Here they are — the more than 100 acts who will be gracing stages across Detroit, Hamtramck, and Ferndale as part of Metro Times
Blowout 18. Be sure to check mtblowout.com
for the most up-to-date information on venues and set times.
This is actually the tenth anniversary show for these blues rockers, who began playing in Melbourne, Australia before relocating to Detroit. This show is also the last performance of veteran producer and bassist Jim Diamond before he relocates to France! They play dirty rock and roll inspired by Delta blues, gospel blues, swamp blues, prison blues - they love the blues.
BLAIRE ALISE & THE BOMBSHELLS
1950s and ’60-inspired rock ’n’ roll with a garage edge, and an ever-so-slightly punk delivery. The classic girl groups collide with Wanda Jackson in Detroit. Sweeet!
RYAN ALLEN & HIS EXTRA ARMS
Beautiful power pop meticulously constructed by this songwriting juggernaut. A scene staple for over ten years with his groups Thunderbirds Are Now!, Friendly Foes, etc. If you don’t know by now get known.
It's been only a couple years since Alvvays (pronounced "Always") frontwoman Molly Rankin and her band relocated from rural Canada to Toronto, but they've already scored opening slots with the likes of the Decemberists and Peter Bjorn and John, thanks to a penchant for blending sweet, C86-inspired rock and wry, self-deprecating lyrics.
With their great harmonies and evocative original tunes, American Mars offer up exquisite alt-country rock, nothing more and certainly nothing less.
THE AMINO ACIDS
These instrumental surf punk weirdos have been around for years and years, of course. The black clothes/white masks costumes cater to their theremin induced nightmare jams. Catch them before they break up again.
Ancient Language AKA Chris Jarvis’ music falls within the realm of house and techno, but is also audibly influenced by the natural world and the cosmos. There’s something soothing and meditative about his compositions; they seem well suited for a stroll along a river in the woods. He will be dropping a 7” next month on New Fortune Records.
Another bunch of Canadians invading our festival with their good lucks and sweet music, the Arkells formed nine years ago in Ontario. You might have thought them to be R. Kelly fans --and they might be— but the name is simply the name of the street on which they lived and would practice. This Juno award-winning bunch of catchy Canuck superstars are here to conquer America’s hearts and minds. Perhaps you should let them in there, at least for the length of their set?
AZTEK THE BARFLY
Religious imagery runs wild through Aztek’s lyrics. “I expose them like Virgin Mary’s stained linen,” he says on “The 16 Chapel.”
Fresh off a tour playing large venues with Suicide Machines, Break Anchor, and Derek Grant, you’re sure to catch Bastardous at the height of their powers at Blowout 18. Few bands employ stop-start dynamics, anthemic vocals and loud guitars in quite such a clever and edgy update of ’90s pop-punk.
If Led Zeppelin were a pop-punk band, well, they’d sound a lot different that’s for sure. The combo of big riffs, big vocals and scuzzy ditties is all over their self-titled debut, released late last year.
Belterra, aka Kelsey Nuernberg, plays Detroit electro of the synth-pop variety. The man will pull out a guitar from time to time, adding a bit of live energy to the cool atmospherics.
DAVID BIERMAN OVERDRIVE
Six dudes making classic rock-based music because they have no other choice. As Jonny Drop wrote here in Metro Times, their 2014 debut Standard Skies“reminds us why we pursue art in order to create happiness for ourselves."
Label head for the local hip-hop collective Young Black Souls, sample-happy Matt Black is a producer who’s not afraid to draw on the past to create sounds for today. Trip-hop, jungle, and boom-bap all collide on his excellently-titled, brand new instrumental album Peace to Mateo. The album sounds like it took ages to make; it borders on epic. Totally an artist to look out for, whether you catch his Blowout show or not.
THE BLACK LIPS
This Atlanta-based group has made beyond- catchy garage-punk anthems for over a dozen years now. They haven’t put out a new record in a spell, but they’re always an amazingly fun and chaotic live band. They’re stridently irreverent, far smarter than you think they might be, but this isn’t art music; it’s danceable garage punk of the highest modern order.
BLUE BLACK HOURS
On last year’s Sunlight And Dust EP, the trio of John Spurrier, Scott Lyon, and Nick Sladovich dig into heavy, heady, and awesomely psychedelic stoner jams. It’s a pleasure that they’re unafraid to get proggy here and there, without resorting to elf magic epics or Ayn Rand quotes. This music should come with its own smoke machine. We’ve not seen them live, but hear they are epic face-melters.
Gothic and poetic alt-rock from David Lynch-influenced musos, featuring Kate Hinote’s gorgeous voice. These guys have a penchant for both the ridiculous and the macabre.
Psychedelic stoner rock from a band whose name really should be for a Dr. Seuss character rather than a Hanna Barbera cartoon. Chris Taylor is one of the biggest badasses in Ann Arbor; fans of Monster Magnet will lap this beautiful, loud mess right up.
Don’t confuse them for the comedic disco cover band of the same name - thisBoogie Knights is a raw rock and roll two piece from Detroit. The White Stripes influence is clear, but they are more prone to extended jams than that group ever has been.
THE BRISCOE COUNTY VULTURES
These cow punks are originally from Briscoe County, Texas, and they now live in Detroit. What could be more genuine and cool than that? They’re fun as heck live, too.
This riff-happy trio released their debut a few months ago. Their sound is eerily reminiscent of ’90s grunge-era bands who were into the ethos of the 1960s. If you own more than one CD by Blind Melon, Jane’s Addiction, and Phish, this might be your new jam.
