Save Our Scene


Mac’s Bar 12/3/09

During the stress of finals and school and all the other stuff I’ve got going on right now, this show was exactly what I needed. The Welcome to New England Tour came through Michigan and made its stop in Lansing at Mac’s Bar and I was lucky enough to be in attendance.

First up was Accidents (myspace.com/accidentsmi), a local hardcore band. I came in a little late so I missed the beginning of the set, but was still really impressed by what I saw. The band had a ton of energy and sounded really solid. They were heavily influenced by the greats of their genre, such as American Nightmare, and definitely did a good job of emulating that sound. Accidents were just really happy to just be playing with the bands that they were with, something that is really good to see. Definitely check them out.

Next was another local act, Incarta (myspace.com/incarta). I feel like Incarta gets put on a lot of metal shows in the area and they consistently bring a fairly big crowd, but I feel like the passion just isn’t there. You can definitely tell that Accidents are fans of the music they play while it just feels like Incarta is doing it because it’s cool. This further shows when they choose to cover a song like “Heaven” by DJ Sammy in the middle of their set. I would personally rather see them cover a song that fits more in their genre. Maybe their music just isn’t my taste, but I feel like Incarta just isn’t in it for the right reasons.

A Loss for Words (myspace.com/alossforwords) was the first of the touring bands to play. They are a pop punk band from Boston that is heavily influenced by the Boston hardcore scene. A lot of people think of bands like Every Avenue when they think of pop punk, but AL4W is far from that. They have all the elements and passion of hardcore and fit perfectly on a bill with heavier acts like Vanna and Therefore I Am. Their set was super tight and they flew through it. I really liked the dynamic of shared vocals between the lead singer and bassist and thought they put a really cool spin on their music by combining elements of their various influential genres. Their set got cut a little short, but was still really awesome. Definitely check them out.

Next was Therefore I Am (myspace.com/thereforeiam). They were definitely heavier than AL4W, but still fit the pacing of the bill. I was really impressed by the passion of this band. The vocalist kept talking about how the band and the audience were one unit and how he wanted everyone to be having a good time. The whole band had a ton of energy and was all over the stage while still hitting every note. Their final song absolutely blew me away. The band was having trouble with the microphones and eventually the vocalist just broke down to screaming the words without any mic and letting out all of his energy on the stage. It was really a site to be seen. I was a little unimpressed by this band’s latest album when I gave it a listen, but upon seeing them live, I definitely will be checking them out again.

And finally, Vanna (myspace.com/vanna). There was a lot of hype for this band just in hearing about them and talking to friends and they did not disappoint. They had a very cool dynamic of really heavy parts mixed with very sing-a-long-able vocals. All were very talented musicians who were very into what they were doing and the vocalist really knew how to work the crowd. I don’t think they were my favorite act of the night, but they still definitely impressive. It was just a really solid, tight set.

This tour definitely accomplished what it wanted with the idea of Welcome to New England. I felt like I really got a sense of what the NE hardcore scene is about. Everyone there was singing a long and all the bands were really interactive with the crowd, sometimes jumping into the fray themselves. It was a really cool sense of community to be a part of it.

Finals are draining my brain. I hope this post gives you all a little break from it as well as you make the push till the end of the semester.

-Matt

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Mac’s Bar 11/27/09

Hey interwebs. Sorry that it has been awhile since I’ve had any new content, but the holidays and my play got a hold of me and wouldn’t spare me any free time, but I’m back, and I hope to get a steadier stream of content going from here on out. Enough babble though, let’s talk music!

I capped off my Black Friday at Mac’s Bar in Lansing this year. The first act to perform was Apollo (myspace.com/123apollo) from just outside of Detroit. To be quite honest, I just wasn’t really impressed. They sounded a lot like a mix between Coldplay and Muse with an attempt at Sigur Ros. However, it wasn’t as strong as their influences. While the lead singer/keyboardist/guitar player seemed to really be enjoying himself and was into the music, the rest of his band seemed less than enthused. I feel like the talent is there though and the band has potential, they just need to figure out what music they want to play.

Next was Good Weather for Airstrikes (myspace.com/gwfaband) from Howell, MI. Yet another solid set from some of my favorite dudes. They have a definite passion for the music they are making and it certainly shows in their live show. Today, they debuted a holiday song they recorded with a friend of theirs, Erin Joy Wall. The song they played was a cover of the classic “Baby It’s Cold Outside” and they have turned it into something new and awesome. They put a dark post-rock layer on the song that is accented by Wall’s incredible voice. They turned a simple holiday song into an incredibly emotional song and have once again impressed. I’m really looking forward to some new tunes from these boys.

