From now until the end of the year everything will be a party. Between, work, friends, family and neighbors there is no shortage of amusement. No doubt your favorite party promoter has already inundated your inbox with an invitation to "the best" Christmas party and the "the Ultimate" New Year's Eve gala. Maybe you're not the kind of person that likes big parties. You would rather do your drinking at the neighborhood bar.... Maybe you don't drink a lot, but at Christmas you make an exception. Maybe you do all your partying in the subdivision bouncing from house to house. No matter who you are (unless your last name is Scrooge) you've been invited to a few holiday parties. Here's my list of Don'ts for the Holiday Party Hopping Season.
1) Don't hit house parties in between clubs.
The honorable reason: The bar is filled with strangers who could care less about you. But the house is more likely to be filled with family and real friends who may feel slighted that you would leave in favor of a smelly old bar or nightclub. If you want to go to the bar make that's your first stop. End your night at your friend's house. The jackass reason: The house party will still allow drinking after 2 am.
2) Don't expect gifts from party promoters just because you've been a loyal follower on Twitter and you slept with him that one time... okay, three times. Promoters don't have Gift Lists. Just Free before 11 lists. So don't buy him one either.
3) Don't get caught slipping.
It's Christmas and everyone is home for the holidays. Just because it's a Tuesday and you're with your dearest friends whom you don't have to impress with clothes and hairdos, doesn't mean you can just throw anything on and hang out with the gang. The ex that hurt you the most will definitely be the first person you see when you pull your old gym hoodie back off your head and kick the snow off of your workout kicks. Who are we kidding? The worse you look, the more people that you don't want to see will be in the room. It's a scientific fact.
4) Don't be acting too independent!
Let somebody buy you a drink! Ladies, the rules relax a bit at Christmas. In July when a man buys you a drink, he will probably hound you for at least 15-30 more minutes. But in December, people just like buying drinks. It's part of the fun. Some people just want to see everybody tipsy. Take the drink and then pay it forward. Buy somebody else a drink later. See how we all win?
5) Don't take your man-bashing, woman-hating, clinically depressed, 'I drink because I'm angry not because I'm festive' attitude to somebody's party.
We all have problems. And if I can affirm myself into getting up and out of the house with a smile... the last thing I want to be bothered with is your angry, or even worse, sad drunk ass. If you can't shake it off for the night, stay at home.
6) Don't call your ex when you're out.
I know this is the time of year we all get a little sentimental. But if I was single on Thanksgiving Day, you can believe I'm going to be single at this party in a room full of hot guys. Now is not the time to be reminiscing. Get him back in January. Reuniting true love on Christmas Day only happens in Hallmark movies. All you're going to do is irritate people — most likely the friends that are stuck in the car with you.
7) Don't hesitate to make a new friend.
This is a great time to meet someone new. People that don't usually go out (yes there are people that don't party) will come out during holiday season. For me, that's the ideal man. The kind that knows how to turn up... but doesn't have to every weekend. I'm looking forward to meeting him.
8) Don't do all your drinking in one spot.
If you're night is going to get blurry it should be at the end, not the middle and definitely not the beginning. Pace yourself and your drinking. The honorable reason: You'll remember more. The Jackass reason: Stumbling into the door already wasted is superwack.
9) Don't forget basic street smarts.
Yes it's holiday time and we're all filled with love for our fellow man, but it is STILL Detroit. Keep a pair of flats, a phone charger, gas can, jumper cables (or whatever your hooptie needs) in the car with you. You're drunk and really friendly, but be careful talking to strangers or nefarious looking characters. The big city can be a dangerous place.
10) Don't forget to follow me on Twitter and Instagram @heatherjayh
If you don't want to go out, you can live vicariously through me. I'll be posting videos, pictures and telling you where the hottest places to be for the holiday season are. I like fun people and heavy handed bartenders. I won't tell you about anything that isn't awesome. | RDW
Follow Heather On twitter and Instagram • @heatherjayh • #DETROITIMPROPER
There's a few good shows you need to know about this weekend and they both happen to be at Trinosophes, located at 1464 Gratiot in Detroit.
