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Sights on-scene 

"Jack Bruce is God!" Mark Leahy, the live-wire bassist of power-punk-pop-soul trio the Sights, is wearing his Cream idolatry on his sleeve. In fact, his unabashed declaration is crucial to understanding what sets the Sights apart from other young rock guns working Detroit’s musical rumpus rooms. Leahy, 17, and guitarist Ed Baranek, 17 – who’ve played together as the Sights for nearly a year now, though they’ve been musical cohorts since age 13 – eat, sleep, drink, live and play music with the kind of passion and thirst many folks forget they ever let themselves feel. They’re on a mission to make the music they love. "We always knew what we wanted," says Leahy. And, when the Sights hit the stage, that confidence is damn infectious.

The nearest point of reference to what boils up from the Sights’ musical unconscious is something akin to a soulful Buzzcocks or a more wound-up Jam. It’s pop music and soul made raucous and bursting from the dual tension of boredom and an ability to see beyond the suburban coffeehouse punk scene too many great young bands never get past. The Sights effortlessly bridge the gap between the all-ages masses and the classic Detroit punk bar throngs. They’ve played to appreciative crowds in both worlds and have recently taken their act to Toronto, opening for major label, tight-as-a-drum, power-pop outfit the Interpreters. Neither Baranek nor Leahy is shy about their ability to convert fans such as Interpreters singer-guitarist Hershchel Gaer. Nor are they going to let themselves get pegged as the cute kids on the scene. Says Leahy, "A lot of people write you off because of your age."

"Like, how’s a 17-year-old gonna pull off soul," finishes Baranek.

But the Sights – who’ve recently brought in new drummer Dave Knepp: "He plays like Ginger Baker!" gushes Leahy – likely have old souls.

Plus, "It’s all about live," says Baranek. The Sights’ motto: "Energy, steal the show, commanding stage presence."


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More by Chris Handyside

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