The 10th Annual Nirvana Tribute Show made an epic stop at Ferndale’s New Way Bar on Friday April 12th.
The exceptional tribute allowed musicians from all over the state to unite in a love of Nirvana.
Starting off the night after 9 PM was husband and wife duo, Snapcat. The talented pair has been playing together for 22 years, and their unison showed. The band shouted out the 30th anniversary of Nirvana’s debut album being released. They appropriately presented several tracks from “Bleach”, as well as other greats from Nirvana’s discography.
Next up was Old Man. The incredible one man band took to the stage with just an acoustic guitar and some pedals, giving his set a definite MTV unplugged type of feel.
The Analog Lights was another terrific solo act. Musician Greg Aubry remarked that he had played Nirvana as a guitarist and bassist, now this mix was the final frontier. “Where no Cobain has gone before”. His minimal synth arrangements were a unique spin on the louder rock songs he was covering.
Band Figure 8 presented their set under the moniker “Gimme Back My Alcohol”. The talented gentleman formed a powerhouse three piece that more than did Nirvana justice.
All the way from Traverse City, Biomassive brought a vast collection of instruments such as bongos, keys, bass, guitar, drums and vocals.
Bloodwood took to the stage, featuring several musicians from different bands. Their versatility shined bright as the members swapped out vocal duties, and played different instruments throughout.
Fronted by the night’s MC, Dustin Lince, Fucking Swords and Fire Will Kill You closed out the night with an in your face set. The powerhouse rockers left everything on the stage, putting every ounce of passion into their performance.
New Way was just about packed with excited audience members who filled the bar with excitement. After a decade of grunge, the tribute wrapped up in its 10th year.
As always, the evening did not disappoint.
Check out some of the night’s photos below…
Words and photos by: Tiffany Cuthrell
Badflower made an exceptional appearance at 20 Monroe Live in Grand Rapids on Wednesday March 6th. The band is joined on The Truth Tour by terrific likes of Palisades, Of Mice And Men, and Nothing More.
Badflower are touring in support of their debut LP, “OK, I’m Sick”, which dropped last month. As a treat to fans, the tremendous music was available as a limited edition color album pre-order with signed packaging. Signed CDs were available at the night’s merch booth as well.
Badflower is a voice for the panicked, a voice for the anxious, a voice for voiceless animals, but above all, a voice for those of us who are ready to rock and roll. Badflower’s recent release touched on love, loss, abusive fathers, anti-Trump, and staying young (to name a few topics). The album houses shades and shadows of some great heavy dark dweller musicians of my own generation, and a sound truly their own. When I listed to the album for the first time on a janky record player with a bottle of wine, I heard a bassline reminisce of Tool in one song, the darkness of NIN in another, a scale in “Heroin” that shouts out “Karma Police” before Thom Yorke sighs a “phew”, the vocal power of Gerard Way throughout…. But nonetheless (and I’m sure so many artists at times detest comparisons) a sound 100% Badflower. I cannot wait to see how this band evolves, and where they go from here.
On a cold Grand Rapids evening after Palisades started the show in rocking fashion, Badflower took to the stage and began their night with “x Ana x”, the first track from “Ok, I’m Sick”.
When frontman Josh Katz stepped on the stage, arms outstretched, panic disorder be damned! The rock and roll vegan was a beacon of lead singer greatness. Badflower brought a full sound that translated album to stage effortlessly.
Next up, Badflower presented two tracks from 2018’s EP, “Temper”. During which, Josh threw in a back bend that would make Lyn-Z proud.
Fourth in their set, Badflower rocked hard with “Die” and encouraged the crowd to clap along to end out the final chorus.
”I get the feeling that some of you tonight are familiar with us, you know who we are.” The band started into emotional track, “Heroin”.
After the song wrapped, Josh addressed the audience with, “How many of you have debilitating panic or depression and had to force yourself out of the house today?”
After a roar from the crowd he said, “Same… This is a song for all of you who screamed for that.”
Badflower then began into their massive track, “Ghost”. The whole audience seemed to sing along in unison.
Josh Katz thanked concert goers and continued, “I gotta tell you Grand Rapids, for reasons that I’m not going to go into right now, I think this might be the most authentic Badflower show anybody has ever seen… I hope you come back and see us again.”
The amazing band closed out their set with “Animal”, also from “Temper”. Every musician was feeling each note of the music.
The show was an absolute joy to witness, and I’ve felt so grateful to welcome Badflower to my playlists.
Badflower will return to Michigan for Riff Fest at DTE Energy Music Theatre on July 13th, alongside Shinedown, Seether, Sevendust and more. In addition, they will be continuing The Truth Tour across the US through March 23rd.
Words and photos by: Tiffany Cuthrell
Incredible Irish songsmith Hozier has returned with a new album that is music to our ears.
Hozier is a gentleman who pulls from his roots… who appreciates the sounds that came before him, and that studious nature shows. Without question, “Wasteland, Baby!” is a nod to not only the greats, but his own evolution as an artist. “Wasteland, Baby!” is not an album that fears change, but instead embraces it. The instant gem is one that found Hozier exploring more layered and textured sounds. The album also pleasantly surprised me with Hozier’s repeated use of the F word (bold and powerful, dear sir!). The lyrics touch on both dark and light subject matter, a perfect refrain for life itself.
Hozier’s church was dismissed after the exhaustive touring that followed his 2014 debut album and (thank god) we are all in session, raising our musical hands again.
