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Revenge of the indies: Michiganfest 2002


“Detroit is the new Seattle.” Nothing raises the hair on the back of our necks like this statement. Sure, this exaggeration was first brought up when the Suicide Machines, Sponge and Hoarse were putting out major-label releases. But the statement has been tragically revived as if the press — especially the British variety — needs to get a hotel room with the Detroit garage scene. And though it’s great to see some of the hardest-working bands around town getting the recognition that they deserve, there are always a number of drawbacks to the hype. In this case it would be the invasion of A&R reps, coattail riders who all of a sudden recognized the brilliance of Fun House and the skyrocketing price of in-demand, vintage denim.

Eventually, Detroit will recover from its case of the hipsters once the media shifts attention to another locale. And whether our surroundings become “the next big thing” or get completely shunned in favor of the next flavor-of-the-week, the annual relief of Michiganfest can always be relied on as an alternative to all the hype.

For the last seven years, Kalamazoo-based indie Makoto Recordings and an array of volunteers have put together this event that focuses more on the grassroots community of independent music than the front-page headlines. No hype, no rock stars, no deli trays in the backstage area — no backstage area to begin with.

Held in the gigantic Wayne Tree Manor (which holds more than 1,200 people) in Wayne, Michiganfest is known as much for its incredible lineup of artists as it is for its charitable contributions and political incentives to help others. Along with a number of workshops that range from do-it-yourself ethics to women’s self-defense to the ABCs of animal rights, a good deal of the proceeds are going to a number of charitable causes.

As for the music itself, the diversity showcased all weekend will span every badge-wearing subgenre of the independent music world with punk and indie, hardcore, pop and emo. The likes of Aloha, Dillinger Four, Rye Coalition (pictured), Death Cab For Cutie, Coalesce (their “comeback” performance), Hot Snakes (their first of only three scheduled shows this year), Ted Leo, The Dismemberment Plan, Milemarker, Sweep The Leg Johnny (last Michigan show, ever) and a variety of other acts are included on this year’s lineup. Of course, it wouldn’t be much of a Michiganfest without a handful of local bands to represent: Few and Far Between, Keleton DMD, Crush Kill Destroy, Small Brown Bike, End It, Leaving Rouge and Inside Five Minutes.

With a portion of the money going to The Michigan Land Use Institute, Kalamazoo Domestic Assault Program and Plutonium Action Hiroshima, the admission may be a bit more than the prior festivals ($55 for admission to all three days or $20 a show), but it also means that more money will go to the aforementioned nonprofits. Visit Metro Times' online calendar or www. for more information.

E-mail Mike DaRonco at

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