Save Our Scene


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



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



Review: Finding Home – Apathetic Critic

ApatheticCriticAlbumCover

Why yes, they are still in high school. I imagine in the coming months, many people will be asking how Avery Black, Parker Munson, and Jeremy Head, three high school students, have managed to create one of the best albums to come out of the underground Michigan music scene. Talent, determination, and a lot of hard work are clearly their secrets to success, and all the work they’ve put into Finding Home make it well worth the wait.

The album opens up softly with the sounds of Black plugging in his guitar and the trio opening the studio, but from the first riff, the album starts a journey for the listener that is all the while diverse and passionate. The first two songs are a fast paced blitz led by alternating vocals and harmonies between Munson and Black, who both have found where they fit comfortably vocally after playing together for a few years. By the third song, the band  throttles back and lets Head lead the way with smooth bass grooves in “No Idea.” The disc opens with these three songs that showcase how the band can go from a happy jam session, to a raw and angry emotional trip, to a smooth and heartfelt slowdown. The band uses all of these on the rest of album, effectively mixing elements of rock, punk, indie, and blues that sounds reminiscent of bands like Manchester Orchestra, Brand New,  and the Hard Lessons.

One of the highlights on the album is the second song, “Dig Your Grave,” which is probably the darkest and heaviest song on the album. Munson showcases his talent by really letting loose on the drums and pulling out all the emotion he has into him as he belts from behind his drum set. It is one of the most honest vocal performances I’ve heard in a long time. Aside from that, another track to play very close attention to is the title track, “Finding Home,” a six and half minute exploration of where home exactly is and what it means. It truly showcases just how far the band has come on a personal and music level. The lyrics show an astounding level of maturity, especially for musicians so young.

Finding Home is something that is truly remarkable. There are musicians that have been playing for years that have not been able to impress me as much as what this three-piece has put together. This album will definitely be getting a lot of plays for a long time and I hope it does for all of you. Make sure you pick it up the first chance you get. They album officially releases next Friday, 11/13, and you can get a copy with admission to their CD release show. Check out their Myspace for more information.

The Bottom Line: Buy it.