Wednesday, December 21, 2011

You've Come a Long Way Baby

When The Hard Lessons have an advertisement on facebook promoting their upcoming show, is it a step forward, or a step back?

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Casualties of War

Phil Cooley, owner of Slow's Barbeque, has suffered some setbacks this year. Other people are cashing in on elements of his business plan, which mostly consists of taking something simple, and giving it that aura of "hip".

One group of provocateurs realized that when Cooley cashed in on barbequed food and beer, that he left out two elements that often go along with them. Crude picnic tables and the open air involve very little investment. You also take out the hassle of food safety compliance, and you now have a bonafide moneymaker by the name of Tashmoo Biergarten (albeit, a seasonal one).

Competitors have also moved in on his simple business plan of selling barbequed food in relative proximity to big league sporting venues (so that people from even the most outlying suburbs will still feel safe), while cutting corners on the hipster douchebag elements. Other businesses hawking the same wares forced him to address his restaurant's long wait times. While those wait times added to Slow's mystique, they also caused would-be customers to look elsewhere, which meant losing out on potential sales.

Cooley won't tolerate all these indignities any longer. His first move has been to launch an electronic assault on one of his repeated tormentors.
Meander on over to, and you'll see that Cooley has employed cyber-mercenaries to invade and take over the site. The place that once mocked his grandeur will now direct people to his own site.

Now where am I supposed to go to get my fix of the "[he who must not be name] invented ___" catchphrase?

You don't have to worry about this humble site falling victim to a similar attack. I've got top notch cyber defenses in place.

Monday, December 12, 2011

High Standards

Steve Nawara's Beehive Recording Company recently celebrated it's achievements with a formal ball at The Gaelic League in Corktown. Chris Handyside, writer for Metro Times, was there, and he astutely summed up the attendees:
"These weren't Williamsburg-style, trust-funded hipsters or trend-chasing fashion victims simply making the scene."
(published in the Metro Times on November 30th, 2011)
The entryways were closely guarded to keep those types out. There was no chance of an asshat who keeps his scarf on when he's indoors like this guy getting in.

If you still doubt Handyside's assessment of that night's crowd, you simply need to look over some of the photos from that night. Clearly there is no pervasive theme or style throughout the majority of attendees that would denote even a hint of trend-chasing.

Well done Handyside, well done.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Christmas Comes Early

Want to celebrate someone's birthday, but feel like paying $7 for the privilege of doing so? Then come to Stirling's birthday bash tomorrow. It's happening at El Club on Vernor, near Scotten. If you weren't already annoyed by all the white, hipper-than-thou assholes ruining the authenticity of Cafe D'Mongo's, then it's time for you to try El Club.

Now if only one of my five readers would so kind as to show up at this party and report back to me on the color of Stirling's pants for the evening, I'd consider it an early Christmas present.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Advisement and Warning

This Saturday Margaret Doll Rod will perform at New Dodge Lounge in Hamtramck. Opening for her are blah blah...some kind of cover charge...blah blah...starts at...whatever.

That's not what you need to know. You need to know what sort of behavior is expected of you if you attend.

Margaret's boobs are likely to be on display in some fashion. They probably won't be fully exposed, and there will be at least a small level of concealment. No matter how much of her boobs are exposed, you are not allowed to acknowledge their existence. If the jiggling gives someone in the audience motion sickness and they vomit, blame it on bad tacos. When a wardrobe malfunction causes more exposure of the boobs than intended, don't alert Margaret to it, because that would acknowledge that you looked at them. If you're smacked in the face by a swinging boob, don't even think of trying press charges for assault, because no else there will admit to seeing it.

This isn't difficult to understand. Just because someone went out of their way to be objectified, doesn't mean you're allowed to objectify them.

More than anything, don't try to tip Margaret in dollar bills while she's performing. She needs a bogus cover story about needing to pay for tuition before she's entitled to that.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Come and Get It!

