City Slang: Duendesday has the Loving Touch

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First of all, I’m really sorry that I missed Unlimited Head. Judging by the EP, the erstwhile members of Warhorses make a lot of great stoner noise, and they have a weirdly cool name. See you next time.

Mind you, Caveman Woodman provided the perfect start to any evening. You know that thing where you’ve been at work all day and you’re going back in the next day, and you want to see some live music but you can’t shake the funk from your head? Caveman Woodman shook that funk away with song one. By song two, dancing (or at least, seizure-like shaking) was very necessary. Sold. This project started out as a means for Frank Woodman to stay occupied while college and the like kept his kids away from bands like Woodman and Ungrateful Daughter. And while those two groups have a folky, rootsy feel, the Caveman is all about noise, and lots of it. Decked out in a leopard print fur and skirt (a thrift store caveman outfit), Frank is all about primal hooting and hollering, and fuzzy guitar. The addition of a drummer, namely Brandon Moss of Bars of Gold, has really beefed up this already-beefy sound, and we now have a new awesome garage duo in Detroit. We have a habit of churning those out from time to time.

The night of this show also happened to be Duende drummer Laura Willem’s birthday and that band, always the life and soul anyways, was in a particularly celebratory mood. Also of note, guitarist Jelly Roll has lopped off his hair and is going for the “British villain in a period drama” look. Maybe that happened a long time ago, but man, he pulls it off. And shit that guy can play. Folk of all sexes (male, female, undecided) melt into a puddle of boink-juice as he pulls out one bluesy shriek after another. The birthday girl put in a flawless performance too; the backbone of this band, Willem’s wide eyes and big grins don’t detract for one minute from the fact that she’s an accomplished, skilled drummer. And then there’s Jeff Howitt – the ringmaster, the master of ceremonies, and the host of this glorious freak show. In the years that I’ve been watching Duende, Howitt has evolved into a killer front man. His voice was always unusually compelling, and so it remains. The guy’s schitzo-holler is perfect for the rowdy, Americana-punk noise that Duende make and, on a cold November evening at the Loving Touch in Ferndale, he was practically a one-man space heater.

Enter the Wrong Numbers. The interesting thing about these guys is that, the first time I saw them at the Blowout a few years ago in the Majestic Theatre, singer Jason Clark was sporting fake chest hair and we said that he, “sounds like a white Stevie Wonder but looks like a white Urkel.” After a while though, people stop laughing at the oddball imagery and all you’re left with is the music. The Wrong Numbers still strike some sight when on stage, all white suits and dance moves, but this is no gimmick band. These guys play incredible, authentic and respectful R&B, and they are a wonderful live band. Really, truly awesome. Clark’s voice is awe-inspiring, and the musicianship framing it is equally killer. Jackie Wilson covers follow originals, and the set seems to be over in a flash. The Wrong Numbers are the real deal.

The Amino Acids are no slouches, mind. This band may be the most impossible to define in all of Metro Detroit. There’s surf rock going on in there, psychedelia, metal, punk – fuck it. The Acids march on stage with the trademark white pantyhose in place, looking very much like the intergalactic noise warlords that they are. Honestly, it’s kinda disconcerting in a very cool way. Their heads flick one way and another, like the demonically possessed. Musically, the band is as tight as almighty fuck. A barrage of drum gives way to Theremin, then frenetic guitar. The face is melted.

Hell of a night. Thanks Duendesday, and happy birthday Laura.

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