Five years ago, the University of Michigan’s co-op scene led to the formation of an emerging Ypsilanti band.
U-M’s Nakamura and Luther Buchele co-ops introduced Greg Hughes and Nate Erickson, co-founders of After Hours Radio, to a burgeoning underground, do-it-yourself (DIY) music community in the heart of downtown Ann Arbor.
Together, Hughes and Erickson cut their growing musical teeth performing at co-op open mic nights and formed After Hours Radio, a progressive, groove-heavy indie rock band, in 2014.
“The high energy and large crowds at co-op parties drove the band to write catchy grooves and riffs that co-oppers could dance to,” said Hughes, bassist for After Hours Radio. “This funk-inspired element flavored our initial indie-alternative style, which was influenced by open mic nights during the band’s infancy.”
Hughes also sought inspiration for the band while working as a late-night college DJ at WCBN-FM (88.3), a U-M student-run radio station. He used a “freeform” approach for the station’s programming and believed a similar philosophy could be applied to After Hours Radio’s musical approach.
“‘Freeform’ describes a perspective that doesn’t conform to a traditional setlist structure restricted by genre and embraces mixing different musical styles,” he said. “We’ve gained a strong sense of improvisation that has translated to the way we find influences for our original songs.”
That fluid musical approach resulted in the band’s self-titled debut EP in 2015 and the “What Happened?” EP in 2017. With Hughes and Erickson (vocals, guitar) at the helm, After Hours Radio went through several lineup changes, including several drummers, and expanded their sound to encompass keys, synths and other electronic effects.
Last year, the band launched their own DIY music venue, The Late Station, in Ypsilanti to showcase local emerging artists and musicians across a variety of genres. Bandmates and friends help promote events, run the door and assist with gear at The Late Station.
“I got acquainted with the whole DIY culture in Chicago, and I was so enamored with the scene there that I wanted to become more involved in it,” Hughes said. “That’s where the direct inspiration for The Late Station came, and we all decided we were going to move to the same location and start our own space.”
Today, Hughes and Erickson will celebrate the band’s evolution with a five-year anniversary show at Club Above, 215 N. Main St. in Ann Arbor, and feature special guests Stop Watch, Approachable Minorities and Summer Like The Season.
“We decided to celebrate the band’s anniversary with a special show because we thought five years for any band was a big milestone,” Hughes said. “Almost none of the local bands existing when we started are around anymore, and most lasted just one or two years.”
For the show, After Hours Radio will play an extended setlist that encompasses the band’s entire career and feature visuals from GSW Art & Design, a southeast Michigan-based visual art, web and graphic design firm. It’s also a valuable opportunity for After Hours Radio fans to embrace the artistry and musicianship of the show’s three special guests.
As an emerging indie alt rock band, Stop Watch is clocking into the Ann Arbor-Ypsi music scene and taking time to build a solid fan base.
Like After Hours radio, the quartet of Mark Bosch (vocals, guitar), Austin Broda (bass), Jake Emanuel (keys) and Duane Chelmsford (drums) is laying their musical roots at the University of Michigan.
Last spring, Bosch teamed up with Emanuel and Chelmsford to form Stop Watch and brought Broda into the fold after their initial bassist dropped out before their first show. Broda quickly learned the band’s set in three days.
“We all played that first show, and that day we decided, ‘OK, the four of us, that has to be Stop Watch,’” said Bosch, who attends U-M along with his bandmates. “It just feels too right for it not to be.”
With the lineup finalized, Stop Watch dropped their first single, “More,” a vibrant punk rockish anthem swirling with pounding drums and melodic piano jams, in October. Think hints of Parquet Courts mixed with Fleet Foxes and Radiohead.
The band plans to include “More” on their upcoming EP, “Action Kid,” and possibly their first full-length debut. Bosch spent considerable time rewriting the single’s lyrics to complement its unique time signature.
“For me, it’s a song about understanding your place in the world and understanding there’s a lot more out there if you’re just willing to put in a solid effort. I was writing that song when I was in a place where I felt constrained by everything around me,” he said. “I opened myself up to the idea that maybe I was the one putting a lot of constraints on what I thought were my capabilities and possibilities for my life.”
Stop Watch plans to release “Action Kid” this summer and record additional tracks with Tyler Floyd, who runs Summit House Studios in Brighton and serves as vocalist and guitarist for Parkway & Columbia, this month.
As for today’s show with After Hours Radio, Stop Watch will debut two new songs heavily influenced by Radiohead’s “OK Computer” and Built to Spill’s “Perfect from Now On” as well as perform a popular cover.
“I’m so happy that these guys from After Hours Radio have been able to be around for five years,” said Bosch, who met Hughes at a Luther Buchele co-op show and recently performed with Stop Watch at The Late Station. “They’ve put in the effort, and they’ve earned it.”
With their catchy blend of conscious hip-hop, party raps and electronic music, Ypsilanti’s Approachable Minorities are shaking up the underground scene and performing memorable sets at raging house parties, EDM clubs and festivals throughout southeast Michigan.