(taken at The Painted Lady)

When I think of Timmy Vulgar, the first thing that comes to mind is a rigorous adherence to health standards, and a savage assault on food borne illnesses.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Gypsies, Tramps, and Thieves

In olden days, the people who worked at the traveling carnivals were called "carnies". They earned a less than stellar reputation by drawing people in with overblown hoaxes, having rigged games, and overcharging whenever they could get away with it.

Theatre Bizarre in Detroit has for years been a place that probably has no equal on this earth. It tries to recreate the ambiance of the old traveling carnivals, with elements of a gory horror movie thrown in. They've got old timey construction and signs, "freak" shows, vaudeville acts, death-defying stunts, and even a few rides. Last year however, the fans of Theatre Bizarre's Halloween party were left feeling like they had been taken in by stereotypical carnies. Driven by their love of Theatre Bizarre, most of them paid $65 for a ticket, and that was meant to include unlimited beer for the night. Out of of nowhere, the city decided to do some selective enforcement of their codes, and in effect put a stop to the event (their timing was a little suspicious, probably with the intent of making it impossible to get all the permits in time). While the organizers knew for for several days that the city was after them, they didn't announce anything to their ticket holders until the day before the event. In those last 24 hours, ticket holders who couldn't go due to unforeseen events had to settle for $25 to unload their ticket. No mention has ever been made of what happened to all the kegs of beer that had been purchased with the ticket revenue.

Tomorrow at the DIY Fair in Ferndale, tickets for this year's Theatre Bizarre Halloween party are going to be sold to the public. The exact same price as last year, but now there's not even the promise of included drinks. All the savings get passed directly on to...well...not the fans.

There's supposed to an "initiation" that happens exactly at 11:23 P.M. at this year's party. My guess is that everyone will be given a t-shirt with P.T. Barnum's favorite quote, "There's a sucker born every minute". After all, Theatre Bizarre wants to recreate the carnivals of yesteryear, and they're damn good at keeping it real.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Twist Away the Gates of Steel

Trailblazing pioneers are breaking down the boundaries between charity and private enterprise. The days of business loans, collateral, and equity stakes are over. In today's world, a for-profit business can just ask for donations that never have to be repaid, and pocket the returns that couldn't have been made without those donations.

The owner of The Painted Lady is one of these brave souls, crushing the old barriers, and ushering in a new paradigm . He's asking for donations to keep the bar open after they got themselves in some legal trouble.

Not everyone understands this new age we're living in. They foolishly still believe that privately owned businesses should bear the risks themselves if they want to keep the profits during the good times. What year do you think you're living in, 2007?

Come out to the Painted Lady on Saturday, and help this business/charity stay alive.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

A Call to Arms

The funding goal was reached at the last minute, so the "Urgh! A Detroit Music War" documentary should become a reality (do the donors get their money back if this never gets completed?). The attempt to document what's happening in Detroit music is a noble goal. Ideally, such an attempt would be made every year, allowing viewers to watch bands evolve over time. The argument about whether $5000 is an appropriate amount, or the validity of how kickstarter is used was made elsewhere (and without procrastination), so we can put that aside.

The creators of A Detroit Music War don't seem to be considering the conclusions that might be drawn from the context of their documentary. In the original "Urgh! A Music War", you saw bands that were being watched by hundreds and hundreds of people. The Detroit version has eighteen bands all on the same day, at The Lager House, a place with a maximum capacity of roughly a hundred people (I'm guessing). Eighteen bands, four band members per band on average, so let's estimate 72 people there that are in one band or another that's playing that night. Halfway through watching the new documentary, people will say "Hey, is the audience made up mostly of members of the other bands?". They'll likely draw the conclusion that the Detroit music scene was mostly concerned with relatively small social circles, and weren't making sincere efforts to reach larger audiences.

The summer of 1968 in Paris was called The Summer of Love. Will the summer of 2011 in Detroit be called the Summer of the Circle Jerk?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A Dialogue with Non-Music...

