This week´s Turn it Down was written by City Pulse contributor Dylan Sowle. In this edition Sowle highlights his favorite live shows of 2013. Turn it Down columnist Rich Tupica returns next week.
It´s great to live in a town where you can go see live music just about any night of the week and to have venues that won´t think twice about giving your crappy garage band a gig.
Stay cool, Lansing.
Here are some of the most fun nights of my year:
Jason Alarm Reunion Show at Mac’s Bar — Friday, Dec. 13
There we were: Seemingly all my friends from high school packed into the sweaty room, singing along to songs we hadn´t heard in three years. Thanks to Jason Alarm, I learned that local music existed and that I could be a part of it. It felt just like old times when they dug into a track from their first demo, “Friday the 13th,” which happened to be the date as well. They included just about every member the band has had over the years by rotating out bassists and keyboard players and switching instruments when they felt like it. The final song proved that I wasn´t the only one excited about my longtime friends getting back together to perform: “Cobras” had to be cut short after about 15 seconds when half the floor rushed the stage. Glasses were smashing, I had to dodge a mic stand to avoid getting knocked out and most of the instruments were ripped from the their sockets. After everyone was cleared, the band gave it another go and it was perfect. The crowd wouldn´t put the singer back on his feet until the very last note. Cheers, guys.
Mr. Fox & The Hounds at Mac´s Bar — Friday, May 3
Treading the line between rap and rock, Mr. Fox & The Hounds present a bizarre, genre-hopping act. Ever-shirtless front man and rapper Andy Fox was backed up by his full rock band, clad in suits and sunglasses, as they celebrated the debut of their self-titled album. They sold T-shirts featuring a strange human-fox creature that were just a bit too sexy for my taste. Mr. Fox left the stage with all the glory of a king, carried off on the shoulders of the crowd. I hope that the Hounds grace the stage again soon.
The Hunky Newcomers at GTG House — Saturday, Aug. 31
It´s hard to keep track of the shows that these guys play; they all sort of blend together like a weird, drunken, ongoing house party. The Hunky Newcomers are the most beautifully simplistic punk band in Lansing, with chord progressions that make The Ramones look technical. The night that sticks out this year was a set at the GTG House when it was still warm enough to take your clothes off, which some of the audience ended up doing. The band was just inebriated enough that they could still remember (some of) the song titles, the front man was in a Ghostbusters jumpsuit, and they kicked out a cover of Robin Thicke´s “Blurred Lines” (which was the best that song has ever sounded). I´m gonna miss these guys when they head out on tour next month.
The Meat Puppets at Mac´s Bar — Wednesday, Oct. 2
I was accidentally introduced to the Meat Puppets at age 8 when I pressed play on my dad´s Sony Discman, thinking my NOW 4 CD was still inside. What I got instead was the Meat Puppets’ “Too High To Die” blasting into my tiny ears at full volume. That incident may have scarred me as a child, but it also made me remember to take my dad to see the Puppets at Mac´s Bar when they rolled into town. At 14 albums in, they had a lot of material to go through, and most of the people in the bar that night had probably been listening since the beginning. I was definitely one of the youngest people in the audience, and even though I didn´t know their catalogue as well as the veterans, there was no question that the cow-punks still rock. My dad´s response: They should have played more old stuff. He´s a harsh critic.
Larry & His Flask at The Loft — Monday, Sept. 30
“I don´t understand how so many people got beat up at this show!” This was my friend´s text to me after we all came back that night with mysterious battle wounds. All the damage came from the dance floor of the most intense show in recent memory. I had never listened to Larry & His Flask before, but my friends from Kalamazoo dragged me along. Despite my hesitance towards the oversaturated folk-punk genre, I was pleasantly surprised. The energy in the room was on par with how I felt at the ska shows I went to in high school. It was a blur of crowd surfing and frantic dancing, and the crowd blended with the band so well that it was hard to tell where one began and the other ended.