Up tempo tracks like “Almost (Sweet Music)” and “Nobody” get our feet tapping, and slower, sensual jams like “Movement” and hit right in the feels. No matter what the song, Hozier’s undeniable talent shines through. His vocals soar the entire album, be it in a direct lyric, or a beautiful chorus of layered vocals.
In true Hozier fashion, “Wasteland, Baby!” is packed with exceptional lyrics, and musicality that can stand up to the best of the best.
Hozier poetically articulates love on the deepest level, better than most of us could, and our world is better for having his voice.
“There’s no plan, there’s no race to be run
The harder the pain honey, the sweeter the song
There’s no plan, there’s no kingdom to come
But I’ll be your man if you’ve got love to get done”
The masterful musician’s knowledge and respect for rock and blues shines throughout the album as well, especially with his shout out track, “Nina Cried Power”. The album’s lead single also features the tremendous Mavis Staples. Together they belt out an anthem for the ages, perfect for these tumultuous times we find ourselves in.
Hozier’s homeland is well-represented through “Shrike”‘s beautiful harmony.
“Remember me love when I’m reborn
as the shrike to your sharp and glorious thorn”
The album is perfect for a long walk, an evening at home, a night with your love, or a long drive… In other words, pretty much anything. Like his first album, the cover art is masterfully painted by Hozier’s talented mother, Raine Hozier-Byrne.
Whether the album arrived at fan’s doorsteps via post, our inboxes to download, or through a trip to our local record store, “Wasteland, Baby!” has absolutely been worth the five year wait.
Hozier will be touring the US throughout the summer. Whilst singing, stomping and strumming, he will make a stop at the Fillmore in Detroit on May 28th.
1. Nina Cried Power
2. Almost (Sweet Music)
4. No Plan
6. To Noise Making (Sing)
7. As It Was
11. Dinner & Diatribes
12. Would That I
14. Wasteland, Baby!
Album review by: Tiffany Cuthrell
Winter Jam made a stellar stop at Ypsilanti’s EMU’s Convocation Center on a snowy Sunday February 17th. The festival was on it’s 22nd of 42 stops from city to city spreading faith, love, hope, and worship.
There were musicians who sang praises from all over the musical spectrum – hip hop, rock, soul and folk (to name a few). Regardless of background and influence, each band’s talent, passion, and power of praise shown through. The venue was packed with fans of all ages, and from all walks of life. The Convocation Center was filled with a positive energy, and lots of smiles.
Starting off Winter Jam’s main acts strong, Dan Bremnes presented incredible songs with an acoustic guitar. The audience was ready to sing and dance, right from the start.
Next, Hollyn brought terrific vocals with a dash of rock. The band got the crowd energized, to their feet, with hands in the air.
Throughout the festival in between artists, speakers would pass on positive messages, and even shoot t-shrits into the crowd. Adam Agee presented one song inspired by his mission trip. “I promised a bunch of kids I’d tell their story.”
Later in the evening, Adam returned to the stage to tell his account of sponsoring a child through the evening’s spotlight organization, “Childfund International”. Audience members were encouraged to sponsor a child. In doing so would come both the satisfaction of changing a life, but also a wristband to meet the night’s headliner (Newsboys United) after the show.
Winter Jam founders, NewSong brought a Sunday church feel with powerful vocals, an organ, rocking guitar, horns, and beautiful harmonies. Preshow opener, Ty Brasel made an appearance with a full on choir to ad a bit of hip hop to the mix.
Skillet drummer, Jen Ledger fronted her own outfit with memorable lyrics and an energetic performance.
The night’s next speaker, Zane Black, shared his experience to a better life through a life-changing trip to church. Zane went from a life of drugs, overdose, and even a coma to literally preaching from a skateboard to the Winter Jam crowd as a terrific metaphor for God’s love.
Next to the stage, Mandisa’s set was wonderfully choreographed with character, finding her backup singers and dancers getting down to the passionate jams. She brought a powerful message to keep going with memorable music about praise and hope. She encouraged the excited crowd to sing along with her. With a message of unity and love, Mandisa focused on all areas of the audience. Her fighter spirit shined her whole set through.
After Mandisa was the sharp-dressed Danny Gokey. With his rock-vibed set, Danny had an impressive horn section that swayed along. Danny got the crowd dancing, and impressed all with soulful, heartfelt vocals. Toward the end of his set, Danny performed a track with just an acoustic guitarist, and piano playing throughout. Phone flashlights danced and illuminated the audience as they sang along. He closed out the evening with “The Comeback”.
Before the night’s final artist, Rend Collective took to the stage with the hope of revival. The band brought a folk sound from Northern Ireland. The spirited group had a fiddle, accordion, electric and acoustic guitar, to name a few instruments. During their set, a sea of bubbles erupted against the stage, coating the crowd in sparkly orbs. A heavy drum sound kept time.
Singer Chris Llewellyn commented that it’s close to St. Patrick’s Day, and maximum Irish for the year. He encouraged fans to dance in Irish fashion, alternating hopping on one leg.
“It’s already like we’re in Dublin!”, he exclaimed. Confetti showered the dancing crowd, much to everyone’s delight. At the very end of their set, each member donned a panda mask.
After their set, NewSong member Russ Lee returned to the stage, and told a heartfelt story of one of his experiences Winter Jam had yielded. The moral was that he did not want anyone to have to miss the festival, and the message of worship it can provide. An offering bucket was passed around to help out the festival. Since tickets are discounted at the door, and folks even admitted who can’t afford it who need the evening’s message, Russ emphasized the importance of everyone pitching in and helping if they can. Ten percent of the offering was set to be donated to a local organization playing a large part in youth ministry.
