Monday, April 09, 2007

The weekend of April 6-8, 2007

The Mighty Narwhale, Arrah and the Ferns, Great Lakes Myth Society at The Blind Pig 4/6/07
This show was the perfect kick-off to a fantastic JHaJ weekend.

Saturday began with an unseasonably cold trip to the steps of the Detroit Institute of Arts for the Michigan musician photo shoot. Yes, Annie and I aren’t musicians, but we gratefully accepted an invitation to the Canadians’ attempt to document the scene in one large photo.

What started as something of a clusterfuck of bands milling around got organized under the directorial hand of freelance photog extraordinaire Doug Coombe. He had us jump, pump our fists, pretend to fight, pose pensively around The Thinker and ultimately sweet-talked the whole thing into the Diego Rivera Court for some much warmer shots.

Not all of the photos have hit the ‘net yet (anybody hear from the guy with the sheet-over-the-head large format camera?), but Annie managed to sneak out of the proceedings to snap a few shots.

Then it was off to the Lager House, for what some called a dream JHaj line up: The Pop Project, The Mighty Narwhale and Great Lakes Myth Society (close, but it doesn’t beat ELFest).

Messrs. Curd, Lawson, Kempa and Yates began the late-night goings-on with another stellar live preview of The Stars of Stage and Screen. Maximum yuks and hooks were to be had, particularly when the break in “House of Books” found Zach commanding the crowd to empty the room until the song was over. You’d never think a band would be so excited about playing to no one.

My first taste of The Mighty Narwhale was kind of like being presented with a new dish around the family dinner table: you can make some assumptions based on looks (seven scruffy members and kitchen-sink instrumentation are usually right up my alley) but you don’t know if you’re really going to like it until you sink your teeth in.

Well put me in a iconic Life Cereal commercial and call me Mikey, because hey, I liked it! A little gamy at first — synth + violin + trombone is an exotic combination — but satisfying in the end; off-kilter without the worry of an upset stomach, cute but with no chance of cavities. When writing about big bands like the Narwhale (Broken Social Scene, Arcade Fire, Architecture in Helsinki, Anathallo, et al), I often lean on the phrase “beautiful noise,” but for this Grand Rapids septet, the metaphor of a penny arcade music machine set adrift in Lake Michigan is more appropriate.

Oh, Great Lakes Myth Society. Your self-titled record soundtracked my winter, and I eagerly await Compass Rose Bouquet to perform the same service for my summer. In the meantime, continue to deliver sets like Saturday’s, where the energy is high and flows like so many beers down your throats and the throats of your fans.

The new songs are great (you know how we feel about “Heydays,” one of four Compass Rose tracks streaming on the band’s MySpace). There’s a marked difference in the dispositions of these songs; it’s not like the boys have gone all lovey-dovey on us, but in live form, the songs from the new record are definitely the June/July companions to their January/February predecessors.

Speaking of which, I hope I’m never at a show at the beginning of April where the “sweetheart this city has beautiful, beautiful snow” outro from “Isabella County, 1992” actually speaks to the outside conditions. I’d like to think this means GLMS have the ability to control the weather, but if that was so, the explosive “Debutante” would have melted every snowflake in Wayne County.

Great Lakes Myth Society
Web site

Upcoming Michigan Shows
April 13 — The U Club at the University of Michigan with Black Moth Super Rainbow and Small Sails
May 4 — 313.jac (Jacoby's) in Detroit with Manna and Quail

The Mighty Narwhale

Upcoming Michigan Shows
April 12 — Students for a Sustainable Earth benefit at Kraftbrau Brewery in Kalamazoo with Son and Heir, Happy Hour and The Giving Tree
April 19 — Skelletones in Grand Rapids with A Paschal Circus
May 25 — Kraftbrau Brewery in Kalamazoo with Deep Sea Creatures

The Pop Project
Web site

Upcoming Michigan Shows
April 28 — The Magic Stick in Detroit with Rescue (LAST SHOW!!!), LaSalle and Russian Circles


Blogger Brandon said...

Good to see you guys this weekend. A very sizable part of me wishes I had gone to the Lager, as everyone said it was a really top-notch show, despite the blast I had at the Bang!

Keep up the great work with your documenting and organizing. I keep wondering what other bands might be lurking in places like Kalamazoo or Flint ot Saginaw or Traverse City that none of us know about... I'm glad the Narwhale have found such a receptive audience on the East Side.

8:24 AM  
Blogger Jeff Schroeder said...

Great post. Very informative. I'll have to check out the Narwhale.

8:32 AM  
Blogger Kyle said...

this past weekend was amazing. everyone was so good to us and we really felt welcome. i want to bring you all over here so you can meet our friends and feel just as welcome.

again, thank you!

-the Mighty Narwhale

1:05 PM  
Anonymous Jes said...

I've always wondered if bands that didn't have 19 members would get that awesome reception on the east side. Frickin' Narwhale.


1:49 PM  

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