After GWFA was Company of Thieves (myspace.com/companyofthieves) from Chicago. I don’t even know fully how to describe this band to you. They just absolutely blew me away. I came in from outside the bar to hear southern rock ala Colour Revolt and Manchester Orchestra being led by a woman with the pipes to rival Regina Spektor and more stage presence than just about anyone I’ve ever seen. I was absolutely floored by everything about this band and they have quickly gone into heavy rotation for me. Everything about them was just tight and well put together. I suggest you check them out for yourselves; it’s really the only way to understand.

And finally, Annuals (myspace.com/annuals) from North Carolina. I had listened to this band before coming into the show and was really excited to see them live. They’ve got a really cool sound that uses a lot of different instrumentation and weird layers to tackle indie rock. It’s one of those things that just doesn’t really fit into any set sub-genre. While I enjoy them on album, I have to say I was pretty unimpressed live. Their energy seemed pretty low, despite the fact that they sounded really really tight. They did however use some really cool lighting effects by placing LED lights in clear drums and I really like it when bands take up the little things like lights. I just felt like they were pretty average though. A tight set and good sound, but just pretty boring. That’s it for my post-Thanksgiving show.

Please check out the above bands, especially the Michigan bands. I took a ton of shots at the show and I just upgraded my Flickr account, so expect lots of photos!

Best wishes,

-Matt



RCAH Theater 11/20/09
November 21, 2009, 9:05 pm
Filed under: Show Review | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Tonight was just a small little show in the basement of my school, but what better way to spend a Friday night? I’ll try and keep things very short and sweet.

First was Dan Pechacek from the band DSF (myspace.com/fogontheshore). Dan played electric guitar by himself and used a variety of effect and looping pedals to create music that reminded me of a lot of Chris Bathgate. He really knew how to use his instrument to the fullest extent and created a wide variety of sounds that sounded really huge. A lot of times I’ll watch solo artists play and think they need to have a backing band, but I can’t even imagine it with Dan. His lyrics were strong and passionate and you could tell that the music was very personal. Dan was something refreshingly unique and talented and deserves your attention.

Second was Apathetic Critic (myspace.com/apatheticcritic) from Brighton, MI. They brought their blues-inspired rock show to the basement of Snyder-Phillips and played yet another strong set. They played mostly songs from their just released full length and with as much passion as I’ve seen them. They had some trouble dealing with the small PA as Avery’s guitar often drowned out his vocals, but it was still a very good set. They have found a replacement bassist in Wes Black, Avery’s older brother, and he is already fitting in just fine. They even debuted a new song, newer than the one’s on the album, which really impressed me. I felt like it was just a big blues jam that really showed off Avery’s guitar playing abilities. It really impresses me when artists are always writing new music. It shows just how much they care about what they are doing. Another great set.

And finally was local favorites Loune (myspace.com/lounemusic). I’ve heard a lot of great things about Loune as of late and I’m kind of torn as to how I feel about them. There is no doubt that they are talented, but I just feel like they are a copy of other bands from their genre. I right away thought their music sounded like I had heard it before when I hadn’t. It sounded a lot like Mason Proper with a dash of Vampire Weekend, but they hit too close to their inspiration in my eyes. Their sound was really great however and they used the space well, putting on a decent show. I’m just not quite sure what to make of them yet. Check them out for yourself.

I took some photos from the show that I’m happy with, but my Flickr account has reached capacity for the month. So, either when I get upgraded to Pro, or next month, I’ll have some more photos!

-Matt



Hartland PAC 11/14/09

The second half of my weekend of awesome shows brought me to the Hartland Performing Arts Center once again. Originally, The Morning Of was supposed to headline, but they had to drop due to illness in the band. The show was still a lot of fun though.

Unfortunately, I was running late and missed the first two acts, Paper Wings (myspace.com/paperwingsacoustic) and Giraffe Attack (myspace.com/giraffeattackmi), but I heard both were a lot of fun.

The first band I caught was Audrey (myspace.com/audreymichigan). Again, the band played a really great set. They had a lot more space then the last time I caught them at Mac’s Bar and it allowed them to move around a lot more. The energy was super high on everyone’s part; they are always a treat to watch. They did have a few flubs, notably Shawn having some problems with his bass, but the set was altogether solid and as always a lot of fun for both band and audience.

