Hamtramck's weird rock fest is all grown up

Panic at the Lady

Aug 27, 2014 at 1:00 am

It was 1999 when Tim Lampinen — of Human Eye and Clone Defects fame — hit the Rust Belt Revolt festival in Buffalo, N.Y., which he calls "one of the first garage punk festivals with contemporary bands." Not long after, Lampinen also hit the Chicago Blackout festival. It started Lampinen thinking that he should put together a similar showcase in Detroit, which he did.

Now, 10 years later, his festival marks a decade with the 11th annual Panic in Hamtramck. It's also the 10th anniversary of the bar that's hosted it all these years, the Painted Lady Lounge, the iconic punk bar that used to be Lili's 21. The festival is an opportunity for Lampinen to put together a bill for his "dream show." We asked him to describe some of the bands people can expect, at a bar punks usually rave about once they see it.

Bobby Conn | He's a veteran cult legend, a weirdo glam rock-pop guy from Chicago. The first time I saw him was at the Gold Dollar back in the 1990s. He was playing with a band called the Glass Gypsies, and it was like Alice Cooper Group meets David Bowie. His wife plays violin and he wears eye makeup, and he was going out in the audience and getting on top of the tables. It was wild and cool. He's been doing Bobby Conn solo since about 1994; he has about six or seven albums out. The project he has right now is just him and his wife. He's just a weird, cool dude.

Deadly Viper Assassination Squad | I saw them accidentally one time, and they blew me away. They're an all-girl band, like, just out of high school, the guitar player was like Grand Funk Railroad-Ron Asheton-Jimi Hendrix guitar playing. I couldn't believe how good she was. The music was like psych-garage-punk. The singer reminded me of Lydia Lunch or Exene from X. Just really good fresh new band, the kind of band I like to get.

White Mystery | That's Alex White and her brother Francis. They're getting pretty popular. They tour a lot. They're from Chicago. She used to be in a band called the Red Orchestra the with guys from Clone Defects and Eric Villa from Murder City Wrecks and Valentinos. So it was basically three dudes from Detroit and her. They put out two albums on In the Red, and now with White Mystery, she basically does it all herself.

The Nots | From Memphis, on Goner Records. They're all-female too. So there's a lot of lady rockers on the bill this year.

Wild Savages | They're from Ann Arbor. I saw them play at the Crow Manor and they're great, man. Three-piece band. Heavy stoner psych-rock like Thin Lizzy, Blue Cheer, loud, mean guitar heroes!

The Wiccans | That's a supergroup that started out as Aran Ruth and Kelly Jean Caldwell's psych-folk acoustic project, but then they were called Electric Wiccans for a second because it's them doing their songs, but electric, backed up by Johnny Hentch and Jeff Fournier and Fred Thomas. It's real Sabbathy, mid-tempo, synthesizer, heavy guitar, bass. I only saw them once, but they were great.

The Reelers | Reelers is a local three-piece with Steve Kowalski, a younger dude. I met him washing dishes at Woodbridge Pub. He was the dishwasher. He's a super good guitar player, a super-nice dude. It's like three-piece, like Grand Funk Railroad, like classic early '70s Detroit rock. — mt

The Panic in Hamtramck takes place Aug. 29-31 at the Painted Lady Lounge, 2930 Jacob St., Hamtramck; 313-874-2991.