Band of Horses had just come through Detroit on a Tuesday and I missed them. I just couldn’t make it. I made a promise to myself that if a band comes through Detroit that I want to really see, I can’t let the opportunity slip. Lo and behold, 89X plays Jump Into the Fog on August 12, 2012 and I couldn’t believe it, I had never heard The Wombats on the radio in Detroit before. Then the DJ says The Wombats are coming to The Loft in Lansing on September 8. Twat’s that? Exsqueeze me? Did you say The Wombats are going to be in Lansing September 8?
I immediately called my friend Coy because he’s always down for a good show. Coy says he can come with me and things are looking good for a fun Saturday night. I tell him I’ll take care of tickets. Then after golf league and over beers, I ask Sean about Sept 8 as my backup because Sean’s always down too. Sean has something going on that night and can’t be my backup, but he tells me that The Loft is a great place to see a show.
Coy was being coy and I had a feeling he was going to pull the chute on me. It wasn’t long before I confirmed that Coy was indeed backing out of our plans. This is a dilemma because I’m realizing I’m going to have to do this solo or it ain’t gonna happen. My wife, bless her heart, said she would come with me and we could get a babysitter and all that shat, but I wasn’t going to drag her to a show that she wasn’t into. I would not have fun if she was there against her will and if we had to move a mountain to find a babysitter. But, because she’s the coolest wife ever, she had no problem watching the kids so I could make a solo run. It felt super weird to go solo, and I’ve never gone to a show solo before, but I had just promised myself I wasn’t going to miss a band that I really wanted to see. So what’s the big deal, hour drive there, watch a band, and be home by midnight-ish… it was on like donkey kong, I was going to Lansing to see The Wombats on a solo mission. Schweetness.
The Loft was an endearing little venue. Approaching The Loft on East Michigan Ave as the sun was setting was a visually pleasing little drive in from the freeway. The State Capitol building was backlit by the sun, due west from The Loft’s entrance, and was framed with a pretty amber and blue sky. Entering The Loft from the street, you immediately ascend a narrow 40 foot stairway which was the only entrance. I remember thinking that this place would be a real motherfucker if there was ever a fire. The ‘will call’ girl was at the top of the stairs. After checking in with her, you make your way through a short hallway where there are bathrooms and then proceed into the main room which is about 100ft by 50ft. There were brick walls with large iron framed pane glass windows all along the stage side of the rectangle room with hardwood floors. The ceiling was about 15 feet. Opposite the wall with the windows were two cavernous alcoves: one for serving drinks and playing billiards, and the other where they were selling tee shirts.
A couple months back, my friend Sean tells me he’s getting tickets for Jane’s Addiction, Gomez, some other band I can’t remember, and for the Arctic Monkeys / Black Keys. I told him I was in for sure on the Black Keys. A couple weeks after that, I was talking to Sean again and told him I was pumped for the Black Keys coming up and I’d been listening to a lot of Arctic Monkeys as well. He tells me “Remember I told you I never got tickets for that show”. I had forgotten he told me that and I was bummed for a day or two and then asked him if it was still possible to get tickets. It would be a shame to miss an opportunity to see two great bands at JLA. Sean, as it happens, is the ticket acquisition master and within a day we had tickets on the floor. My friend Eric also thought it would be a fun show and was able to get a ticket on the floor at the last minute too, nice. So it was three of us, our crew was set, and we we’re on our way from northwest metro Detroit to downtown Detroit with a bunch of beers for some tailgate drinking.
When we got downtown, Sean didn’t have his ticket, he had left it on the coffee table which would be an hour & a half lost in the round trip to get it. We had a crisis now and Sean thinks he can access a computer & printer at the Marriot. Luckily, there are two Marriots downtown but the one in the GM building is out because the enormity of the Renaissance Center is like a giant maze from a scary movie, so we make for the one on East Jefferson. Sean parks the car in front of the sign you see at the bottom of this post that says Private Property – NO PARKING – Violaters Will Be Towed. When we got into the Marriot, we didn’t have a key to access the computer room. We were able to find someone nice enough to let us in and within a minute, Sean was on stub-hub printing himself a new ticket. Car is still there, we’re back in, on our way, crisis averted.
Every time I visit downtown I’m held in awe of the the beautiful buildings that reign from the 1920’s. I had been snapping so many pictures it caused Sean to ask me if I had ever seen the inside of the Gaurdian Building. I told him no. I told him I felt like a tourist in my home town. He said it was worth illegally parking one more time, which he did, and I ran inside to snap some more pictures that are attached at the bottom of this post. The building is magnificent. Detroit was once the Paris of the world and amidst so much decay you sometimes forget how beautiful some of its gems truly are; you’re for a moment caught awestruck at her marvel and beauty. But we gotta get moving and get to the show.
