It seemed to be a pretty good sign of success when we arrived at the Majestic for the pre-party at 9:30 p.m. and found the parking lot totally full. There were hardly any spaces on the street, either -- and indeed, things were buzzing inside. First, we encountered MT's lovely publisher Lisa Rudy, who was escorting a Fox News TV crew around the premises. After talking to Eve Doster, who was in her regular more-than-efficient mode, we headed inside to catch an incredible set by Cetan Clawson.
My introduction to the wunderkind guitarist came last fall when he briefly played with the Bloids (who are playing tonight at Kelly's Bar). But he was playing Bloids' music with the Bloids, of course. Last night, he and his powerful rhythm section were playing their kind of music (including covers) and, man, they were in their element. Maybe it's just 'cause I'm an old fart but this was my favorite showcase of the night. The just-turned-20 guitarist and his teenaged band are somewhat retro; you better believe they've watched old videos of the Jimi Hendrix Experience and are undoubtedly familiar with most of the legendary power trios of yore. In fact, local scenester Stirling was right on the money when he suggested that the kid's voice sounds vaguely similar to the late, great Rory Gallagher (the conversation came about because we'd just seen Danny of the Muggs walk by -- and I'd commented that "Any band that lists Rory Gallagher among their influences is A-OK with me..."; speaking of which, I thought I'd never see TV stars at shows anymore after leaving L.A.... but I immediately recognized the Muggs dude from seeing him on that band competition on Fox TV last fall -- and he indeed looks better in person than he does on the little screen). Clawson played the guitar behind his back and repeatedly used it as a phallic symbol, while creating otherworldly pyrotechnics and audio explosions with his hands. The only thing he didn't do (or maybe I just missed it) was play with his teeth or set his ax on fire. In less talented hands, these could all come off as clichés. But he seems to be a genuine rockstar in the making. With the scarf and groovy threads, he even looks the part. Near the end of his set, I turned to Brian Smith and suggested: "We should see if we can manage this guy, take him to Hollywood and make a million dollars..." (Oh, fuck, wait a minute; did I just post that? Oh, well, too late now...)
Other highlights of the evening included the exquisite orchestral pop of the Silent Years (not the most photogenic band in Detroit -- who cares? -- but still pretty damn impressive overall) and the Eons. The latter band was also impressive in their feigned mania but perhaps a bit too loud, which ultimately kinda destroyed any sense of nuance or dynamics. None of the bands got a sound check, though, so that's something everyone needs to keep in mind when dealing with the overall sound. MT editor Kim Heron thought they were slightly reminiscent of XTC, though he agreed a better mix would've helped them overall. I really dug the bass player's porn mustache, circa the '70s, though). Speaking of Kim Heron, he was a bit pissed after Timmy Vulgar broke one of those balloons during the Human Eye's incredible musically spastic set and Kim ended up with what he thought was ink all over his threads. Upon arriving home, however, he discovered that the said "ink" washed off fairly easily, determined that it must have been food coloring... so all is now forgiven and the dudes can count on further positive coverage in the pages of this newspaper (I kid, I kid -- ruined clothes wouldn't lead us to write a nasty review... well, on second thought, maybe it would...).
Aside from that, it was great to run into a lot of old friends and meet some new ones. Wendy Case, Chris Handyside, Scott Harrison (of Battling Siki) and Kyle McBee (of Dead Letters) were just a few on hand who I've either known in the past or met last night. I even finally met Jay of the FiveThreeDialtone blog -- not only did we not fight but we actually had a pleasant and nice conversation. Chris Handyside mentioned that another old pal Boosey X was looking for me but I somehow missed him again in all the confusion. In fact, our paths haven't yet crossed since I've been back in Detroit (even at the New York Dolls show two weeks ago, which a mutual friend told me he had attended). Was hoping to spot him to see if he could help, as I'm looking for a keyboard amp to borrow for this Saturday night, if my carpal tunnel-damaged hands hold out that long, that is, and if it doesn't snow too hard tomorrow so I can make it to Ann Arbor for our first band practice in over 20 years (when that aformentioned carpel tunnel forced me to choose a computer keyboard over my beloved Farfisa). Oy! (Wow! Not sure where that came from; I'm not even Jewish...) So if anyone knows someone willing to lend me one, I'd appreciate it... because, after all, it's not like there's going to be hundreds of them in Hamtramck this weekend...
Have fun and maybe see you tonight...
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