After five years, the progressive groove-heavy indie rock trio of Nate Erickson (guitar, vocals), Greg Hughes (bass) and Mark Dunne (drums) will call it quits and perform their final shows tomorrow in Ypsi and Friday in Bowling Green, Ohio.
“We had a lot to celebrate this year with our five-year anniversary and the brief return of our original lead singer, Calum Galt. No matter how successful a band can be with longevity, ultimately, there are going to be some challenges on an interpersonal level between people,” said Hughes, co-founder of After Hours Radio.
“There have been a lot of changes in our lives as well as ideas about how we want to approach being in the band and writing songs. We’re just trying to end things so we can explore opportunities that better align with our interests, goals and preferences.”
Hughes co-founded After Hours Radio with Erickson in 2014 after performing at the Nakamura and Luther Buchele co-ops while attending the University of Michigan. Together, they cut their musical teeth at co-op open mic nights and introduced a freeform musical approach that incorporated several genres.
That freeform musical approach resulted in the band’s self-titled debut EP in 2015 and their follow-up EP, “What Happened?,” in 2017. With Hughes and Erickson at the helm, After Hours Radio went through some lineup changes, including several drummers and the recent departure of keyboardist and synth player Jordan Compton, and expanded their sound to include more electronic effects.
Last year, After Hours Radio launched their own do-it-yourself (DIY) music venue, The Late Station, in Ypsi to showcase local emerging artists and musicians across a variety of genres. Bandmates and friends helped promote events, run the door and assist with gear at The Late Station.
Editor’s Note: This is the third installment in a special series profiling Michigan artists featured at this weekend’s Mo Pop Festival in Detroit.
Two Michigan bands will heat things up tomorrow at Detroit’s Mo Pop Festival.
The Doozers and the Craig Brown Band will perform Sunday afternoon opening slots and join 26 emerging artists, including Vampire Weekend, Tame Impala, Lizzo and Ella Mai, during the two-day indie rock, pop and hip-hop festival at Detroit’s West Riverfront Park.
Nearly 20,000 people are expected to attend the festival, which returns for its seventh year. Each year, Mo Pop kicks off both festival days with performances from Michigan-based artists to expose people to some of the area’s rising local acts.
The Stratton Setlist recently talked with The Doozers and the Craig Brown Band about playing Mo Pop and sharing their eclectic music with a growing audience.
The Detroit alt rock duo heavily reference “Kevin” in their Facebook and Instagram posts, ranging from “Kevin is a place on earth” (imagine hearing it to the tune of Belinda Carlisle’s ‘Heaven is a Place on Earth’) to “Kevin hard at work making a record” to “Lights, Camera, Kevin.”
But who the heck is Kevin, anyway? “Kevin is all of us, Kevin is everywhere,” said Parker Bengry, the band’s vocalist and guitarist.
Chris Williams, drummer and vocalist for The Messenger Birds, esoterically added, “We refer to each other as Kevin, we see ourselves as Kevin, and everybody who listens to our music is Kevin.”
While The Stratton Setlist hasn’t cracked the case about “Kevin” yet, we do know “Kevin” will be invading the Mo Pop Festival Saturday to see his favorite band, The Messenger Birds, play a coveted 1:30 p.m. opening slot on the River Stage.
The Messenger Birds will join 27 other emerging artists, including Vampire Weekend, Tame Impala, Lizzo and Ella Mai, during the two-day indie rock, pop and hip-hop festival this weekend at Detroit’s West Riverfront Park. Nearly 20,000 people are expected to attend the boutique and niche festival, which returns for its seventh year.
Each year, Mo Pop kicks off both festival days with opening performances from Michigan-based artists to expose attendees to some of the area’s rising local acts. The Messenger Birds and Siena Liggins will perform Saturday while The Doozers and the Craig Brown Band will take the stage on Sunday.
It’s been nearly three years in the making for The Messenger Birds to perform at Mo Pop. Back in 2016, festival organizers asked the band to join the lineup after another act dropped out.