Friday October 11 • Bill Callahan • Lonnie Holley • 8PM • $15
Bill Callahan's new record, Dream River, will be released on September 17 on the esteemed Drag City label, Callahan's longtime home. Recorded at Cacophony, TX, earlier this year, Dream River features eight performances that are easily the most sensual and soulful of Callahan's career. Whether flying home in a small plane, drinking with the sleeping inhabitants of a hotel for company, painting boats for the summer or flying towards the sea along the path of the dream river without the aid of any craft, Bill Callahan is speaking to us in a voice - that "gorgeous thing" (New Yorker) - that belongs to him and only him. Dream River follows 2011's Apocalypse, which prompted the New York Times to call Callahan "one of our best lyricists".
Bill Callahan showed up on our porch in 1991 saying his name was Smog. We took him in and he has been with us ever since. We think you will feel the same way about him once you look into his hungry eyes. Over the years he reminisced about "Cold Blooded Old Times" and told us to "Dress Sexy At My Funeral", releasing over twenty records as Smog and then, unfettered, as Bill Callahan.
He is a recording studio guru, a tastefully rampant singer-songwriter, a heartthrob, a visual artist, a statesman for the times and an author. After a couple albums recorded at home in the early 90's, he began recording in studios and teamed up with potent individuals such as musician/arranger Jim O'Rourke. His output has been constant for two decades and his tours have become larger and more impressive. Bill's songs have been featured in films such as High Fidelity, Dead Man's Shoes, and Youth in Revolt, all of which feature Zach Galifinakis (or should). Artists as diverse as Gil Scott-Heron, Flaming Lips and Cat Power have recorded his songs. In 2007 Bill Callahan dropped the pseudonym and begin releasing his albums under his own name. Lonnie Holley, the great American folk artist, art educator, and musician, opens.
Saturday October 12 • Lee Ranaldo and the Dust • Brokeback • 8PM • $12
Founding member of Sonic Youth, now in 30th year; composer/visual artist/writer etc. Lee and band are currently finishing up his second solo effort, a follow-up to 2012’s Between the Times & the Tides. The new record, Last Night on Earth, is to be released in early October 2013, again on Matador. This will be Lee’s second fully self-penned, song-based album, a much more band-oriented affair this time out. After a year of touring behind the last record, the band is now fully road-tested, and features Steve Shelley, Alan Licht, and new bassist Tim Luntzel.
“We’re going to pretend it’s 1983!” shouts Asking Alexandria lead singer Danny Worsnop. “I don’t care if you don’t think it is—just go along with me here. It’s 1983. Rock ‘n’ roll is still fuckin’ alive! We’re doing blow off strippers’ buttholes before the show! [Something indecipherable] And I’m David Lee Roth!”
The English metal band is opening for Korn at The Fillmore. As I look around the crowd, the older concertgoers (clearly the O.G. Korn fans) stare at Worsnop with blank faces. They do not understand what this young man with shaggy hair is going on about. They are here for Korn, and solely Korn. Many of them remember Van Halen, as they probably grew up with the 1984 record in their collection.
However, Worsnop was born in 1990. I stand in the corner and wonder how he pretends it is 1983 if he never actually experienced 1983. Does he know it is 2013? I then try to piece together any possible correlations between Worsnop and Roth. After 30 seconds, I give up. The couple next to me looks equally perplexed. Meanwhile, the teenage girls behind me squeal with excitement.
“He’s so hot! I wish I was one of those strippers before the show,” I hear one of them gush. I turn around. The girls are wearing LED earrings and glow stick necklaces. One is wearing an American Apparel neon dress and heels. I reassure myself that I am actually at a Korn show and not a Tiesto show.
“You don’t know it, but I can see the exact shape of all your nipples through your shirts,” Worsnop continues, grinning at some girls in the front row. I look at my thick leather jacket and wonder how he sees through the material. First he is David Lee Roth, now he is a magician. The girls behind me continue to giggle. I question whether he is also a comedian and is too modest to tell us.
As Worsnop resumes his tirade on how it’s actually 1983 (most too incoherent to transcribe), the circle pit in the center of the floor keeps going. Are they aware there is no music right now? Are they here for Korn or Asking Alexandria? Both? Are they just here to mosh? So many unanswered questions.
