Art on sticks, concerts on tapes


Even though I am entirely street-art-faired out (one can only handle so much art-on-a-stick), I managed to make it down to the Wayne State University campus for the 14th annual Detroit Festival of the Arts this past weekend. What makes this festival distinct from the rest is a diverse array of ethnic performances and exhibits, ranging from Nordic folk to Brazilian dance to flamenco guitar.

The Detroit Institute of Arts set up a whole gaggle of make-your-own-art booths; my favorites were the children’s construction booth, where kids could build their own cardboard Detroit buildings and place them on a 12-foot-by-12-foot map of Detroit (I was going to make a Metro Times building but there was a long line) as well as the hat-making booth — where Romeo High students Rachel Sewell and Erin Zanotti were stylin’ in their new paper-bag lids.

Traipsing back to my car, I was lucky enough to stumble across the 5500 Cass Gallery belonging to the artist Grego! While neighbors Erin Lenchner and Curtis Lloyd chilled out in lawn chairs and people-watched, Grego! was barbecuing on his front lawn — decorated by colossal, gorgeous sunflowers — and offering recipe tips and taste tests to those wandering by.

While I passed on the red meat, Grego! invited my friends and I into his gallery, which is also his living space.

While the phrase “delightfully charming” sounds so Martha Stewart, it perfectly describes Grego!’s quirky little space chock-full of really fun art. One of the rooms, titled “China Beach,” features blue waves painted on the floor, a skateboard and a walkway of loose white ceramic tiles that clack as you walk on them. If you’re in the neighborhood, be sure to check it out.


Promoters. You can’t live with ’em, and you can’t (without pending legal actions) shoot ’em. They’re a sketchy lot, ranging from truly dedicated hardworking music fans to blatantly egomaniacal morons hell-bent on hearing the sound of their own name. The good, the bad and the really ugly were involved in a tour that just made a stop in De-twah, and I’ve got all the gory, juicy details.

The sounds of the dark synth-pop/industrial/electronica (oh hell, I don’t know what you call it these days) bands Apoptygma Berzerk and VNV Nation filled City Club on Saturday, in a smooth-running and flawless show — on a tour that has been filled with drama, scandals and shit-flinging.

Both bands are European-based, and have a relatively large and loyal following for the genre. As with any electronically based band, a huge segment of their live show revolves around a prerecorded DAT tape.

Recently, a show in Washington, D.C., was cancelled, a scant few hours before the doors were scheduled to open, due to much bickering, confusion and bitching between band management and local and venue promoters. The official reason for cancellation was “technical difficulties,” but rumor has it the entire show was completely recorded on DAT, which the limited sound system of the venue was unable to handle — hence the many derogatory comparisons to Milli Vanilli.

The night before the show was scheduled in Detroit, yet another cancellation occurred in Cleveland, again only a few hours before the doors were to open, and again supposedly due to technical difficulties. Lighting and sound was stated as the problem, but I was told the band could have played, but were not allowed to by management (after a melee of screaming, head-butting and you-know-what size comparing between band promoters and local promoters). In this particular situation, it seems the bands really did want to play, but their management team forced a walkout.

Naturally, the night of the Detroit show everyone was a bit nervous about a similar cancellation, but the stellar staff of local promoters pulled everything off in style. The show sold out, and the place was packed to the walls with fans who, for the most part, were eating it up.

I couldn’t quite elbow my way through the wall of people to determine whether the bands were actually singing and playing, but consensus is that everything looked and sounded spectacular, and the bands were extremely high-energy and looked to be genuinely enjoying themselves. I hung out with Apop guitarist Frederiko Darum and the statuesque drummer of VNV, Mark Jackson, who is now so enamored of our fair city he wants to move here (both were extremely sincere and didn’t seem the slightest bit egotistical).

Also of interest: local cuties of DeLIEN, Josh McAllister and Donny Grandsen, helped construct the stage additions. Tim Tiki was wandering about, not decked out in a grass skirt like the last time I saw him at his fabulous Tiki-themed Labor Day bash.

The Jaeger-hustling, shot-selling team of John Ransom and Jaime Moyer was in full effect and charmingly foul-mouthed as always. The not-really imitated, certainly never duplicated Blaque Costeau was on hand and in typical rare form, snuggling with the fishnet-clad Jaimie Birk.

Hiding in a corner I found local animator John Schuchrad, who works for Royal Oak’s Braincell Pictures and is starting on a new local film called Nobody Knows, about the Kennedy assassination.

And a big fat, TV Guide-style “Jeers” goes to the naked chicks in thongs and pasties. I’m sorry, was I at a concert or a strip club on Eight Mile?


Congratulations on the engagement announcement of the übercool couple of diminutive designer Tobi Matwiejczyk and photographer/wine connoisseur/manager of The Edge, Sean Gannon. Gannon proposed last week during a wine-tasting vacation in Napa Valley. And the lovely lady’s thoughts when the pinnacle proposal moment came? “Is this what I think it is, or is he just tying his shoe?”

Matwiejczyk is also looking forward to a new, more efficient and easier-to-spell last name. Sarah Klein writes here every other week. Send gossip, juicy dirt and party invites to [email protected], or call the tip line at 313-962-6598. Press * then dial

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