The lights dimmed again, and the stage was set for the Jam’s main act, Newsboys United.
Newsboys took to the stage to start off their night strong with “Born Again” ,”That’s How You Change The World” and “Live With Abandon”.
Next, lead singer Michael Tait encouraged the crowd to move side to side “like this, come on! Like one big black gospel choir with a lot of white people from Michigan – love ya!”
The band started into “He Reins”. After the first chorus, Newsboys of old, vocalist Peter Furler and bassist Phil Joel emerged to round out the beautiful song. Together, the united six gentleman churned out greats like “I am Free” and “Breakfast” with rock abound and incredible harmonies soaring over the center. During “Something Beautiful”, Michael Tait shouted out each member of the band.
Newsboys United then shared new songs from their forthcoming self-titled album, which is due out in May. Through the festival, the band offered a special pre-order that included two albums for $10.
At one point, they even brought a couple of excited fans on stage to dance along.
Michael Tait touched on his love of Michigan, and shouted out keyboardist Jeff Frankenstein, who is from the Detroit area. He also touched on the importance of putting God back in America, and taking time out to love people.
He encouraged the crowd to sing along to amazing track, “We Believe”. The chorus of audience members filled the room. Afterward, Peter Furler commented, “Mike, we might have found the loudest Americans in America”.
The band also performed dc Talk favorite, “Jesus Freak”, with a special appearance by the talented Tray Little. As a united unit, Newsboys were clearly loving presenting their message of worship, and enjoying performing together.
Next, Peter Furler remained on drums, as drummer Duncan Phillips set up on a rotating kit. The two incredible drummers faced off on opposite ends of the venue. Duncan’s drumkit rotating impressively as the audience cheered them both on.
Newsboys United closed out their night with gigantic song, “God’s Not Dead”. Michael Tait exclaimed, “God bless Michigan!” as the band stood center stage to bow together.
Pastor and author, Bobby Joyner ended the evening with a prayer.
Winter Jam 2019 will be continuing across the states through the end of March.
Words and photos by: Tiffany Cuthrell
Warsaw, Indiana’s finest, Surprise Asteroid are here with a brand new track entitled “Speak”.
Surprise Asteroid is an ever-evolving collaborative effort, driven by talented singer / songwriter, Grant Reigner. Grant not only penned the song’s lyrics, but also played all of the instrumentation for “Speak”. The song also features background vocals by Joby Adams and Michael Burke.
According to Reigner, the song is a response to a higher power and the place we instinctively turn to when our backs are against the wall. “We crave independence and defy authority, both real and perceived. But as soon as we feel out of control or crushed by a burden we can’t bear, the first we thing we turn to is authority. A higher power is somehow necessary for our survival, and ‘Speak’ describes the struggle and pull of each of the two clashing emotions.”
As far as musicality goes, the song starts by catching listeners with a lovely and memorable acoustic riff. Quickly, the song is well-layered to include percussion, drum, and electric guitar. “Speak” presents very open, honest, and relatable lyrics, as well as terrific instrumentation the whole song through. The chorus is carried by a medley that would make even Weezer proud.
The song closes out with the same riff that drew us in.
“Speak” is a reflection of hard work, and passion for music. The time and production spent on the song absolutely shows. Surprise Asteroid’s hope is to unite folks both in the creative process of songwriting, as well as through listening enjoyment.
The single is making its debut today, and is presently available on iTunes, Amazon Music, Spotify, and Google Play.
Be sure to give “Speak” a listen, and keep a weather eye on the horizon for more to come from this great band.
Review by : Tiffany Cuthrell
Greta Van Fleet delivered an exceptional performance at Detroit’s Fox Theatre on Saturday December 29th. The concert was the second of three sold out shows for the band’s Michigan homecoming. In the holiday spirit, the band also joined forced with Gleaners Community Food Bank, setting up canned food donation stations at each of the concerts.
The Frankenmuth natives have had an unbelievable year releasing an acclaimed debut album, and just being nominated for four Grammy awards.
Opening the show was the talented husband and wife duo, Ida Mae from the UK. With a wave, guitarist Chris Turpin greeted the crowd.
“Good evening, Detroit. There’s a lot of you out there” …and with that, the pair was off on their incredible set. The musicians’ talent was evident from the very first note.
The audience, who was ready for great music, welcomed Ida Mae warmly. The band presented sharp rhymes and impressive playing. Stephanie Jean delivered lovely vocals and kept rhythm. The band had more than enough original material to round out a great set.
Guitarist and singer Chris played with a slide, while his wife kept rhythm. Her beautiful voice complimented her husband’s soulful sound flawlessly.
The band commented on being grateful to be at the theatre with their friends, Greta Van Fleet. They kept an open dialogue with the audience, talking about moving to Nashville, writing music, and even shouting out the gorgeous theatre itself.
Overall, Ida Mae was a wonderful opener to set the stage for the night’s main act.
Greta Van Fleet’s Peaceful Army of fans were out in droves to support their musical heroes. The audience was filled with all types of folks, young and old. Some were dressed in full on 60’s and 70’s attire, an appropriate homage to the band’s undeniable throwback sound. One fact was absolutely unmistakable; the turnout was rock n’ roll fans through and through.
The lights dimmed, and GVF took to the stage right around 9:30 PM. The beautiful Fox Theatre was alive with energy right off the bat as the audience ignited with applause that rarely dimmed throughout the night.
Keeping up a lovely tradition and class act move, lead singer Josh Kiszka handed out roses to fans. Greta Van Fleet wasted no time getting to the music as they started off their night strong with an intro into “Cold Wind”, the second track off their debut LP, “Anthem Of The Peaceful Army”.