I look over at the O.G. Korn fans. They continue to stare blankly. I look behind me. The glow stick girls are now taking selfies with Worsnop in the background.
As I feel whatever hope is left in me start to slip away at a very rapid pace, I walk outside for some fresh air. The first thing I see is the Asking Alexandria tour bus. Girls wearing the band’s shirts (most likely bought at the merch table 15 minutes ago) stand around the bus, clutching posters and sharpies in hopes of a signature or maybe another selfie with Worsnop. Their glowing faces tell me that people really do like his music, if you are into that sort of thing. I resist the urge to roll my eyes.
I walk back inside. Worsnop is spraying the crowd with not one but three water bottles. Time to go to the bar.
Madame Butterfly is sad because it's 1900s Japan and a woman is taken advantage of by an American soldier and subsequently cruelly discarded. And that's where Miss Saigon was born.
Based on Giacomo Puccini's opera Madame Butterfly (who also wrote the opera La Bohème, on which Rent was based), Miss Saigon was created by Claude Michel Schonberg and Alain Boubil, the team behind the musical version of Les Misérables. Miss Saigon modernizes Puccini's opera, setting it during the Fall of Saigon, when the People's Army of Vietnam and Viet Cong captured the South Vietnam capital, which caused the evacuation of nearly all American troops and civilians as well as tens of thousands of South Vietnamese civilians in the largest helicopter evacuation in history.
If you think the Titanic was a dramatic setting for a love story, this one beats it.
Many people will call Miss Saigon a love story. It is, to a certain degree. But at its core it is a story of hopeless desperation.
The story opens at a "club" (really a brothel) in Saigon. The chattering girls strip down to sparkly bikinis and sky-high heels while singing about being crowned "Miss Saigon," a completely superfluous title that allows their "manager," the Engineer, to charge more for the crowned woman for the night. Privately, they dream of being rescued and taken out of Saigon by an American GI to America, the land where dreams come true.
The Engineer introduces the newest girl Kim, a shy and modest girl who is "almost" a virgin and recently lost her whole family in a brutal military attack. The pack of world-hardened girls sneer at her. They perform for the GIs, strutting bare flesh and snagging their fares for the evening, while singing about the movie in their minds — the one in which they fall in love and are saved by an American who takes them away from this sordid life. Even the Engineer falls victim to this dream of a better life, believing with the right ties to the American Embassy through his American clientele and with enough money he can buy himself a passport and get himself out.
Kim is crowned "Miss Saigon" for the evening, and an American named Chris takes notice. Not wanting to buy a girl and ready to leave Saigon, he is drawn to her. They spend the night together and fall in love. He promises to marry her and take her to America. Then Saigon is evacuated and he isn't able to retrieve her in time. Three years pass.
As the Viet Cong celebrate the three-year anniversary of the Fall of Saigon, the stage is bathed in red (yes like blood, the imagery is intentional). The Engineer is a prisoner who is able to bargain for his freedom with Thuy, Kim's cousin and childhood fiancé who wants her back at any cost, who is now a Commissar with the full force of the army behind him. He tracks her, and her now three-year-old son Tam (fathered by Chris), down in a shanty village where she has been hiding. In her desperation to protect her son, she shoots and kills Thuy and sings that she would die to protect Tam. Things aren't going to end well for her, if you didn't know this already. Kim finds the Engineer and asks for his help. He sees Tam, an American citizen by birthright, as a living breathing passport and his new ticket out, so he agrees to help her.
Act II opens with the American GIs from Act I now working on behalf of the Bui Doi children, those fathered by American men during the war. Lots of videos of poor children are shown on a screen overhead (doesn't really matter if they're Vietnamese or not, point made). Then we flash to a seedy Bangkok with flashing neon lights promising all the sins of the flesh and the Engineer, now back doing what he does best, promising passersby all the best girls. Kim is here with him. Through the Engineer's machinations to get the three out of Thailand and into America, Chris finds out about his son. Now married to Ellen, Chris never really got over Kim, but has started a new life and left the old one behind him.
