++Rock Out with Your Cock Out++
or fear and loathing in Hamtramck


March 5th, 2006

Big Finish

Saturday is always the busiest night of the Blowout. It also has some of the best bands. As such, our night was pretty well planned out in advance. A lot of staples to get to. Of course we know by now that there's always a wrench to be thrown into the works. For the final night of the 2006 MetroTimes Hamtramck Blowout that wrench was Mark's friend Anna. Now Mark and I love bringing others to the Blowout. Its something that's to be shared after all. But of course if you know Mark and I, you know that we're gonna want you to do things our way. Anna had her own thoughts on the subject.

I get the call from Markie C that he's outside my apartment ready to go. I hop in the back and Anna and Mark are having a heated discussion about the schedule. I've known Mark a long time. I'm not worried in the slightest bit that we'll miss any of our appointed rounds. But knowing Mark as well as I do I also know that we may be doing some bending over backwards to try and give everyone what they want.

The one thing no one is fighting over is what to do first. We have no clear cut winner for the 9pm slot. So far we've gone to see two bands at the Blowout who we'd never seen before (Nomo and The Hotness) and were batting .500. Mark peruses my list where I had highlighted some things that looked interesting. His eyes perk when he sees Nova Driver, highlighted and playing at Paychecks, 9pm. Since everyone's saving their clout for later in the evening, we're off to Paychecks.

Now every town has at least one bar that's a little scary. The kind of bar where nice people with normal jobs don't go anywhere near. The kind of bar where you don't want to make eye contact with anyone. You know that if you ask the right person you can readily get any number of illegal and illicit substances. Hamtramck is full of these places. The kinpin of them all is Paychecks. As music venues go its actually not bad. That's about all the nice things I can say about it or the band we were there to see. Unfortunately I don't have a picture of Nova Driver. A) I didn't want to get too close. B) I was afraid someone might see the camera and blackjack me for it. Let's just say imagine Metal at its worst. You're close enough. We literally couldn't leave fast enough.

Given that it was Saturday and parking was at a premium we had chosen a central spot to walk from. On our way to the next venue we pass this:

Remember when I told you Hamtramck was Polish? That's right, its a giant statue of Pope John Paul II. 'I'm a da pope-a!' At least thats what I imagine him saying. Actually I imagine him scolding us as we venture out on our evening of debauchery. I say something back about the Virgin Mary and he smites me with a lightning bolt. Now that'd be a story.

As it were, the next stop is Baker's Streetcar. Its a fairly unremarkable bar for Hamtramck. But what is remarkable is what we're there to see. Three years ago on a whim Mark and I went to see a band at Paychecks based solely on their name. What we found is what I consider to be what the Hamtramck Blowout to be all about. A band that without the Blowout I would never have seen. A band that will never be on a label or try to sell you a T-shirt. A band that only exists to serve the mistress that is rock and roll. That band, is The Cocktail Shake.

The Cocktail Shake is led by Paul Schaffer doppelganger Nick Pivot. Nick sings songs about women he's known and substances he's taken. Nick shakes 10 maracas at the same time. Nick is unapologetic about his rock and roll lifestyle. Take for example this bit of wisdom:

All of people tell us we should write a song about the war in Iraq. I say no, that's too much. I don't want to write about that. We'll disguise it. This song sounds like its about international politics, but is about a titty dancer in Windsor. Its called "International Shakedown."

The rest of The Cocktail Shake rounds out Nick Pivots assault to a tee. The guitarist is an aging Harry Scherer look-a-like who plays with the unbeatable combo of a Les Paul through a Matchless amp. The drummer looks to be coming off a 30 year bender. The bass player is a sad subject. He used to be a Saddam Hussein look-a-like. He's been replaced the guy who played the Toxic Avenger. You win some, you lose some.

Anna grew tiresome of the Cocktail Shake so we meet her outside the bar after Nick finishes his set. She had some distaste for some of Nick's aging alcoholic groupies, or hookers as she called him. I told her there's no reason to act cunt-y over some ladies having a good time. She didn't care for that comment.

So its time for the scheduling conflicts. Mark and I are ready for Dangerville a block and half away. Anna wants to see a band that I don't make out their name, but it sounds like Sarah Lawrence, so I imagine its some Lillith Fair thing. We're ahead of schedule so we come up with a fairly amicable solution. He hop in Mark's hoopty to jet over for Sarah Lawrence. We'll pop our heads in and Anna can decide if she wants to head over to Dangerville with us, or stay there, since we'll be back for the Hard Lessons at 1am. We run in and Sarah Lawrence is on stage. We grab a quick beer and watch them in all their post punk blandness. Mark says its just like a spacey Nirvana. We both agree that nobody needs that and head to Dangerville.

Despite being at the bar every year (most recently last night) Mark swears he's never seen a band at the Belmont. I insist that we saw 30 seconds of Lee Marvin Computer Arm here 2 years ago. We're determined to go get some rockabilly goodness and end the debate. Turns out we weren't missing much by not seeing a band here. The stage is at the end of a long hall that makes it near impossible to get close enough to see what's going on. They also had some issue where they didn't feel like turning up the volume to accetable rock levels. Anyway our view was something like this:

Dangerville did everything they could to surpass their limitations. But it failed to give me a complete Dangerville experience. I still have a rockabilly itch that needs scratching.

Mark and I are on a mission. We've already seen four bands tonight, with the Hard Lessons yet to come. But we're also ahead of schedule. We quickly discuss how to turn this oppertunity into a six band night. Mark quickly remembers that the Avatars are playing before the Hard Lessons back at the Knights of Columbus where Anna is. While I briefly try to make a case for a bar we haven't been to yet, the KOC synergy is too good to pass up. We run back acroos town for the Avatars.

Me being me I'm a sucker for chicks who play instruments. There's something about a girl with an axe slung over her shoulder or a pair of drum sticks in her hands that makes the sexy escalate very quickly. I also dig girls with glasses. Not sure why, just do. Any girl goes up a full point on my personal scale when she puts on a pair of specs. So you can imagine how ga-ga I was over the drummer for the Avatars.

I'm sure the Avatars would rather me talk about their music, which is a wonderfully gritty brand of rock and roll. But as I noted to Mark, as soon as I saw her I was ready to spend my next ten paychecks on her. Hopefully hot young rock chicks like aging alcoholics.

So you can safely assume I didn't nor never will talk to her. But fret not, we have the ultimate rock and roll capper yet to come.

Mark and I first heard The Hard Lessons three years ago at the Blowout when they played the tiny club Carbon. Here they were, three years later, packing the largest room at the Blowout. Mark and I have seen the Hard Lessons several times in the last few years and they've never disappointed. This is Detroit Rock and Roll. The hooks are undeniable. The guitar playing unparalelled. There's an energy to the Hard Lessons that infects the audience. It simmers there until their lead singer/guitar player calls on this kinetic energy for one of their call and response choruses. You all should take the time to get infected by The Hard Lessons.

The lights come up and like that, the 2006 MetroTimes Hamtramck Blowout is over. It ended with The Hard Lessons reminding us (thanks to Neil Young) the one thing that the Blowout reminds us of as well as anything:

Hey Hey, My My
Rock and Roll will never die

That's the thought that ran through my head as I poured myself into Markie C's backseat and passed out - with a smile on my face.

Posted 2:00pm


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