Three Michigan bands will go undercover to perform classic tunes Wednesday during a Halloween show at one of Ypsilanti’s burgeoning DIY underground music venues.
Strange Flavors, The Sneeks and Liquid Thickness will cover songs from The Black Keys, Mac DeMarco and the Guardians of the Galaxy soundtracks at The Late Station starting at 8 p.m. Former Critics and Complainer will be unable to perform as No Doubt.
“All these bands chose their own covers, and they’ll be doing complete 30-minute cover sets,” said Greg Hughes, the After Hours Radio bassist who co-runs The Late Station with his three bandmates. “I started recruiting bands a little over a month before the show, which is a lot to learn in a short amount of time for a true Halloween costume cover set.”
To get in the Halloween spirit, some bands will wear costumes to impersonate artists while others will come as they are. With costumes and holiday-themed wear, Strange Flavors, The Sneeks and Liquid Thickness will ensure the crowd grooves to spooktacular cover sets.
“We will be encouraging the crowd to wear costumes, that’s kind of the whole idea,” said Hughes, who’s been booking shows at The Late Station since February. “It’s an informal welcoming space that serves as a platform for different kinds of artists and genres.”
Strange Flavors as The Black Keys
The Ypsilanti progressive blues rock band will perform covers from The Black Keys, including a mini set from the Akron, Ohio indie rock duo’s 2010 commercial breakthrough album, “Brothers,” said Bob Bobberson, Strange Flavors lead vocalist.
“It was the only band we could all agree on that we liked, and We’ve done a couple of Black Keys covers in our repertoire,” he said. “I’ve always had a really big thing for ‘Brothers’ because that’s when I was exposed to The Black Keys, and we were all in a bit of that phase when we first started writing.”
With their energetic stage antics, big sound and over-the-top performances, Strange Flavors has quickly made a name for themselves in Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti and Detroit. Floating through driving rhythms, intricate solos, syncopated bass lines and crushing vocals, the band exudes a style and sound all their own.
Bobberson joined his Strange Flavors bandmates – Chris Jemison (guitar), Matt Ordiway (bass) and Blake Hendrix (drums) – last year and recorded with the band for their 2017 “Building Blocks” full-length debut album. They released their four-track, follow-up EP, “Rubber Brains,” Oct. 5 to take their progressive roots in a new direction.
“We tend to create songs in a group, depending on the gear we’re using at the time. We all have very different backgrounds as far as the music that each of us is inspired by,” said Bobberson, who grew up near Flint. “We’re moving toward psych rock a little bit, and some people have said prog. Mostly, what we get is straight up rock and roll, depending on what song people get exposed to.”
The Sneeks, or Neek the Sneek, as Mac DeMarco
Hailing from East Lansing, The Sneeks, an alt rock quartet, will perform covers from Mac DeMarco, the Edmonton, Alberta lo-fi indie rock artist, during their Halloween set at The Late Station.
“For this show, I’m going to be playing solo as Neek the Sneek,” said Niko Matsamakis, The Sneeks lead vocalist and guitarist. “I still got The Sneeks name in it so, I’ll still be keeping it alive with just me, an acoustic guitar, a loop pedal and a drum machine.”
Matsamakis will cover songs from DeMarco’s 2012 full-length debut, “2,” including “Ode to Viceroy,” “The Stars Keep on Calling My Name” and “My Kind of Woman.”
“I started getting into him about a year ago, and Kevin (Neumann) was the one who was telling me I should listen to him,” said Matsamakis, who grew up in Farmington Hills listening to The Beatles, The Beach Boys and traditional Greek music. “I’ve never seen him live, but I’ve watched plenty of his videos. This guy is doing solo acoustic shows, so I thought, ‘Dang, this guy is doing it, I feel like I can do it.’”
Matsamakis’ bandmates, Neumann (vocals, bass), Alex Olivero (vocals, guitar) and Houston Smith (drums), graduated from Michigan State University (MSU) last year, but continue to play shows with their frontman when they can return to Michigan for gigs.
Together, they formed The Sneeks two years ago and started playing “rad rock and troll” at MSU parties and opened up for the rising garage punk rock band, Twin Peaks, at The Loft in Lansing.
Last November, they released their eight-track debut album, “Sneek Attack,” which features the crowd favorite breakup anthem, “Another Girl.” They’re currently mixing their new five-song EP, “Sneeking Out the Back Door,” as a follow-up to 2017’s “Sneek Attack.”
“It’s a much softer sound. Listening back now, I think ‘Sneek Attack’ is a lot harder than I probably would have liked it to be, but it was basically my journey through finding out what post-breakup single life was like,” Matsamakis said. “For this EP, we went after the softer sound more, and a big part of it is the songwriting, which Kevin and I did all of it together.”
Liquid Thickness as Guardians of the Galaxy
The Ypsilanti funk, Motown and rock-inspired septet will perform select covers from the best-selling “Guardians of the Galaxy: Awesome Mixes Vol. 1 and Vol. 2” movie soundtracks, including “Brandy, (You’re a Fine Girl),” by Looking Glass, said Riley Bean, Liquid Thickness drummer.
“We’ve got a lot of fun crowd favorites in store for Wednesday, including straight up versions of these classics and some interpretations with our own funky twists,” said Bean, who’s inspired by Lettuce, Stevie Wonder and Earth, Wind & Fire. “We thought the costumes would be fun, and we’re hoping to stream the move as a backdrop during the set.”
In the “Guardians of the Galaxy” movies, Chris Pratt’s character, Peter Quill/Star-Lord, carries a cassette player holding a mixtape that his mom gave him before she passes away. The infamous mixtape serves as the soundtrack to both installments of the blockbuster Marvel franchise.
Bean joined his six bandmates – Ryan King (bass), Aidan Cafferty (keys), Devon Webster (trombone), Jordan Smith (guitar), Sam Swanson (trumpet) and Derrick Weber (vocals) – to form Liquid Thickness in January 2017.
“I started out playing drums and percussion throughout grade school with some of the current Liquid Thickness members. A lot of us went through the Pioneer band and jazz bands though we were from different years,” Bean said. “I think we all listened to music across the board, which contributes to our sound, but a lot of it was based in groove.”
That underlying groove allows Liquid Thickness to weave elements of jazz, disco and jam/improv into their emerging sound, which can be heard in the band’s latest single, “Funk Don’t Discriminate.”
“This one came out of a late night recording I did on my phone of the basic idea. Then I brought it to the band to figure out the actual parts to play, and we built it from there,” Bean said. “It goes along with an underlying mission to bring everyone on the dance floor.”
Liquid Thickness has released two sets of live performances from Cultivate Coffee and Tap House back in June. The group is also planning to release a live set in early November from “Groove on Up,” a small festival hosted at their farmstead north of Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti back in September.
“We like to give fans a chance to hear our songs in different arrangements, including unadulterated jams and solos as well as reliving awesome experiences like Groove on Up,” said Bean, who’s planning to put out a new album with the band in the first quarter of 2019.
The Late Station in Ypsilanti presents the Halloween show:
Strange Flavors as The Black Keys
The Sneeks as Mac DeMarco
Liquid Thickness as Guardians of the Galaxy
Suggested show donation: $5
For Halloween show address, message The Late Station through Facebook.