Comprised of two MCs, OGspunkysmith (Drew Denton) and Lewy Seifer (TJ Greggs), and DJ OnDemand (Marcus McKinney), the trio’s music promotes positivity and harmony while breaking down walls between different ethnic groups.
“We’re heady people, we like to pay attention to what’s going on in the world, we like to listen to a lot of uplifting music, but we’ve always noticed that people don’t like getting shit shoved down their throat with facts and knowledge and all that stuff,” said Denton, who formed Approachable Minorities with Greggs and McKinney in 2016.
“We’ve always taken an approach like we turn out, we party just like everybody else, but also here’s some real-life events that are going on, so we try to sneak that in there. Plus, our beats go all over the place, we have some real laid-back hip-hop shit.”
In 2016, Approachable Minorities released their debut album, “Afro-American,” a robust, dope mixture of 16 high-energy and slow-groove tracks filled with hip-hop tales of politics, triumphs, parties, growth and challenges. Denton admits “Bet,” “Time for Some Change” and “WorldWide” are among his favorites.
“At the time, I got a new studio, and TJ and I started working a lot and just making music. We didn’t really have a plan for it,” said Denton, who also develops and supports local talent through Northern Threat Entertainment. “We both had afros, and we were talking about race, politics, parties and bullshit.”
Approachable Minorities are currently working on their follow-up album, which will feature several dubstep tracks recorded with multiple producers. They have nine to 10 tracks recorded and plan to release the album later this year. “It’s some of the best music that we’ve made for sure, and I think it’s going to have good crossover potential,” Denton said.
For tonight’s show, Approachable Minorities will introduce some new music and provide a high-energy set for the crowd. Denton said the band is thrilled help After Hours Radio celebrate their anniversary and longtime support of the DIY culture through The Late Station.
“The Late Station is just a continuation of that culture, and there’s been a huge culture of house parties and house shows with a lot of good indie music,” Denton said.
Summer Like The Season
For Detroit’s Summer Like The Season, their electronic-flavored indie art rock carefully mixes poppy vocals with unique harmonies, breakbeats and ethereal soundscapes. Their music explores the hazy line where live instrumentation and modern electronics meld into one fluid sonic playground.
Five years ago, Summer Krinsky (vocals, drums) created Summer Like The Season as a bizarro pop side project while studying recording production at U-M and drumming for local bands, including After Hours Radio.
“When I went to college, I would jam with people, but living in dorms made it hard,” said Krinsky, a classically trained pianist. “I started working more on the computer and getting more into sound design projects. I had already been using Logic for recording and started to do more of my writing process in it and doing more vocal sampling.”
A U-M friend introduced Krinsky to St. Vincent and Tune-Yards, whose influential art rock and indie pop served as her muse while writing material for Summer Like The Season. Over time, Krinsky met her bandmates, including Sam Naples (bass), Tasha Pearce (guitar, vocals) and Scott Murphy (electronics, keys). They officially formed the band in 2017.
Together, Naples, Pearce and Murphy translated Krinsky’s burgeoning electronic art rock sound from the computer to the live stage. That musical translation allowed the band to collide Krinsky’s meticulous songwriting with creative, introspective sounds.
With their strong collaborative forces, Summer Like The Season started performing tracks from Krinsky’s catalog of eclectic music, including the “Friend of the Monster” (2014) and “Thin Today” (2017) EPs, through a growing series of live shows in Michigan, the Midwest, the East Coast and the Southeast.
“Between 2014 and 2017, I had written ‘Ryuci’ and ‘Train of Thought,’ but didn’t just want to release them on their own,” Krinsky said. “They were just kind of brewing, and I was waiting. Then, once I wrote ‘Thin Today’ and ‘Misery,’ I was like, ‘OK, this is a full EP, and this can now come together in a live band.’”
In July, Summer Like The Season released their latest single, “Wakey,” a dream-induced, electronic track that explores getting lost in one’s thoughts. It also reflects Krinsky’s dedication to enhancing her drumming skills while mixing her own music.
“It’s about sleeplessly flipping through my rolodex of memories while honing my overall sound and production,” said Krinsky, who plans to record new material with her bandmates in Murphy’s home studio. “I think I have gotten to a place of true independence where I can play everything if I want to and going through all the experiences that have led to it.”
At tonight’s show, Summer Like The Season will play one song that’s new to Ann Arbor and others that haven’t been heard before. Krinsky and Naples also promise new stage banter for the crowd.
They’re also proud to help celebrate After Hours Radio’s five-year band anniversary.
“I’ve known After Hours Radio since their first show ever at an open mic at Nakamura,” Krinsky said. “They let me play with them when I was figuring out how to play with people, so it was very generous of them to let me improve my playing with others. I wish I could still be playing with them, but we often have shows at the same time.”
After Hours Radio’s Five-year Anniversary Show with Stop Watch, Approachable Minorities and Summer Like The Season
8 p.m. tonight at Club Above, 215 N. Main St. in Ann Arbor
Tickets $8 at the door