SEMI-Live!

I will not be reviewing any of the shows that I post on this website because I've never been good at analyzing beyond a simple "I like it" or "it's not my thing". All I ever really ask of music is that it brings something to the table. I'll leave the critiquing and dissection to others that are better at it than I.

Thanks always to the bands/artists for the great music and for allowing me to do this.
-Wayne

The Blind Pig, Ann Arbor, MI

There’s some shows where you look at the line-up and say to yourself “Self, you miss this one and you’re gonna regret it.”. That’s exactly what happened when I first heard about this show at the Blind Pig. The Questions, Siddhartha, Freer & The Go are four bands that are defining what’s great about Detroit rock & roll in the mid-aughts, and this night they decided to hook up their wagons and make the westward trek to Ann Arbor. I arrived a bit late (a trend for this weekend) and was held up by the line at the door, so I missed the first song and a half or so of The Question’s set. My apologies for that (and the weird audio phasing at the beginning of their recording where I was moving through the crowd to get to my favourite spot.).

The Questions started things out with a frenetic set of experimental psychabilly rock – think of early Meat Puppets or Butthole Surfers with even more blues and less punk influences. They capped off their set by inviting Robbie Buxton of The BirdDogs and Dan Dannamo on stage to join in a Dead Kennedys-esque jam, at the end of which Drew Bardo dove off the stage while everyone else smashed up the drum kit. What a way to start the night!

It would take a strong band to follow up what The Questions just gave the crowd. Luckily, Siddhartha is just the band to handle the task. Lately they’ve been splitting their time between Detroit and the Left Coast, which is only fitting for a band that dresses MC5 rock fury in (Arthur Lee’s) Love psych flourishes. They’ve quickly been getting a lot of notice, receiving radio play not just on Mick Collins’ now-defunct Nighttrain broadcast but also on that of America’s answer to John Peel, Rodney Bingenheimer on KROQ in Los Angeles.

Following up Siddhartha were Freer, another band quickly making a name for themselves with their electrifying (and frequent) live shows. Starting out with poppy keyboard tunes, the band drops few hints of the rock monster gnashing it’s teeth within. As the set goes on, the songs swing back and forth between warm ballads and socially-aware rockers. Halfway through the smoky Flamingos-inspired tune Anti-Social critical mass is reached and the band launches into a full on assault on the song (and their instruments), leaving the crowd shouting for an encore even though there’s still 10 minutes left in their set. By the time they wrapped up with their LP’s burning title track, Secret Chorus, even the drunk who started out the set heckling them was cheering for more.

Rounding out the night were The Go, who wear their 60’s rock adoration like a badge of honour. With a mix of swagger and soul not heard since the early recordings of The Rolling Stones, The Go were a bright star in the 1999 wave of Detroit garage bands but quickly fell due to poor handling by their record label, Sub Pop. After flirting with dissolution they have returned with their first full-length in four years, Howl On The Haunted Beat You Ride. Playing 11 of the 12 tracks on the new album this night, the band showed that they are still one of the best of the garage acts to come out of the Motor City.


The Questions – MySpace Page
Next performance: June 23, 2007 – FIBERGLASS FREAKOUT @ The Bohemian National Home, Detroit, MI – 8:00 PM.

Siddhartha – MySpace Page
Next performance: June 12, 2007 – The Belmont, Hamtramck, MI – 9:00 PM

Freer – MySpace Page
Next performance: Hitting the road with The Go at the end of June. Next local date is July 07, 2007 @ Detroit CityFest (Pure Detroit Stage) – 6:00 PM – FREE!!

The Go – Official Site, MySpace Page
Next performance: Hitting the road with Freer at the end of June. Next local date is July 07, 2007 @ Detroit CityFest (New Center Park Stage) – 9:00 PM – FREE!!
Apparently there was some mixed communications and the band has since asked that I remove the recording. Sorry about that.

The Painted Lady, Hamtramck, MI

I had received an e-mail from Chris of Johnny Mundane & The Sweetspots inviting me out to their EP release show and, after enjoying the tracks on the MySpace page, I decided that I didn’t want to skip this one. Unfortunately, I got there late and missed all but the last two songs of Big Black Cloud’s set. I was disappointed about that, especially considering how good those two songs were. Sorry guys! I consoled myself by picking up their fantastic EP, which is beautifully packaged and features some wonderful screenprinted artwork from Elizabeth Longo. Great stuff.