Kim sings about Chris coming for her, knowing in her heart, in the movie in her mind, that he will come to save her. Those stuck in Bangkok all sing of the American Dream, and make it clear how desperate they are to live it. We flash back to the final evacuation of Saigon, and see how Kim and Chris were separated. We see Chris desperately trying to find her through the crowds of begging South Vietnamese citizens clawing at the barbed-wire gates blocking them from the helicopter platforms. We see Kim on the other side of the fence with that crowd, waiving Chris's gun as proof that her husband is an American GI and she should be allowed in. (Yes, Chekhov's rule applies here.) We see the final helicopter ascend, taking a reluctant Chris with it and leaving Kim behind.
Back in the present, Chris and Ellen go to Bangkok to find Kim. While Chris is out looking for her, Kim finds their hotel — and Ellen inside it. Kim, who didn't know Chris was married, unravels, shrieking at Ellen about her husband, her child, her life, then finally begging her to take Tam home with them to America, to give him the American Dream that she sees now is no longer hers to have. Ellen refuses, saying she can't take the child away from his mother.
If you can get through this scene without blubbering like a fool, I commend you. I really do.
Privately, Chris and Ellen agree to move to Bangkok and support Kim and Tam financially. But Kim doesn't know this as she shoots herself, sacrificing her own life to secure a better future for her son.
Where Miss Saigon really differs from Madame Butterfly is that the love story is really truly a love story: Chris and Kim really ARE in love, but are forced apart during one of the most horrifying moments in world history in the last half century. The important thing to know about Miss Saigon is that it is not just a "forbidden" love story (that's all too precious and quaint), or that it is a story about a mother desperate to save her son (true, but not the whole of it). This is a story about the desperation of an entire people, from the other girls working at the "club," aptly named Dreamland, to the Engineer who engineers himself various plans for his escape to America, to Kim herself, one woman among countless many with a child left behind by an American GI. Saigon itself is just as much a character in this musical as those actually singing, and the desperation of these characters is made all the more acute by situating them in a time and place in history during which they had absolutely nothing left but the dreams they so desperately, so necessarily, clung to.
Miss Saigon plays out like a movie onstage — the movie in their minds, as it were. The imagery can be jarring, outright disturbing, from the half-naked working girls at the club straddling the half-naked drunken GIs (half-naked people are not unique to Miss Saigon in the world of musicals, but here the context makes quite a bit of difference) to the marching Viet Cong bathed in red and the many, many machine guns. And the villagers clawing at the barbed wire fence trying to escape the occupation of the Viet Cong. And the broken Kim, furiously shrieking at then begging the new wife of her son's father to take him away with them to America.
But I suppose I can sum up my reaction in just two words: Jesus Christ.
At a time in our own society when the American Dream seems like nothing more than a quaint idea concocted by our backwater forefathers, when we are all special and unique snowflakes who want, nay DESERVE, more from life than their wholly common simple-minded desires, seeing something like Miss Saigon, and seeing how desperate others can be to attain a lifestyle we all so easily (too easily) take for granted, even dismiss as being "beneath" us...well, it struck a chord in more than one way.
See this. It is playing at the Fisher Theatre now through October 6. Even if musicals aren't your first choice for performance theatre, see this.
I dislike the phrase “EDM”. Always have. When writing articles, I really try to avoid using it, but sometimes, that awful acronym just has to be thrown in for the greater mass culture to understand the world I’m trying to describe. To me, it’s just electronic music, or a dance party, and if I want to get more specific, house, techno, tech-house, etc. But electronic dance music? That’s just too much.
I suppose it’s better than throwing all forms of music created by a DJ under the umbrella term of “techno”, which is a statement I hear far too often and have given up on trying to help people understand that not everything with a bass line or “danceable beat” is techno. For example, here are some questions my doctor (yes, my doctor) asked me a few weeks ago:
“So, I know you write about techno. But what is techno exactly? Is that the stuff people dance to at clubs? Is it possible to have words? It just baffles me that people can dance to music without words. I hear techno all the time on the radio and it definitely sounds way better with words.”
Besides my wide-eyed stare, I was able to bite my tongue and quickly come up with a nice response that the music heard on 95.5 is not techno.
