City Slang: Closing the Belmont, filming a Detroit music war

Jun 13, 2011 at 6:21 am
Welcome to the first blog from City Slang. I’ll be posting daily from now on and, each week, the seven blogs and the column in the MT paper will all make up what City Slang is – a thorough examination of Detroit music across the genres and the eras. Every Wednesday, I’ll be posting a roundup of local CD / vinyl / MP3 / whatever releases. Every other day, I’ll be reviewing live shows, interviewing local music folk or just writing for the sake of writing.

City Slang is as much yours as mine so send suggestions, vent your fury or even send compliments to [email protected] and follow this thing on Twitter - @city_slang

So let’s kick off.

In 1982, a British film was released called Urgh! A Music War. The movie was filmed in 1980, and featured live performances by punk and new wave bands like the Go-Go’s, XTC, Devo, the Cramps, Magazine, Dead Kennedys, Gary Numan, the Police, Pere Ubu, 999, Echo & the Bunnymen, and many more. Though wildly different stylistically, these were the most popular bands around at the time that fit under the ever-expanding “punk” umbrella.

Fast-forward thirty years and 18 of Detroit’s best underground bands are paying their respects to that old movie by making a new film, called Urgh! A Detroit Music War. The performances were shot at the Lager House on the evening of Saturday, June 11, and the bill featured Lettercamp, the Satin Peaches, the High Strung, Lightning Love, Duende!, Fawn, Legendary Creatures, Illy Mack, Fur, Pewter Cub, Pink Lightning, Betty Cooper, Carjack, the Kickstand Band, Phantasmagoria, Phantm Cats, Pupils and the Savage Seven.

This writer managed to catch Pewter Cub, Fawn and Lightning Love, and all were magnificent, boding well for the forthcoming film. Pewter Cub sound better with every show, with Regan Patricia Lorie finding her comfort zone in the front woman role. Their tunes have never been in doubt, but they’re now developing into a tremendous live band. Fawn has been on fire from day one, and tonight is no exception. There isn’t one tune in their armory that doesn’t drill into your brain and set up camp there like a stubborn boy scout. Lightning Love also have more hooks than a Hellraiser movie, and they continue to use them well. The bands had 20 minutes of set time each tonight, so there was really no need for fillers. Still, the three bands that I saw used their allotted time absolutely perfectly.

Over in Hamtramck, the Belmont was “celebrating” its last night before the doors close for a week and the venue is transformed into a sports bar by new investors. This is an incredibly sad turn of events that happened incredibly quickly since the announcement was made at the beginning of the month. The Belmont, with its “wind tunnel” view of the stage, has been one of the better places to watch live music over the past few years. Thanks to Soundman John, the sound has always been great, owner Darren Grow has been one of the friendliest hosts in the area and the art on the wall has always given us something interesting to look at between bands. The final night saw some of the Belmont’s favorite DJs, including local veteran Top Kat, close out a little chapter of Metro Detroit’s musical history with style. The Belmont, as it has been, will be missed.