The band was dressed every bit the rockstar part. Josh in a golden vest, adorned with a headband lined with draping feathers. Guitarist Jake Kiszka sported a black military-style jacket, whilst shirtless underneath. Bassist Sam Kiszka and drummer Danny Wagner kept a classic, minimalistic feel as well. The attire suited the band and night perfectly.
Second in the set, the crowd went wild for the band’s hit, “Safari Song”. To conclude the song, Danny Wagner drummed and exceptional solo. He was also celebrating his birthday!
Throughout the night, Greta Van Fleet performed tracks from their debut LP, as well as jams from their EPs that grabbed attention from around the world.
Next up, the band presented one of their Grammy nominated tracks, the epic “Black Smoke Rising”.
During “Flower Power”, bassist Sam Kiszka switched instruments to get down on an organ. A vase of white roses was perched upon it.
Josh exclaimed, “Watch me now!” as the band started appropriately into “Watch Me”, a Labi Siffre cover. During “Watch Me”, Josh Kiszka took to his mike stand, feeling every bit of the music. At times, standing next to his brother Jake, who absolutely shredded on guitar.
When the song concluded, Josh flashed a peace sign and thanked the audience.
“Now this next song if you know the words, sing along.” The band started into “The Music Is You”, a beautiful John Denver cover. Throughout the night, Greta Van Fleet put their musical knowledge and appreciation on full display.
During “You’re The One”, singer and guitarist were back to back singing the heartfelt chorus together. Jake traded his electric guitar for an acoustic for the softer, more intimate jam. Josh threw a few “Here comes the sun” lines in for a thoughtful touch. His effortlessly powerful vocals soared throughout the theatre the entire night through.
Next under a yellow-hued light, Greta Van Fleet presented the lead single for their new album, a track called “When The Curtain Falls”. The celebratory crowd danced and sang along accordingly.
After, the lights dimmed and in a blue smoke haze, the band started into “Lay Down (Candles In The Rain)”, a cover of the 1970 Melanie track. Jake Kiszka took to center stage for an unmatched guitar solo, which was a common theme of the evening. Josh Kiszka added a passionate touch with tambourine.
During “Edge Of Darkness”, Josh Kiszka accepted a red rose from a fan and added it to the collection atop the organ. The crowd positively erupted when guitarist Jake started playing his guitar behind his back and over his shoulders. He didn’t miss a beat. Josh continued on tambourine and ended the song with a powerful note. The band thanked the crowd, and exited stage left.
The Fox Theatre roared with cheers and applause from the second Greta Van Fleet disappeared from view. There was even a loud “GRE-TA” chant going. Cell phone flashlights and lighters danced in the air, illuminating the anxious crowd. The audience hit a crescendo as Josh Kiszka reappeared with a wave, band in tow, and said, “Detroit, we love you!”
To start off the encore, the band performed another awesome track also from their latest release, “Brave New World.” Next, Greta Van Fleet rocked out with “Lover, Leaver” as the crowd danced along. During the first chorus, the crowd went mental for Josh’s dazzling vocals and creative microphone effects.
The encore was far from over as the band continued onto their massive track, “Highway Tune”, then a terrific cover of Muddy Waters’ “Rollin’ And Tumblin'”.
The band kept the music jiving, riffing into Howlin’ Wolf’s “Evil”, and the Black Keys “I Got Mine”. Greta Van Fleet closed out their night jamming together, their musical talent shining bright.
Greta Van Fleet will be wrapping up their string of Fox Theatre shows tomorrow night, then will continue to tour extensively into 2019.
Review and photos by: Tiffany Cuthrell
Ford Arts Beats & Eats celebrated its 21st year by bringing end of summer fun to the Detroit suburb of Royal Oak.
The bustling festival spanned four total days, extending through the holiday weekend and wrapping up on Labor Day Monday.
Several artists lined the streets with tent shops, showcasing everything from handcrafted treasures to lovely art prints. There was a little something for every art seeker such as jewelry, ceramic pottery, photographs, clothing, and anything in between.
The food was just as exciting with vendors serving up local cuisine, BBQ, as well as tastes from across the map.
Several stands served beverages as well, making a perfect addition to the hot days.
Music was a staple of the festival each day. A great deal of local talent was in the spotlight on many of the festival’s smaller stages, with artists from several genres spanning all the way from bluegrass to electronic.
At the Michigan Lottery National Stage, several superstars made a stop such as AWOLNATION, Eddie Money, Matt Nathanson, Rival Sons, Ben Folds, and Everclear (to name a few).
Carnival rides and fun games were at different ends of the festival, filled with smiling families and little kids who were so happy to have won a prize.
Overall, this edition of Arts Beats & Eats was a resounding success, and always is the perfect way to wrap up the summer before children are heading back to school. As expected, the festival provided great family fun for all ages, great music, and unique art for the interested eye.
Festival review and photos by: Tiffany Cuthrell
AWOLNATION made a great tour stop on Sunday September 2nd at Royal Oak Michigan’s Arts Beats & Eats festival.
A gentleman from Detroit’s radio station, Alt 106.7 introduced the band. He had even personally suggested AWOLNATION to play at the festival.
Louis Armstrong’s “What A Wonderful World” greeted the band to the stage. The roaring crowd was ready as lead vocalist Aaron Bruno paced up, scanning the audience. AWOL started off their night with the lead track from their latest album entitled “Here Come The Runts”. Before venturing into “Hollow Moon” Aaron stated, “I’m looking for the best dancer here tonight!” His quest continued throughout the evening.
