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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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.