When faced with Michigan's bitter winter nights, you basically have two choices — down a bottle of Wild Turkey and clutch its empty husk to your chest while curled up in a snow drift, or head somewhere warm where you can rock with good bands and good beer. On a recent Thursday, the Wonder Twins chose the latter and hit the Woodward Avenue Brewers. Bands on the bill? Hi Speed Dubbing, Marco Polio & the New Vaccines and Prussia.
Laura: I think it's only fair for our readers to know that you were late.
D'Anne: I wasn't that late. Considering the first band was just starting when I got there, I was right on time. But I have a good excuse. I was watching gay Jewish porn at my friend Amber's church.
Laura: You know, you can only use that excuse so many times before it's not believable any more.
D'Anne: I know. But this time, it's true.
D'Anne: Anyway, the WAB was packed. I've only ever been there for their half-off food Mondays and the only music playing was from their super-stacked jukebox. I couldn't even wrap my brain around where they'd even set up bands in there.
Laura: I've only ever seen one show there before. The Word Play Prussia, and some other band or bands. After a few Raspberry Blondes, it's hard to remember.
D'Anne: Raspberry blondes? Are you talking about chicks?
Laura: No, beer. It's one of the WAB's signature beers on tap.
D'Anne: Well I'm sure it's very good to people who like beer. I'll stick with chicks.
Laura: The night got started a little later than I'd expected. Hi Speed Dubbing went on a little after 10. Call me old, but I think that's a little late to start a show with a three-band bill on a weeknight.
D'Anne: It's not too late to start a show if your target audience is unemployed folks who can still manage to wrangle up beer money.
Laura: I had not seen Hi Speed Dubbing before. They were really tight. Their drummer was really good. Sadly, I couldn't understand a word that came out of the singer's mouth. If, indeed, they were even words.
D'Anne: Maybe they're like the Cocteau Twins. You know, the singer makes up words and stuff.
Laura: The singer had two mics in front of him — one with a garbled reverb effect and one without. The reverb made me think of Jon Spencer Blues Explosion.
D'Anne: I thought the Christmas decor at the WAB was a nice touch.
Laura: Maybe the WAB wants to be the Bronner's of Detroit brewers. I hope they keep them up all year.
D'Anne: Me too. Although all of the different-colored trees hanging from the ceiling were a little distracting. From where we were sitting, the lead singer's head was obscured by an orange tree.
Laura: I kept just pretending it was his head.
D'Anne: While it would be impressive to have a singing Christmas tree front your band, I'm thinking the novelty would wear off quick.
Laura: The TV was also distracting.
D'Anne: Yes, but in an awesome way. "X-treme" snowmobiling was on. I'm pretty sure I saw Todd Palin do a handstand on his snow machine seat while riding over a jump.
Laura: Wasn't basketball on after that? I just kept thinking, is anybody really here to watch sports? And if so, aren't there sports bars you could go to? It just seemed like an awful lot of racket to put up with to watch something you couldn't even hear.
D'Anne: I don't think most folks were watching TV. Although I could hardly tear my eyes away from that snowmobiling shit. I kept thinking, "Wow, if they fuck up this jump, their snowmobile is totally going to crush them to death." I plan to start training in the spring.
Laura: Um, I think it's a winter sport.
D'Anne: It's too fucking cold in the winter for winter sports!
Laura: Well, good luck. Maybe the WAB will sponsor you.
D'Anne: I hope. Marco Polio & the New Vaccines played during a good potion of the snowmobiling show. It's pretty much the perfect soundtrack for something that is crazy and dangerous but also fun.
Laura: I've only seen them a couple of times before but never a full set.
D'Anne: A full set, indeed. I'm pretty sure they were on for three hours. I don't know how (lead vocalist) Steve has the stamina for that.
Laura: I don't know how he hasn't suffered a closed head injury.
D'Anne: Or an open one. At one point, he climbed up on the railing right behind us and when I turned around he was balanced there precariously. I was pretty sure that the crotch of his jeans was going to be the last thing I saw before I died.
Laura: Their music to me sounds like LCD Soundsystem meets Skinny Puppy. You can dance to it, but it's still kind of scary.
D'Anne: I'd add Mary Poppins to that list. Because of the umbrellas.
Laura: That seems to be one of their signatures. Also, Steve saying some really weird shit during their shows.
D'Anne: Yes, like when he demanded that everyone turn off their cell phones during the show "because we're dealing with some cosmic signals." He then said, "I fucking hate doctors and nurses." Presumably because they won't turn their cell phones off. Because of emergencies and stuff.
Laura: He has a point, though. Not about doctors and nurses, but about how fucking annoying cell phones are at shows. It seems like half the crowd is either texting or taking pictures or has one of their ears plugged with their phone against the other screaming, "What? I can't hear you!" It's weird to think that during our life there was a time when people didn't have phones they could bring everywhere with them and yet they still manged to survive.
D'Anne: Now we're all well-connected but we'll probably all die of brain cancer.
Laura: That's fine as long as I don't miss a text.
D'Anne: You mean a sext, from those raspberry blondes.
Laura: Um, no. In any case, it seems like technology can get in the way of the actual experience at a show.
D'Anne: Well, Marco Polio is all about experience. Like with the red yarn, he threw out into the crowd and had people wrap around themselves. I even saw one kid wrap it several times around his neck — I hope that guy's friends saw that for the obvious cry for help that it was. Steve also kept holding up this treasure map/road intersection painting.
Laura: It's obvious Marco Polio really wants people to be involved at their shows.
D'Anne: They also passed around hand-painted index cards. We managed to get two of them. One said, "Introduce yourself to someone new," and the other said, "Hear a train in the distance."
Laura: Truth be told, we didn't do either one of those things. Well, my ears were ringing at the end of the evening, and I pretended that was a train in the distance. So that counts right? I'm glad we had the good sense to hang on to those cards because I'm pretty sure they're going to be collector's items.
D'Anne: Prussia finally went on after midnight.
Laura: I have to say, even though they're one of my favorite bands in Detroit, they sometimes seem like they're flying by the seat of their pants.
D'Anne: Yeah, I kind of gathered that when they started their set by saying, "We forgot half of our equipment at home." But I didn't notice anything amiss, since I'd never seen them before. I thought they were really good.
Laura: You know a band's really good when they forget half their shit and still play better than everyone else on the bill.
D'Anne: My favorite thing about them is their song titles. Prussia will name a song something like, "The Stillborn Witch Ate Marshmallow Fluff with the Evil Grandfather Clock."
Laura: They have a song called that?
D'Anne: No, but see? They totally could.
Laura: Well they do have a song called, "The Witch Was a Preemie, God Bless Her Evil Soul." It's one of my favorites.
D'Anne: I like my title better.
Laura: The sound was an issue all night, but Prussia made the best of it. Like when Ryan [Spencer, lead singer] said, "It's the WAB so everything kind of sounds like shit. They have great quesadillas."
D'Anne: They also have really good hummus. And I like my food like I like my women.
Laura: Half-off on Mondays?
D'Anne: Exactly.The Wonder Twins appear twice monthly. Send comments to [email protected]