We park at the structure by Cobo Joe’s on Congress to carb up which is a sweet place for a show at JLA because the elevator takes you straight down to the bar. It’s awesome because you can basically take the elevator back to your car very easily when you leave the bar to attend to any last minute things you need to do. That $10 parking pass is almost like having a sweet tailgating spot right next to Cobo Hall with an elevator to Cobo Joe’s doorstep. So we eat, we leave the bar, quick trip back up to the car, and this is the kicker with regard to that parking location: you can walk inside through Cobo Hall all the way to the river front when it’s butt-ass freezing outside. You only have to walk one short block outside to JLA if you cut through Cobo Hall. It’s the smart thing to do when visiting Joe Louis Arena. It works for Red Wings games too.
So we were a little behind schedule because of the ticket situation and a couple photo ops but we had built in enough cushion time to not miss any of the show. We had to find the wrist-band chick so we could get our wrist-bands to get on the floor, grab another beer, and we were off. We were watching center stage when I took this video of Suck It and See:
It’s a shame the audio quality was so poor on the video. I charged up my old iphone 3GS for taking some vids and got some footage, but the audio was poor. But, I still actually think the footage is decent and entertaining so I have watched it all a few times now. The footage above is part of the song titled Suck It and See. It sounded a lot better live, trust me. These guys are in the pocket. They have been jamming for a long time. I remember when they were first introduced in the US, or when I first saw them anyway, was after the release of Whatever People Say I am, That’s What I’m Not. It was MTV that was running the Arctic Monkeys hard. If I’m remembering correctly, MTV was playing 24/7 footage of Arctic Monkeys in concert. I remember them rocking pretty good back then, but MTV was over the top with the 24/7 shit and it ended up being good and bad for the band’s PR at the same time. It’s like you’re getting sweet coverage, but by repeating it so much people resent the over-coverage and you take some downside because people feel force fed… corporations… But, that was a long time ago anyway, and, like good bands do, they have persevered and continued to produce good music and sound/perform well live. Here’s the tail end part of Suck It And See and the beginning of Library Pictures:
This next bit of footage still has poor audio but it’s by far my best footage of the Arctic Monkeys on the evening and it grew on me a little more after I watched it a couple times:
Because of the old beat up iphone 3GS, the sound quality is lacking, but if you were there live in JLA, it sounded really good. In this video there is a little intro before RU Mine and then the lead singer, Alex Turner, gives a shout out to the drummer, Matt Helders, as the Rhythm Panther and exclaims “we know you love drummers Detroit” which is totally true. And Matt Helders did steal the show a little. He came out in American Flag pants and he totally rocked. He reminded me of someone who would play middle linebacker or strong safety in football. They were playing RU Mine for the first time live I think and it all sounded good. At this point in the Arctic Monkeys setlist, from about RU Mine forward, the crowd was into it. The crowd had still been filing in for the first couple of songs, but by the time they got to RU Mine it was pretty much a packed house and people had established their positions for the night. Their next song was Brick by Brick and they still had This House Is A Circus, Still Take You Home, and When The Sun Goes Down left to play. I think the setlist was well structured to bring out some big gun songs after we achieved the full weight of a packed JLA audience.
Overall, I would have to say Arctic Monkeys were awesome and I’m really glad they came to Detroit. I’m thankful I was able to see this band live as I have liked their music over the past decade. Their songs are pretty well interspersed in my Pandora stations and I find them to be very solid. It’s a shame the 3GS had such shitty audio quality. I still think my vid clip of RU Mine and Brick by Brick is a solid keeper and was my best Arctic Monkeys clip of the night. I would have to say they rocked it and the crowd loved them. It’s always nice when a band can bring it in the city of truth, because if you suck, you will get your shit handed to you. The whole city of Detroit can be like the Apollo theater sometimes and it was nice to see everybody rockin.
Below are some pictures of the old train depot from the movie Transfomers, the inside of the Guardian Building, and some shots from the streets of Detroit. Even with all the splendor of that beautiful Guardian Building, the picture of the old brown Cadillac with low tire pressure is one of my favorites. The picture of the Renaissance Center with the moon is pretty cool too. Another footnote is that I saw a picture of a couple of the guys from Arctic Monkeys with a Cadillac CTS-V that looked somehow connected to General Motors and that’s a sweet ride. My friend Jeff has a Cadillac CTS-V and they’re super fast.
I’ll put the photos up later – come back and check them out later. I also will try to write a quick post for Black Keys. They were awesome. I have some 4GS video of them and it’s better than 3GS video.
