Concert review: Great Lake Swimmers at the Majestic

May 16, 2015 at 7:40 pm

WHO: Great Lake Swimmers, Woven Tangles
WHERE: Majestic Cafe, Ferndale
WHEN: Friday, May 15, 2015

With enough energy to swim across the lakes their name references, Great Lake Swimmers blew the roof off of the Majestic Cafe last Friday night.

Before Woven Tangles took the stage, the crowd anticipated a typical opener with eight songs to play and the same formulaic arrangements. But after their first few songs, Woven Tangles proved much harder to pin down. Each song was musically varied from the next. From the usage of banjo to guitar to keyboards just among one member, they definitely made a good first impression. “Detroit people really appreciate music. There’s so much history here. A lot of times I play on stage that I know have a lot of history,” Woven Tangles front woman Holly Millea said from the stage.

Great Lake Swimmers has such a comfortable stage presence that exemplifies the folk-rock persona we see now in the Metro Detroit music scene. The violin pierced through the audience and was backed by the elegant harmonies of the rhythm and lead guitars. The set list seemed to be a promotion for their newest album, A Forest of Arms, but classic Great Lake Swimmers tunes such as “Your Rocky Spine” and “Moving Pictures Silent Films” made their way into the performance. Halfway through the set, the lead singer Tony Dekker recounted a tale of an excursion he took into the British Columbian wilderness which lead to the writing of “The Great Bear”, a poetic anthem on the dangers of pipelines and destruction of the ecosystem.

“My favorite part about playing in Detroit is that the people are amazing, the city is amazing, and every time we play here, the response is so good,” guitar and banjo player Erik Arnesen said. You can’t argue with the devotion and pure exhilaration the crowd was exhibiting. What made the night was the encore. While many bands typically repeat the charade of leaving their instruments on the stage, walking off for approximately thirty seconds, then returning triumphantly to the excitement of the crowd, Great Lake Swimmers defied the laws of concerts. They took their instruments with them, and returned to forge their way through the Red Sea that was the Majestic Cafe audience and perform an acoustic rendition of “Still” from Lost Channels in the center of the audience. In the midst of foot-stomping, hand-clapping, and chorus screaming, the sounds of the Majestic Cafe echoed all the way down Woodward Aveneue.