, but on their behalf, we ask MCB readers to dig deep and contribute what they can by clicking here. Queens of the Stone Age and Eagles of Death Metal are planning a benefit concert for Brian on August 12 in L.A.
Eagles of Death Metal