12 acts not to miss at Hamtramck Music Festival 2016

A sweaty good time awaits you in lovely Hamtramck

12 acts not to miss at Hamtramck Music Festival 2016

Hamtramck Music Festival 2016 has stuffed itself into 25 venues with more than 200 musical acts. The festival, in its third year, has quickly grown to become the premier locals-only music festival in metro Detroit. Hamtramck Music Festival runs from Thursday, March 3 to Sunday, March 6.

The festival began in the absence of our own Blowout Festival (RIP), of course, which also used to just be in Hamtramck, and which began as a way to celebrate Detroit’s varied and vibrant local scene. Hamtramck Music Festival was smart to fill that void with a festival that also serves a great cause. There are no hard feelings between Metro Times and HMF; we probably wouldn’t have stuck the thing on the cover of this issue if that were the case.

There are stuffed-to-the-gills showcases each night, daytime all-ages shows, and other events. Some of the acts booked include Danny and the Darleans, Bangla School of Music, Sex Police, Caveman Woodman & Bam Bam, Theresa Chavez, Duane the Brand New Dog, the Hentchmen, Best Exes, Carjack, A Love That Forgives, Ryan Dillaha, Cosmic Light Shapes, Emma Islands, and the Kickstand Band. Whether you see 20 acts or one, entrance is $10 for a wristband that covers all four days. All proceeds go to Ben’s Encore, a local nonprofit that provides instruments, music lessons, and scholarships to inspired young musicians and underserved school music programs.

Food trucks will be on hand, and there will be shuttles between some of the venues. For full venue and show information, more on the shuttles, and to purchase a wristband in advance, visit hamtramckmusicfestival.com.

You’d have to clone yourself in order to go see all of the events. And you might not even be able to trust your clone! But you can trust us, and we’ve got a list of 12 acts to not miss at the event.

Casual Sweetheart

Sometimes all the head-banging can become a little too much, right? If your cranium needs a break from thrashing punk/garage/metal vibes, Casual Sweetheart is the perfect way to save yourself from a pounding headache. Simply put, they're indie-rock at its best: clever, thought-provoking lyrics, happily distorted guitars, and slick bass lines. Plus, their newest album Always/Never is only $5 on their website. What are you waiting for?

Friday, March 4 at 12:15 a.m.; Temptation Lounge; 10001 Joseph Campau Ave., Hamtramck; 313-974-6575.


If Kesha's heartbreaking lawsuit hasn't awoken your inner feminist yet, then surely this band will do the trick. According to Cheerleader's website, "We spit, we smoke, we swear, and we sit with our legs open." The garage-punk trio sound like they are hurtling right of the riot grrrl scene in the '90s, and we love them for that. Their newest album, Bitchcraft, comes out in a few months; check back here for a feature on them at the time of its release.

Friday, March 4 at 11 p.m.; Small's Bar; 10339 Conant St., Hamtramck; 313-873-1117.

Deadly Vipers

Seen on the cover of this issue, the Vipers deliver a barrage of riff-driven, psychedelic, spacey punk rock. This band is as uncompromising as they are fun, especially live. "A bunch of degenerates smushed together to form a riotous concoction of psychedelia and punk that lingers in the depths of outer space, the Deadly Vipers carry their crusade through waves of thundering beats performed by a group of kickass chicks who are intensely dedicated to the sound," as they wrote themselves on their own Bandcamp page.

Friday, March 4 at 11:15 p.m.; Temptation Lounge; 10001 Joseph Campau Ave., Hamtramck; 313-974-6575.

Detroit Party Marching Band

No one knows when the Detroit Party Marching Band will show up to a gig, unless they're scheduled for one, like they are at the Hamtramck Music Fest. The big brass band often takes onlookers by surprise with the bang of cymbals, the pound of drumrolls, the chirpy sounds of clarinets. The only thing that isn't surprising is the amount of talent in the Detroit Party Marching Band. With an always-changing lineup of musicians, the band's sound is sure to sound different every time you manage to catch them playing.

Friday, March 4 at 12:15 a.m.; Jean's; 12002 Joseph Campau Ave., Hamtramck; 313-892-9689.


Dude is literally just a dude. Off stage, he's known as Tony DeNardo. Onstage, he's Dude, a musician with a story to tell. Through well thought-out lyrics paired with beats that throw it back to the '60s and '70s, Dude transports listeners to the glory days. Put on his album Kid Gloves and get lost in the songs that seem like they were pulled right out of the flower power era (Dude will make you want to say "duuuuudeeee").

