Balls To Woodstock.

Really. Balls to Woodstock. Blowout 14 is the real love fest.

The sweet vibes were flowing through Hamtramck tonight like the rain that threatened to turn Ham-Town into Venice, albeit waaaay cooler. I suspect the only thing that stopped people fucking in the streets MC5-style tonight is the fear of getting a wet ass.

First of all, there's the case of the Grande Nationals, the raucous punk 'n' rollers who stepped in at the 11th hour to replace the Octopus at Smalls due to front gal Masha coming down with a nasty case of viral meningitis. The Nationals were the perfect band to have on the bench, and they slayed with their infectious and dirty tunes. They have a heart too, phoning the Octopus singer and having the crowd yell "We love you Masha" mid-set.

But if the Grande Nationals thought they were going to pick up the Blowout award (or "Blowie") for sweetest moment, they were mistaken as they were eclipsed by the tenderness of the Hard Lessons. Towards the end of their headlining set on the Gate of Columbus big stage, they found that there was a couple in the audience who had met at a Hard Lessons Blowout appearance four years ago. The band invited the pair on stage, and the dude promptly dropped to his knee and proposed. While that all might sound a little Vegas, the genuine shock on the soon-to-be-engaged girl's face, swiftly followed by delight, was awesome to see.

Besides all of that "puppy and kitten" stuff, there was a lot of great music tonight.

Check out the brains on Brett though. I decide to choose a night of heavy rain for my annual "see how many bands I can fit into one Blowout evening" evening. By the end of the night, my carefully yet carelessly spiked hair looked like something the cat brought in the house as a gift. Plus, the Detroit Party Marching Band seem to have been following me around all night. I really don't even need to be jammed against a bar wall listening to the Stripper ever again.

Sharky & the Habit kicked things off for me and, despite seemingly killing every mike and mike lead in Kelly's Bar in the first ten minutes, they still pulled off a great set. The Crooks, Aran Ruth and Deastro were all interesting if not captivating tonight. Bars of Gold, who were recently featured in Alternative Press' "100 Bands You Should Know In 2011" feature, have a lot of fans and they all seemed to be in Smalls tonight. This was my first experience seeing them live, and it won't be my last.

The win goes to both the Grande Nationals and the Hard Lessons though. A tie. Both bands have amazing songs (if completely different styles). Both bands put on a great live show.

And both bands made me say "awwwwwwwwww" tonight.

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