Just to prove that there was actually more going on this weekend than just the International Jazzfest, and the Hamtramck festival, and Arts Beats & Eats, and the Belle Isle Grand Prix, and a Tigers game, and the appearance in Hart Plaza of (hopefully) the next Prez of the United States (whew! ), we offer the following review of the Silver Jews -- who appeared at the Crofoot in Pontiac on Sunday night, August 31st -- as evidence (and as experienced by our own "Wonder Twins" -- Laura and D'Anne Witkowski -- who weigh in here occasionally on music and pop cultural artifacts):

Laura: We had to brave the Art, Beats & Eats festival to even get to the Crofoot.

D’Anne: We had to beat it and eat it.

L: That’s dirty.

D: Yep.

L: But you did eat it. Indian food.

D: I was hungry. You ate some, too.

L: You forced us to interact with the Arts Beats and Eats people.

D: The food throng.

L: People sure do love to come out in droves to buy food tickets and exchange them for smaller portions than you could get at a restaurant.

D: Yes they do. So, the Crofoot...

L: How did you like it? You’d never been there before.

D: It was awesome. It is a poster child for urban renewal, in my opinion. And the sound was great.

L: I second that emotion. Some people bitch about having to drive out to Pontiac, but it’s a great place to see shows. It’s clean; it’s nice; the booking is top-notch, and the sound quality is great. Tickets are reasonable. You really can’t ask for more.

D: You could ask for a pony. Though sometimes a pony gets depressed...

L: Speaking of which, how did you like the Silver Jews?

D: Awesome. The bass player is really hot.

L: That’s [band leader David Berman’s] wife, you know.

D: I told you that.

L: Some guys have all the luck...

D: I wouldn’t exactly say that about David Berman. He struggles with substance abuse, depression, thoughts of suicide...

L: OK, so a hot wife I guess is a consolation prize?

D: Well, he got a lot of love from the Crofoot audience.

L: He even said something like, “This has been the best audience so far. Does nobody ever play in Detroit?” More so because he was kind of astounded by the response, not because he was making fun of the city or anything.

D: Yeah.

L: Should we talk about [opener] Cortney Tidwell first?

D: We’re already talking about the Silver Jews. But go on

L: We both seemed really pleasantly surprised by her set. I, for some reason, expected her to be an Americana singer-songwriter. I don’t know why. Maybe I was confusing her with somebody else.

D: With Taylor Swift.

L: I have no idea who Taylor Swift is!

D: You are ignorant. She opened for the Jonas Brothers, I think.

L: Cortney Tidwell did? That’s a serious jump from Jonas Brothers to Silver Jews.

D: You remain ignorant.

L: Great. Well, I really liked Cortney Tidwell’s set. It reminded me of a Nashville-tinged Bjork.

D: Yeah, crossed with My Brightest Diamond and Janis Joplin.

L: But the robotic dance moves were definitely Bjork.

D: Yes. And the marching in place. Very patriotic.

L: Apparently this was her last show on the Silver Jews tour.

D: Now she’s going to go open for the Jonas Brothers.

L: Shut up. I think Dave Berman is a big fan, though, because we could see him watching her set from the side of the stage.

D: I think she hearts him, too.

L: Speaking of hearts, not that I didn’t know he had a big fan base, but I was really surprised at how many people were reaching forward to touch his hand — he had that “rock-star-ness.” Because at so many indie shows, kids just stand there with their arms crossed like they wish they were somewhere else, even if it’s their favorite band.

D: I was surprised at that, too. Granted, I haven’t been a Silver Jews fan for very long. I actually became a fan through David Berman’s poetry. He has a couple of poems in the McSweeney’s poetry anthology and after reading them, I sought out the Silver Jews’ music.

L: That’s interesting because I became a fan of the Silver Jews through How To Be An Indie Rock Snob 101. Rule number one being, “You must love everything David Berman touches.”

D: So you must love his wife, Cassie.

L: Let’s not go there.

D: You started it. She’s an awesome bass player. His whole band was good.

L: The new album, Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea, I would say it has definitely made my short list for the top 10 albums of the year.

D: It’s made my even shorter list.

L: It actually reminds me a lot of the Lee Hazelwood and Nancy Sinatra stuff. The duets he does with Cassie.

D: Yeah. The duet songs are the best. “We Could Be Looking for the Same Thing” and “Suffering Jukebox” are my favorites.

L: They sounded really good live, although the personal interplay between the two of them seemed kind of bizarre.

D: Well, Berman is kind of bizarre. He spent the bulk of the show tangling and untangling his mic cord with his mic stand. And then there was the remote control rat.

L: That didn’t seem to last very long. I think he kicked it off the stage.

D: He kept stepping on it. I was disappointed that the rat didn’t play a larger role in the show. As for Berman and Cassie [and, full disclosure, I didn’t know they were married until after the show], I thought there was a charming kind of chemistry between them. She seemed kind of bemused and he seemed, well, kind of longing.

L: OK, now you’re getting all poetry and shit and I think that means we should end this.


L: I’m just glad that there was such a great turnout for the show. I think we really showed David Berman how loved he is in this city.

D: Yeah. So, David, stick around. You’re a shining Silver Jew! You’re golden. --Laura & D'Anne Witkowski

Laura Witkowski writes about music for the Metro Times. She also writes other things, and you can read more of her stuff at Pillow Fights & Boxing Tuesday.

D’Anne Witkowski is a poet, freelance writer, and lecturer at The University of Michigan. Her blog is called Touched By A Monkey. It isn’t all self-important and poorly written like your blog.

David Berman of the Silver Jews: Depression...and a hot wife!


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