++I will rock your face!++
or the last thing I see before I enter the palaces of rock.



Destroy This Place
The Happy Dog (Cleveland, OH)

We needed something to do on a Thursday night in Cleveland, and it just so happened that one of our favorite local bands was in town. Of note in this throw back dive, they have 50 different oppings for their hot dogs, including fruit loops. Classy.

Ezra Furman
The Loving Touch (Fashionable Ferndale, MI)

The Loving Touch is a former sensual massage parlour cum pool hall and live music venue. It's so hipster-y that while beards aren't required, they are highly recommended. Beers are resonable, but the live music aspect seems rather thrown together and an almost after thought. The sound was reasonably OK given these caveats, and given that it gives you an excuse to explore all of the other great things that Ferndale has to offer, it gets a welcome spot in the rotation.

Craig Finn
The Empty Bottle (Chicago, IL)

The Empty Bottle is your run of the mill Chicago neighborhood bar, replete with cheap beer for a reasonable price and higher end stuff for aging hipsters who can no longer throw back PBRs as a point of principle. We saw Hold Steady frontman Craig Finn here, playing one of his first solo acoustic shows. The BDGF almost literally fell asleep on my back, but I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Cloud Nothings
The Magic Stick (Detroit, MI)

The Majestic Theater complex on Woodward Ave in Downtown Detroit is one of the best places to see live music in the universe. It has a beautiful old theater, a bolling alley, a pizza parlor, and a pool hall/dive bar where I've seen everyone from The Hold Steady to Nada Surf. They don't have a marquee per se, but after years of failed attempts to get a pic of the place to post here, I finally feel OK about this one. Go see a rock show at a bolling alley for chrissake.

The Hard Lessons
St. Andrews Hall (Detroit, MI)

With the children at their other parents for the holidays, we decided to attend the annual post-xmas blowout hosted by the Hard Lessons. I hadn't seen the Hard Lessons in years and hadn't been to St. Andrews in even longer. Both left me feeling nostalgic for times long gone.

Sir Paul McCartney
Wrigley Field (Chicago, IL)

Turns out the iconic sign outside of Wrigley Field that once read "Save Ferris" during a day game in 1985, is not actually a marquee at all - it's a billboard. I stood in the 95 degree heat staring at the thing for 20 minutes waiting for it to say "Paul McCartney" or anything related to the show and guess what - it never did. All I got was a bunch of shit about how United was the official air carrier of the Chicago Cubs and other such nonsense. HOWEVER, if you look very carefully you can see a flag on the right of the billboard that reads Paul Mc... which should prove to you that this was taken before a show. Also, while seeing a concert at Wrigley is a once in a lifetime, super cool experience, be warned that the beer inside is like liquid death. Expensive liquid death.


The Hold Steady
House of Blues (Cleveland, OH)

I'm not sure how I feel about $7 PBR tall boys. On the one hand, it seems expensive even after you factor in that it's two beers. But you're also tipping on one beer, and it affords you less trips to bar during a show. What I can't abide is running out of PBR halfway through an event, and your only other choice is an $8 Bud Light. This inevitably leads to drinking Captain and Cokes, and getting way too tipsy by the time the encore arrives. All said and done, not a bad little venue.

Ted Leo
Eagle Rock Center for the Arts (Los Angeles, CA)

Suspcious is what you should be if you've driven by a venue three times, are looking for it, and still have failed to see it. That's what happened to us with Eagle Rock, but it turned out the suspicion was unwarranted. This old converted church/mission/whatevs has bathroom issues, but otherwise is a great place to catch a small show with a a couple hundred of your closest friends. Plus they tend to just go to Costco, pick up a bunch of beer and then sell it back to you, which is a neat trick.

The Strutt (Kalamazoo, MI)

Neverfight a land war in Asia. But only slightly lesser known, is never try to find a cab in Kalamazoo after midnight. I could say a lot about The Strutt. It's a quite serviceable venue despite its coffee bar ways with good beer and cheap drinks. It also seems to have risen to the top of the Kzoo circuit for hot indie rock. That's what brought us here - a rare Maritime show outside of the friendly confines of Milwaukee. But it's a cautionary tale, as after hours in the freezing March cold, we were forced to hitch a ride with a drunk couple leaving the bar far too late but with a good samaritan's disposition. Should you find yourself in the place of Bell's birth, by all means consider the Strutt, just bring your own wheels.