 A while back, Jesus Christine said this about Jeff Milo:

In twenty years, the future music scene of Detroit and the world (barring any apocalypse that may be in store) will look upon the musical culture creations seething from the sidewalk cracks in this city with nostalgia, curiosity and reverence. I'm serious. Be as cynical as you want (we are notoriously cynical about everything), but it's true: the art we make here is incomparable to any other place on Earth. And when the music nerds of the future geek out on our yet-to-be-named era of Detroit music (post-garage? I'm working on it) like us kids look upon the New York post-punk no-wave scene of the late 80s, they will turn to the key figure in the documentation of this time, these venues, these crazy people and the things they do.

That key figure will be undoubtably Jeff Milo.

They will pore through digital stacks of Jeff's writing, his interviews, flourished depictions of guitarists' demeanors, moments at shows described as spiritual experiences (with a monk's inspiration!), and the strange quirks of the keyboardists who can't stay on stage. 3am interviews at Dunkin' Donuts with scruffy, wild-eyed thirty-somethings will become richly romantic scenes to the musicians of the future. Because of Jeff's equal and unfettered love of both music and words, the misplaced underbelly of this town will be forever remembered in the most fantastic way; the most honest and glorious way, through his eyes.

I must say that I agree with some of the stuff she says. I believe that some of Milo's writings will be used as source material at some point in the future. However, I think the researcher(s) will be trying to answer questions that Christine isn't anticipating. The question is more likely to be "Why didn't (insert band name) get more recognition when they were active?", or "Why didn't (insert musician/songwriter's name) previous band become as successful as his/her current band?". If that researcher is lucky, they'll come across one of Milo's interviews or articles, because he does a great job capturing as much of the story as possible. By reading between the lines, and taking in what isn't said or asked, the conclusions will probably often be that the musicians and bands in Detroit during this time just couldn't get out of their own way.

This doesn't mean that I'm taking back what I said about his music reviews. I still can't read his descriptions of music without rolling my eyes. Take "forever burning itself into the eyes of my ears...". What the fuck? If someone said "forever burning itself into the eyes of my ears" to you in a conversation, wouldn't you have an uncontrollable fit of laughter?

I hope that Milo's semi-hiatus isn't permanent, our overly long. I hope that one day he'll find the answer to the question he keeps asking, "what does it all mean?". His dream of one day creating a Unified Detroit Scene Theory is truly his holy grail.

I like to think of him as the Superman to my Bizarro. He writes about musical content, and either doesn't have negative opinions, or withholds them from his writings. I never write about musical content, and I leave you to believe that I either don't have any positive opinions (well, most of the time), or that I withhold them from my blog.

His writing serves a noble purpose. His words, past, present, and future, will always burn itself into the anus of my navel.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Brush Your Shoulders Off

John Galt, the hero of Atlas Shrugged, throws off the shackles of society, and creates an all new society at Galt's Gulch, where creativity and intelligence (also inherited wealth) can't be leeched off by the freeloaders. In a seminal moment, he delivers a stirring speech:
"Dudes, I'm totally sick of all of you freeloaders. You smoke my stash, you drink my Mountain Dew, and you eat all of my Funions. Me and all of the other creative types are going to go live somewhere you can't find us. You'll be deprived of all the cool shit we think up and create. It'll be like we went on strike, and then you'll be totally sorry. Although none of us have any experience actually assembling the stuff we design, or even mowing our own lawns, we'll eventually figure out how to repair our own houses and cars when they break. I'm sure it'll all work out."
(I might have paraphrased a bit)

John Galt's philosophy didn't die out. Sean Shea is sick of all you Eddie Willers staying at home, and not venturing out to find his, and all the other Detroit bands. He's tired of waiting for the uncultured simpletons to appreciate all of Detroit's creativity. He outlined a new Detroit Scene Objectivism as the new Galt's Gulch got underway:
"Our music and art community," said Shea, "is developing into it's own self-sustaining society that is supported by its members. It is with the help of the individuals and groups that make up the music community that brings things together, running like a strong motor..."