“I’m still looking for the best dancer here tonight. You could be anywhere! Who are you? What’s your name? What’s your best move?”
Their track “Passion” included a seamless transition into short but epic track, “Sound Witness System”.
Before the wonderful “Kill Your Heroes”, Aaron told the crowd, “We met some of you back in 2011 on our first record, ‘Megalithic Symphony’. We’ve been gaining new family members all along the way… and what a twisted family we’ve become, wouldn’t you say?”
The band continued into a slowed down track of the hit.
“We love you more than you’ll ever know, ladies and gentleman… but I’m still looking for the best dancer here tonight! Where are you?” He encouraged the crowd to let loose and act a fool as they jammed into “Not Your Fault”.
Before beautiful song, “Table For One”, Aaron picked up some flowers and shared, “Love is in the air tonight, ladies and gentleman, boys and girls! People of all ages.” He tossed the flowers to excited fans, and talked about not having many opportunities to go to dances and slow dance growing up, so he wrote a song where “we could all slow dance together, you see. So everybody put your arm around the person next to you, and let’s try to unite and swing side to side”.
Before “Miracle Man” ended with one last breakdown, Aaron encouraged the crowd to jump! “We can all jump so high, we can touch the stars that you can’t even see yet. If you try your hardest. 1-2 1-2-3- GO!” The audience responded with jumps and arms a-waving.
The band’s passion was on full display, and their musical talents shined throughout the entire set. AWOLNATION included tracks from each of their three full length albums.
After 2015’s “Run”, AWOLNATION exited the festival stage.
The crowd started clapping, cheering and chanting. “EN-CORE, EN-CORE!” until their musical heroes reemerged for three more tracks.
To start off their encore, they ventured into “I’m On Fire”, their spectacular cover of Bruce Springsteen’s jam for the “Fifty Shades Of Grey” Soundtrack.
Next up, they got the crowd moving again with high tempto jam “Burn It Down”.
AWOL ended their set with mega hit, “Sail”. To close out the night, Aaron introduced each member of the band.
“It’s been absolute pleasure entertaining you tonight, and please understand you entertain us just as much with your sweat, your high energy, and your passion for music. I hope you made some new friends and new family memebrs tonight. I hope your ears ring ’cause we’ll be thinking about you for the next week. Would you like us to come back?”
The crowd collectively cheered.
Aaron asked, “Do you want to party with me one more time tonight? JUMP!” As “Sail”‘s last musical breakdown kicked in, everyone in the crowd danced, jumped and raged.
AWOLNATION left the stage one more time, leaving the crowd cheering and shouting in satisfaction.
They were most certainly a welcome addition to the Arts Beats & Eats festivities this year.
AWOL will be continuing their tour into California this month, and ending out at New Orleans’ Voodoo Fest this October.
1. Here Come the Runts
2. Hollow Moon (Bad Wolf)
3. Seven Sticks of Dynamite
4. Passion / Sound Witness System
5. Not Your Fault
6. Kill Your Heroes
7. Table for One
8. Miracle Man
9. The Buffoon
11. Run (with Thunderstruck intro)
12. I’m On Fire
13. Burn It Down
Photos and review by: Tiffany Cuthrell
Taylor Swift is certainly a gal with a big reputation, but she let nothing but her talent shine at Ford Field in Detroit on Tuesday.
Fans were greeted at the door with light up bracelets to hold high and add their own ray of shining light to the sea of Swifties in the crowd. Fans of all ages dotted the stadium. Several dressed up as characters from different Swift music videos and performances (I even saw a lady with plush kittens sewn to a robe…!) The costumes were no less than creative to honor their musical hero, covering the entire musical spectrum of Taylor’s incredible career. Taylor’s lucky number “13” was everywhere as well (including my own hand).
Joining Taylor on the gigantic tour are stellar artists Camilla Cabello and Charlie XCX, each arriving with exceptional musical reputations of their own.
First to the stage was the beautifully talented Charlie XCX. Charlie burst onto radio waves, into headphones, iPhones, and any possible musical presentation imaginable with the inescapable “Boom Clap” in 2014. Dressed in white denim, she started the evening with the smash hit. She got the crowd cheering when she welcomed everyone to the reputation Stadium Tour. “Are you guys excited to see Camila Cabello? Are you excited to see Taylor Swift?”
Next up was the fiery Camilla Cabello. Having rose to the musical scene spotlight with Fifth Harmony, Cabello has branched out and into her own with tremendous songs like “Havanna” and “Never Be The Same”. Camilla waved, smiled, and blew kisses to several fans when her set began. Dressed in a football jersey that sported her last name along the back, she addressed the crowd, “I’m from Miami, can we make it a little hotter in here?” With great dance moves, and a fun vibe, she encouraged the audience to sing along with her.
It was obvious several fans had also come early to see Charli and Camila as they sang and danced throughout each set.
Ford Field’s energy was electric as the time for Taylor’s set drew near.
Joan Jett’s “Bad Reputation” played across the stadium, starting Taylor’s night solidly before she even emerged.
The lights dimmed, and a brief video showcasing certain career moments and whispers began. The massive screens parted ways for Taylor to appear, covered in a glittering hood. Smoke rose from the stage to the beat as “Ready For It” began. Ford Field was most assuredly ready for Taylor’s set to begin! Fans throughout the packed stadium sang along from the very first note.