THE BRUISED REED
A husband and wife team-up that works because Kirsten Wheeler has a stunning voice, while Josh Wheeler can write a killer tune and thwack his ax. The results are hard-rocking yet gorgeous and soaring. A marriage made in heaven, then.
BUFFALO COVEN PARTY
BCP is a well-named, smart as heck, psychedelic indie band from Ann Arbor. Go ahead -- allow yourself to get carried away in their psych-swirl.
Tightly-coiled and ready for the big time, this act named for an obscure fictional city in Victorian Gothic literature describes their sound as “owered by soulful lyrics, screaming guitars, funky bass lines, and dominating drums.”
This band is like a Slurpee machine that churns out everyone’s teenage cd collection. It's just overflowing with delicious sugary goodness. Then you drink it all and feel sad because Tommy won’t say hi or your Mom won’t let you live your life. Perfectly modeled, quintessential emo-punk.
Frank Woodman is a Detroit staple. He loves to rock, party, rage, party, vibe and party some more. You can see him at pretty much any show right up front taking in everything, waiting to explode. This band encapsulates all these attributes and funnels them through garage rock mayhem. On top of all that he has the drummer from Bars of Gold! Yeah, I’ll see you there.
The tags on the bandcamp page for their clever, intentionally distorted, self-titled album from 2013 are as follows: “detroit lo fi home recorded rock garage garage rock psychedelic rock.” We could not say it any better than that!
This killer punk trio count the riot grrl movement and “The Craft” among their influences. They’ve proud to rep their 669 Flint area code, and moved back there after a stay in Hamtramck. They’ve been playing for about five years now and they rule even harder than when we first saw them. We’re stoked to have them play our launch party!
CLEAR SOUL FORCES
Some say true hip hop died in 1997 — well, tell that to Clear Soul Forces! These gentlemen studied Nas’sIllmatic, De La, and all of the Hieroglyphics Crew’s best records and then proceeded to pen the freshest lyrics combining it with beats that remain current while hawking back to their predecessors. The future of Detroit hip-hop is here.
COLD BLOOD CLUB
This Brooklyn septet have been known for their high energy, high concept live shows. They play what could be described as alternative dance rock, with guitars, synths and electronic beats all present. You can hear influence of 80s new wave pop bands like New Order, as well as more recent bands like the Rapture and LCD Soundsystem. They want you to dance, and dance you will.
New project from recent Kresge winner and Beehive Recording Company founder Steve Nawara. A blend of 70s country rock, 12 string gypsy jams, and harmonies.
Eddie Baranek has fronted The Sights for over 15 years, and recently started playing in this new group, backed by Eric Allen of Twine Time and Gordon Smith of the Kickstand Band. Big Star, The Band, and Alice Cooper seem to be touchstones for these power pop country rockers.
Moody Ypsilanti post-punkers fronted by the prolific Jim Cherewick. Sound like they’ve successfully absorbed decades of listening to Guided By Voices, Slint, Archers of Loaf and R.E.M.
He calls himself the “Greatest Out Detroit,” and the provocatively-named MC (full name CrackKillz Da G.O.D) is surely one of our brightest hip-hop talents. His backing tracks are often moody and evocative, while his flow is wholly unique even if the lyrics tend towards tales of champagne, women, and rides in car services.
You can get an idea of their sound from some of the members’ previous band names: Moving Monsters, Blatant Death Mongers, Maggots, Hard Liquors, Cut Loose, Angry Hornets. Their music is intense and it thrashes. They sum it up best, describing themselves as “loud, fast, angry, heavy.”
Have these hometown rap-rock heroes really been around for 13 years, now? Time flies. The group continues to hone their unique take on crunchy radio metal fused with the kind of rap any suburban teen could enjoy.
These guys are just what they say they are – rock.If we heard these guys on the WRIF, WE wouldn't be surprised. Nor would we change the station.
DESTROY THIS PLACE
Destroy This Place combines post-punk energy with heavy and heady melodies. They keep getting better and better, so don’t miss them.
RYAN DILLAHA & THE MIRACLE MEN
It is physically impossible to not get their anthemic “Watchin’ ’Em Fall” stuck in your head. Catchy beyond belief, Dillaha really knows how to craft hooky country tunes, if anyone does. Dude is a hit machine in a porkpie hat.
Punk leavened with heavy stoner riffs. Honestly, sometimes their guitar sounds like Aerosmith, which is perfectly OK in our opinion – especially when the singer sounds like Fred Cole from Dead Moon.
Bluesy but restrained, this Ann arbor-based four-piece has morphed over the years from a more typical hacky-sack coffee house act to a proggy and intricate group that’s both thoughtful and excellent beer-chugging music.
THE DISTORTED WALTZ
Bay City’s Distorted Waltz are one of the best, proggy alt-metal acts in the entire thumb! Check them for yourself and see. https://www.facebook.com/thedistortedwaltz
DUANE THE BRAND NEW DOG
This phenomenal performer is a mix of 80s Whitney Houston beats, performance art and The Screamers all crammed together in some sort of madness. The songs are great, his shows are captivating. Jack White and the Black Lips are already fans. Come, watch a star being born.
As much of a rough ’n’ tumble psyche-blues trip as they are an uptown art-punk-ish paisley boogie, this band always puts on a good show. Stately and skuzzy altogether, this quartet prides itself on chameleonic rock capabilities.
DON DUPRIE & THE INSIDE OUTLAWS
Hard-driving, organ and slide-guitar-infused, big and badass music. This is what a bar band would sound like if they owned the bar themselves. It’s regal, and big. The environment be damned, this music makes you want to drive a Cadillac and drive real slow.