Editor’s Note: This is the first installment in a special series profiling Michigan artists featured at this weekend’s Mo Pop Festival in Detroit.
For Siena Liggins, a well-crafted pop song starts with a relatable subject and includes a catchy hook that’s intertwined with a simple melody.
“I just have always been obsessed with really simple melodies that get stuck in your head, and you end up accidentally singing it,” she said. “It’s the stuff that people usually love to hate.”
Coincidentally, Detroiters will show Liggins the love this weekend instead when she performs at the Mo Pop Festival. The Motor City pop-R&B-dance singer-songwriter will perform a much anticipated 2:15 p.m. Saturday set on the River Stage.
Liggins will join 27 other emerging artists, including Vampire Weekend, Tame Impala, Lizzo and Ella Mai, during the two-day indie rock, pop and hip-hop festival at Detroit’s West Riverfront Park. Nearly 20,000 people are expected to attend the boutique and niche festival, which returns for its seventh year.
Each year, Mo Pop kicks off both festival days with opening performances from Michigan-based artists to expose attendees to some of the area’s rising local acts. Liggins and The Messenger Birds will perform Saturday while The Doozers and the Craig Brown Band will take the stage on Sunday.
During her set, Liggins will perform her latest single, “Laws of Attraction,” a 3.5-minute high-energy pop track with a tick-tock vibe about a reactionary relationship.
It’s the perfect summer track for a throwdown on the dance floor, or in this case, a park. As an added bonus, Flint electronic-pop-R&B singer-songwriter Tunde Olaniran penned the track’s memorable post-chorus.
The Plymouth indie folk-rock singer-songwriter credits the late Queen frontman with inspiring his new single, “Youth & Danger,” which blows past the traditional 3.5-minute mark.
“I recently watched the ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ movie, and they were telling Freddie Mercury how the song, ‘Bohemian Rhapsody,’ was way too long to be a single,” said Matt Sauter, aka Adventures with Vultures. “He’s like, ‘Fuck you, if I want a 15-minute single, then I’m going to put a 15-minute single out.’ Then, I was thinking about ‘Youth & Danger,’ and I said I’m just going to make it one long song.”
Adventures with Vultures’ latest single, the alt rock, indie folk-tinged “Youth & Danger,” clocks in at 7.5 minutes and originally started as two separate songs. During live shows, Sauter and his bandmates brother Dan Sauter (bass), Jon Staten (drums) and Jimmy Showers (guitar) would merge both songs since they’re in the same key.
“The first part of the song, ‘Youth,’ is about my grandma. I wrote that song about a week after she passed away, and it was one of those songs that took me not even 30 minutes to write,” Sauter said. “I also decided to write a song, ‘Danger,’ about how I was growing up with drinking, smoking, partying and girls. My brother is in the band, and he was like, ‘Blend the two together, man,’ and the name stuck.”
A gorgeous track, “Youth & Danger” opens with a quiet acoustic guitar solo while a slide guitar echoes in the background. This complementary guitar work sets the stage for a quiet, reflective tune as Sauter sings in a raspy voice, “Well, heaven’s gates won’t let me in/When I die I’ll guarantee they’ll sing so they can come down.”
A set of quiet, delicate cymbals crash in response to Sauter’s solemn tone – “They married young and they raised their kin/They had two young daughters and my mother Kim/And a son named Joseph/But oh I cry every time I sing this song.”
With deep synths, quirky lyrics and funky basslines, Tauri hits an indie pop bullseye on her latest single, “Time 2 Kill.”
The 3.5-minute single eloquently weaves accessible elements of indie pop and R&B with avant-garde electronic rock to forge a growing experimental sound emanating from the West Coast.
It’s akin to combining the mainstream appeal of Lorde with the progressive, industrial sounds of Muse and Nine Inch Nails. Throughout “Time to 2 Kill,” Tauri creates a forward-thinking track devoid of pretense.
