City Slang: Michael Mars and Zombie Jesus feel the Loving Touch

Sep 6, 2012 at 7:49 am

You’ve got to love Jeff, Laura and the guys in Duende!, well, for many reasons but the fact that they are hosting these Duendesday nights at the Loving Touch in Ferndale on the first Wednesday of every month just increases the affection levels.

On the surface, they are just another local show. Thing is though, they feel a little different. For starters, it’s a Wednesday night and the show is well-attended. Not packed, but far from empty. The Hype Ignition guys are at the back of the room printing t-shirts as you wait. That’s live shirt making, yo. Oh, and the Tigers just crushed the Indians 7-1 while waiting for the first band. See, the good vibes are spreading.

That first band is Michael Mars & the God Particle. Mars is one half of the core duo behind the stunningly good Marco Polio & the New Vaccine and, with that band taking a well-earned rest, Mars is doing this.

The thing with Mars is that, whichever project he’s working on, there is so much going on in his music, so much to try to pick through and examine, that you end up just giving up and letting it all wash over you. That’s for the best. Mars knows what he’s doing, and the (at times) cacophonous noise, shrill squeaks and drills, all come together to create something wonderful. By his side is a slide guitarist who not only manages to keep up with Mars but does a great job of enhancing it all.

Plus, Mars sings. His voice is cracked, flawed certainly, but heaped with emotion and the overall effect is perfect. There’s an ‘80s vibe in there, but it doesn’t sound at all dated. Imagine Suicide covering the Arcade Fire. This is a very different project to Marco Polio, the visual impact isn’t there, but it is no less enthralling.

Next up is Zombie Jesus & the Chocolate Sunshine Band. At some point, I must get a shirt from these guys just so that, y’know, I can have that name on a shirt. But anyway

In terms of structure and instrumentation, Zombie Jesus is far more conventional than Mars’ band, but, like that name, there is a crazy hotch potch of stuff going on in there. One part folky psychedelia, one part West Coast surf-punk, add some funk, some Detroit punk and a female co-vocalist, and voila.

It helps that the band has heaps of great tunes to pull out, and the set really picks up when they invite rappers the Stereo Boys up on stage. Those guys are sharp and the live abnd backing gives it a ‘the Roots’ vibe.

Get yourself to the next Duendesday at the start of October. Let’s make sure this thing stays alive.

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