This Americana act from Ferndale creates the sort of music that you’d expect to hear on old road movies and TV shows like Cannonball Run and BJ & the Bear. These are stories, given some twang and allowed to breathe. There’s a sweetness that sits surprisingly comfortably alongside the dust and life-lessons.
Dark lipstick goth synth steeped electronica that takes a page from late eighties new wave. This is the music you dance to wearing all black trying to position yourself away from the smoke machine.
Fab’s intricate, harmonious folk-rock is artisanal and sweet. Fab’s sound is somewhere between Steve Earle, Iron & Wine and Ryan Adams – but with less twang, of course as the dude operates with a Midwesterner’s restraint.
Two dudes from Growwing Pains playing stripped down garage punk jams. Who would want to miss that?
THE FEVER HAZE
Fresh from the very cute and quaint streets of Zeeland, the Fever Haze is a six-piece outfit who tag their excellently crafted Americana as “loud rock for the quiet folk.” They claim to “sing songs about the euphoria and heartbreak of youth,” which is hard to argue with.
This trio seems to specialize in gas-guzzling, balls to the wall punk rock. After you see them, please write a scene report to MRR about the show.
FISHGUTZZZ & HIS IGNORANT BAND
Kazoos, banjos, and crazily ironic lyrics all coalesce to create one giant cake of hilarious fun for your brain when listening to this clever and vaguely ’60s folk-rock sounding bunch. Dig out your craziest clothes and be sure to dance along when they play.
FIVE POUND SNAP
This is some of the weirdest shit I’ve heard in awhile. It’s like Animal Collective had sex with a wah-wah pedal! Cinematic, driving, and beautiful. It holds the memories of your teenage dreams.
These guys (and girl) take the dusty, orchestral beauty of Ennio Morricone scores to movies like A Fistful of Dollars and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, and mix it with old game music and quirky pop, resulting in tunes so infectious and undeniably catchy that it’s practically impossible to hate.
Fucked Up play hardcore, but have been consistently pushing the boundaries of the form for years. These long running Canadian punks are mixing it up with a new live show: they’re expanding to a 9 piece band and are going to be playing material from their Zodiac single series that have been released more or less annually for the past eight years.
“As a songwriter, Detroit’s Mike Galbraith owes as much to the Replacements as he does Bob Dylan, to Nirvana as much as Neil Young, to Calvin and Hobbes as Ernest Hemingway,” the artist himself says on Facebook. That’ll do!
Port Huron’s Gasoline Gypsies make mellow, good time music. If you’re a fan of Ben Harper, America, or Dave Matthews Band, their heartfelt songs take those vibes, update them with modern production, and add either heavy guitars or crip ukuleles (depending on the song).
If the creepy animatronic singing hillbilly bears at Disney’s Country Bear Jamboree somehow were spliced up with that Tomorrowland ride, the results might be similar to this forward-thinking act who combine vaguely country, futuristic and rock and roll sounds together.
This new Detroit duo have been blowing up online and on the local scene. Both members are named Josh, and after initially meeting during college, they decided to form the band while tripping on psychedelics walking around Paris late at night. They now describe their music as “cosmic trap,” and that is actually a great description of their sound - spaced out guitars meet hip hop beats.
DJ CARLETON GHOLZ
Carleton Gholz is an archivist and historian committed to preserving the rich and diverse musical legacy of Detroit. A former Metro Times columnist, he moved to Pittsburgh for grad school and returned to found the Detroit Sound Conservancy, seeking to gather the stories from all corners of Detroit musical culture. The DSC will host its second annual conference at the Detroit Public Library on May 22nd.
There are only so many words for this super ferocious style of music. But we can tell you that Golden Torso make amped-up, chugging hardcore-punk revivalist jams nuanced with some grimy, alt-rock riffs. And they do it right.
File under “Americana,” we think. What we’ve heard of them sounds like The Byrds played backwards down a hallway. We’re intrigued, and can’t wait to hear more!
Growwing Pains came onto the scene a few years ago as teenage kids spitting nasty punk jams. Over time they’ve, oddly enough, grown up. Their record collections have gotten bigger(I bought the drummer Rod Stewart’s Gasoline Alley one day at the record store) and they replaced fake IDs for real IDs and it shows in their songs. Though still steeped in punk, the songs diverge and take on more complex shapes and melodies. Looking forward to three years from now when they make the best album that comes out of this city.
Homemade, home-recorded pop from Ian Ruhala’s one man band. The songs are catchy and good, and they’re not a far cry from the likes of Mac Demarco and Man the Hunter. Hala began as a solo side project to the band Retro Specs, but now it’s stepping out into the spotlight for this Blowout show.
Tellingly, this quartet of pop upstarts cut its teeth winning Beatles cover band contests. This is polished pop, with sunshine almost glinting off their shiny riffs and sweet voices; but their drummer came from the pits of punk, so he won’t sit still for any sock-hopping pop slow dance; he pulls the group’s pin and chucks things forward.
HAWK & SON
Mellow, lo-fi indie pop from Flint, Hawk & Son are not afraid of chirpy melody and catchy choruses. The name might make them sound like a haulage company, but these guys are the real deal.
Combining a seemingly constant output of “reverb coated, fuzz studded, hard driven garage psych” with a kaleidoscopic, hip-shaking live set, Heaters are quickly forging something new and exciting.
One listen to their 2014 release Live at The Spitfireand you can tell tis trio delivers revved-up, slicked-back, working man’s rockabilly with a punk edge and no ridiculous guitar solos, just the way your grandpa liked it. This might be the most underrated retro act in all of Detroit.