Next was Ender (myspace.com/endermi), one of my favorite Michigan acts and one of the ones that got me into going to shows on a regular basis. The three-piece plays surprisingly fast paced indie rock. The highlight of their show for me is always their drummer, Schyler Binkley. He has more energy and raw talent than most drummers I’ve ever seen and uses every aspect of his set, including a lot of playing on the rims. It’s very cool and very unique. I like that they have started doing more harmonizing between their bassist and guitarist which is giving their sound a really mature, dynamic sound. This band has all the talent to make it; they just need to catch a break. Be sure to check them out first chance you get.

A Letter to You (myspace.com/alettertoyou) was next. Coming off their recent EP release, the band is really riding a high right now. I’ll be honest, I didn’t expect much from this group. Everything I’ve heard told me that they were just generic pop music, but they really blew me away. They are all very talented musicians and lead singer Drew has a very strong voice, even though he said he was feeling really ill. They had some trouble with their samples, but that was largely due to the fact that they weren’t using their normal drummer as he was out of town. They still played a really great set though and did a nice job of getting the crowd into it. Definitely worth seeing again.

Then it was Drawback to Discourse, a relatively new pop punk band in the Livingston County scene. They were unfortunately without a singer as he apparently bailed on them to go out to Pennsylvania at the last minute. They didn’t have time to organize how to do the vocal parts, so instead the band just played instrumentally. They had a ton of energy and were all having a great time which helped the crowd to as well. They mixed in elements of hardcore for a more unique sound. I can’t wait to see what this band will do once they get their lineup and organization together. Stay tuned on them for sure.

And finally, Tiger! Tiger! (myspace.com/tigertiger) played a surprise set. The show they had booked apparently got canceled, so the band was added onto the bill last minute. Their set was much the same to the one they played the night before, but they didn’t have any major problems this time, so it ran much smoother. Nick also seemed to have a lot higher energy. Unfortunately, he announced this would be his last show though. Not much else to say besides another solid set from a solid band. They’re slowing down for the rest of the year as they search for a new bassist and are going to be having a lot going on in the new year, so be excited.

That’s it for this weekend. Saturday’s show had much of the same community feel as the Apathetic Critic show from the night before and it was really good to see how the scene came together this weekend. Lots of fun was had by everyone in attendance and there were good vibes abound. Everyone seems really tight in the area right now, and I’m really glad.

Lots of great bands to check out, make sure you take the time to look them up this week!

-Matt



The Annex 11/13/09

Happy belated Friday the 13th everyone! I hope you all stepped on 6 cracks, walked under 12 ladders, and spent your day walking in circles around black cats while saying Macbeth on stage. While you were making a fool of yourself, I was at the Apathetic Critic CD release party at the Annex in Brighton, MI. If your bad luck left you alive, read on to hear about the show!

First up was Ports of Aidia (myspace.com/portsofaidia). I was unaware going into the show, but apparently Ports of Aidia’s singer quit sometime between now and the last time I saw them. The band still played the show in spite of the loss however and did pretty damn well, all things considered. There was a notable drop in energy from there normal show, but splitting the songs up the way they did was actually pretty effective. The bass player is also a very good screamer, which helped. I talked to the band and they are looking for a new singer soon, wish them the best of luck with that. A very strong set from some great guys, I hope all works out for them.

By some cosmic chain of cataclysmic events, I haven’t seen Jeff Pianki (myspace.com/jeffpiankimusic) … still. I went and got food during his set. I am a failure.

Third was Good Weather for Airstrikes (myspace.com/gwfaband). They play a very cool brand of post rock influenced indie rock that sounds a bit like a blend of Explosions in the Sky and Death Cab for Cutie. Today was another great set for them and being on a big stage like the Annex was very good for them. The sound was much better than what they were used to and it helped. I did feel like they got off time a few times, but it was still very impressive. They are very passionate about their music and that really came out in their last song as guitarists Joe Hillier and James Radick both went nuts at the end of their last song. They always are a solid show, definitely check them out.