Thursday, June 2, 2011

All Good(?) Things

From a Detroit News article/blog:

Darren Grow, owner and managing partner of the Belmont Bar in Hamtramck, announced today that the bar will be closing on Monday, June 13.

In a statement released today Grow said he has "maintained this labor of love for almost nine years, and it is, unfortunately, time to move on."

When asked what will happen with the bar after June 13, Grow said that it will probably remain the Belmont but the format will change drastically and will not include live music.

A goodbye and "Grand Closing" party is planned for Saturday, June 11. Local rock bands Almost Free, Bison Machine, the Handgrenades and River Spirit were scheduled to play, but today Grow said the entertainment would be provided by various DJs. Grow also said drink specials will be abundant to deplete what is left of the inventory. The last days the Belmont will be open for business are tonight-Sunday and June 9-12.

Another source cites the reason as being "restructuring due to financial reasons". The euphemism "moving on" has been used so many times, we now just assume it to mean failure.

Since the combined capacity of venues creates a supply that outstrips demand (under the current scene's management style anyway), seeing a another venue close or cut out live music altogether isn't too surprising. When 313 Jac, or whatever the fuck they called that thing happening on the second floor of Jacoby's closed, most of us just considered it a necessary sacrifice that would give some of the other small venues a better chance at surviving. The Belmont however, wasn't some fringe player putting on a few token shows a month like Corktown Tavern, The Loving Touch, or Paycheck's Lounge, and cluttering up event listings. The Belmont had shows going on several nights a week, so this closing will have a more noticeable effect.

No one seems to be discussing whether The Belmont's unwritten policy of having a long list of people who never pay to get in played any role in this recent action. It certainly played a role in bands not getting paid under the 30 attendee minimum for payment policy. How often would a band look out over the crowd, and think they must have easily cleared the minimum, only to be told later that they didn't? I swear on all that is holy on the internet, I heard people say about The Belmont that they didn't want to be the only one paying to get in, more than any other place around. This kind of business model is bound to create animosity amongst bands and show goers.

Don't take any of this to mean that I'm taking part in schadenfreude. I would have preferred that The Belmont would have looked at some other business's failure, shit their pants in fear, and changed course in order to survive. When faced between the choice of keeping live music and not feeding the ego of the douchetards, or cutting out live music altogether, they chose the latter.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Deastro to be Nominated for a Nobel Peace Price

The military-industrial complex is shaking in its boots right now. For decades they profited by convincing generals, congressmen, and presidents to buy military hardware that wasn't needed, and was rarely used. They did it by stoking fear in the public about communists and the iron curtain, and now it's shifted over to muslims and terror babies.

That gravy train is about to grind to a halt. The Peace in the Middle East Rally is happening this Saturday at The Magic Stick, so get ready for that change we were all waiting for. Mick Bassett will play a song, and suddenly every congressmen will forget their pride and commit to voting against continued funding for the wars. The Rue Motor Counts will kick out a jam that will reach all the way to Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, who will then get down on their knees and beg to be forgiven for making intellectually dishonest arguments for going to war. The image of whatever awful outfit Woodman was wearing that night will make it all the way to the oval office, and it will inspire President Obama to finally make good on his promise and bring back all of our troops from Iraq.

It doesn't have to end there. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is visiting our country right now. He'll walk up those stairs to the Magic Stick, listen to the psychedelic sound of The Electric Lion Soundwave Experiment, then go out onto the Alley Deck, take a hit off of someone's joint and declare, "Fuck it. Let them have East Jerusalem. We'll stop building settlements in the West Bank too. I'm totally over all this strife bullshit. From now on all I want to do is get high, listen to some crunchy tunes, and bang American tourist girls who want to see the holy land. Yeah, I'll take them to the holy land alright."

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Check the Fine Print

Hello Metrotimes, we need to have a conversation. A price raise for access to the Blowout might be long overdue, but how about you be upfront and honest about it? This is a screen capture taken from No mention of a change in price.