I guess I’m a bit of a techno snob, and although I wasn’t around to experience the madness of the 1996-2001 Detroit rave scene (come on, raving at 11 years old would’ve been somewhat wrong), I have lived through enough and been heavily involved enough over the past five-six years to know the differences between the styles of music. House is very different from techno, which is very different from funk, which is nothing like trance, and god forbid, DUBSTEP IS NOT TECHNO.
I have also watched the “EDM” trend unfold, particularly over the last three years.
“EDM” was a phrase I didn’t hear so often until 2009-2010 rolled around. I mean, yeah, it was definitely there- but it wasn’t so commercialized and overused like it is today. It’s amazing that just three years back, someone could be like “Hey, are you going to the party at (insert undisclosed secret location) with (insert DJ) spinning?” and I could be like, “Duh! Do you know where it is? I didn’t listen to the call-in hotline yet”. As many of you probably recall, there was once upon a time (and not so long ago) where we had to call secret numbers and decipher jumbled robotic voices to figure out a hidden party location within the message. Now, if someone asks you to go to an electronic event in which you aren’t familiar with the location/expected crowd, three things typically cross your mind:
Is it going to be a bunch of college dude bros waving glow sticks? Will there be a $40 cover charge? Are they going to play crappy radio dubstep all night?
If the answer to at least two of these questions is yes, there’s a good chance you won’t want to go.
Not to say that glow sticks aren’t fun- they are fun in moderation. But if you feel the need to be waving around lit up rods from the dollar store to enjoy the music, you are probably at the wrong party. If you are not a go-go dancer and feel the need to wear furry boots from Lovers Lane at all events (and this is not your usual style), you are probably at the wrong party. If you don’t know that other DJs exist besides David Guetta, Deadmau5 and Tiesto, you are probably at the wrong party.
Whether we like it or not, this is what the current “EDM” blanket seems to cover- a neon, lit-up world of kids that won’t delve further than radio trends and can’t hit the town without Molly at their side. The new, commercialized world of electronic music seems to clash with the previous world, a world that was more about the music and less about getting your photograph taken by PictureThisCity.
Even artists themselves have picked up on this new wave of being, a wave that seems to do both good and harm to the “scene” itself (dislike that word as well, but it needs to be used). Here are a few quotes from interviews I’ve done over the past year regarding this matter:
“I think America has finally caught up. It’s more commercialized, but that’s OK, because with all underground music, there’s a commercial part. I think it helps the underground, though. Now, people hear it, and it’s not so foreign. They’re not scared of it anymore. They’re more understanding of it. I think it’s better for it to be where it’s at now, than where it hasn’t been all these years.”- Kevin Saunderson
“There has been a massive explosion with the EDM sound in the states, which tends to be more commercial than the underground sound. I am pretty sure you will see some of the EDM fans starting to look for something with a little more substance and a bit more intelligent production to its sound. That's where I think the underground will start to shine more with its quality and forward thinking approach.”- John Digweed
“New genres will pop up and disappear. Kids will get more and more A.D.D. Producers will get younger. Pretty soon two-year-olds will have number one selling Beatport records!”- Antiserum[audio-path:]
“The quality of music today is definitely less than the quality of music being made back in the day.”- Egyptian Lover
Is “EDM” and its commercialization helpful or hurtful? I guess only time will tell. But no matter what happens, one thing is for certain- some people will always call every form of “EDM” techno.
X Games Detroit Bid Go Skateboard Day, Brewster Projects
Fresh off of a record-setting 24-hour drumming project, party rocker Andrew W.K. will be here in Detroit for Go Skateboard Day. The event starts at 3pm at the Brewster Projects with an afterparty at the Majestic at 8pm (where Mr. W.K. will play).
DP2A Season Announcement, Detroit Institute of Arts
Join Detroit Passport to the Arts for Friday Night Live at the DIA with an afterglow at Rodin for their 2013-2014 season announcement - six cultural destinations with plenty of social and networking opportunities over one full season at a deeply discounted price for young professionals.
Hour Detroit's Best-Of Party, MotorCity Casino
Lots of food. Lots of booze. Lots of people in fancy clothes rubbing elbows and probably wringing their hands over Mike Duggan's failed mayoral candidacy. It's a boozy good time as only Hour can bring.