A dancer removed Taylor’s sparkling hood, and she moved into “I Did Something Bad”, another terrific track from “reputation”. Her strong attitude and ample expressions emphasized the song’s feel. Toward the end of the song, Taylor and her backup singer chorus echoed, “Light me up, light me up” as dancers raised her high above the stage.
When the song ended, Taylor greeted the crowd with, “Well good evening Detroit, and welcome to the reputation Stadium Tour!” The audience erupted with cheer. She continued, “I’ve been touring since I was about 15 years old and since that point in time I’ve played twenty shows in the great state of Michigan, which is like touring way of saying I really love you guys and we keep coming back to see you.”
She continued, “It’s not like you just know the words to the songs, you guys are screaming the words to the songs and I really appreciate you doing that. It’s just a beautiful thing that you would be that passionate. You know, it’s actually more than beautiful. Do you know the word for something that’s more than beautiful? What’s the word for that, Detroit?” Immediately, “Gorgeous” began. Before the final verse, she took a minute to introduce the gorgeous gals on her tour.
Next during “Style”, she encouraged the crowd to make some noise for her band, and transitioned into “Love Story”.
“Detroit, let me see you jump!”, she exclaimed.
A video montage soon began in which Taylor climbed onto a tall throne of snakes. With a wink, “Look What You Made Me Do” started. Taylor was set on a tilted stage of her own. A giant snake rose tall above the stage.
Toward the final chorus, Taylor’s SNL counterpart, Tiffany Haddish appeared on screen to inform an unknown caller, “The old Taylor can’t come to the phone right now. Why? Oh! Cause she’s dead!”
The set continued into two more tracks from “reputation”, “End Game” and “King Of My Heart”.
Upon concluding, Taylor began speaking on one of the most powerful local heroes… Aretha Franklin. In a touching moment, Taylor reflected that Aretha did so much for music, for women’s rights, and for civil rights.
“She was one of those people where no matter what we said, no matter what glowing positive thing you said about her, it would be an understatement. Words could never ever describe how many things she did in her lifetime that made our world a better place, and this is her home. I would like it if we could have a moment of silence so that every single one of us could reflect on our love and respect for her and everything she did in her life, so could we please cut the lights and have a moment of silence for Aretha?”
Everything went dark for the moment of reflection.
After a minute, Swift stated, “We love you, Aretha.”
With a beautiful, sparkling rainbow dress, she began into “Delicate”. Swift entered a golden enclosure, perfect for the new album’s golden theme. She soared above the audience, serenading the crowd, as she made her way to one of the venue’s two smaller stages on the other side of the stadium.
The crowd was ready to dance as soon as “Shake It Off” began. After the song’s first chorus, she welcomed the incredible openers back to the stage. Charlie XCX and Camila Cabello joined the shining superstar to dance and shake any blues away. Rainbow confetti popped, and showered the stadium with colorful fun, adding a perfect celebratory touch.
Dressed in a glimmering green reputation jacket, Taylor continued her open dialogue with the audience.
“You may notice something about your outfit… you may notice a light up bracelet on your wrist”.
She told the crowd that this is her first full on stadium tour, and though they are really massive, vast places to play, she wanted the bracelets to illuminate each fan.
“I really wanted to be able to see every single one of you in this place. The last section, the last row, I can see you, and that makes me really happy. I can see when you’re jumping around. I can see when you’ve got your hands in the air. I can see you dancing”. She started into “Dancing With Our Hands Tied” with just her acoustic guitar. Her skill as a musician was on full display.
Next she happily told the crowd, “This tour is the most fun I’ve ever had in my whole life. One of the things that’s been so fun about it is every night I’m getting to have a moment with you guys. Just me and a guitar. I hope that’s ok with you…”
The audience cheered and applauded, answering a resounding “Yes!” without having to speak now a single word.
“I’ve been doing different songs than I usually do, songs I haven’t played in a really long time, or maybe songs I’ve never even played acoustic. I’m pretty sure I’ve never played this song acoustic live.” She smiled and noted, “If I’m wrong about that, I’m sure the internet will remind me later”. She began into a stunning version of “Jump Then Fall”.
When the song wrapped, Taylor made her way along a barricade that connected both smaller stages. She grabbed fan’s hands while beaming a glowing smile to everyone along the path. Taylor absolutely radiated confidence and endless love for each fan in attendance the whole night through. Despite the show’s larger than life size, Taylor still managed to give the evening a personal feel, making every single fan feel so welcome and so special.
Once she made her way to the second smaller stage, she started into “Blank Space”. It was truly spectacular to see an artist taking the time to play to each part of the stage, no matter how small.
“In this crowd, I’ve seen some ensembles. The effort you’ve put in is top notch! I’ve seen a lot of people wearing things that correlate to a lyric of a song. I feel like I need to get on your level, and so I’m going to wear a dress while singing a song about a dress…”
She slipped on an airy black dress to emote the honest and beautifully written “Dress” from her latest album. Once arriving at the song’s last line, “Only bought this dress so you could take it off”, she slipped off the dress as the lights dimmed. The attention to detail she paid to each song was second to none.
During “Bad Blood”, Taylor made her way back to the main stage via a soaring skeleton cage transport. She also included a mix of “Should’ve Said No”.
Swift then started into the vocal masterpiece, “Don’t Blame Me”. Screens that showcased the stage were shaped like arches, emphasizing the song’s religious feel. Backing vocalists joined in, adding as much power to the live show as the song has on “reputation”.
