Blowout Day 2: Batman grundies, decibels and Lettercamp

It may not be great for bar sales, but I always appreciate Blowout Thursday because relatively low attendance means that I can get around quickly and easily, often parking right outside the various venues.

The first thing I learned this year is that the Polish Alliance, located pretty much across the street from the old Gates of Columbus, is a far better choice for Blowout Central. The two rooms have a better layout, and the sound in the main room is way, way better than the aircraft hangar that was the GoC Hall. The second thing I learned is that my buddy Jeff wears Batman undies. He told me this because I was wearing a Batman hat. Not an exchange of information I was expecting, but we live and learn.

As for the music, I kicked off with Le Ren in the Polish Alliance Lounge, and that band gently nudged the first-night-proper open with some ambient electronica framed by sax and female vocals. They were like a bowl of chicken soup before a big meal.

I caught a bit of Mumble in the PA Hall and thought they sounded cute in a Pixies-lite sort of way, but then had to dash to Paychecks for the Juliets, who have added a new cello player but, if there were any first night nerves, they were showing. The songs from the new album sounded fantastic. Now the night has really kicked off.

Garden Party, featuring James Brown from Citizen Smile and seemingly all of his family, played some cool, melodic alt-pop and they played a song about Superman called “The Cape” (lyrics: “It’s not just a piece of cloth”), so they get extra points for that.

A swift drive to Skippers for the ever-brilliant and undeniably psychotic Pink Lightning preceded an easy walk back to the PA Hall for Bars of Gold who didn’t seem to be at their best, but these hardcore-ish rockers on half speed is still an awesome sight.

The next hour saw me driving around like a crazy person to see one or two songs from each of the Blue Squares, Timothy Monger State Park, and the Real Spicolis. The first were ok but sound better on record, Monger was bang on form, but the Spicolis made me wish I’d seen more of them. By the time I got there, the singer was down to socks and boxers, and a couple of minutes later he was throwing himself into the drum kit like a high-jumper. That’s really all you need.

I saw a song from the Kickstand Band too, because I loved the cassette tape that I reviewed a while ago, and all of the pop fuzz was there to see and hear. Then I was at the New Dodge to see Beast in the Field who, true to form, had enough amplification on stage to entertain the whole of Ham-town and probably Detroit too. The noise that they made was immense, awesome and, as they would admit, completely devoid of tune. Seeing this band was an experience akin to standing in a wind tunnel next to Satan. Somehow, it was enjoyable.

That just left Lettercamp to close the night. The electro-popsters have had a couple of changes to the line up lately, and tonight they played at the relatively tiny Baker’s Streetcar, stripping down the stage show by abandoning the white silhouette boards and lights, and just playing the songs. The beauty with Lettercamp is that the songs are better-than-good-enough and Liz is such a captivating performer anyway, that the old show was barely missed. Thanks to Lettercamp, and especially the new songs, the night ended on a real high.

Is it tomorrow yet?

- Brett Callwood

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