“We weren’t afraid to get really weird with this one, and a lot of people are responding really well to it,” said Nicole Orlowski, aka Tauri, who co-wrote the track with Alex Monasterio and Liz Gavillet. “This only encourages us to be super weird.”
Weirdness does run rampant on “Time 2 Kill,” but in a refreshingly lyrical way. The track opens with catchy lyrics – “Pen names/Switch blades/Turn real fast/But you’re driving in the slow lane” – and even references an “Easy Bake Oven.”
“It was kind of nightmare to put together actually because we were trying to put it out a lot faster than it ended up happening. We all sat down and spitballed it, and it came from this loose concept of a love story about a trust fund kid,” Monasterio said. “The idea behind the ‘Easy Bake Oven’ lyric relates to somebody trying to get something without actually doing the proper grownup work for it.”
“Time 2 Kill” also features vocals inspired by Bikini Kill and a heavy industrial synth section, which cleverly anchors the two indie pop sections on both sides.
“For such a period of time, we thought the song wasn’t going to function based on how our previous singles had done,” Monasterio said. “They have their moments definitely, but they’re much more contained. They have their tangents, but they don’t necessarily say ‘fuck it’ quite as much.”
Throwaway knows how to easily extract the spirit of “Evil Cooper.”
The Detroit art rock/no wave vocalist-guitarist musically summons the demonic alter ego of Dale Cooper from “Twin Peaks” in “Julep,” a brilliant six-minute track filled with raw guitars, deep distortions and dark feedback.
“I’ve always had this affinity for it because it has a very dramatic arc itself, and it’s oblique, enigmatic and strange. The affinity for that particular recording came out because I wanted to bring some guitar feedback to the end of the track, and we were recording it right in the middle of ‘Twin Peaks: The Return,’” said Kirsten Carey, aka Throwaway.
“You know those scenes where it’s just Evil Cooper driving in the car, the camera is focused on his face and you hear all these uncomfortable bumpy drones? When I was recording that feedback, I thought, ‘Oh my God, it sounds like Evil Coop.’”
In a sense, Evil Coop is the artistic and musical spirit animal of Throwaway, Carey’s alter ego who dons a paper bag. “Julep” is one of eight standout experimental rock tracks featured on Throwaway’s debut album “WHAT?” out tomorrow.
The National knows how to make an indelible first impression in Tree Town.
The indie rock quintet enthralled a crowd of nearly 3,500 fans during their first headlining show June 25 at Ann Arbor’s Hill Auditorium with Courtney Barnett.
It was their first appearance in Tree Town while supporting their latest and eighth studio release, “I Am Easy to Find,” which features memorable collaborations with notable female artists and musicians.
Bathed in brightly colored lights and flanked by two large screens displaying Impressionist-inspired artwork, The National opened their nearly two-hour set with “You Had Your Soul with You” and featured Dianne Berkun Menaker, founder and director of the Brooklyn Youth Choir, as a brilliant guest vocalist.
Lead vocalist Matt Berninger sipped a beverage from a red plastic Solo cup and joked with the audience throughout their set as twin brothers Aaron Dessner (guitar, bass piano) and Bryce Dessner (guitar, piano) cued up the band before each song.
The band performed several introspective masterpieces from their latest album, including “Quiet Light,” “The Pull of You,” “Hey Rosey,” “Oblivions,” “Light Years,” “I Am Easy to Find” and “Rylan,” while Berkun Menaker provided lush harmonies and background vocals that meshed beautifully with Berninger’s.
About halfway through their set, Berninger and drummer Bryan Devendorf engaged in friendly onstage banter. The introverted Devendorf spoke fondly about spending time in Ann Arbor before the band’s show. In response, Berninger joked with his quiet bandmate about finally speaking to the crowd.
“Are you going to say something, Bryan?” Berninger asked laughingly. “Let me give you my microphone … Bryan barely speaks, you guys.”
Devendorf proudly responded, “I visited a pool today called the Fuller Park Pool, it was fantastic, and right across the street is U-M hospital, am I correct? I was born there in 1975, so I’ve come full circle.”