After a wave of applause, she took a seat at a beautiful piano. Taylor touched on her gratitude for all of the folks making the tour possible, those that leave their families to drive the trucks and build the stage. She even thanked all of the people in Detroit who helped put the show on from the security teams to workers doing parking, selling t-shirts, selling food and water…
“I want to thank everyone here in Detroit who helped us do this because this stage did not put itself up and I’m so lucky to get to be on it.”
She then reflected on how unreal it is when people remind her of the passage of time.
“When somebody comes up to me and says, ‘I’ve been listening to your music since I was 8’, and I’m looking at an adult saying that to me… No matter how many times somebody says that, it’s still really surreal. When somebody tells me that I’ve been more than a year long phase in their life, I really appreciate that. I want to sing a song that I wrote a while ago, but for me, it’s always going to be about you”.
With just her lovely voice and piano, she started into “Long Live” from 2010’s album, “Speak Now”. Concert-goers waved their wristlets in the air, and many embraced.
With an adjoining “confetti falls to the ground”, she started into “New Years Day”.
After, the stadium was silent as another video began. Taylor was standing in the desert, different moments flashing by, as she read a sharp, poignant, honest, and vulnerable poem.
“Getaway Car” commenced. A backdrop continued landscape expanses, emoting words from the song spotted in neon.
Next up she sang, “Call It What You Want”. A lovely fountain was set up center stage, as white confetti shot up over the stadium. Adding a personal touch at the end of the song, Swift flashed a peace sign, or two right in line with, “Call it what you want to”.
In a purple sequined dress, Taylor began into a medley of “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” and “This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things”. All of the performers closed out the night with an absolutely epic party! Bracelets sparkled bright in the stadium, fireworks shot up from the top of the stage, and even the water in the fountain danced along.
“Thank you Detroit! We love you so much!”
Clearly ever-grateful for each person with her onstage, Taylor encouraged the crowd, “Please make some noise for the dancers. Make some noise for the singers!” She formed a line with everyone and they all bowed together. After asking the audience to “Give it up for the band”, she ran to both sides of the stage, bowing again.
Once Taylor had disappeared from view and the music stopped, “And in the death of her reputation, she felt truly alive” graced the screens.
The old Taylor might be dead and unable to come to the phone, but the snake-clad goddess who has taken her place sure puts on one exceptional show.
Taylor has continued to evolve right before our very eyes stylistically and musically as an artist, as a person, and as a beautifully powerful force to be reckoned with.
With any amount of negativity thrown her way, or any jab at her reputation, Taylor has remained an entertainer who truly epitomizes class, talent, generosity, and above all, magnificent songwriting.
The Ford Field stop of her tour left no doubt as to why she’s one of the world’s most successful artists, and one unafraid to take risks.
The reputation Stadium Tour will continue with nine more shows in the United States, before heading overseas through November.
Review and photos by: Tiffany Cuthrell
Pixies and Weezer joined forces to the delight of music fans at DTE Energy Music Theatre on Friday July 13th.
Pixies have always been gentleman (and a lady) that make the kind of music they want to make… music that is completely atonally recognizable. That fact was on grand display from the moment the band started their set.
Pixies began their night at DTE in Clarkston, MI walking onto the stage and taking to their mics (or drum set).
Bassist Paz Lenchantin addressed the silent and waiting crowd acapella with the unmistakable “Ooohh” from “Where Is My Mind”. Paz displayed a red flower at the end of her bass, adding a lovely touch. After several “Oooh”s, fellow Pixies joined in, and the epic track began full force. Lead vocalist Black Francis strummed away on a beat up acoustic guitar.
Pixies have been a strong presence in the music scene in the late 80’s with the release of their first stand-out LPs, Surfer Rosa and Doolittle.
After a break-up and hiatus that lasted over a decade, they reemerged (sans bassist Kim Deal, plus Paz Lenchantin) with tours that led up to the release of 2014’s album Indie Cindy.
Most recently, the band released the awesome album Head Carrier in 2016.
Pixies breezed through their set, letting the incredible music speak for itself. Throughout their set, the band was bathed in smoke and colorful lights that added a great feel and emphasis on each song.
Around mid-set during “Vamos”, guitarist Joey Santiago put on quite a show while removing his hat and sliding it along his guitar strings. He even created some effects with his amp cord. After the sonic display, he tipped his hat and gave a small bow as the crowd cheered.
For “Gouge Away”, vocalist Black Francis swapped out his acoustic guitar for electric, for the first time that evening. The terrific lead singer remained electric throughout the night.
After Surfer Rosa’s jam, “Cactus”, the band presented an awesome cover of “Winterlong” by the great Neil Young.
Pixies portrayed jams from across their discography with notable contributions like 2014’s “Silver Snail”, 1990’s “Ana”, and (to the delight of the crowd) Doolittle’s “Mr. Grieves”. Several knowledgeable audience members nodded their heads, and sang along to each song. It was obvious that fans had turned out in droves to welcome the night’s co-headlining act.
Pixies also represented tracks from Head Carrier with jams like “Bel Espirit”, “Um Chagga Lagga” and “All I Think About Now”.
After “All I Think About Now”, Paz Lenchantin exclaimed, “Thank you Michigan.” The audience responded with cheers.
Pixies closed out their night with the memorable songs “Debaser”, “Hey” and “Gigantic”. With over 20 songs under their musical belt, Pixies took center stage to bow together. The crowd positively erupted. Joey Santiago once again tipped his hat, and the exceptional band exited the stage.
Pixies have definitely had an influential hand toward Weezer, as well as many other notable artists, so the pairing made for a smooth transition from one band to the next.
After Pixies wrapped up their night, some rearranging was done, and the stage was set for the evening’s closing act. The atmosphere of the packed theater was electric with anticipation.