Friday, March 4 at 10:30 p.m.; Baker Streetcar Bar, 9817 Joseph Campau Ave., Hamtramck; 313-873-8296; iamdude.bandcamp.com


There is no reason this band, which features the Go's David Buick on bass, is not hugely famous the world over. Their intense grunge-pop seems perfectly suited to these times. We interviewed the band a while back, and while they refused to be labeled under one genre, we get punk-rock feelings from their tracks.

Friday, March 4 at 11 p.m.; PLAV Post #10, 11824 Joseph Campau Ave., Hamtramck; 313-893-1355


Moonwalks' style doesn't exactly call for moonwalking, but it's definitely easy to get lost in space while jamming to their hypnotizing beats. In their two years together, Moonwalks have already released three EPs full of space-jamming tracks sure to make you want to nod your head, and this year, they're headlining the Hamtramck Music Fest kickoff party at the Fowling Warehouse. Thursday, March 3 at 12:15 a.m.; Fowling Warehouse, 3901 Christopher St., Detroit; 313-264-1288.

Pretty Ghouls

We all love this heavy garage-rock band. Detroit's most buzz-worthy act will 100 percent be playing this festival; it wouldn't be complete without lead singer Asia Mock transforming into the freak of nature that she is meant to be. The band just released a limited edition 7-inch and only pressed a few hundred up, so if you don't have one yet, you need to jump on the train.

Friday, March 4 at midnight; PLAV Post #10; 11824 Joseph Campau Ave., Hamtramck; 313-893-1355.


Roxolydian offers the rock/soul hybrid you've been missing in your life, whether you're aware of that fact or not. Lead singer/guitarist Deekah Wyatt is a force to be reckoned with. She can wail at the top of her lungs like Sleater-Kinney's Corin Tucker, and bring soul to the mix like Alabama Shakes' Brittany Howard. And the rest of the band isn't too shabby either. They just added a third guitarist to the mix so that two can play off each other while Wyatt handles the rhythm.

Friday, March 4 at midnight; Trixies; 2656 Carpenter St., Hamtramck; 412-848-1280.


Glam-rock band Tart sounds just like their band name. Sugarcoated vocals from Zee Bricker and '80s new wave guitar shredding from Adam Michael Lee round out the ferocious Detroit duo. Within the last year the band has been touring local Detroit clubs and bars heavily, making stops at the Loving Touch, New Dodge Lounge, and Meridian Winter Blast downtown. The band's latest EP These Are Not Love Songs is full of bangers that are reminiscent of Blondie and the Talking Heads, 2016 style.

Friday, March 4 at midnight; Whiskey in the Jar; 2741 Yemans St., Hamtramck; 313-873-4154.

Two Cheers

Two Cheers originally hails from the sunny Los Angeles scene, but lead singer Bryan Akcasu relocated the band to his native Detroit to find new inspiration here. The band released the LP Splendor this past year and it's everything that rock 'n' roll should be. There are bright melodies with soaring vocals, searing guitar licks, and funky bass lines to keep you dancing all night long.

Friday, March 4 at 12:15 a.m.; Polish Sea League; 2601 Edwin St., Hamtramck; 313-872-8772.

The Walking Beat

Most bands mix together aspects of two genres to arrive at their sound. Others, like the Walking Beat, blend quite a few more. While they are a self-described rock band, the foursome's tracks are an eclectic mix of alternative rock, '70s glam and sophisticated ballads. The quartet blends snippets of each genre to create a happy-go-lucky, skip-along-to-the-song tracklist, which can be heard on their debut LP, Introducing the Walking Beat. The LP is literally fresh off the presses.

Thursday, March 3 at 8 p.m.; Fowling Warehouse; 3901 Christopher St., Detroit; 313-264-1288.

Mike McGonigal

Metro Times music editor Mike McGonigal has written about music since 1984, when he started the fanzine Chemical Imbalance at age sixteen with money saved from mowing lawns in Florida. He's since written for Spin, Pitchfork, the Village VOICE and Artforum. He's been a museum guard, a financial reporter, a bicycle...
Scroll to read more Michigan Music articles

Join Detroit Metro Times Newsletters

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.