A special celebration of Ypsilanti’s emerging do-it-yourself (DIY) music culture will take place tonight at The Late Station.
Hosted by After Hours Radio, the 8 p.m. show will commemorate the DIY music venue’s one-year anniversary with a stacked lineup featuring Liquid Thickness, Varsity Letter, Dis Orda, Tequila Deer, and Vest and Tyler.
It’s the ultimate mixed genre show filled with funk, acoustic folk punk, hip hop, post-punk, EDM and chiptune. Eclectic lineups are one of The Late Station’s specialties – the venue accurately reflects the diversity of music, sounds, approaches and performance styles coming from one of Michigan’s brightest music scenes.
“There’s this aspect of community that organically happens here, and it’s been great over this past year seeing similar faces in the same location,” said Greg Hughes, bassist for After Hours Radio, an Ypsilanti-based progressive groove-heavy indie rock trio. “I love seeing so many people coming back to the same stage experiencing different lineups and shows and having so many different talented artists perform here as part of it all.”
Along with bandmates Nate Erickson (vocals, guitar) and Mark Dunne (drums), Hughes started The Late Station in 2018 after performing at University of Michigan co-op open mic nights as a college student and experiencing the Chicago DIY music scene.
“When I was living in Chicago, they have a very vibrant DIY scene there, and there are lots of venues like The Late Station there where they’re not necessarily big houses with students living in them,” Hughes said. “It’s musicians or artists who want to create their own art space specifically devoted to their craft. After I moved back here, I just wanted to recreate that.”
To date, After Hours Radio has hosted 24 shows at The Late Station. For each show, bandmates, friends and volunteers help book shows, promote events, run the door and assist with gear. The band also accepts donations from attendees at each show to help fund shows and other venue-related needs.
For tonight’s show at The Late Station, After Hours Radio is accepting $5 donations to help pay for venue repairs, including the iconic sign by the stage. Donations can be made through PayPal or at the door.
Tonight’s show also allows After Hours Radio fans to embrace the versatile artistry and musicianship of the show’s five special guests. Here’s a quick look at each artist and what they’ll be bringing to tonight’s performance.
The Ypsilanti funk, Motown and rock-inspired octet will perform a dynamic set tonight filled with groovy, danceable tunes and high-voltage stage antics.
This will be the third performance Liquid Thickness’ Derrick Weber (vocals), Riley Bean (drums), Tim Martin (bass), Jordan Smith (guitar), Aidan Cafferty (keys), Devin Weber (trombone), Jacob Lachance (sax) and Sam Swanson (trumpet) at The Late Station.
“For those who have seen us before, they’ll witness our continued artistic growth and the funky sounds they’ve heard from us over the last two years,” Weber said. “For those haven’t seen us before, they will experience a lot of energy and high dynamics, punchy hornlines and stuff that makes you want to move your hips and tap your toes.”
Together, Liquid Thickness weaves elements of jazz, disco, jam and improv into their emerging eclectic sound, which can be heard on the band’s latest live album, “Groove on Up.”
Recorded last at a small festival at a farmstead near South Lyon, “Groove on Up” gives fans a chance to hear the band’s funk-fueled songs in different arrangements, including unadulterated jams and solos.
Weber, Bean and their six bandmates formed Liquid Thickness in January 2017 and honed a growing sound rooted in groove-inspired music – think Stevie Wonder, Lettuce, Parliament-Funkadelic and Earth, Wind & Fire forming the ultimate supergroup.
“I wanted to start a funk band to add more danceability and fun drum parts to a growing sound and fill the niche for that kind of group in the Ann Arbor-Ypsi scene,” Bean said. “The band has really inspired us to get more into that genre and take notes from classic artists.”
Varsity Letter and Tequila Deer
For Varsity Letter’s Tyler Burkhardt, tonight’s show will help him come full circle personally and artistically.
Burkhardt performed at The Late Station’s first show in February 2018 as a solo acoustic folk punk artist and will return tonight to debut Varsity Letter’s full-band lineup, including Spencer Haithcock (guitar), Ty Mitchell (vocals, bass), Mark Bosch (guitar) and Christopher Schuetz (drums).
“Two hours before the first show at The Late Station, Spencer messaged me and said we need an acoustic artist at a show in Ypsilanti, and I was living in Roseville at the time, so I just got in the car and drove two hours to play the show,” said Burkhardt, who’s inspired by Blink 182, The Wonder Years and Modern Baseball. “It was my first show ever.”
That first show quickly led Burkhardt to team up with bandmates to expand Varity Letter into a group-based project and record their upcoming debut EP, “Peach Pit.” The EP will feature the band’s current single, “Northbound I-26,” inspired by Burkhardt’s personal cross-country trek for a relationship that didn’t work out.