The Aragon Ballroom (Chicago, IL)

It is cold in January in Chicago. Not wanting to drag a coat around 6,000 teenagers for 3 hours, we left our parkas in the car. Not wanting to die of hypothermia, I snapped a pic of the Aragon signage as quickly as possible, and moved on before noticing how blurry it is. So here it is, sort of. The Aragon is a beautiful venue, albeit one with only crappy beer on tap. Oh the crushing weight of middling corporate America...

Josh Ritter
The Vic Theatre (Chicago, IL)

The Vic lies in an area of Chicago that also contains clubs like the Metro and Schubas, thus making it somewhat of an indie rock Mecca. Parking isn't fun, the bathrooms are precarious and of course drinks ain't cheap. But you could have guessed that. What's more important is that the sound is perfect, the sight lines are good and the aesthetic is more upscale than some of the dingy basements one is forced to suffer through to see good music. Well played, Vic. Well played.

The Hold Steady
Beachland Ballroom (Cleveland, OH)

I say this without any sense of hyperbole and with the utmost earnestness: The Hold Steady is the best live band in America. That's why the BDGF and I drove three hours on a Tuesday to see them. The Beachland is a great club - they had Two Hearted, Oberon AND $3.50 tallboys of PBR. Sure for a while we were stuck behind some giant balding insurance salesmen in their forties who were reliving some homoerotic fraternity days, but we just moved directly in front of the speaker, because who needs their hearing? Being that close to Craig Finn is worth it.

Brendan Bensen
The Independent (Austin, TX)

I LOVED that we got to see one of my favorite Michigan musicians while we were on vacation in Texas. It was also the coveted "End of Tour" how, meaning the were in top form and the encore included tons of fun covers. The venue is in a pretty sketchy location and is fairly nondescript, but sometimes, that's what makes for a great rock club.

Killswitch Engage
Stubbs BBQ (Austin, TX)

OK, truth be told, we didn't see a show here. It's just too famous not to include. We did go downstairs so we could see some metal band rock a couple hundred fans on the outdoor stage, so technically, we did see Killswitch Engage (at least I think that was there name). Someday, I'll get back and make this more official. The BBQ is also worth the trip, by the way.

The Eggmen
The Paramount (Austin, TX)

We didn't know what to expect from this show other than the basic one line descrption "Local Beatles cover band plays with full orchestra." Imean, what else do you need to know really? This is a beautiful venue that reminded me of a smaller Michigan Theater. Highly recommended if you're in town and have any reason to go.

Royal Oak Music Theater (Royal Oak, MI)

Royal Oak music Theater is a decent place to see a show. Their bar setup is actually well thought out, making getting a drink a fairly easy, pleasant experience. That alsone earns them a special place in my heart. They also have a three tiered viewing setup, maximizing your opportunity to actually see what's on stage should you be vertically challenged. However, two drawbacks. One, the place is expensive. It seems like every show here is at least $30. Wilco is one of the few bands I can justify paying $30 bucks for - especially since in this case it also involves a drive to RO. Two, they clearly ran out of money when finishing this place. Stucco walls and ceiling? Classy guys - way classy.


Eddie Money
Pine Knob (Clarkston, MI)

This is the 'marquee' for Pine Knob. I don't know why it doesn't say 'Pine Knob' but instead has an ad for the electric company. The electric company needs to advertise? What are your other options? Anyway, here's their weak ass marquee. For a place that specializes in giant outdoor summer concerts, you'd think they'd have something a little more grandiouse. After charging $8 a beer I know they can afford it. Other than that, Pine Knob specializes in acts that are widely popular so that they can fill the 15,000+ seating capacity, so I don't go much anymore. Its expensive, in the middle of nowhere, and the parking lot has no place to urinate while you are tailgating. But hey, for Eddie Money - totally worth it.


Planet Rock (Battle Creek, MI)

Nestled somewhere in a residential neighborhood far outside metropolitan BC resides a nondescript vinyl sided pole barn. Nondescript except for the giant sign that reads 'Planet Rock.' Inside you'll find the surliest metal fans Michigan has to offer. The sound is shit, the waitresses entitled, and if it weren't for the born-on date on your $4 bottle of Bud Light, you'd swear it was 1987. May you never have to set foot in this hell hole.


Death Cab for Cutie
Fox Theater (Detroit, MI)

Normally I wouldn't repeat marquees and waste your time, but this is a.) Death Cab and b.) The Fox, which has a beautiful marquee (not captured very well here). This was also taken with my phone, and I am pretty impressed with the quality. I think it will be suitable for most shots from now on.


