Alt-Nation: Festivals in Flux

Festivals in Flux

In local music, breaking news is kind of rare. Sure, bands put out albums and play shows, but those are more the result of months of work and planning than anything suddenly happening. But Liberty Fest had some breaking news as the steward of Liberty Fest decided to move the festival a mere week before its scheduled date from Dusk to Simon’s 677.  The reasoning behind the move is that in order to run a second stage, Dusk would have to assume a significant financial risk to rent the equipment necessary. Dusk proposed adding “$3 suggested donation” to the show featuring over 40 acts to help cover the costs. The steward of Liberty Fest would not assume any of the financial burdens or accept any cover charge for the event that has traditionally been a free neighborhood block party. So last Saturday Liberty Fest announced the show was moving to Simon’s, which has its own outdoor stage already, eliminating a significant financial investment and keeping the event free.

So same bands, same times, different venue a half mile away – sounds so simple, right? Well, not so fast. Dusk quickly mobilized and announced they will be throwing a free one stage Fourth of July bash called Revival Fest. To muddy the waters, many of the better-known bands like World’s Greatest Lover, Happiness, VulGarrity, Fabulous Itchies, Hope Anchor, Gavage, Sire and more dropped out of Liberty Fest to play Revival Fest. So this 4th of July there’ll be two big free local shows to choose from: Revival Fest with the more established bands at Dusk or Liberty Fest with who knows what at press time at Simon’s 677.

Electric Six

It may seem strange for a person who writes a column titled “Alt-Nation,” but I find most modern alternative music boring. My favorite alternative band over the last decade plus is the Electric Six because they have soul. They rock with a sense of humor, try different styles and have amassed a war chest of booty shaking nuggets. Electric Six sound like Talking Heads if they took themselves less seriously, but still had the swagger of KISS and a touch of Abba thrown in. Throw in songs about Egyptian Cowboys, love stories about a 90-foot alien that vaporizes a Texas town during a high school football game, taking over McDonald’s after closing, and Motown-like romps about necrophilia and you have pretty much some of the best shit ever. Electric Six hit their commercial peak early with their debut album Fire (named because the word fire was in almost every song), which featured the singles “Gay Bar” and “Danger High Voltage.” The former’s video went viral with a flamboyant Abe Lincoln singing about how he has “something to put in you at the gay bar” over a catchy surf guitar riff. Electric Six never stopped making hits, but the world stopped taking notice. Albums that followed, like Señor Smoke, contained classics like “Future is in the Future” and “Rock and Roll Evacuation.” A downside of the Obama administration is the latter has been dropped from the live set likely ’til a Republican is back in office. Switzerland has gems like “I Buy the Drugs,” “Infected Girls” and “Night Vision.” Electric Six have continued making great music, putting out a new album pretty much every year. In addition, singer Dick Valentine has been putting out solo albums, including this year’s Here Comes The Bags, which features a couple of gems like “Saddam Hussein” and “List of Lovers.” Electric Six also has a kickstarter going for what is being billed as a doc/mockumentary called Roulette Stars of Metro Detroit that is online:

One of the fascinating things about the Electric Six is that although they have plateaued commercially, their draw locally has been gaining. All the more reason to get there early to stake out a spot and check out some great local music from Atlantic Thrills and The Sweet Release.  If you only take my advice to see one show this year, this is the one.

Electric Six, Atlantic Thrills and The Sweet Release will rock Fete on Jul 7.

Murder By Death – Big Dark Love (Bloodshot Records)

With their 7th full-length record, Big Dark Love, indie rockers Murder By Death created a collection of songs that touch on the darkness and beauty of life. Big Dark Love kicks off with a blast of soul in “I Shot an Arrow” that sounds like it was melded from a mix of folk over an electronic beat with a touch of Hall & Oates. The title track has a tension that just continues to mount in a Nick Cave-like fashion. Murder By Death show off their country influences on “Natural Pearl.” “Solitary One,” for me, is the money track because of the big-horn-propelled chorus that meshes soul, rock ‘n’ roll and gothic beauty. “It Will Never Die” mixes folk song with modern rock in a way that is unique to Murder By Death. Albums are great, but over the years what has drawn me to Murder By Death is their live performances. Don’t miss them at The Met Café!

Murder By Death and Shipla Ray will be at The Met Café on Jul 10.

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