“Our goal is to play shows and shove our music down people’s throats until the EP drops,” said Burkhardt, who also runs Church Street Booking with Haithcock. “If our EP has a good response, then we’re going to get out on the road. We have a lot of friends out there and other bands who are willing to go out with us, so we just have to get the music out there.”
Several Varsity Letter members, including Haithcock (bass, trumpet), Mitchell (lead vocals, rhythm guitar) and Schuetz (drums), along with guitarist and vocalist Anthony Shuurmans, also perform as part of Tequila Deer, an Ypsilanti-based post-punk quartet.
Like Varsity Letter, Tequila Deer performed at The Late Station’s first show in 2018 and will showcase their talents again tonight as part of the DIY venue’s milestone celebration.
“We’ve played their a few times since being the first band ever to perform at The Late Station,” Haithcock said. “The Late Station provides a real home for music, and it’s given us opportunities right around the block to be part of live music almost every week.”
Formed in 2016, Tequila Deer blends the strong hooks and energy of early 2000s punk with the stylings of melodic hardcore and draws influences from alternative, metal and emo.
In 2017, they released their five-song emotionally-charged debut EP, “Consider This a Rental,” and currently have a new single, “Anything,” a fast-paced, guitar-driven track inspired by the iconic writings of Jack Kerouac and the emo sounds of Mineral.
“We wrote that entire song in about 10 minutes, and it just kind of came out of nowhere,” Haithcock said. “Jack Kerouac and Mineral are a really good combination for making you feel really existential on an emotional level, and it’s about knowing that you’re not limited by anything unless you let yourself be.”
The Ypsilanti alternative-underground hip hop duo of the “unfuckwithable” producer R0rschach, aka Reid Muscio, and “tha God MC himself” Yousif, aka Joey Benjamin, will bring their catchy beats and rhymes to tonight’s show.
Dis Orda will perform an energetic set fueled with their latest hard-hitting singles, including “Microphone Joe,” “Divine Intervention” and “What They Want” as well as raw beat-filled tracks from their debut EP, “Here for a Reason.”
“We’ve been more excited about this show than a lot of the ones we’ve played in the past,” Muscio said. “It’s an environment that’s very open to artists and people who are genuinely interested in this type of music. The Late Station attracts are really cool people, and they help create a real collective for the Ypsi music scene.”
Muscio and Benjamin met in high school while growing up in Farmington Hills, started recording beats for fun three years ago and turned their growing hip-hop talents into the official duo of Dis Orda in 2018. They seek musical and creative inspiration from Sean Price, Wu Tang Clan, MF Doom and other hip-hop and blues artists.
“The roots of us are just me making beats, and we would play them in the car at first,” Muscio said. “Some of the beats go as far back as shit I made like five or six years ago, and we’ve started releasing more songs as a group.”
Dis Orda also seeks inspiration from other types of music, including the past prog sounds of Genesis. The duo samples an iconic sound from the band’s 1973 Peter Gabriel-era cult favorite, “Dancing with the Moonlit Knight,” on “Disciples” from their “Here for a Reason” EP.
Vest and Tyler
Ann Arbor-based EDM artist Tyler Denig, aka Vest and Tyler, will return to The Late Station tonight with video game music inspired by “The Legend of Zelda,” “Sonic,” “Super Mario” and other classic NES and Sega Genesis favorites.
In 2015, Denig started producing video game and chiptune music under the moniker Vest and Tyler and is known for his pulsating mixes, high-energy performances and onstage antics. With rapid beats and non-stop action, Denig cultivates a pounding heartbeat and a united energy to the crowd.
Along with his GameBoy Color, Denig adds a unique live-action element to his performances and delivers a new show each time he takes the stage.
“I love to play video games. I would sit around for hours and hours playing games, and I always found myself drawn to video game music,” said Denig, who grew up listening to ‘90s dance music, Motown, R&B and EDM. “I’m also a dancer and liked the idea of combining the two. I wanted to make something that would allow my personality and love of video games to shine.”
Denig radiates his energetic musical aura on his Vest and Tyler 2017 debut album, “GLiTCH,” and his follow-up 2018 EP, “The MotherShip.” He also teamed up with electronic music producer and vocalist Allium on his latest single, “Faith in You.”
“I saw her at a music showcase, and I was blown away by her presentation, so I reached out and asked if she would be willing to work on a track with me,” said Denig, who always wears a dapper vest and tie while performing. “I just love working with her, and I think moving forward I’m much more excited to work with vocalists.”
Doors: 8 p.m.
Tickets: $5 donation at the door or via PayPal
Vest and Tyler
Send a Facebook message to The Late Station for venue location.