Next was Tiger! Tiger! (myspace.com/tigertiger). I recently had a conversation about how it is hard to come up with bands for Tiger! Tiger! to open for. They play such a unique sound that is so broadly influenced that I find it hard to fit them to a bill really well. In no way is this an insult though. They are another band who is quickly maturing and it’s great to see. They played mostly new songs tonight and the new songwriting is so impressively more dynamic and deep than their previousEP. I can’t wait to hear the new stuff. They played a solid set, even though both the guitarist and bassist broke a string. It did seem that bassist Nick Weigand was a little out of it tonight though; his energy was just a little low. Still, great set from a great band.

And finally, Apathetic Critic (myspace.com/apatheticcritic). I don’t even know where to begin, this was easily one of the most impressive performances I’ve seen in a long time, bar none. The band brought guitarist Avery Black’s brother onstage as a second drummer/percussionist and played their new album from front to back. And blew everyone away. The started their set by playing the first three songs in rapid succession and then slowed the throttle down to give people a chance to breathe. Those that knew the words were singing along at the top of their lungs and moving and having a great time. But when the band got to the last couple of songs, they really showed just how far they’ve come as musicians.

Before they played Vernon, Apathetic Critic announced that this would be Jeremy, the bassist’s last show. AC has been a big part of the Livingston County scene for a long time, so all were sad to see he was going. The song was very emotional for everyone, especially best friends Avery and Jeremy who came together to sing parts of the song. After that, Avery said that he was dedicating their next song to a friend of his who recently passed away. He was a Brighton High School student and good friend of many in attendance. The song was very emotional and had everyone in tears as Avery quietly played guitar and sang alone. It was an incredibly moving experience and the whole room was very connected to what was going on. They finished their set with two much more upbeat songs and left the song to resounding applause. They were asked to do an encore and played the fan favorite You Don’t Stop and invited the audience on stage to help them sing the song. The tears were all smiles at this point as everyone sang and danced in absolute bliss.

I can’t even begin to do this night justice. Shows like this are why I started this site. All the bands were friends, all the fans were friends, and during Apathetic Critic’s set, we were one big community. It was the tightest I’d seen our scene in a long long time and it was a truly magical experience. There is nothing like that feeling and it only comes around every once in a while. Thanks to Apathetic Critic for playing an incredible set and writing one of the most incredible records I’ve heard in a long time. They’re keeping this scene alive and deserve all the praise in the world. They are definitely one of the best bands in Michigan right now, and I reiterate that they are only 16 years old.

There are a few photos up on Flickr with more to come soon. Please check out all the bands listed above. And have a great day!

-Matt



Mac’s Bar 11/01/09
November 3, 2009, 6:42 pm
Filed under: Show Review | Tags: , , , , ,

I’m finally going to catch up with my show reviews. Yay!

First of all, happy November everyone. I picked a great way to start the month off as this was a fantastic show. Only three artists, but that meant fairly lengthy sets and time for me to get home and work on “homework.” Or just dick around. Anyway. Music:

Audrey (myspace.com/audreymichigan) was the first band tonight, an awesome quintet from Muskegon, MI. I’ve seen this band a few times before and they get brownie points for being some of the nicest fellas I’ve ever met. They played a much longer set than I am used to today, which was very refreshing. They opened up with older songs that I hadn’t heard before and finished with playing a bunch of songs off their just released EP. They play some really cool upbeat pop-rock that has a lot of lyrical depth, something a lot of bands in the genre can’t say. They are led by vocalist Everett Parks whose is always impressive with his range and how much he moves around on stage. He is truly a great frontman. The best thing about this band is seeing how much fun they are having on stage. The crowd at Mac’s was probably 20-25 people, but the band was still running all over the stage and singing along to their own songs. They were all smiles it was a great site to see. They played a super solid set and look poised for a big end of 2009 and early 2010 with an EP under their belt and a fine tuned live show. Keep an eye on them this year.

Next was Chase Pagan (www.myspace.com/chasepagan) from Mountain Home, AR. Chase came on stage with a guitar around his neck and a piano on the other side of the stage, but he played all the songs by himself. Some he used the piano, which had a strange almost old-Western sounding tone that reminded me of a saloon, and acoustic guitar songs that he played with a lot of reverb for a very cool, unique tone. I enjoyed his guitar playing a lot more than his piano, as I felt like the latter got repetitive and over simplified at times. He was a very talented guitar player though for the brand of folk rock that he plays. However, I felt that lyrically he was a weak songwriter on some of his songs. I felt like the songs were cheap imitations of folk classics or unoriginal, repetitive, and distant from the person he was. It just seemed like his songs didn’t really deal with anything personal or important to him, but were just songs. Consequently, I couldn’t really get into his music, and found myself just looking forward to the next band.

