Jon Bon Jovi once uttered the wise line and immortal line “I’ll sleep when I’m dead”. Now, old Jon Bon may not have always been a fountain of wisdom (he also once sang “on a steel horse I ride”), but that first sentiment makes sense around Blowout time. Feeling tired? Drink some damned coffee and shake it off. After waking up at 6.45 this morning and starting work at 8.00, at 6.00pm I was exhausted and in no shape for anything. But then that Blowout adrenalin high kicked in and, by 8.30 I was ready to take on the world. I will sleep when I’m dead, thanks Jon. I’ll also climb every mountain, thanks Julie Andrews.
I look good. I’ve had caffeine. I’m ready.
The Juliets were as good a place to start as any. I’ve been singing their praises for a while now due to their awesome recorded material, but had managed to avoid seeing them live until tonight. They were predictably beautiful too, but the crowd in the Gates of Columbus Lounge was so densely packed, even at that early hour, that a man of 6ft still couldn’t really see them. There’s something odd about the shape of that room; no matter where you stand, the view is terrible.
No matter, because over at Kelly’s, Robin Parrent and Violent Ear was making a terrific racket. Parrent, refreshingly, cares not if the instruments of he or his band mates are in tune or even if they’re playing in the same key. He just allows his fellow musicians to blast away and have fun, though buried deep within the feedback-ridden noise (not helped at all by the dismal acoustics in this bar), there are actually some quality tunes. A girl appeared to be singing backing vocals with passion, and yet she couldn’t be heard at all. If nothing else though, Parrent made me want to check him out in a better-equipped room.
I had no idea who to see next, so I opted for the Belmont and Rogue Satellites simply because that’s where the buzz seemed to be. The Belmont was full to bursting and, while it took the band a while to warm up, they soon settled into their joyous pop-electro-rock hybrid thing. The melodies that these guys come out with are sublime, like hearing a dirty Beach Boys for the first time in your own backyard. Like Parrent, I want to hear more.
Following that, a quick dash back to the Gates of Columbus to see Gorevette in the Hall. Amy Gore and Nikki Corvette’s band just gets better and better with every show, and they’re fast becoming Detroit’s answer to the Ramones. With girls. A Gorevette show is a party, and they’re one of the best nights out in town.
Over at Paychecks, the Jehovas Witness Protection Program blasted through 30 minutes of sonic dirge that couldn’t have been more different from Gorevette. However, like Gore and Corvette, JWPP just keep getting better. They seem tighter as a unit (although admittedly there are only two of them so it shouldn’t be too hard) and the songs are getting better as well. They also have one of the best names in town, so keep an eye on them.
The New Dodge was predictably packed for the big finish tonight; the Sights and the Hard Lessons. Eddie Baranek’s Sights were absolutely superb. Magnificent. Stellar. (OK, enough adjectives). Like a younger Paul Weller, Baranek and his newly reformed-ish band blasted through some of the finest rock ’n’ soul tunes ever written in this city. That this band haven’t broken big yet is criminal, but there’s still time. Until then, we have them to ourselves.
The Lessons were nearly (though not quite) as brilliant. Some perfectly written and perfectly executed alt-pop-rock beauties that we should be proud to say come from this region. Having the Sights and the Hard Lessons one after the other at our local music festival genuinely highlights how fortunate we all are to live here.
God Bless Detroit.