The cornucopia of top notch music offerings in the Detroit area this past Saturday night left many fans hand-wringing over what show(s) to attend and whether there was some way to open — even just for one evening — a time portal that would allow users to instantly travel between Hamtramck, Detroit and Pontiac. I was not one of the hand-wringers. Sure, I would’ve loved to see the Hard Lessons, and I’m sure X! Fest was a crazy, frenetic mess of noisy fun, but there was no question for me that I’d be at the Belmont for Javelins CD release show. Heavy Meadows is one of the best albums I’ve heard this year, not just locally but anywhere. I’ve wanted to see them live since catching a few all too short moments of their performance at the Detour Rock City fest, aso I wasn’t about to miss this show.
The Belmont is a strange venue — fun and welcoming, yet so oddly shaped. That narrow corridor quality doesn’t lend itself to the absolute best sound quality and can be a little difficult to navigate. But the bar does use real glasses for their drinks. Glasses made of actual glass. That’s classy and appreciated. So, to me, the pluses outweigh the minuses and I can confidently put the Belmont on the list of my favorite venues.
As if seeing Javelins wasn’t enough, Lightning Love started off the show. The first time I saw them was only a few weeks ago when I randomly caught their set at the Ann Arbor Art Fair
Super fun, tight, catchy and cute – I was excited to see them again and they didn’t disappoint. They won over the four people I had brought out to the show — none of whom had ever heard any of the bands on the bill before. I love when people are willing to take a chance like that, but it’s also a bit dicey, because then I have to cut off all ties and block their e-mails should they have the audacity to dislike something that I clearly think is great. But it’s a risk worth taking. I’m kidding (kind of).
The two boys from Nouns, up next, were so polite and handsome. While primarily a two person guitar/vocals and drums/backing vocals band, they both took turns busting out beeps ‘n’ beats on keyboards and laptops. Their live sound was a little fuzzy, but listening past that, I liked what I heard. My favorite part was when they said, “You should recognize this one” and launched into a shortened version of Javlins’ “Out On The Sand.” Although in many cases it would be a faux pas to play a song by the band that’s following you, let alone the single from their new album (especially at that band’s own CD release party!), Nouns really just came off as appreciative fan boys and most everybody in the room was smiling and into it.
Javelins started their set with “The Pounding,” one of the most poppy songs on Heavy Meadows. Musician of all trades Will Yates joined them on keys and bass guitar, proving that between Javelins and the Pop Project, Suburban Sprawl has managed to gather some of the best musicians in the city under its umbrella. It’s always tricky to mic a drummer’s vocals and I wouldn’t have been sad if Matt Rickles’ voice been a little more prominent in the mix. But despite my quibbles about the sound, the show was fantastic. A few songs into their set, the crowd started to get really thick as more people moved closer to the stage. I ended up uncomfortably wedged behind a very tall, broad shouldered gentlemen. Being a tiny, person, I am used to not being able to see well at shows, but I was doing my best to stand on my tip toes and see around him. It’s clear that I never took ballet, as at one point, I lost my balance and put my hands out to brace myself against the tall stranger in front of me. I felt a bit embarrassed when he turned around and was ready to apologize when he asked: “Do you want to switch places with me?” I graciously accepted and ended up really close with a great view. A song later, this same man got up onstage and busted out his trumpet – so I’m assuming it was Kevin Bayson, who plays trumpet on the album. So thank you, Kevin, and please know that I didn’t mean to shove you when I lost my balance!
Overall, I feel good about my Saturday musical entertainment decision. As a result of the show, my affinity for Javelins and Lightning Love continues to grow. I’m curious about the rest of Saturday night’s huge offerings of sonic goodness. Having too many choices can be stressful, but considering some of our area’s many problems, that’s one of the few great problems for Detroit to have. —Laura Witkowski
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