Most people from my work that go to Mexico City don’t like it. I suppose I like going because I long to see the world’s cities but don’t have the financial means to do so. So when the opportunity to travel on the company’s dime comes up, I grab it. The coolest things about Mexico City have to be its culture and history. One of my favorite simple things about being there is MTV in Mexico City. They’re cutting edge when it comes to music. Music is a passion of mine and I have picked up on some great bands while watching MTV in Mexico City in my hotel room. In fact, when I’m watching it, I always have a pen and paper handy. A band that I was introduced to in Mexico City through MTV is Vampire Weekend.
The video A-Punk was playing and I was grooving to it. It was a rich sound the likes of which I hadn’t really heard and it was fresh and captivating. I wrote down the name of the band and song at the end of the video and added it to my list of songs to look up when I got home to Detroit. This was in April of 2008.
I added A-Punk to my playlist as soon as I got home. My like of the song never really waned and I enjoyed it whenever it would pop into the mix. I never really pursued the band, however, and couldn’t have told you anything else about them… That is until now.
I posted a while back on how I think Pandora mobile is going to sound the death knell for satellite radio. Well, when I wrote that post, it was because I thought it was so cool how I could type in Led Zeppelin or Pink Floyd and have my phone kick out some sweet rock-n-roll through the little sound dock we have in our kitchen. It just got a little bit cooler this weekend after another idea hit me: what about kids music through Pandora?
It was daddy weekend as my wife went up to northern Michigan with the girls for a ‘girls weekend get-away’ type of retreat. It was the kids and me and it was cold and rainy outside so there was nothing really to do outside. And, I’ve been tired of running the tube and movies because I don’t want to turn these little brains into mush. I thought to myself that we could do some sort of coloring or writing activity, but I also thought we could use some music. The idea hit me to put a kid’s band into a Pandora play list but I didn’t really know any kids bands that I really like. If you’ve ever watched Noggin (which is now Nick Jr.) you’d know that they have music videos interspersed throughout their programming. I remembered a girl musician that we liked that got the kids up and dancing, but I couldn’t remember her name. Thanks to Google and knowing what channel she was on, I was able to find her name in a heartbeat: Laurie Berkner.
We got out the coloring books and some crayons and markers and listened to some good music. Pandora found song after song of age appropriate music that I also found palatable. There really are a lot of kids songs that truly suck and can be very annoying. So if you have something you like already and give it to Pandora, it is going to find music of a similar ilk and do all the work for you. There were Bob Marley covers and a lot of acoustic guitar type songs that were a lot of fun to listen to.
We would have to stop coloring and get up and dance every other song or so and the kids had a great time despite the rain. If you haven’t tried Pandora mobile yet, you might want to give it a try. I was happy with Pandora mobile from the outset, but it just hit another level.
I enjoy Latin music too but I’m very particular about it. For example, I like Belanova, but that’s not normally what you’d hear when you think of Latin music. They’re a band that you hear on MTV when you’re in Mexico City and a lot more contemporary and pop than mariachi music. I look forward to trying something like that out too. I’ll report back on how that turns out.
Also, my dad always used to play classical music on Sunday mornings when I was a kid and I really miss that rich music filling the house. I’m going to try putting in some Mozart or Wagner or something and see how Pandora handles it. I’ll report back on that too.
Pandora radio will kill Sirius and any other form of satellite radio. Let me explain how I know this. I recently got a new phone with 3G service rendering my old phone obsolete. As I was trying to decide whether to sell or keep my old phone, I plugged it into iTunes, blanked it out, and put on all my music and apps for the kids. I was thinking that I could still use it as an MP3 player and the kids love all the game apps. Even though the phone doesn’t have phone service anymore, it still connects to the internet through my home wi-fi. That’s when I thought to myself that I could put the Pandora app on the old phone.
This is the first time that Pandora really hit me as a badass application. I mean, I’d used it in the past on my desktop & laptop and it was cool. Even cool enough that it was up there with the cooler things on the internet. But, this was different. This was mobile Pandora. My old phone was kicking out sweet music on my old Bose docking station – FOR FREE!!!! This is music that is as easy as flicking on the radio and there’s no monthly fee. The depth of the library is enormous. This was one of those epiphany type moments of how cool technology can be. My wife and I had been talking about selling our old phones and now there’s no way that I want to do that. I can also just yank the phone out of the docking station when my kids want to play games too and they won’t be killing the battery on my new phone.
The Wombats are a band out of Liverpool, England. They have some great tunes. I spent the summer of 2009 learning the lyrics to pretty much every one of their songs. They’re a fresh sounding band that brings punk, pop, and rock together for a terrific sound. Their lyrics are pretty racy and touch on the usual rock and roll things like chicks, sex, and partying. The lyrics and accompanying sound provide a crystal clear view into raw human emotion. To me, their music basically says: we have nothing to hide and here is our art and our truth – love it or leave it. And that is my favorite kind of music: raw humanism. That kind of passion usually takes a little while to catch on with the masses, but once it does, it usually goes viral. Continue reading “The Wombats”