Hamtramck Music Fest turns two

Here's a local music festival that has over 150 local acts playing at it. If you're a snob who thinks only 10 percent of any scene is worthwhile, then hey — there are at least 15 bands for you to see this weekend, Romeo. Get a look at this lineup, with Saturday Looks Good to Me, Danny Kroha, Casual Sweetheart, Pink Lightning, Deadly Vipers, the Hentchmen, Duende, Cold Men Young, Lac La Belle, Moonwalks, Prude Boys, and more.

It's a festival that's super affordable; a wristband for the entire event is just $10. It's fundamentally walkable, even in this frigid weather; those Hamtramck bars are all within a two mile radius of one another. There's a shuttle service set up, though, so don't hurt yourself and walk two miles in this weather for real, OK. This is even a fest that has scheduled daily all-ages events, as if the people throwing it can remember what it was like to be a young music fan denied entry to many shows all because you're not old enough.

Let's talk about three of our favorite headliners. Rebel Kind, who topped our list of 2014 Detroit releases, remain one of our very favorite garage-pop bands on all of the earth. Casual Sweetheart doesn't have a real record out yet, but their music is melodic and stripped-down and rad, a bit like if the Cold Cold Hearts were on the C86 cassette. And Mexican Knives? It's hard to write about them, because basically they're a different band each time we see them. But vocalist Ruth Synowiec is just amazing, with a killer range and presence. Last time we saw them they were off on some kind of tension-heavy, almost boogie-ish trip-metal scene — like watching someone walk an electrified highwire.

Finally, the entire fest helps to support a worthwhile cause. So even if you only go and watch one band at the entire thing, you won't feel bad about the $10, as you know it actually goes to a very cool nonprofit, Ben's Encore. As one of the event's founders, Eugene Strobe, told Metro Times' Lee DeVito last year, "they're a great organization that provides opportunities for youth interested in music and art. The name is taken from Ben [Barowiak], who passed away a few years back, and this foundation was set up in his honor."

The kick-off event is at the Fowling Warehouse (3901 Christopher St, Detroit) on March 5 at 8 p.m. The bulk of the shows are taking place March 6-8, at almost every single possible venue in Hamtramck. A map and route will be made public on the HMF's official website, Facebook, and Twitter pages. In addition, print copies will be available during the festival. The all-ages events will occur at the Polish Sea League, Café 1923, and Lo & Behold. To ensure that everyone has fun and no one drives inebriated, shuttle services will be provided on March 6 and March 7, 9 p.m. - 2:30 a.m. Will call and volunteer check-in will be at Detroit Threads, 10238 Joseph Campau, on March 6 and 7.

About The Author

Mike McGonigal

Metro Times music editor Mike McGonigal has written about music since 1984, when he started the fanzine Chemical Imbalance at age sixteen with money saved from mowing lawns in Florida. He's since written for Spin, Pitchfork, the Village VOICE and Artforum. He's been a museum guard, a financial reporter, a bicycle...
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