The New Pornographers
The Crofoot Ballroom (Pontiac, MI)

There are 4 overarching things that you need to know about the Crofoot and the New Pornos show.
1. Its really nice and really easy to get a drink (which we all expect to eventually change, I mean c'mon, the place is still new).
2. The sound guy needs to be fired. Immediately. I mean, navigating 7 people on stage can't be easy, but really? Feedback the entire show? You suck at life.
3. I've never heard such effortlessly beautiful harmonies. At least not since my last Jayhawks show in 1995.
4. Neko Case is the hottest girl I've ever seen and I love her.


The Minibosses
Big Al's Ruby Room (Phoenix, AZ)

'Seedy' doesn't begin to describe the neighborhood that surrounds Big Al's Ruby Room. And if you were to close your eyes and imagine what Big Al looks like, and what his Ruby Room would entail, you'd probably be right on. A giant middle aged man in a dive bar with scarlet walls and pictures of topless women everywhere. It felt like home. The Minibosses were tight, but I'll always remember this place because Ayesha and I played hangman on bar napkins during the irritating opening acts. And txted eachy other to communicate because everything was so loud. Good times.


Chris Bathgate
The Ark (Ann Arbor)

There is one reason and one reason only to attend a show at The Ark - John Lennon and George Harrison have risen from the dead and are performing a one night only reunion show with the surviving Beatles. Even then, only go if offered a free ticket and there is a complimentary hand job at the door. This is the place where aging hippies and bland frat boys go to see their milquetoast acoustic funk jams. Its dark (as in "I know I showed up five minutes late but how the fuck am I supposed to find a seat?). Everyones stays seated and only politely claps after the song is finished. You have to be a MEMBER to get a drink - and then its only beer (with Heineken being their idea of 'Premium'). I think someday, when I am burning in my own special concentric circle of hell, I will be seated at the front row of The Ark, forced to watch Pavement perfrom Slanted and Enchanted over and over again for eternity.


Fox Theater (Detroit, MI)

It was the first concert that I was late for in well, ever, so the photo was rushed. Thank god it turned out ok and I managed to get the sign in all its glory. As for the theater itself, I'm not always sure how to feel about seeing rock concerts in really nice places that were built for things of higher refinement. I guess a band with the musicianship that Wilco displayed on stage that night fits as well as any rock band could.

The Flaming Lips
Clutch Cargos (Pontiac, MI)

Its a shame that this was taken at night, because Clutch Cargos is a beautiful old church (literally) on the outside. Inside its a small to medium sized rock club, and I have no idea how it ever held in the spectacle that is The Flaming Lips. I would have guessed that I would have been knee deep in confetti and broken baloons when all was said and done. Luckily the place was still standing when we left.


The Blind Pig (Ann Arbor)

I've easily seen more shows at this A2 landmark than any other club on the planet. Its dirty. Its dank. The people who work there are usually dicks and they kick you out as soon as the show's over. But bands sound great here and the beer is always cheap - so yeah, its pretty much my favorite place on earth.

NiteOwl (Dayton, OH)

I had no idea what to expect when I blindly travelled 3 hours south to see a show I had no ticket for in a city I've never been to. The bar was kind of a shit hole, and had perhaps the worst stage configuration of any bar I've ever been in. Luckily Maritime rocked and even the opener (The Bound Stems) kicked ass. Not much of a marquee, but I was happy it was in a relatively nice area of town. Trust me, it could have been worse.


Death Cab for Cutie
State Theater (Detroit)

It was nice to be able to take this shot while it was a little light out, so my POS camera didn't go haywire trying to find the right light balance. I love the fact that the sign glows 'SOLD OUT' at the bottom. It gives one a real sense of exclusivity knowing that no one else is getting in - just you and a couple thousand other kids and drunks. Long live Rock and Roll.

The Meters
The House of Blues (Chicago)

Second show of the night for me and I was in a hurry, so I couldn't find the marquee with the band's name on it. I'm assuming it existed, I just didn't want to go trolling in the rain for it. This turned out to be an OK shot anyway. Honestly, the club was more memorable than the band (and I know Heather would blackjack me for saying that).

The Promise Ring
The Metro (Chicago)

An absolute lighting nightmare. Every shot I took either had the sign readable and the buidling dark or vice versa (like the shot here). If you click the pic and look at the larger version you can pretty much read the sign, which is why I chose this version. And as per usual, I was drunk and in a hurry to get inside. I'm sure I could have come up with something much more Ansel Adams in the sober light of day.


Death Cab for Cutie
The Michigan Theater (Ann Arbor)

The inspiration for our newest feature here at the blog and what will probably be my favorite for a long time to come. The sign glows like electric sex, the architecture of the building is lit like me on a Friday night and the masses are milling about in typical emo indifference. The bar is set people.

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Copyright 2005 Tyler Brubaker