The format of Blowout might have changed over the past couple of years but the launch party has remained pretty much the same – three stages at the Majestic complex, and a shit-ton of great bands spread across them. Unlike the rest of the festival, it means that you can see every single band performing, if you get your timing right and aren’t upset about missing the occasional 15 minutes of a set. You also tend to bump into a ton of people that you know, and perhaps even like. The (other) press was out in force – we spotted people from the Oakland Press, the Free Press, the Hip in Detroit girls, and it looks like the Jesus Chainsaw dudes have been blogging too. It’s nice to be loved.
The Oscillating Fan Club had the honor of opening up the entire festival, and the band was great. There’s always the slightly uncomfortable feeling with this band that they’re more intelligent than anybody else in the room and they know it, lording over us and telling in-jokes. It was amusing when the singer attempted to get all “rock show” and say things like, “Are you all excited? Are you having a good time?” and the rest of the band laughed at him, knowing just how out of character that is. The music is (still) a curveball, but oddly melodic and hummable.
After that, Ryan Dillaha & the Miracle Men sounded very normal. Still great though – the dude rattles through a set of typically honest Americana, flanked by a super-tight band. The Adele Dazeem project has been a big secret all week. In fact, a couple of mystery musicians DJ’d a John Travolta-themed, one-song set that included MJ’’s “Pretty Young Thing,” ended with “We Are the World,” and had a bunch of Travolta film clips playing the whole time. It was a joke and, as it turns out, it was a funny one.
Former Satin Peach Ronny Tibbs & the 305’s (with George Morris on drums, played a set of haunting rock ’n’ roll that, though rough around the edges, gets a little clearer the more you hear it. Electric Corpse is a two-piece now, which is a shame. Those songs need a fuller sound.
Rap duo RO Spit was one of the evening’s highlights. Hard, tight and sharp, these guys actually got hands waving in the air like people don’t care. George Morris & the Gypsy Chorus started slowly but soon warmed up into a set of fascinating, off-the-beaten-path alt rock. The band knows when to sit back, and Morris’ distinctive voice is strong enough to hold the audience’s attention by itself. A strong set.
The Talking Dolls is the new band name for Anastasia Gold dark punk cabaret project, and they sounded raw and annoyed. Dutch Pink, at this point, is an incredible live band. The lineup has shifted a little over the last couple of years, but this band’s hard, soulful blues rock is still spectacular when performed on stage.
Ponyshow is Jason Stollsteimer’s new band, alongside fellow former Von Bondies Don Blum and Leann Banks. True to form, there are big tunes and deliciously awkward musical sidesteps. In the spirit of band evolution, there’s no reason why these songs couldn’t have been performed under the VBs name (Jason will hate us for saying that), but its their deal – they can do what they want. Most importantly, the songs are great.
Sizequeen was another highlight – hardcore punk played hard and fast, with ferocious vocals and strained faces. Hidden deep in the fury is some catchy melodies, but you have to dig deep. Out-of-town ’90s band Local H was easy on the ear with big anthems and musical mood swings. They carried over a bit though, meaning that juke icon DJ Godfather started way late.
Snakewing, another hardcore band, incited the biggest most pit of the night, which was mildly amusing because the people sat at the Garden Bowl bar didn’t necessarily know that they were involved.
That’s Day one. Three more explosive nights of quality local music to come.