Are you hip to the Detroit rock scene? From an outsider's perspective it can amaze, huh?
Having said that, the scene's always been pretty segregated, and you never see too many black faces on local indie or rock show bills, just as it's rare to see many white kids on local rap shows. But, the organizers of the Cosmic Slop Festival, spearheaded by one Deekah Wyatt, aim to put Detroit's black rock scene (yes, Detroit's black rock scene) on a pedestal by kick-starting the area's first annual Afro-rock concert fest.
The festival, Cosmic Slop, is, you'll note, named after Funkadelic's killer fifth studio album. Like its namesake, the all-day fest promises a hodgepodge of genres, serving up an eclectic mix ranging from industrial to free-form funk-jazz. And, the fest not only promises to rock; they also plan to educate black kids on what's possible in Detroit rock. (We don't know what that means exactly, but if it extends deeper than Black Merda, we will be psyched.) Best, the all-day freakout is but five bucks; with more 20 bands on two stages, a finster is a hell of deal. Here we've picked a few of the many worthy combos performing.
They're the previous winners of WDIV's best-of contest in back in 2007, and they've enjoyed song rotation on 89X. The tight, post-grunge, "ghetto rock" quartet can craft songs as effectively aggressive and catchy as stadium rockers like Sevendust or Seether, and you can always expect some furious fretwork from underrated local guitar hero Mike Brooks. Outdoor stage, 6:15 p.m.
When talking of rap-rock, you don't really think of the word "soulful" much. Too often the genre takes the less endearing qualities of both rap and rock and amplifies them to unholy effect. It can get pretty ugly. But Cody Stagefight manages to reverse that and construct a sound that explodes like great rock and flows like good rap. Outdoor stage, 4:45 p.m.
Descendents of the Throbbing Pee Pee
This kickass-monikered Detroit funk outfit dives into the grooves of '70s soul — such as Booker T. & the M.G.'s, Bill Withers and Roy Ayers — and revamps it for a new age. And, for the most part, they do a killer job of it. Tunes ebb and flow with grace, grit and feel, just like great sex-you-up soul of yore. Outdoor stage, 1 p.m.
Duane, "The Teenage Weirdo"
The 19-year-old and current Metro Times fave is sorta the lovechild of Grace Jones and David Bowie, or something like that. And when you see him live, he damn sure looks like it. So, yeah, the kid's got one foot in the glam, the real Warholian glam of the '70s, not this horseshit Sunset Strip manly crap. Duane's bouncy, lo-fi synth-pop tunes have an almost nursery-rhyme quality and often mine every good pop band that charted in the '80s. Indoor stage, 7 p.m.
ES is something of a cross between the sludgy funk of early Funkadelic and the jagged-yet-serpentine grooves of free jazz. The vet dudes in Enema Squad hypnotize with dense, eyebrow-raising funk grooves and then blow you back with feedback-coated instrumental jam-ups. Indoor stage, 12:30 p.m.
One of the Detroit music's best-kept secrets, this funk-rock crew never fails to massively attack the groove on stage — it swings both ways too: You can either dance or space out to it. Masters of giving space to their tunes, the Enemy Squad guys provide ample amounts of instrumental improv that highlight a subtle musical connection between band members. Kickin' it in the cosmos, man! Indoor stage, 11:45 p.m.
Industrial mishmash that molds huge eletroclash beats into a dank, creep, gothic-informed atmosphere. Scratchy guitar-chugging clashes with vocalist Doc Colony's deep, whiskey-sotted pipes to create a sound that's both danceable and headbangable. Outdoor stage, 2:30 p.m.
Sexy neo-soul intermingled with rock flourishes led by a beautiful, husky-voiced frontwoman. Although the band's influenced by a lot of modern rock, it never gets too heavy and prefers to keep the volume dialed back to help sway you as if you're attached to someone else's hips. Indoor stage, 4:15 p.m.
Fronted by the insanely foxy Steffanie Christi'an, FluxPhonic is an amply tight and polished quartet whose specialty is catchy indie rock tunes. Christi'an's hefty, soaring voice glides over blazing guitar work with hooks that kill. Indoor stage, 8:45 p.m.
Whether he's with his trio Distorted Soul or solo, you can be sure anything the dude touches is more often than not writer gold. He can write smooth, jazzy numbers worthy of some uptown joint or he can channel his inner Stevie Ray and bring down the Old Miami or Lager. Outdoor stage, 7 p.m.
Whoever said, "You can't be fit as a fiddle if you're tight as a drum" had it all wrong. In fact, if there's ever a poll for "tightest band in Detroit" NuRokSol has it locked. When this quintet gets into its alternative metal groove, few bands around town can match it. And with a near virtuoso guitarist and drummer, they never cease to entertain. Outdoor stage, 4 p.m.
Rain of Kings
Think of New York's Rain of Kings like this: They pick up where Living Colour left off; an alt-metal sound jacked with heavy guitar (and some purely killer Vernon Reid-like fret-dancing). Also, the acronym is ROK. Badass! Outdoor stage, 5:30 p.m.
RenCen CoolBeanz is pure energy. Dude's live shows can at times make an Andrew W.K. concert look like your mama's living-room bridge club. And while he thrives on energy and crowd reciprocation, he can hold his emcee ground with any rapper in town. No shit. Plus, he finds some of the sickest beats of any hip-hop artist around. Indoor stage, 8 p.m.
The Spiral Effect
Led by Cosmic Slop's organizer Deekah Wyatt (who provides lead singer and guitar duties here), the Spiral Effect molds its love of the Chili Peppers, deep-fried funk and fiery-headed rap into a intense rock and hip hop hybrid that reminds one slightly of the direction Hendrix was heading in. (Stay late and catch their blazing cover of Hendrix's "Machine Gun," which is nothing short of molten.) Outdoor stage, 3:15 p.m.
Ontario-born Coates is a classic "dude-with-an-acoustic-guitar" singing semi-maudlin tunes in shades of rock 'n' roll, R&B and soul. Mostly he sounds like he wants to be an acoustic Bruno Mars, but every so often he blinds us with a lovely Nick Drake-like passage that can just send you. Indoor stage, 5:45 p.m.
Flint's Olaniran is a synth-driven pop artist with some great songwriting chops. In fact, everything he's touched thus far (he's released a few demos and one official EP, The First Transgression) seems like it's primed for radio play. Plus, it's all done with a fiercely lo-fi, DIY aesthetic, so he could quite feasibly find a place in the ears of the hip, indie crowd as well as having a shot at the Billboard charts. Indoor stage, 6:30 p.m.
From 1 p.m. to 2 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 17, at Ann Arbor Elk Lodge, 220 Sunset Rd., Ann Arbor; cosmicslopfest.com; all ages; $5. Other performers include Armadillo Hotel, Armed & Dangerous, Brothas From Anotha Planet, Pegasus, Black Sheep Behemouth and Doom.
Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.