Nychos "I'd Like to Meat You," Inner State Gallery
Nychos is in town for his first solo exhibition in Detroit, opening tonight at Inner State Gallery.
FRIDAY AND SATURDAY
Detroit River Days and ArtPlace
It's a full fair and carnival with live music from national acts and an art competition that has ArtPrize aspirations (check out the massive outdoor installations and vote for your favorite). River Days goes all weekend, concluding with the annual Target Fireworks on Monday.
Kuhnhenn Summer Solstice Party
A super limited-supply reserve draft list and the release of the 12 Wheats of Summer with the guys from Detroit BBQ Co providing the meats. Kuhnhenn's bi-annual solstice parties are Things That Should Not Be Missed.
Next Top Chef Detroit, Eastern Market
18 Detroit high school students compete with local chefs for the title of Next Top Chef Detroit at Eastern Market. This event also features dinners with Dave Mancini of Supino Pizzeria and Andy Hollyday of Roast fame.
The Not-Gran Fondo
This event is not the Gran Fondo event that did not get approval from Woodward Corridor communities. This event is LIKE that event, but different. It is a casual meet-up of a few hundred friends on bikes following the same route on the same day at the same time, but it is NOT the Gran Fondo.
It looks like a short, roly-poly Asian man in the title role who at one point, while threatening to fuck everyone in the audience, breaks out some "Gangnam Style."
Yeah, take everything you know or think you know about 50 Shades and throw it right out of the red room — this parody is outlandishly over-the-top while still being light-hearted and fun. There's a song about fisting and mock cunnilingus and a lady's book club tittering over the naughtiness in the book and talking about masturbation.
If you see a lot of musicals at the Fisher, then you're probably pretty accustomed to the lavish productions with multiple revolving set pieces that require actual construction. This is the opposite — a low-budget, DIY, improv-style production that shirks all the high-production pageantry in favor of a stripped down (LOL), bare-bones performance that pays tribute to its improv roots. The only set piece is a bed, which stays on stage for the duration.
But you won't miss all the extra distraction: this show is all about the witty songs and the comedic delivery by this small cast of comedy theatre professionals. I laughed so hard I missed half of the jokes (it calls to mind Borat, in the way that some uncomfortable moments are carried out for so long that they start off being kind of funny, then become strictly uncomfortable, and then HILARIOUS).
Fans of the books will love all the inside references and the affectionate portrayal of beloved characters. Anti-fans of the book will appreciate the subtle mockery (Amber Petty as Ana Steele: "This is real life. Because if this were a book, it would be terrible!"). And fans of musical comedies — think Book of Mormon and Gilbert & Sullivan — will adore just how clever and well-timed each of the musical numbers are, and how intelligently the writers lampoon this pop cultural/sexual zeitgeist series. (There is a brilliant play on the H.M.S. Pinafore that Gilbert & Sullivan fans, even just Simpsons fans, will surely appreciate.)
Amber Petty has a beautiful voice and plays the wide-eyed, naïve Ana with a big 'ol wink to the audience in her unwaivering sincerity. Chris Grace as Christian Grey is nothing that you would expect and absolutely perfect — if you think Christian should be some sort of modern day David, a physical embodiment of the celebration of male sexuality in its most virile form (basically Christian Bale as Patrick Bateman) … well, all I can say is that his character certainly thinks he is, anyway.
50 Shades! The Musical incorporates low-brow physical and high-brow intellectual humor to appeal to a wide range of audiences in this witty parody of the pop culture phenomenon that is Fifty Shades of Grey. An excellent, seasoned cast comfortable with filling in the blanks of a mostly bare stage (they even poke fun at this) transport the audience with their comedy in a way that sometimes not even the flashiest productions can manage. This was an off-Broadway improv-born production, but with a hit like this it wouldn't be a surprise if it ends up ON Broadway soon.
Drinks x Design at the Red Bull House of Art - artsy
Join the Detroit Creative Corridor Center and the Red Bull House of Art as they host this month's Drinks x Design with special guests Tadd Heidgerken (architect behind the House of Art) and Bethany Shorb (Cyberoptix designer, artist, and awesome person extraordinaire), who recently installed custom-made neon sign fixtures at the gallery.
