My Michigan Fest ended at 3:00 late Saturday night with three stern knocks on my hotel room door. On the other side of the door would not be more hip, young, indie kids ready to mix it up with a tub full of beer and members of their fave bands gabbing among 30 guests in a cramped and smoke filled room. Instead, six Wayne, Michigan cops and a K9 unit were poised to put an end to our late night ruckus. All in all, nine rooms would be evicted, leaving hordes of fest goers sleeping in cars and vans in the hotel parking lot.
Earlier that day at The Knights of Columbus hall, owners of Makoto
Recordings would direct 1500 kids through 12 hours of music from some of the most innovative and respected bands in todayís underground scene. Highlights of the day included the obese Dillinger 4's razor sharp humor and amped up songs. !!! got the kidsí asses shaking with a set of extended funk jams that somehow found a loophole out of frat party jams and into the minds of the oh so picky indie elite. Sweep The Leg Johnny shared a stage for the first time in months and literally brought the roof down when guitarist Chris Daly scaled the speaker columns with guitar in hand. Once atop the tower of PA gear, Daly stood straight up sending half of his body through the roof, all the while not missing a cord. He then thought it enticing to crawl on to the drop ceiling, which gave way in seconds, sending Daly, his guitar, and the ceiling 15 feet down to the floor. Other memorable moments were Rye Coalitionís over the top rock, Small Brown Bikes' razor sharp guitars, the heavy, heavy stoner rock of Isis, The Arrivals technical difficulties to the point of amusement, and Planes Mistaken For Stars' street punk meets metal spouting off their own state of the union.
In addition to Michigan Fests' stellar music line-up, the show also included a few women-centered workshops in the KOC's chill out room. Discussions included "How To Masturbate" and "Dealing with Hate Crimes." Those who felt a bit more "interactive" participated in a massive, although juvenile game of spin the bottle that dropped the IQ of the fest back to 3rd grade.
The first day of performances was topped by Chicago's Haymarket Riot who were voted best by Muddle Magazineís "instant results show chart," who by the way, gave Dillinger 4 the gold on the second night. Also shaking the collective conscience of day one were The Liars whose sexy rock and roll swagger in a Gang of Four suit took me by complete surprise and ranked #1 among all the shows. Other crowd faves were Death Cab for Snoozie, and the Dismemberment Plan whose set was inspired and brilliant at times, but shaky and downright overkill when Cex joined the band for an extendo booty rap jam at the setís end. Milemarker, who were the only band to tout a woman, had the crowd abuzz. I only heard about the performance, seeing as I was mingling with drunken teen-agers in the parking lot scene, which is a story of its own.
I would miss day three of Michigan Fest, partly due to exhaustion and partly because I am now on the Wayne, Michigan Police shit list. Regardless, the festival, in its 7th year, was a success despite a high ticket price and the unavailability of alcohol, or a place to smoke besides outside. How the boys from Makoto lured some of todayís best to share a stage in the distant Detroit suburb of Wayne, as well as key record labels like Jade Tree, Thick, and Lumberjack Distro setting up tables to sell their wares at cut rate prices, and the presence of Spin, Hit It Or Quit It, Hanging Like A Hex and Interference...is a feat of its own. Kudos also to the Michigan Fest crew for donating proceeds of the festival to The Michigan Land Use Institute, The Kalamazoo Domestic Assault Program, and to Plutonium Action Hiroshima.
All in all, a very well put together affair with very little hassles or
attitude among today's scenester royalty.
Source: Billy Spunke (Thick Records)