HORSE CAVE TRIO
There are a number of bands today that evoke the days of hot-rod-infused power, sex in a hip-shake, hard guitar and simple tunes; bands that are keeping the spirit of rockabilly alive. Some go the purist route while others, like the Horse Cave Trio, do things their own way.
One of the last perfect bar/ pub bands, the Diablos are such a Detroit institution at this point that it’s hard to imagine the city without them. Whether they’re playing their tribute to Gene Krupa or belting out a blues staple with much energy and very special rocking twists, you will be up and dancing. We repeat: this is not a band you go sit on your duff and watch, nor is anyone allowed to stroke their chin and stand along the wall. You will collapse in a sweaty mess after this show.
THE HOWLING LOUD
Remember when “alternative” music was good? When that term meant something? Before it was hijacked and turned into a buzz word to sell T-shirts at Hot Topic? The Howling Loud sound like those bands. Heavy riffs that play on 70s rock but infuse a brand of punk. Dust off your TAD shirt for these guys.
You might think a band called Human Skull would have a lot less melody, yet this gang is just oozing with the stuff. Their happy music is great, windows-down, summer time punk. You can front all you want with that leather jacket, Human Skull. But I see that Taylor Swift tape in your pocket next to those Marlboro Reds.
One third of the justly revered local hip-hop act Clear Soul forces, Ilajideis a force to be reckoned with. His music is a clever, grittier update of so-called “backpack” rap, really wonderful stuff.
THE ILL ITCHES
No relation to the well-known owners of the Tigers and Red Wings, their music’s more like how their name reads — agitated, speedy, spazzy punk-pop coming fresh out of the oven from these young, long-haired, fresh-faced shredders.
Almost impossibly prolific, sample and synth-based instrumental hip-hop guru Doc Illingsworth releases about an album’s worth of material each month on his crowded bandcamp page. We’re sure he’ll put on an eclectic, heavy, head-nodding show at Blowout 18.
This recently resurrected Sub Pop boys is the sound of pure and unbridled fun! Catchy psych-pop riffs! Addictive melodies! And they’re from Milwaukee! The second best city in the Union! Don’t be late to the party! If you are bring a bong and a dream catcher!
Thank goodness the Jamaican Queens are back with a new album (the excellent and excellently-named Downers, out in June) tour, videos and all of that. They really are one of Detroit’s most innovative and fun groups. They have also always had the ability to cross over to a larger audience, bridging rock and dance scenes. Maybe this time next year they’ll be international superstars? We’d not be surprised. Jamaican Queens pile on heavy rap beats, low-woozy-bass bursts, trundling 808s and cascades of spacey-synth samples. Describing the JQ sound with his bandmate Adam Pressley (JQ-co-founder, guitarist, beat experimenter and producer), Ryan Spencer tellingly repeats the phrase: “Fuck with it.”
A.J. is the nicest gentleman. All smiles and happiness. His music, well, eh, not so much. There’s some love lost buried within these songs and his voice beautifully captures the heartache. Some would call this indie ala Pedro The Lion. I would call them a slow walk on a cold night.
JAWS THAT BITE
Multi-genre instrumentation at its finest, Jaws That Bite is Michael Sabatini’s eclectic one-man show — utilizing electronic manipulation of all sorts.
THE JESUS CHAINSAW MASSACRE
Perhaps better known for their blog than their music, JCM sure have a knack for pissing people off. They’ve been critical of many in the local scene including Metro Times and the Blowout. They’ve announced this show will be their last, and are featuring a mock Kickstarter campaign on their blog to raise funds for the farewell performance.
JET BLACK BLONDE
These indie rockers sound heavier than you might think,and their music also brings to mind the mutated anthems of, say, Modest Mouse. Up and comers, to be sure!
Milwaukee native Juiceboxxx told Noisey last year that he’s trying to fuse together a sound that is “Bruce Springsteen meets Public Enemy.” Well, he’s almost nailed it. It’s going to take some more work but this dude is so full of energy and sass that no man will keep him down as he hones his vision. Here's the secret fourth Beastie Boy and he’s fighting for your right to party.
This two-piece was trapped in a room with the first three White Stripes records for six years and seven days. And right when they got out, they were thrown back in with some Sleater-Kinney records.
He’s country. He’s punk. He’s raw. He’s glam. He’s Scotty Karate, and he’s the only Blowout performer to have a beer named after him. Check out the Scotty Karate Scotch Ale by Dark Horse Brewing Co., who describe him as a “local one man band who plays an amazing slurry of honky tonk influenced, punk country songs.”
This trio’s got some gosh-darn goodies to twist and shout along to, as twitterpated with enticing melodies, happy-pop harmonies and shuffling throwback rock rhythms as any heavy-hearted teenager with tears on their pillow after Daddy took their T-birds away.
John Krautner’s vision has always been simple: write super amazing pop songs. And he always has. And will continue to do so. Forever and ever. Amen.
KUNG FU LOVERS
Looking for a good time that’s a bit out of the ordinary? This heavily theatrical hard rock act dresses up like kung fu kings. They then play songs about kung fu, and move around in a kung fu-like fashion. It’s rare to see such absolute commitment to a concept.
Detroit’s answer to the Strokes, heavy on soaring and riff-heavy guitar work and easy-flowing vocals and lyrical content, this Ann Arbor five-piece is highly polished with an emphasis on execution.