Sunset at the Zoo, the Detroit Zoo - bougie
Super swanky event with food from dozens of high(er)-end local restaurants, drinks, music, and entertainers. Worth the splurge.
Michigan Modern: Design That Shaped America at the Cranbrook Art Museum - artsy
This new exhibit pays homage to Michigan's contribution to modern design. Open June 14 through October 13.
DatFunkeeStuff with Passalacqua at New Center Park - fartsy
There are rumors of sun and Freeze Pops. Check out this free show on Saturday night with these Kresge fellows and all-around-cool dudes.
Motor City Brew Tours Michigan Beer Tasting Boat Cruise on the Detroit Riverboat - boozy
Still not sure what to do for dad? Take him on this booze cruise featuring more than 25 Michigan beers, ciders and vodkas including the rare bourbon barrel-aged Doom from Founder's Brewing Co.
“Jazz? Ewwww.” Or “I like all kinds of music except for jazz.” Two statements that I’ve heard for as long as I can remember. Not sure why. I’ve always believed jazz - big, swingin’ and improvised - was a Founding Father of popular music. I grew up in a home where Satchmo was a household name, so I was fortunate enough to know the good from the bad at an early age. (Yet Richard Marx was still my first tape purchased...) Luckily for Detroit music fans, we’ve had our own ambassador to jazz in Jesse Palter. The Jesse Palter Quartet used to prowl the city’s streets a few years back. They created the best jazz Detroit had seen in a long time. Success saw them spread all over the country, but swing is bringing the crew back together.
JPQ have always been masters at transforming old jazz standards. With Mike Jellick on keys, the Grammy-winning Ben Williams on bass and Greg Hutchinson on drums, it’s not hard to be considered a master. The super-talented musicians are enough to keep toes tapping by themselves, but throw Palter’s incredible range into the mix and holy smokes, folks. The best part about the upcoming album is that most of the songs are going to be originals.
After talking with Palter, it is really hard to not get excited for her and the guys. They’ve booked studio time and flight plans, and it’s all happening really fast. Expect more from Real Detroit on JPQ in the upcoming weeks, but for now you should hop on over to Kickstarter and pitch in a few bucks. Only 2 days left. Considering the talent that’s coming together for this record, helping put it together is the least a music fan can do.
Granted it wasn't the "FIRST" first; the inaugural Orion festival was held last year in Atlantic City. But, you know, it's the first one that we're really counting, right?
Though C3 and Metallica still have to determine whether or not the festival will be returning next year after evaluating how Detroit handled the influx of fans, they do have first right of refusal for this same weekend in June on Belle Isle for the next two years. (There seems to be some confusion over this. They have NOT announced definitively that they are coming back the next two years. They just have it locked in if they want it.)
But things are looking good for Orion's return: Robert Trujillo said on Sunday that the festival would come back to Detroit, and both James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich told fans after their two-hour set on Sunday night that Detroit will become Orion's home. According to conversations I had with both C3 partner Charlie Walker and Metallica's Kirk Hammett, they want to find a permanent home for the festival, and they want it to be Detroit.
As far as festivals go, this is the best-produced festival I have ever been to. While long waits for tickets, wristbands and shuttle buses caused some grousing on Saturday, by Sunday those issues were speedily addressed. The experience once on the festival grounds was second to none — seriously. Second to fucking none. Everything was flawless, and even when lines for food (the best and definitely most metal festival food I've ever seen) and attractions were long, they moved quickly and no one really complained. Sound bleedover between the five stages was more an issue when walking between stages, rather than when actually AT one of them.
The Budweiser Orion stage rose like a mountain in the distance on the farthest end of the festival grounds. This thing was massive, breathtaking even (especially considering that thing was constructed on-site over just a few days), as were the towering sound and light rigs that put out the best sound I've ever heard at an outdoor concert, ever. Main stage acts could be heard as far away as the Belle Isle bridge as clearly as if someone standing right next to you was playing them on their phones.