In between acts, Ryan Dillaha performed short solo acoustic sets. His blue-collar songs about love and life make me think of a bluesy-er, Motown influenced Jim Croce. Ryan’s a great, personable guy that you will definitely be seeing on here again.

Next up were I, Crime who played a strong set of straight-ahead rock. I loved the male/female vocals and rhythms reminiscent of 80’s punk bands like X and Elvis Costello & The Attractions. They’ve recently completed a US tour that included a stop at SXSW and I have a feeling that you’ll be hearing more about these guys (and gal) in the near future.

Finally, it was time for the stars of the evening – Johnny Mundane & The Sweetspots. Their Chicago Blues-flavored rock and roll reminded me somewhat of the late, great Detroit band Mule. Playing all 8 tracks of they’re newly released EP Black Powder Poetry & The Lemon Drop Bomb as well as a few other original tunes, Johnny Mundane put on one hell of a show. They’ll be opening for The Hard Lessons at Frankie’s Inner City in Toledo on June 8th, so if you’re in the area, check out what’s sure to be a great show.


Ryan Dillaha – MySpace Page
Next Performance – June 08, 2007 – Bullfrog’s Bar and Grill, Redford, MI – 6:00PM-9:00PM
Download the show: FLAC or MP3

Big Black Cloud – MySpace Page
Next Performance – June 06, 2007 – Trumbullplex, Detroit, MI – 8:00 PM
Not recorded.

I, Crime – Official Site, MySpace Page
Next Performance – July 06, 2007 – The Belmont, Hamtramck, MI – 10:00 PM
Download the show: FLAC or MP3

Johnny Mundane and The Sweetspots – MySpace Page
Next Performance – June 02, 2007 – The Pharmacy Building, Detroit, MI – 8:00 PM
Download the show: FLAC or MP3

The Lager House, Detroit, MI

Going in reverse, I’m gonna start with the last show I saw this weekend. Just cause. For superior writing about these three bands, check out Jeff Milosevich’s pre-show set of articles in Real Detroit Weekly. For my crap, continue on.

The evening started off with one of the last sets from Carjack before he heads off for a month of “repairs and upgrades”. Carjack is Lo-Fi Bri, a sampler and an army of toy robots that together perform a wild set of catchy electro-punk. Lo-Fi not only puts on one of the best one-man shows that you’re gonna see, he’s also a heck of a good guy. Not only has he opened for most of the best bands in the area, I’ve also seen him in the crowd at damn near every local show I’ve been to in Detroit. It’s no surprise that he’s been asked to perform at this year’s CityFest. At this show, he was joined on stage by Real Detroit scribe Jeff Milo and Siddhartha’s Justin Walker.

In the afore-mentioned article Brian refers to his first album being J Geils Band’s Freeze Frame. My first 7″ was Love Stinks. I think he made the better choice.

Next up was Terrible Twos – another band from my favorite label, X! Records. Playing a great set of 70’s proto-punk styled rock, they quickly whipped the crowd into a dancing, moshing frenzy. It’s not often that I see a mosh pit at the Lager House, and usually it just involves a couple people. This one was fully half the crowd. Great times. The thing that turned this show from a “I should really go” to a “I can’t miss this” was reading that Chris Campbell name-dropped The Screamers as an influence. I’m definitely seeing this band again.

Finally, Reptile Forcefield (a.k.a. Timmy’s Organism) took to the stage. Reptile Forcefield is the latest project from Timmy V. Lamp (of Human Eye and The Clone Defects). The band proceeded to rip through a noisy set of punk-edged rock and blues-edged punk, as well as rip through a few people in the crowd. Usually, if Timmy is involved you know there’s going to be some wild craziness. This show was no exception, starting off with Timmy slapping a handful of green paint across one side of his face (which, fittingly, made him look like one of the visitors from the movie V) and ending with Timmy charging into the crowd, knocking over a table of empty bottles and tackling a friend to finally come to rest lying on the ground – spent. According to Timmy, this band has been taking off faster than his previous ones, so it’ll be interesting to see where this goes. Wherever it ends up, the ride will be fun.