If you know what a “Vertigo swirl” is, you might love Lava Moth. Even if you don’t, their tightly-wound stoner jams are pleasantly tied to a melodic structure, while also eminently and seriously rocking. Fans of Free and Atomic Rooster will be overjoyed at their excellent live performances.
Dante LaSalle has been one of the breakout stars of the Detroit hip hop scene in the last few years. He’s extensively toured North America and Europe, and has even done the Vans Warped Tour. He’s released tons of solo recordings, and is a member of the loose #CoOwnaz collective along with Doc Waffles and Eddie Logix.
Heavy guitars and pop punk hooks collide in the songs of this Fenton/Ferndale/Ypsilanti based trio, drawing from influences like Superchunk, Lemonheads, Husker Du, and Dinosaur Jr. They appear to have an entire EP of songs inspired by Degrassi: The Next Generation, as well as tribute EPs to the Replacements and the Get Up Kids.
On her own and with String of Ponies, Alison Lewis crafts fleshed-out, word-heavy, gently poetic folk rock for anyone who wishes that the Lilith Fair tours were still a thing you could go to. Highly competent, and filled with wondrous turns of phrases, not to mention Lewis’ capable voice!
With a polished sound and an earnest uniqueness, Lightning Bugs have only been going at it for roughly five years, now. We dig their stripped-down, old school indie-rock and you will too – like finding a used thrift store t-shirt that you could swear you’ve had for twenty years.
In 2012, House Phone was one of the hot bands at Blowout. The following year, that band was on hiatus and singer James Linck was a solo hit at the festival thanks to his ability to summon the spirit of Arthur Lee and Love and mix it with a large spoonful of Detroit rock ’n’ soul. Last year, he released his debut solo EP of groove-heavy modern R&B. This year, he’s going to kill it again at the Blowout. You will totally want to be there when he does.
It takes a lot of people to make a sound this colossal. And this brand new act has at least seven dudes laying down their precisely proggy, spacy and seriously funky funk. Just imagine Adrian Belew and the Beastie Boys hanging together at Terrapin Station.
This smart, intoxicating electro duo – Rachelle Baker and Nicholas Morrow – lays it on thick. Ethereal vocals over synthesized dance beats make for one hell of a party.
Howling and screeching punk rock, Lizerrd has — at its core — the most pure and ridiculously loud punk spirit (and the best band name spelling we’ve ever seen).
This is the first Detroit appearance for these poppy rockers from New York City, who are on tour with the Arkells. The Strokes may be a lazy comparison, but it’s hard not to be reminded of them. Their sound is a modern take on glam, power pop and proto punk influences. Their new EP “Shiner” was produced by Spoon drummer Jim Eno. Watch out, their songs might get lodged in your brain!
Epic, emotional, and lengthy guitar-heavy instrumental songs that sound like the soundtrack to a really cool movie. But this isn’t your older brother’s post-rock; there’s something fresh about it. Imagine Godpseed tempered with the fragile quality of an act like Carissa’s Wierd.
Look out Kid Rock, there’s an up and comer in the urban blues-rock vein, and her name’s Allie Marie! Funky, pop-infused and very indebted to the real blues, we’re sure we’ll be hearing more from her, and soon.
Psychedelic garage alt-indie from Flint. Think the Zombies and the Turtles — but in Flint.
Super funky and often hilarious, you might have been forwarded one of Mendoza’s videos by a friend? Whether singing an original or cover, Mendoza perfectly straddles the line between camp and sincerity.
It’s hard to write about this band, because basically they’re a different band each time we see them. But vocalist Ruth Synowiec is just amazing, with a killer range and very commanding presence. Last time we saw them, they were off on some kind of tension-heavy, almost boogie-ish trip-metal scene — like watching someone walk an electrified highwire.
MONEY PITTS & ASSOCIATES
Wonderfully political, loopy, abstract hip-hop that’s like some crazy hybrid of Def Jux, John Oswald and the olden times Church of the Subgenius radio hour. Head-splittingly good stuff, straight from the ground zero of the financial crisis.
These up and comers are on the move. They came onto the scene last year, when their 45 was randomly found at record stores for free. The A side “Pallette Knife” immediately stole hearts with its Eastern tinged surf rock. Check them out before you’re fighting to get a balcony seat at 9:03am on TicketMaster.
GEORGE MORRIS & THE GYPSY CHORUS
George Morris is a compelling frontman and an incredibly talented songwriter and performer. After bubbling under with the Satin Peaches and then going away, Morris is causing a stir once again, especially with the release of their new album, the evocatively-titled Hell.
Primal dirtbag rock ‘n’ roll driven by heavy twin guitars and topped by a manic lead singer, just the way they used to do this stuff back in the Old Testament days.
THE MOST DANGEROUS ANIMAL
An aptly named five-piece, the Most Dangerous Animal brings in-your-face punk to the stage at each and every show.
Mountain Club is made up of members of Loose Planes, so you know it’s going to be sweet. They play a special brand of woozy, melodic indie-rock.
Emo post-hardcore that occasionally becomes screamo, jazzy fusion-y stuff. A few of their songs, like the title track from their new Living Standards EP, just go right for the throat with pure, driving, anthemic energy. Also, they have a song called “Boy Scouts Inherit the Earth,” which is awesome.
THE NATIVE HOWL
Based in Rochester, the Native Howl plays emotional rock music that cagily straddles the divide between folk and alternative. If you love the music direction on the Sons of Anarchy TV show, then you’ll really dig what these guys are laying down.
In-your-face loud, these former members of the Armed and Bang Bang! waste no time proving to everyone just how noisy a band can get. Organized chaos, these five dudes know exactly what they’re up to.