In one of those examples of worst-kept-secrets, Metallica played their entire debut album Kill 'Em All on a side stage at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday under the fake name "Dehaan" (the "secret" was leaked with intention on Friday). The Joy Formidable had to cancel their Sunday afternoon set at the last minute because, oops, they got stuck in traffic (file under: things band members of the Joy Formidable will spend the rest of their careers and lives regretting), but every other band on the mixed bill — which included classic punk band reunions, a couple of iconic Detroit bands, dubstep superstars, and even a couple out-of-place-but-still-appreciated indie rock darlings, which I'd even sort of clump the Chili Peppers into — drew its own crowd of rabid fans.
On both days the crowd was a predominantly metal one. Some tweakers showed up in their neon spandex and fuzzy boots for the dubstep stage where Bassnectar and Destroid played, and the occasional ironic mustache could be spotted in the Japandroids crowd, but for the most part the place was blessedly free of cunty self-righteous hipsters who acted like Orion was NBD and haven't wasted any opportunity for their soul-sucking snarking on Metallica and metal fans. "METALLICA IS OLD, HAR HAR HAR." "METAL SUCKS, HAR HAR HAR." "[SOME UNINSPIRED CUNTY COMMENT ABOUT PEOPLE FROM DOWNRIVER/MACOMB COUNTY], HAR HAR HAR." These people think bands like Of Montreal or whatever the fuck are, you know, "bigger" than Metallica, and spent Sunday at the Detroit City Futbol League game because it was THE place to be this weekend. Whatever, fuck those people. Metal fans are fun and friendly and everyone is there to have a good time and enjoy the high energy and not try to suck other people down in a spiral of self-loathing judgment.
Yes, that's the big secret: metalheads are really a happy, loveable bunch. Maybe not "cuddly" exactly, but we're all in it for a good time. And that was the vibe all weekend — everyone was just in it for a good time. Sure, you'd see the occasional smashed and bloodied face, but it was totally an accident, bro. (Except for much rarer occasions when it wasn't, and then you can probably assume the dude was being a dick.)
Also, to those I heard say "no one cares about Metallica:" I met people from all over the world (France, Italy, Brazil, Mexico, Russia, lots of Canadians) who came to town for this. So it's cool that you don't care because plenty of other people do.
The side attractions — Kirk's Crypt, the hot rod and custom car show, the Metallica museum, a shit-ton more — were a whole show in themselves. My only complaint? I wish I had more time to spend on everything. Let's go for three days next year, guys!
Metallica's main stage set on Sunday was full of all of the pyrotechnics and laser beams long-time fans have come to expect from their shows. This being the fifth time I've seen them live, I can't say it was the best show I've seen them put on, but it was hands-down the best venue. While they didn't follow last year's format of playing two albums cover to cover two days in a row (was REALLY hoping to hear all of Justice, and was briefly tricked when they opened with "Blackened"), they pulled out some major guns with songs like "Creeping Death," "Seek and Destroy," "Master of Puppets," "Battery," the not-often-played-live "Disposable Heroes," and the titular 9-minute instrumental "Orion" in memory of Cliff Burton. (Plus some post-Black Album bs which they thankfully got out of the way early on.)
Now, I'm not saying they played "Orion" because I told Kirk Hammett they should. I'm just saying we can't discount the possibility.
So, pretty much everything about the festival was top-notch and awesome, except: the fucking abysmal beer selection. 16-oz cans of Bud for $7. Alternatively, you could opt for Bud Light, 12-oz cans of Bud, Bud Light Lime-a-Ritas, or generic cheap wine. That was it. That was all they had. I get the whole not having hard liquor at a festival as a means of crowd control so no complaints there, but you guys are in fucking Michigan, the Great Beer State, home to several of the top craft breweries in the country, and you're trying to make this festival a reflection of the city, and you give us fucking BUD? That is sooooooooo not metal. Not metal at all. Step it up, people. I get that AB-InBev (owners of Budweiser) is the main stage sponsor and probably forking over loads of cash, but they do also own some craft beer houses. I would have even been happy with Goose Island (owned by AB-InBev, though brewed in Illinois), even though it's not local. Fix this next year, plz and thx.
For more (and probably better, I'm really just rambling random thoughts here) recaps of Orion, check out this one from Spin and this other one from Rolling Stone. And this from the Detroit News. And this from MLive.
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