Saturday, June 14, 2008

Detour: Aftermath - What Do We Take Away...

The lines are blurred and the field is flat and everyone knows someone and everyone is in a band.

It was a perfect moment. Nights of pure sunshine whimsicality and hypnotic displays. Already a worn overplayed memory, a knowing nod and an exuberant hug.

Detroit is not Manchester and it is not Portland and it is not Berlin. Detroit is not Austin and it is not Baltimore and it is not New York. But, it should be noted with pride, that none of those places are Detroit. We have something here that other communities could aspire to - hidden between shadowy side streets and crumbling curbs and smoking sewers and abandoned houses - a veritable army of artists and musicians - a force to be reckoned with.

Here we are, dimming the lights on another massive local music festival, (Detour's second since september 07, and two more to add onto the history of 11 MetroTimes/Hamtramck Blowouts.) There are no profound cultural epiphanies, no life altering experiences and no stars were necessarily born. There's no free love movement, no acid kool aid test or Hendrix-ian freak outs. There's not even Jack White. There's just us. And each other's company. And the maddeningly invigorating realization that we live in an artistic community so forceful, so expressive, that you are in the minority if you aren't in a band. (Or if you're not a blogger.)

Organic and homegrown. Not shipped in for a SXSW.

On the first night of the Detour Rock City festival, a conflagration of sorted emotions floating around the exceptional turn-out, from tense to loving to jubilant to judgmental, this unique and awkward event began feeling much like a ceremony, or at least like the informal ease of a backyard barbecue. With many of the bands on the first night's roster, The Hard Lessons, Prussia, Wildcatting, Champions of Breakfast, Deastro, Javelins, Thunderbirds Are Now, being bands that have been playing a lot of shows throughout the Spring, the excitement level was not gaged to anticipation, but closer to casual celebration - more of an acknowledgement to how many unique and talented musicians we have running around this smokey concrete slab of a city.

There will be, as always, those who stayed away out of something resembling an adversarial rejection of younger bands, or bitterness toward "the scene"; or many may have come out simply to judge - to people-watch the crowd or to criticize the bands.

These cold and merciless entities floating around the acrimonious playground of the internet live for instances like the Detour Rock City Fest, where there's all this sputtering attention poured upon one location at one time, they strike, ruthless and callous, cold and precise, like snipers anonymous comments posted upon the gossip-mills of blogs.

Or, as a friend put it to me as we stood in the shadowed and more spacious back area of the Majestic Theatre main floor as we surveyed the expanding crowd at much-anticipated Von Bondies set, that "half of these people are just here to judge" the Von Bondies, most likely already making their mind up before the first note.

Watch stoically, with your arms crossed and eyes thin. Take it all in. Then write about it tomorrow. Tear it to shreds. The energy should be focused positively, intead. Not that you can't call a band out when they suck...certainly that is vital. There are hits and misses here, just as there are in any scene. But, man,...what a least in scope. Detroit is spoiled. Spoiled with bands. But, inevitably, upon the worthless and invisible pages of the human death rattle known as the internet, local blogs are brimming with baffling amounts of often viscious diatribes from sometimes-anonymous-posters who bring out long-knives-rants condemning the validity, the talent, the coolness, or the relevancy of any and all of those who were “on the scene” the night before.

I'll certainly remember all the great sounds and performances of the weekend. But what I'll remember most is the warm vibe of support and camaraderie amongst all those in attendance. This is ours. No city is Detroit.

And that's what we take away from Rock City. That we are overwhelmingly potent, disgustingly healthy,...spoiled...with music, bands and art (-indeed, there was even a Wolfman rally a block north of the Majestic on the last night, at the stalwart MOCAD building.)

With such varying styles and so much pure, visceral emotion, poured out upon these stages - we are living history. A glut of bands, like em or hate em, should never be taken for granted. Let us go mad with this boundless excess of art, be it from the most primitive to the most precise. We are all musicians, we are all historians.

So here's to Detour - and here's to the fans - and here's to all the performers.

(pictures by Mike Milo)


Mariah said...

holee! i think i've found a likeable(?!?) new music blog. thanks for keepin' it positive. we're all lucky (n spoiled), indeed...

makotomeme said...

Thanks for writing something worth bookmarking. hell, thanks for having some perspective. Thanks for engaging at the same level teh musicians do. You have to to make it worthwhile to write about. Otherwise, end up like many of the people who you talk about, eyes slit, arms crossed.
But I disagree that those are the writers. Hell, even most of the bloggers are all like, "fuck yeah! this rules!" and generally (i say generally) go by teh "if you don't have anything nice to say" axiom. Now, critics are supposed to call it like they see it, but if they're arms crossed and eyes slit, they're prejudicial.
anyhoo, small point, but whatevs.

makotomeme said...

ahem. "their arms"

Brandon said...

I liked this. Wish I could have been there. Community is key.