NIGEL & THE DROPOUT
Loops aplenty from this Detroit-based duo, though there’s a real Brit-pop feel in there too. Remember how the Happy Mondays captured the rave vibe without actually being a rave act? The judicious use of guitars helps with that.
NINA & THE BUFFALO RIDERS
This forceful six-piece is about to celebrate the release of their debut EP, so catch them now before they go supernova. The band’s sound is bluesy and psychedelic while Nina Sofia’s powerhouse vocals are soon to be classified one of the seven wonders of the Midwestern world.
NOLAN THE NINJA
Super sticky, funky, and sample-based hip-hop like they don’t make anywhere else anymore, save for Detroit. Nolan is heads above almost anyone doing this, and while some of his best tracks are instrumental, he’s not afraid to get great vocalists and emcess on his tracks.. He also has the best crickets sample you’ve ever heard, in his track “Corazón.” So good.
NOTES & LEAVES
Guitar-based quartet with great taste and solid chops. If you love the Screaming Trees and yearn for similarly amped-up psychedelic proto-punk, look no further than Notes & Leaves.
Serious Detroit rock ’n’ roll. Heavy rock — not heavy metal, don’t get the two mixed up — that’s gonna bring you to your knees. A combo of four gnarly dudes — and one charismatic frontwoman — who know how to create crunchy, psychedelic music.
Old Empire puts on a great display of heartfelt indie rock without being corny. The five-piece edges toward pop, utilizing their melodic abilities to their advantage. Happy music lives!
Detroit’s very own punk rock poet laureate, Paaige looks both damaged and in control when he’s on stage, and he has the raw charisma to enthrall.
THE PAPER SOUND
A bright, smart take on late ‘90s stadium indie-rock, the Paper Sound is ready for the spotlight. They ably pack powerful songwriting, vocals, and chiming guitars — neatly wrapped up with a bow on top.
Is it indie hip-hop or just great old-school style stuff? Does it matter? This dynamic duo (Blaksmith and Mister) are both hyper-talented emcees that never fail to entertain or impress. In the last year, they’ve not only released the acclaimed album Church and co-headlined on the Rap Round Robin Tour, but they’ve just released the Banglatown EP.
This Detroit native is definitely a rising star. He’s crafting sick beats, and doing a very nuanced R&B crooner thing on top of them. You’ll be able to see you saw him back when!
Yes, it’s possible that this band chose their name for the possible attention that the name might draw to the band. P.P. formed in Syracuse in 2012, and their intense shows are already legendary. The band consists of vocalist Meredith Graves, guitarist Ray McAndrew, bass guitarist Greg Amblerm drummer Garrett Koloski, and keyboardist Shaun Sutkus. They’ve been described as "the most important punk band to come out of Syracuse since Earth Crisis.” And Wikipedia said that last bit, so we are not arguing.
Chilled out hip-hop with a strong pot theme? It’s possible this fellow is popular on college campuses. He’s clever, too. “I’m not smoking blunt ’cause I hate rolling joints,” he says on “Second Hand Smoke.”
PICK AXE PREACHER
Bands don’t need to use the “parental advisory sticker any longer, of course. But it’s a swell thing this heavy grindcore act did, just to let you know the kind of super precise, sweaty onslaught you’re about to endure.
Channeling their ‘90s influences through a laidback, contemporary sensibility, this trio from Davisburg is just the act to zone out with a beer or two to.
This Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti three piece is a relatively new band, but things seem to have come together pretty quickly for them. They’re about to release an album called “Extraterrestrial Activities” and embark on their first tour with fellow Ann Arbor rockers Human Skull. They describe themselves as “funk punk,” but they sound positively poppy to us.
Does it need to be said? First the Von Bondies, and then the Hounds Below, and now Ponyshow — the Jason Stollsteimer Midas touch strikes again.
The electro-noise is exciting enough, but buried under there is a ton of sugary melody. It’s catchy, and you can’t figure out why. Think of it as subliminal-pop.
This is potentially one of your last chances to catch this sci fi progressive rock quartet before they go on hiatus. Of course, in a parallel universe, they will continue on and not go on hiatus. The band is interested in parallel universes, black holes, string theory, and what happens to us after death. Their debut album What Do You Want was released in 2014 and it’s a straight up rock opera about all of those things, inspired by a friend’s passing and featuring lyrical references to Camus and Borges amid the overall themes of science and philosophy.
Pup is a cool little neo-grunge act from Toronto whose self-titled debut album is out now and garnering raves from the likes of Noisey (perfect ten), NME (charmingly nerdy and wholly brilliant) and Stereogum (“they get the balance between aggression and pop just right”).
When psychedelic garage punk is done well, it’s such a gas. Thank goodness for the Q, whose driving and intense music takes the heights of 1966 and throws it all in your lap, just for you.
Radio Burns sounds like New Jersey. Getting off the line at the plant, having a few beers with your friends at the old neighborhood bar. Go ahead put a couple of quarters in the jukebox. Play something off “Born to Run,” and also something off “Jersey’s Best Dancers.” Now let’s go pick a fight.
WILLA RAE AND THE MINOR ARCANA
Ms. Willa Rae Adamo is a force to be reckoned with. She has a powerful voice and is a strong songwriter, mining country, soul and blues. She plays guitar and is accompanied live by a cellist and additional vocalist. She’s also one on the forces behind Detroit’s first ever Girls Rock Camp taking place this July.