Carjack. – MySpace Page
Next Performance – July 06, 2007 – CityFest Pure Detroit Stage, Detroit, MI – 5:00 PM
Download the show: FLAC or MP3

Terrible Twos – MySpace Page
Next Performance – June 15, 2007 – Don Pedro’s, Brooklyn, NY – 8:00 PM
Download the show: FLAC or MP3

Reptile Forcefield – No site right now, but here’s Timmy’s MySpace Page
Next Performance (near as I can tell) – July 8, 2007 – The Painted Lady, Hamtramck, MI – 8:00 PM
Download a sample of the show: FLAC or MP3 – Timmy has requested that I only post a couple songs from their set. I chose three from the middle that I felt showed a nice range of what they’re doing.

I have recently come to realize that there’s no way I’ll be using all the space and bandwidth I’m allowed by my web host any time soon. So, what I’d like to do is offer the opportunity for any band, musician or artist that would like a place to put images, music, videos or anything else on my site for free. Basically, contact me regarding what you want to put on the site and we’ll hash out a way for you to get it to me. Then I’ll load it up and give you a link that you can post wherever for people to access the media.

So say, for example, you’ve got a video that you don’t want to turn into a pixellated mess on YouTube but you want your fans and friends to be able to see it easily. You upload a copy to my FTP server or give me a CD, I’ll transfer it into a folder on my site and e-mail you with the link. (www.semi-live.com/(your band name)/video.avi) You can put that link in a blog post on your MySpace page or whatever and people can follow it to directly check out the video without having to hunt through my site. Of course it’ll have to be something resonable, not like a full DVD or anything, and I have to right to refuse for any reason, not that I would refuse much of anything.

In fact, I will even host full web content (html pages) so long as you don’t mind it being under my domain name. People will just have to go to the subfolder (i.e., www.semi-live.com/yourbandname). I probably won’t have time to do any actual creation of content, but if you give it to me I’ll give it a place on the Internet. If there’s any real interest, I can set up a menu on my front page of all the subdirectories so people can see it when they’re on the main page.

Anyhow, that’s just something I came up with. Comments? Questions? Concerns? E-mail me.

Things have been slow around here due to a combination of my being busy at work and waiting for some bands to okay their recordings. In the meantime, here’s a recording from a few months back for you to enjoy. In case you missed my mention of them before, they recently were voted Ann Arbor’s best rock group in Current Magazine’s readers’ poll.

Elbow Room, Ypsilanti, MI

It was a good time. Beers were drunk, tears were cried and the bands played on. First on the bill this night were Kocho-bi-Sexual, a really cool experimental art-pop two-piece from Brooklyn, NY. I was really disappointed that I didn’t have enough cash to grab a couple CDs from them. Hopefully next time they come around.

Following them were today’s subjects, The MoodieVeto, with their poppish… electro… bluesy… Japanese…… style. It’s easy to hear how they managed to become so well liked in the brief time they were together. Pick up the one EP they released – Say Goodnight, Lost Love – either through CD Baby or from Adam at the next Bone Orchard Revival show (tomorrow night at the Elbow Room!).

The MoodieVeto were followed by Flint’s Empty Orchestra, who played a wound-up set of their whiskey-drenched rock & roll. Great band that you all should see. They just got back from a bit of a midwest tour and will be headed into the studio shortly, but there’s three more chances to see them before that. Get to it!

Headlining the night were one of my favorite local bands – Great Lakes Myth Society, playing their second night in a row (after opening for The Great Fiction‘s CD release the night before.). Before a full house, GLMS played a stellar set of the usual favorites along with a couple new tracks of their forthcoming album, Compass Rose Bouquet. I’m sure that everyone reading this knows GLMS and how great their shows are. I need to ask permission to put a couple recordings of their’s on here. I’ve got one from the Lager House that I absolutely love and listen to all the time.

Off to see a lot of local shows this weekend, so hopefully it’ll pick up around here.


Kocho-bi-Sexual – MySpace Page

The MoodieVeto – MySpace Page
Download the show: FLAC or MP3

Empty Orchestra – MySpace Page
Next Performance – May 31, 2007 – TBD, Mansfield, OH – 8:00 PM

Great Lakes Myth Society – Official Site, MySpace Page
Next Performance – June 01, 2007 – Mac’s Bar, Lansing, MI – 10:00 PM

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