On the facebook page for the Blowout, under the "Info" heading, you've got this:

Okay, you felt the need to raise the price, but should you really have tucked the information away like that? You only recently (roughly 9 A.M. on Wednesday, March 2) thought it might be a good idea to call special attention to the price raise.

Not cool, guys. Not cool.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

A Band’s Guide to the 2011 Metrotimes Blowout

Last year I wrote a highly informative post instructing bands on how they should conduct themselves during the Blowout. Everyone writes guides for the spectators, but they never think of the bands. It once again falls on me to perform this labor.

Last year you took my advice and properly demonstrated your disdain for an event you think is unworthy of your time. It’s now time for you to graduate to the next level. You must schedule a show for the same weekend as the Blowout at a venue that’s not affiliated with it. Take a limited audience that’s already stretched thin by an abundance of venues, and stretch it even further. Make all your friends choose between you and the bands that will be playing the Blowout. You can even take it up a notch by making them take loyalty oaths before the weekend. Any one who refuses should immediately be considered a traitor, and excommunicated from your circle of influence.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Scenester Douchetard of the Week: Margaret Doll Rod's Boobs

Margaret Doll Rod's Boobs...after posting the above photo, I completely forgot what I was about to type.

I profusely apologize for calling you a douchetard. If you can bring yourself to forgive this slight to your honor, I'll forgive you for all the times I walked right into a sign post as a result of being spellbound by your mystical mammary voodoo. I'm baffled as to why reproductions of your likeness are not worshiped in shrines across the world. If the cavemen had the privilege of beholding your loveliness, they never would have even bothered with that hideous ogre, the Venus of Willendorf.

Margaret Doll Rod's Boobs, in light of all your awesome jiggliness, you are Broke in Detroit's Scenester Douchetard of the Week Most Revered Anatomy Ever.

Pathetic Excuse for a Eulogy: Silverghost

Recently it was announced that the local band Silverghost broke up. To my knowledge, no one has really reported on it in any detail (although I’m not really knowledgeable to begin with). Since no one that is talented or informed has taken the initiative to give any coverage beyond the basic announcement, or to try to summarize their endeavors, you’ll just have to settle for the work of the creepiest of internet creepsters.

What struck me the most about them is that when two members left the band early on, and they were replaced by pre-recordings, the band didn’t catch much flack for it. I don’t know how well that sort of thing is received in other parts of the country, but I was expecting them to get a lot of criticism of using pre-recorded audio in their live performances. Performers who play along with pre-recorded material are often called “schticky” or “hackey”. Personally, it doesn’t bother me so long as there’s some live element other than just singing going on.

There were those who criticized them for playing local shows too often, but I never really saw a problem with that. I took it to be a sign of ambition. They wanted to reach as many potential new fans as they could. The real problem was that they didn’t venture out to metro Detroit venues that all their friends didn’t already go to. It might have been unhip in their social circle to play outside of Detroit, Hamtramck, Ferndale, The Berkley Front, and the Crofoot, but if you’re willing to play nearly every weekend, why not take a chance on a place like The Token Lounge, or the many places out in the farther stretches of our suburban sprawl. That might have lured in people who otherwise never would have heard of Silverghost. Perhaps the dudebros don’t know any better because they’ve never been exposed to better music.

Announcements of a local band breaking up always invoke different reactions than a national band breaking up. When a band with nationwide radio play breaks up, it’s usually after interest in them has noticeably waned, and many of their fans will later come to the conclusion that the breakup happened at roughly the right time. With local bands, it typically happens after only a few releases. It can feel premature, and we’re left wondering what else they would have created if they had stuck it out a while longer. We feel invested in a local band in a different way than we are with a band from out of state. We think back on their early performances, and tend to feel that by being a witness to their beginnings, we somehow share in their triumphs. (Keep in mind I’m talking in generalities here. This post isn’t supposed to be all weepy and gay)

We’re often told that when a band breaks up, it’s because of creative differences. The truth is that the reason is usually differences of ambition, or slowly changing levels of commitment. Some band members don’t have the ambition, or won’t take the risk to the routine of their life by touring out of state, or won’t follow through with their previous intentions to do so. Another member(s) of the band will come to the conclusion that their current project won’t amount to being anything more than a group of weekend warriors, and will leave to pursue something else.