THE REBEL KIND
Ann Arbor/ Ypsi-based Rebel Kind, who topped our list of 2014 Detroit releases, remain one of our very favorite bands on all of the earth — not just the Detroit metropolitan region. Autumn is a fabulous writer of genre-hopping, short, garage-pop songs. Amber is a fantastic drummer, while Shelley proves that the best bass players are often moonlighter six-stringers.
RED STONE SOULS
The key word in the band name being “soul,” it’s impossible to ignore the hard soul edge emanating from this four-piece. Blues, bending guitars and good ol’ rock ’n’ roll all add up to Red Stone Souls.
Can punk and bluegrass be fastened together? Can banjos and washboards create the same intensity as screaming guitars and slamming drums? Rickett Pass is available to show you the answer is yes to both questions.
THE ROYAL BLACKBIRDS
Genuine, heartfelt, and earnest, this Detroit trio immediately brings to mind the nostalgic soul and blues rock bands that came four decades before any of these youngsters were born.
Grand rapids-based Sandkings play intentionally-distorted, excellent garage-pop. When you visit the band’s website, they turn your cursor into a plucked-out eyeball. Songs are moody, kind of midtempo, and we have no idea what the lyrics are to any of their songs, which is perfect. Lyrics are so overrated. They’re so good at this stuff, it’s a wonder John from Thee Oh Sees hasn’t signed them to his Castle Face label, yet.
With all of these hundreds of garage and guitar bands, you may ache for a different kind of release. Thank goodness our friends are Sapphire Bracelet are playing the Blowout; their magical breakdowns and heavy synth-driven dance music is super savvy and smart.
THE SAVAGE SEVEN
Their band bio calls them psychobilly, which pretty much encompasses their sound. Except slightly more aggressive, like they’d probably want to get another stab at yeah with their bowie knife when they’re chasing after you singing their favorite Melvin’s song.
SHARKY AND THE HABIT
This band once told this publication that they have a pet unicorn at the house they all share. They are a rock and roll band who bring to mind the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Sublime, with healthy doses of Led Zeppelin, grunge and the blues. It’s been a few years since their Pogato Blues EP was released, so here’s hoping there’s more on the way.
Danceable rock augmented by saxophones, the Toledo-based Shmotel is unlike any other band around today. Their music is swirling, smart and outside the sands of time.
SISTERS OF YOUR SUNSHINE VAPOR
People need to stop sleeping on this band. Absolutely captivating psych-garage that have all the best moments of bands like Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. Sometimes the singer sounds like fucking Danzig too. This band is amazing; go see them!
SIX AND THE SEVENS
Bluesy, catchy and hook-heavy, Six and the Sevens will have you toe-tapping and swingin’ those hips. Enjoyable? Yes. Poppy? Yes. Put together, the whole shebang is altogether addictive.
Looking for some live electronic jam music? By all means check out Stan Sommerson, a duo composed of Stephen Roginson and Dan Sommers who bridge the past and future by looping live keyboards and guitar together.
Among Detroit’s most talented urban performers, Nick Speed ably combines elements of hip-hop, dance and soul music. That makes sense since he’s a DJ, producer and emcee all at the same time. He seriously is the real deal.
Celebrating the release of their debut WP with this Blowout show, these four young dudes from Ann arbor/ Ypsi are so sure of their prog-metal roots that they dare to cover Primus (and Eminem, sort of).
THE SUGAR CLOUDS
With all the right ‘60s and ‘90s influences in check, this funky and fresh act (formerly the Hosts) has real star power. Like Smash Mouth, their music should be played in sports stadiums worldwide.
The Sunburns are a rollicking modern psychobilly and surf punk band. Good luck not getting “Welcome to Jonestown” stuck in your head for the next week.
THE SURFING PHARAOHS
Do you have a ’65 mustang that’s buffed, polished, modded-out and ready to roll? Then you’ll ache to have the righteous surf-a-billy of this crew blasting through the tape deck aas you hit our heavily pot-holed streets on your hot rod, Daddy-o.
If you’re trying to place the name but can’t, it’s the name of Rick Moranis’ character from those Honey I Shrunk the Kids films. The band is a trio from East Lansing, and their emo-pop is righteously crafted, perfect for fans of early Death Cab.
This duo plays an uncanny kind of electro-pop that mixes synth sounds and guitars with simple and effective beats. The vocals are strong and intense, and sharp enough to cut out your heart.
This Ann Arbor-based act is all over the alternative spectrum, from keyboard driven pop numbers to sensitive acoustic guitar-backed songs and heavy electric guitar based jams. Why aren’t they on tour with Interpol this year?
Intense, punky and clinically insane, the Tens will be all up in your grille and ready to rock at the drop of a hat. And keep away from their social media — these guys are nuts.
THIRD COAST KINGS
You can tell the Kings are devotees of heavy funk and soul 45s from Detroit, Memphis and beyond, and could be fooled into thinking their songs were recorded in the 1970s. Following last year’s sophomore album West Grand Boulevard and a trip to Japan, they’re gearing up for their first US tour this summer. Get on your dancing shoes!
Fred Thomas is the most beautiful man in the world. He loves to hug, and has touched, seen, recorded, or played with, every single band you have ever heard of in Detroit over the last 15 odd years. His creative ability knows no bounds. His new solo record that is an absolutely amazing meta dialogue soundtrack to a man battling and looking for answers.
This super heavy synth-rock act has one of our favorite self-descriptions in an ocean of them: “Detroit's most beautiful beautiful people with synthesizers band.” It’s possible you had to read that twice in order to get it and that’s OK – we did, too.
