On Friday night, April 23, the Wonder Twins went to celebrate the glory of arena rock at the Public Pool, although they were surprised to discover that they were neither in an arena nor a public pool. They were at an art space in Hamtramck!
D'Anne: First of all, I'm really glad you talked me out of wearing my bathing suit!
Laura: So am I. And I'm glad I got you to leave your water wings in the car.
D'Anne: Well, you told me we were going to the Public Pool to hear arena rock. I thought you were dragging me to some kind of Punk Fitness water aerobics class.
Laura: Nope. As you now know, Public Pool — formerly Design 99 — is a collaborative art space currently showing Tim Hailey's big-ass mural, "Take A Chance on Rock & Roll," which pays tribute to some awesome arena rock bands like Boston and Heart.
D'Anne: And in the mode of life imitating art, we saw some hot Detroit rocker ladies performing arena rock covers there. Sadly, no one played any Boston songs.
Laura: Who needs Boston when you've got Bad Company? When we arrived, members of the Swamp Sisters were rocking some Bad Company.
D'Anne: Yes. They felt like makin' love. Or at least that's the message I got from their rendition of Bad Company's biggest hit.
Laura: They also played "Shooting Star" and "Rock-N-Roll Fantasy," two songs I never liked before.
D'Anne: But you couldn't help but like their charming renditions.
Laura: Exactly. Next up was Stupor magazine editor Steve Hughes reciting some arena rock song lyrics as poetry.
D'Anne: I've never before found Journey's "Anyway You Want It" to be so moving. And "ELO's "Evil Woman" is quite profound once stripped down to its bare essence.
Laura: I have to say, arena rock songs in general do seem to lend themselves quite well to poetic recitation.
D'Anne: Right. "Sweet Child O' Mine" is a good example. It's only when the words are separated from Slash's distractingly catchy guitar work that you really feel the profundity of lines like, "Her hair reminds me of a warm safe place / Where as a child I'd hide / And pray for the thunder and the rain / To quietly pass me by."
Laura: Because then you really have to ask yourself, "Where was this place? Why was he hiding? Is he afraid of storms like my dog?"
D'Anne: Exactly. And don't even get me started about, "Welcome to the jungle / Watch it bring you to your / Sha na na na na na na na / Knees, knees!"
Laura: Axl Rose is our generation's Robert Frost. Who knew?
D'Anne: Um, yeah. Next up were the Barrettes doing the most amazing Metallica cover I have ever heard.
Laura: The Barettes are Detroit's own all-ladies barbershop quartet featuring Korin Visocchi of Hard Lessons fame.
D'Anne: The Hard Lessons were also playing that night in Ferndale, which shows the level of dedication Ms. Visocchi has to her craft. From barbershop right to beltin' out the bluesy rock!
Laura: I wonder how many other artists have segued into their cover of "Enter Sandman" via the Chordettes classic '50s pop tune, "Mr. Sandman?" Oddly enough, both of these are favorites from my childhood.
D'Anne: Probably nobody. But their all-girl barbershop quartet version is the standard-bearer now.
Laura: The ladies then introduced themselves as Strange Magic and launched into a tribute to ELO.
D'Anne: It was pretty much the best thing I've ever seen. I loved it in a very unabashed, perhaps embarrassing in public, kind of way.
Laura: When aren't you embarrassing in public? They started with "Do Ya," and moved into "Can't Get It Out of My Head." Two songs I remember from our dad's copy of ELO's Greatest Hits, which he had on cassette — a music medium I wish people would leave dead.
D'Anne: I liked their version of "Livin' Thing" better than the original. And I'll never listen to "Telephone Line" the same way again.
Laura: Even better — they topped the set off with a "Do Ya" reprise. Reprises are, as Korin said, "very popular in arena rock."
D'Anne: I think today's indie rockers should bring back the reprise. Also medleys.
Laura: Agreed. I'd take a medley resurgence over the stupid cassette-tape resurgence.
D'Anne: After ELO came more arena rock poetry, courtesy of Toby Barlow.
Laura: He's a really good writer. I'm a fan of his writing on the Huffington Post.
D'Anne: Oh, you and your liberal claptrap.
Laura: He started his reading by saying he has recently suffered a "karaoke disaster of enormous magnitude."
D'Anne: Which for some reason, made him read the lyrics to Stevie Nicks' "Edge of Seventeen" really, really fast? And in an almost indecipherable manner?
Laura: Apparently so. I admit I was confused by his approach.
D'Anne: I think he slipped in some "More Than a Feeling" and "Barracuda" at some point as well. So props to him for the nod to Boston.
Laura: Which I was hoping somebody would do since the coolest part of Tim Hailey's mural was the giant spaceship with "Detroit" written where Boston would normally be.
D'Anne: Next up were the Sweet Emotions who played the songs of Aerosmith. They started off their set by dedicating it to Bret Michaels.
Laura: That was the first I had heard of his current condition!
D'Anne: I know — that's scary shit. One minute you're singing "Unskinny Bop" and the next your brain stem is filling with blood. Our thoughts are with him and we hope he recovers.
Laura: Indeed. The Sweet Emotions started off their set with "Angel." Always a classic.
D'Anne: It's hard to pull off Aerosmith with just an acoustic guitar, a Casio keyboard and a tambourine. But these ladies had heart.
Laura: Wait — I thought they only played Aerosmith?
D'Anne: Heart, the organ! Not Heart, the band.
Laura: Wait. You didn't heart this band?
D'Anne: I refuse to dignify that with a response. But their version of "Mama Kin" was pretty bitchin'.
Laura: I preferred "Cryin'." The video for that song was every budding lesbian's favorite in 1994.
D'Anne: Speak for yourself. My favorite part of their set was when the lead singer hurled her tiny keyboard to the ground in order to whip out her harmonica to play the "Cryin'" solo.
Laura: That was so dramatic. So rock 'n' roll.
D'Anne: Dan John Miller, once leader of Goober & the Peas and now Blanche, closed out the evening.
Laura: He was introduced as a "highly professional audio book narrator" and brought an iPod up with him to play dramatic music behind his pieces. Very powerful.
D'Anne: He recited emotional interpretations of the classic Van Halen songs, "Jamie's Crying" and "Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love."
Laura: I feel these two songs really are the crown jewels of Van Halen's self-titled debut.
D'Anne: It's too bad he didn't do "Running With the Devil" for a Van Halen trifecta.
Laura: After he was finished the host thanked everybody for coming and even offered up the mic to anybody who wanted to do their own arena rock song poetry readings. I really wanted you to get up there and give the people a reason to think of Warrant's "Cherry Pie" in a whole new light. But you wouldn't.
D'Anne: I wasn't wearing my pleather pants. Without them, a recitation of that song would be disrespectful to the band. And to Betty Crocker.
Laura: Regardless, it was a really fun evening. Although I hope Public Pool is prepared to break the hearts of neighborhood children this summer when they show up looking for someplace to swim.
D'Anne: Well, as long as each docent is ready to regale the kids with a dramatic. poetry-style reading of Pat Benatar's "Hell Is for Children," that should do the trick.
Laura: Indeed. That will make it a summer to remember. And tell their future therapists about.D'Anne and Laura are music critics for Metro Times. Send comments to [email protected]