Group hug 

OK, stretch. Ahh, that felt good. Now extend your memory back a week or two. Remember Hamtramck Blowout and Mid By Midwest? Yeah, those were good times. Each venue tightly packed in so much talent and passion and so many people, you didn’t want to leave where you started, but the schedules were all so tempting. Thursday night, I was wowed once again by Judah Johnson. If you haven’t seen this band yet, please do. Dan Johnson has the voice of a tortured angel and musically, you can’t beat the song-to-song transitions. The band relentlessly beats a piñata of soul, heartache, rock and psychedelia, leaving audiences scrambling for bittersweet mementos. Later that night, Queen Bee’s newest addition, Rachel May, set my inner ear on fire after I made the mistake of standing a few inches from the speakers. From a comfortable distance, it was quite impressive how well she melded with Karen Neal and Adam Berg after only a week’s worth of practice. May adds a powerful dynamic to the band, tearing through song after song with a fierce rockstar stamina. The crowd was a who’s who of the local scene. Some guys behind me started playing the age-old game of “Name That Band Member.”

There are way too many highlights to fully recognize in this small amount of space, but some of the performances I still hear people talking about include Jocaine at Lili’s, 500 ft of Pipe at Holbrook, Lanternjack and Deathgirl.com at Paycheck’s and Saturday Looks Good to Me at Carbon. (Don’t forget Deathgirl.com’s CD release party March 24 at St. Andrew’s!) Congratulations and thanks go to everyone who made the weekend so much fun. And guess what? A ton of musicians who played those benefits are giving it up again Wed., March 28-Sat., March 31 for a WDET-FM 101.9 fundraising event at 313.JAC (upstairs at Jacoby’s, 624 Brush, Detroit). Audra Lynne Kubat, Sista Otis, His Name is Alive, Liz Copeland and The Jinx are just a few of the scheduled performers. Call 800-700-2437 for more info.

OK, let go

Just so things don’t get too mushy, go hear Detroit’s hardest hard-core destructo-punk claustrophobes, Cold As Life, when they thrash the Shelter (downstairs at St. Andrew’s, 431 E. Congress, Detroit — 313-961-MELT) March 24 with Die Cast, God Forbid and Without Warning. Should be brutal. The band’s latest release, Declination of Independence, furthers the raw madness that propelled it to underground mayhem way back in 1988. Through every hardship and highlight, Cold As Life has emerged as sharp and uncompromising as ever. This all-ages show is too cold for the weak at heart. But then again, so is life. So just go anyway. Whatever you do, though, don’t fake it. The band will know.

Go WEST

In the basement of the University of Michigan’s East Quad is a little venue called the Halfway Inn (aka, the Halfass). Sweet bands such as 57 Waltz, Thoughts of Ionesco, Karate, Slim Cessna’s Auto Club, Lovesick and Hey Mercedes have played there over the years. A bunch of students make up the East Quad Music Co-op, the group that organizes, books, promotes and executes all of the shows. The EQMC says the university is planning on putting a generator in the Halfway Inn, which will take up about a third of the space — read: Goodbye Halfass. Fans of the performance space can offer opinions to the housing folk and engineers at a meeting scheduled to take place there at 8 p.m., Thursday, March 22. If you can’t make it to the meeting, but want your voice heard, e-mail Bill Durell, the director of U-M dining services, at bdurell@umich.edu.

In other West Side news, Viki, an Ypsi-exquisite sound scrounger, will be in Ferndale when she and Time G8 open for W-Vibe on Saturday. It all goes down at xhedos (240 W. Nine Mile, 248-399-3946) at around 9 p.m. While Viki set up her little noise cubby onstage at Gold Dollar a few months ago, a fan told me she would change my world. The same guy also said power chords would change my world, but, well, you know, they did. And so did Viki. Zaps, drums and buzzes, denim, screenprints and nonsensical brilliant vocal outbursts, dogs barking, videogame blips, sawing noises and sproings — it’s a truly progressive take on prog, but only if you must have a classification. You’ll appreciate the Viki phenomenon so much more if you don’t even try to explain it. Just enjoy it.

E-mail In One Ear at mgiannini@metrotimes.com

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