Wrapping up the set was Lansing locals Elliot Street Lunatic (myspace.com/elliotstreetlunaticmusic). This 4-piece plays a spacey brand of 60s inspired rock and roll. Another band that looked like they were having a great time on stage, ESL did a lot of interacting with the hometown crowd and had people singing and dancing along all through their set. They played mostly songs off their new EP as well as a cover of The Beatles’ Twist and Shout and The Pixies’ Where is My Mind? that were both a lot of fun for audience and were played very well. They didn’t try to do anything too special with them, but they were fun breaks from their original music and gave people that hadn’t heard their music a chance to sing along as well. Their set was very solid with good sound and no real mistakes and they made sure everyone had a lot of fun. Certainly another artist to watch in the coming months.

That’s it for the weekend folks. Gave you plenty to check out for self for sure! I’m going to start trying to do album reviews soon, so keep your eyes and ears out for that. Leave a comment, let me know what you think!

-Matt



Fischer Hall 10/31/09
November 2, 2009, 12:44 pm
Filed under: Show Review | Tags: , , , , , ,

For Halloween this year, I decided to drive out Frankenmuth, MI for an event called Hallowfest. It was a night of music and ridiculous costumes and one of the most fun shows I’ve been to in a very long time. The crowd was much more in the Halloween spirit than those at the previous night’s show. But let’s talk music.

First up was a band called Take The City (myspace.com/takethecity). They played pretty standard pop music led by keyboards and harmonizing vocals. It reminded me a lot of Beneath the Medicine Tree-era Copeland. I felt like the music was really uninspired though. The artists didn’t seem too terribly invested in what they were singing about and it sounded too much like things I had heard before. I just felt sort of bored the whole set.

Next was the return of Koji (myspace.com/kojisaysaloha). It was a privilege to be able to see him play two nights in a row, though his set tonight was not as good as the previous night. Much of the crowd was at the back of the venue talking and enjoying the festivities while a small handful of people were up front listening intently. Koji played just as well, but he wasn’t as comfortable with the audience and did a lot less talking, which is a big part of the set for an artist like him, especially with the message he tries to spread. Still a solid set however.

Finding Clyde (myspace.com/findingclyde) came on stage next dressed as Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. They started off with trouble as the guitarist couldn’t get his pedals working properly. His set up was very impressive; he had a lot on his pedal board, so I was disappointed that this wouldn’t be their typical set. The band opened with a cover of the classic Beatles song, which was a lot of fun, but I was pretty unimpressed from there. They played soft alternative rock that I just found really boring and again not very original. It put a bit of a damper on the show in my opinion, but the band looked like they were having fun all the same.

La Dispute (myspace.com/ladispute) took the stage next still dressed in their Star Wars costumes from the night before. I have never seen the band play on a stage before, so this performance was sure to be interesting. They opened again with their version of the Imperial March and started into their set with New Storms for Old Lovers from their newest album. Right away, the performance was much better than the night before. The band actually had room to play, but Jordan was still close enough to interact with the audience and sing with them as he usually does. The sound was much better than the night before and you could hear all the intricacies of their songs. This band is incredibly impressive and is easily one of the best in Michigan and this set proved that once again.

Finally, hometown heroes Ports of Aidia (myspace.com/portsofaidia) took the stage. They hail from Birch Run, just down the road from Frankenmuth, and brought with them a huge fan base. They also were in costume for in honor of the holiday and they get points for having some of the best I saw all weekend. The whole band was dressed as luchadores, including full masks and underwear outside their spandex. The costumes were no distraction from their playing though. They play a fast paced, heavy mix of metal and progressive rock full of spacey tones and weird instrumentation. They launched into their set at a blistering pace and never slowed down. They had the whole crowd singing, moving, and moshing. It was really refreshing to watch another crowd that just got along great. In the pits, if someone fell, there was a handful of people picking them up right away. It was another one of those nights that make you feel good about the scene that we’re in. Ports played a great set once again and never missed a beat. Now that they finally got their full length out, they will be turning a lot of heads in the music scene and deserve a lot of attention.

Lots of fun to be had on Halloween, hope everyone had fun and was safe. I got a few pictures from this show as well. You can once again find them on my Flickr.

-Matt