We shouldn’t expect to hear the details about why Silverghost broke up. After all, we’re not entitled to know the intricacies of the interpersonal dynamics of Marcie and Deleano. Regardless of whether or not they split with acrimony, they both probably realize that it’s not in either of their interests to publicly air any drama (if it exists). Letting the public see the dirty laundry just gives people like me the opportunity to make light of it.

Until someone that’s actually qualified sits down to write the story of this band from beginning to end (something akin to this, an earnest attempt to tell as much of the story as possible), you’ll just have to settle for this pathetic excuse for a eulogy.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Profiles in Courage: Ethan Milner

All too often the music reviews around here are done by people who know the band, knows someone who knows the band, or expects to some day know the band. The reviewer doesn’t want to upset their friends, or the wider circle of friends, so the review ends up reading like a press release.

That’s not to say that reviews of local music done by locals have no value. There are a few well informed and talented reviewers around here. Take Jeff Milo and his Deep Cutz blog. His very brief write-up of “Don’t Hang That (On Me)” by the Bad Indians serves as a perfect example of his, shall we say, florid writing style:

“Echo fuzz eruptions - surf-punched drum beats - an effervescent cresting over of reverb - rhythms you could shimmy to, crescendos you could tumble to, and swimming just below the surface, sunburst melodies - ripe with tambourine clatters, harmonica wheezings and organ hums.”

Milo’s review of “Takotsubo” by Darling Imperial contains about what we’ve come to expect from one of his reviews:

Takosubo (sic) retains the chemistry and tightness of their compositions - arresting rhythms and snaring riffs continue to set a steady punch of jangly all-shook-up-ness ("100xSpun"). This time around, working with Jon Weier, they flesh out some more bluesy material (the shimmying march and fiery guitar howls of "You Told Me") that reveals a sensibility for delegating atmospheric sparseness and shambolic, riff-roar-the-walls-down crescendos. Sutured throughout the EP are those striking displays of dueling guitars and soulful vocals, the former coming off like a raucous waltz between psyche-shredded space rock and growling, blues garage, the latter balancing a more delicate, indie-rock air with a stop-you-in-your-tracks belt that stands and struts right alongside all this hard rock rousing.”

He focuses so much on trying to describe the sound, he never explicitly tells us whether or not he really likes the album. I would say that his reviews tend to be value neutral. If nothing sounds bad, how are we to know if anything truly sounds good?

In contrast, over at Motor City Rocks, new contributor Ethan Milner has recently posted his own review of Takotsubo. It’s miles away from being value neutral. Here are some excerpts:

“there isn’t a single thing that is memorable besides the profound similarity some of these songs have to the cannon of pop music”

“The guitar tones don’t help a bit to overcome the Everclear-level blandness”

“But the fact is that after so many listens, all I can vividly recall about takotsubo is my unexcited familiarity with what it has to offer.”

“Ultimately what this record has to offer is a grab-bag of different sounding songs, a survey of 90’s college radio rock and production ideas – all of which you’ve heard before”

“It’s an album that doesn’t take a single risk, and in any day or age that makes for a mediocre listening experience.”

Ethan concludes his review by giving the album a 2.5 out of 5 rating. I think every music reviewer should conclude a review with a straight forward rating. The reader will know when the writer is impressed, and not have to wonder if they're just a review-mill

I suppose it’s possible that Ethan has no presence in the scene, and therefore doesn’t have any fear of attaining a social stigma, leaving him to write with complete objectivity. I choose to believe that Ethan contains a quality that’s rare amongst local music reviewers; courage.