A piece of black fabric that had concealed the set up dropped, and Weezer began their set of non-stop rock. Weezer did not shy away from their big hits and well-known songs, starting out with 90’s staple, “Buddy Holly” (complete with the throwback intro). Appropriately, lead vocalist Rivers Cuomo donned an ivory sweater, button-up shirt, tie, and black spectacles.
Next up, Weezer jammed into “Beverly Hills”, with the front row going wild!
For “Pork and Beans”, the band swapped vocals for a few lines between band members, with a huge cheer from the crowd for each gentleman’s contribution.
Their stage was decorated with backdrops much like a living room, with high school pendants (one reading “Jefferson High School”, others with the band member’s last names), and even a picture of a fish. A color-changing neon “W” completed the vibe.
Next on the docket was “Undone – Sweater Song”, which filled the theater with cheers, smiles, aisles full of dancing folks, and many singing along.
Memorable riffs continued with “Hash Pipe”. Lead singer and guitarist, Rivers Cuomo did not remain a stranger to positively shredding on his guitar. Often times he’d head to center stage, as close to the fans as he could be, wailing away.
During “Perfect Situation”, guitarist Brian Bell maneuvered around the stage, at times even standing atop some amps. The audience sang along to the closing chorus’ “Ohhhhh oh”s.
The stage set up changed, and the living room lifted away. In its place emerged a garage with a total jam feel: white door, rock god posters, and even some hanging tools. A recognizable golden light up W raised to the forefront as well. Soon after, Rivers’ sweater was torn away to reveal a red shirt underneath. The crowd went crazy for the outfit change.
During “El Scorcho”, Cuomo replaced “Green Day” with “Pixies”, endearingly singing, “I asked you to go to the Pixies concert with me”. The audience cheered, nodding to the evening’s excellent opener. When the song wrapped up, Rivers shouted to the crowd, “Detroit! Michigan! Clarkston! M-I! Welcome to Weezer time!”
After “Troublemaker”, Rivers exlaimed with a wave, “Alright children! Let’s take it back to 1994, The Blue Album. This is ‘In The Garage'”. After the fitting track, amist posters of AC/DC, Motley Crue and Kiss (to name a few), Cuomo kept the dialogue rolling.
“Now we’re gonna go back to the 1960’s when it all began with a band called The Turtles. It’s called ‘Happy Together’. 1-2-3”. Everyone in the audience sang along to the warm and timeless classic. Weezer slipped in an interlude of Green Day’s “Longview”, still including the fellow rockers, sans “El Scorcho” lyric. Cuomo held up his mic to amplify the crowd, who were singing back to every note.
When “Happy Together” concluded, Rivers quickly put on a sailor hat and white nautical jacket. He waved, and ran into the crowd, high-fiving through an aisle as he moved upward. Other members of the band took on the singing duties of “Keep Fishin'”.
Cuomo made his way through the theater and to the waiting S.S. Weezer (a small wooden craft). Folks at the back of the theater and out on the lawn were delighted at their suddenly closer seat to all of the action. Upon reaching the vessel, Rivers declared, “Hello!” He placed a white guitar across himself and started into “Island In The Sun”, yet another of many songs whose beginning thrilled the crowd. Phone flashlights and lighters soon emerged, swaying in the dark.
After holding out one of the final “mooooooooreeeee” notes to close out the song, Rivers continued, “Ok. Cool. I’m going to try one of my favorite songs of the 80’s by a band called a-ha. This is ‘Take On Me'”. The delighted crowd sang along, even to that impossibly high note. Rivers encouraged the fans to clap along to the closing guitar riff, and they answered happily with applause.
“Yeah! Thank you Detroit!”, Rivers shouted.
“That was dank!” came from the stage. The band played “Burndt Jamb” while replacing lyrics with those from “Smells Like Teen Spirit” as Ribers made his way back to the stage atop the S.S. Weezer.
“That’s right Rivers, you come on down!” Cuomo reappeared from the side of the stage with a black headband and maroon sleeveless Weezer tour shirt. The band rolled through, “I Want You To”, and into new track, “Feels Like Summer”. Amplifying the hot night, flames shot up from the sides of the stage and out of the golden W during the fun chorus. When the seasonal single finished, Rivers asked the crowd, “Are you ready to be blessed? Are you ready to be blessed with the rains? Africa!” Weezer began into their latest single and long-awaited cover of Toto’s “Africa”.
Afterwards, the band exited stage left with a wave. The crowd never stopped cheering for a second, encouraging their favorite band to play a few more jams. Weezer soon reemerged, returning with Rivers spitting H2O into the air.
“Just a wee bit more rock before we go please!” The crowd could not agree with this statement more.
After 1996’s “The Good Life”, Rivers showed his gratitude again.
“Thank you, Detroit! One more! Say It Ain’t So!” The fans kept the trend of singing loudly along going, as a wall of sparks fell at the back of the stage, mimicking the feel of celebratory confetti. Weezer briefly melded into Black Sabbath’s “Paranoid” to close out the show.
Weezer waved and kept shredding to the crowd, til the very last note. Rivers lifted his guitar, then mic stand high. All fellows from Weezer formed a line and bowed together. The audience cheered and yelled back their appreciation for the indelible night.
Over the years, Pixies and Weezer have both left a lasting impact on the music world, and are sure to leave audiences impressed at every venue the tour visits.
Weezer and Pixies Summer Tour 2018 will continue across the United States into August, wrapping up in Omaha at Maha Festival on August 18th.
Review and photos by: Tiffany Cuthrell