Awesome new group led by Andrew Hecker of the Displays and Steve Kowalski from the Reelers. If you’ve been to a rock show in Detroit in the past few years, you’ve seen these guys. This band is so new they don’t have any recordings online, but one can expect them to be mining ’60s garage and ’70s punk and power pop.
TOUCH THE CLOUDS
Simply put, Touch the Clouds deliver a highly polished, angsty and riff-heavy sound.
Broadcasting from a nearby universe in the distant year of 2084, Trancers is chock full of galactic grooves and dancey algorithms. Allow them access to your brain, and you won’t be sorry.
This staple of Detroit hip-hop is known for his “no fly zone” which stipulates that a rap artist must contact him before they play Detroit. This caused some controversy last year when a crew showed up and blocked Rick Ross from playing after Ross failed to contact TT. His reputation may precede him, but don't let that cloud the fact that he’s a great rapper with a catalog spanning nearly twenty years. Just give him a ring first!
Twin Guns, from Brooklyn NY, refer to themselves as garage noir. We’ll be right there with you front and center trying to find out what the heck that even means.
Be warned: these heavy, radio-ready hard rockers’ zany cover of Vince Guaraldi’s theme song to Peanuts might not leave your head for weeks once you’ve heard it. So good!
What was the tag line for those old Smucker’s commercials — “with a name like ours, it’s got to be good,” or something to that effect? This four-piece re-establishes the bar for glorious guitar work, percussion and amazing vocal work that feels eerily familiar.
PAT V. AND THE DETROIT 3
Country tinged southern fun jams. These guy just want to slam beers and rock giddy up drum beats till your legs cramp up from drunk dancing too much.
Offering brilliant and beautifully crafted aural pleasures, VSTRS unravel their psychedelic assault in such a graceful and effortless way, you’ll be shocked there are only four members and not a militia.
Carefully crafted, charismatic pop rock from Grand Rapids. Their sound is equal parts folk and power pop - Wilco and Big Star come to mind as influences for this trio. They’ve been consistently playing shows throughout the Midwest and East coast in support of their album “Stray Animals” which was released last fall.
This experimental, eclectic electronic pop band are about to drop their second EP entitled “Don’t Wait.” They’ve only been working on this project for the past year, but it’s been a productive one for these two songwriters. Though the recordings are made by producer and musician Alex Kaye and singer/songwriter Lianna Vaniceli, they are joined by a backing band at their live shows.
Hoping for a raucous house party feel this year at Metro Times Blowout 18? Well, the Vonneguts will be doing their best to make sure that’s exactly how it goes.
One could call the staying power of Andrew W.K. baffling. The rise of “I Get Wet” followed by the universal shoulder shrugs of his following albums might have relegated his output to Jock Jams status. Yet W.K. never wavered in his commitment to positivity and partying. His persona which may have seemed fabricated at first became more genuine as time passed. A trust began to befall W.K. – a belief reverberating through his 320,000 Twitter followers, his advice column, his self-help books – that he just wants you to enjoy life, be happy and party. So just let go and believe in the true Zen master of party. His arms are open. Walk into his dirty, white clothed embrace.
This longtime Detroit producer describes his music as “controlled chaos,” taking influence from hip hop, soul, house, techno and Motown. “It’s a little bit of everything,” he says. It’s also unmistakably Detroit. He’s always got several projects going, and recently dropped a new EP from his new Church Boy Lou project. He’s also part of the activist hip hop collective Complex Movements, currently doing an installation and performance residency in Seattle.
THE WAGNER ACT
How can you not at the very least appreciate a band named for the single most important piece of labor rights’ legislation in the history of the U.S.? In their self-description on Facebook, this roots-loving duo say they are “a songwriting collaboration between Nick Mansfield and John Freeman that started a few years ago over Canadian whiskey and Guy Clark tunes.” We love Guy Clark tunes! See you there.
Warhorses offer a throwback psychedelic trip without the chemical burns and other nasty after effects. Bring earplugs and you’ll have fun, especially if you’re the kind of person who knows which Hawkwind albums are the best ones.
Appalachian folk comes to Detroit. Country rocker Scotty Karate joins bassist Andie Webb and singer/guitarist Tracy Webb to form this bluegrass trio that will surely tug at your heartstrings. http://thewebbsdetroit.com
THE WHISKEY CHARMERS
Fronted by local country singer Carrie Shepard, the Whiskey Charmers perform dusty Americana without any pretension. They spin intoxicating tall tales — incorporating layers of folk, blues, and rocking country — providing the listener an experience they never knew they could have ever had.
This Ann Arbor power trio grew up together, and have been playing in bands together for years. Hometown heroes the Stooges and MC5 are audible influences, but they’ve also digested Black Sabbath, Thin Lizzy, and Motorhead. They rock! They are about to release their first album on vinyl this summer on Ann Arbor punk label Arbco.
Named for one of the signature catchprase/sayings from Seinfeld, Yada Yada puts on one hell of a great live show.
Anthemic and guitar driven heavy pop act the Witches are always a blast live. Legendary in Detroit for his involvement in countless musical projects, Troy Gregory’s latest ensemble is groovy and trance-like, an essential part of the fabric of our scene.
This two-piece creates music that is as balanced and pretty as a good old American novel. It not only plays like literary legend, it’s as smooth, sweet and effortless as a Sunday afternoon in summer.
This gang is from Ann Arbor. Mandolin, banjo, upright bass, beards, mixed genders. You know standard fare. Their record cover have them all smiling! Before one song you hear them laughing before playing. I don’t know why the hell they decided to play curmudgeonville but let’s hope it’s contagious.
Electronica, shoegaze and trip-hop combines to great effect thanks to this local-area trio.