The National also came full circle musically while performing past fan favorites ranging from “Bloodbuzz Ohio” to “Graceless” to “Fake Empire.” No National live show is complete without at least one or two timeless tracks from “High Violet” and “Boxer.”
The band closed the show with a four-song encore and featured Berninger jumping into the crowd and interacting with fans during “Mr. November.” It’s a highly anticipated moment from any longtime fan of The National.
A fan also presented Berninger with his own U-M baseball cap to wear toward the end of the night.
“Thank you for making this for me. I will wear this forever,” Berninger said. “You want me to sign it? I’m not giving this back to you.”
Hopefully, Berninger’s new cap will make it easy for fans to find The National in Ann Arbor again soon.
The Detroit hard rock quintet draws inspiration from Kurt Cobain’s gritty guitars, Dave Grohl’s pounding drums and Layne Staley’s signature vocals on their new 3.5-minute fist-pumping ode to ‘90s grunge.
Together, they breathe new Motor City life into the original underground Seattle sound inspired by Nirvana, Alice in Chains, Soundgarden and Pearl Jam.
“I wrote that song a long time ago when I went to Ferris State University for a year. I had moved up there by myself, and I didn’t know anybody,” said Angelo Coppola, frontman for The Lows. “I got inspired to write that song based off the media, social media and people in general, and it felt like there was a loss of love in the world.”
“Love Xtinction” is The Lows’ first new single since releasing their self-titled debut EP in 2017 and the first recording to feature the entire band lineup, including Nick Behnan (guitar, vocals), Brandon McNall (guitar), Johnny “Wolf” Abel (bass) and Duane Hewins (drums).
“For ‘Love Extinction,’ we picked it up and transformed each part of it into being even better, while the original EP was pretty much me just playing every instrument,” Coppola said. “We’re also going to release another single, ‘Love Will Find a Way,’ later this month or in early August. It’s the opposite viewpoint to ‘Love Xtinction.’”
Both singles will be featured on a new two-song EP called “The Love Sessions,” which will be sold at the band’s upcoming shows. In addition to their new singles, The Lows have played an impressive roster of live shows with several iconic ‘90s bands, such as Stone Temple Pilots and Candlebox.
They’ll also play several shows this month, including the Uncle Sam Jam with Sugar Ray in Woodhaven on July 13, the Pig & Whiskey festival in Ferndale with Verve Pipe on July 19 and Tommystock in Lake Orion on July 26.
“We’re going to be playing a lot of shows with Sponge because we’re part of the same management team,” Coppola said. “We’re also getting on the bill for a couple of out of town shows in Ohio and Pennsylvania in August.”
Before playing with iconic ‘90s artists, Coppola formed The Lows, a wordplay on his first name, while attending the Detroit Institute of Music Education (DIME) as a music business student in 2017.
Initially a solo project, he wrote and recorded the band’s first track, “Purple,” an homage to Prince, for the DIME Sessions (Vol. 3) compilation album. With the success of “Purple,” Coppola teamed up with Chuck Alkazian to produce and record The Lows’ debut EP at Canton’s Pearl Sound Studios.
While growing up in Macomb, Coppola developed an ear for rock music thanks to his father, who’s also a musician. He started playing drums at age three and won a contest at age seven while playing KISS songs on the former “America’s Most Talented Kid” TV show.
By high school, Coppola developed an obsession with Nirvana, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, Pearl Jam and The Smashing Pumpkins, taught himself guitar and learned how to write songs. He also played drums in a band called Shockwave and studied music business at Ferris State University before transferring to DIME and forming The Lows.
Two years later, Coppola and The Lows have played several metro Detroit music festivals and performed at Saint Andrew’s Hall and The Fillmore. Next up, they’re going to record more singles and possibly revisit their debut EP.
“I have 30 completed songs, and I have a home studio where I demo them out there first,” Coppola said. “We going to go single by single for the moment until we compile enough. We may even remix the first EP and put it together with a bunch of new singles that we have.”