Posted by: Ryan Allen on June 16, 2008 at 12:48 pm

Pic By: Trever Long

Rock City Recap: Day 3

On a day that featured 25 acts, and the largest Rock City crowds yet, Day 3 will go down in infamy as one of the most glorious closing nights we could have ever asked for. Keep reading as we try and remember it all, from the CAID BBQ all the way to the Death Set’s legendary four-on-the-floor (literally) performance, and Sloan’s effortless attempt at putting the “ROCK” in Rock City.


CAID BBQ: Can we write idyllic? Well, at least until the cops showed up. With a gaggle of bands on the little corner stage, brats and hot dogs and pretty indie girls in sundresses eating barbecued ribs with abandon, the CAID portion of Rock City was a little waking dream. Well, maybe it was a dream. God knows we’d drank enough the night before to make it seem like the entire event was rendered in watercolor. Great Lakes Myth Society: the Blue Cheer of folk-pop jangle mandolin bands.

Pic By: Bianca Garza

The Golden Dogs: They had a little shingle set up on the keyboard, a little spot to hang the name of each song. The keyboardist moved more behind her rig than most bassists do in a year. They covered “Nineteen Hundred and Eighty Five,” the Paul McCartney and Wings jam, and transformed its finale into a random act of guitar heroism. They seemed nice. You should have gotten there early, too.

Sex Ghost: The early hour didn’t dampen Sex Ghost’s love missile fervor. The sunlight still streaming through the skylights of the Magic Stick just made the duo’s lovaman-cum-hype woman grind-pop more out of sorts when you discovered it, as if you walked into your doctor’s office and there they were, set up in the corner and broadcasting their collective dirty mind to the unsuspecting ears of a crowd gathered in the waiting room. Sex Ghost will see you now.

Pic By: Trever Long

Nice Device: Sometimes it seems like Nice Device has, like, seven guitarists. Alicia Gbur plays one and sings, of course, but then there are dudes in V-necks just appearing from behind amplifiers. This is an illusion; they only have two, and then a bassist and a keyboardist. But in the black-lit half-gloom of the Garden Bowl stage, it looked and felt like more than three, since the Device was so on point with the guitar-y pop crackle at the center of their best songs. Oh yeah, and: duh-nuh-huh, duh-nuh-nuh, duh-nuh-nuh.

Pic By: Sam Doyle

Friendly Foes: R. Allen ate the first half of this set for dinner. He consumed it like a steak named Superchunk, a baked potato called indie rock. Dude was on point, or more accurately, dude seemed like he was proving a point, and Lizzie just kept making the Foes’ harmonies perfect. Friendly Foes were the sugar packet poured on top of Sloan’s fandom.

Pic By: Sam Doyle

Sloan: Someone said they did their old stuff later. That part of the set was missed in favor of the madness below. But what Sloan brought to Rock City, beyond a set of solidly professional pop-rock, was a veteran’s sense of timing and tact. Their groove was steady, the Canadians in the house hugged their American brethren, and the Detroit rock cognoscenti back by the bar traded stories about how young they were when Sloan used to come over and play the Phoenix Plaza in Pontiac. It was like memory lane for everyone, onstage and otherwise.

Death Set: Death Set performed the set of the weekend. The Baltimore trio cut and sliced and refashioned the mortar between punk rock, hardcore, dance-punk, hip-hop ethos, and arena rock anthem-making, building it all into a rock totem with which to bash in faces. This was the chaos of an American teenage mind, one grown on a pop culture cocktail as chaotic as the sonic mess that bled from the Death Set’s monitors in between their quick, fully-automatic bursts of songs. This was ADD, but in the best way possible. Too bad there wasn’t a pool built in the Magic Stick; these dudes would’ve thrown an amp into it again.

Pic By: Sam Doyle

Dead Bodies: They’re still the most underrated band in Detroit. Dead Bodies will do space oddity ghost-pop until John McCain can put on headphones by himself again, but will also take turns to periodically fuck with an audience, bringing out some sidewinding noise gristle or maybe just a tender few notes on a synth. This band is confusing. They’re confounding. They keep it OG in Macomb County. And all of this is exactly why they’re the hottness. More, please.

Pic By: Amanda Zee


The Golden Dogs: Weekend-long festivals have no shortage of sinners and saints, and the Golden Dogs want you to know firmly what side of the ecclesiastic divide they fall under. What better way to lead into a night filled with rock extravaganza than a gathering of fist-pumping anthems, reiterating – over and over again – the crucial importance of saints and their repetitious interest in marching in?

Sex Ghost: Like lemonade and an ice cream sandwich, there’s really no way to fuck up a good male/female synth-pop duo. Sex Ghost’s Natasha Beste looks and sings like a beautiful, blonde soccer-mom version of Karen O, and the duo brings out an element so rarely found in electronic music — a sense of humor.

Solitary States: This four-piece collective are perhaps the least experimental on the entire bill, but sometimes the old adage is true: less is more. Much, much more. Solitary States help fulfill the true-to-its roots rock quotient of the weekend.

Pic By: Sam Doyle

Mason Proper: Mason Proper want to be Radiohead like Hillary wants the VP nomination: badly. Not only does the lead singer shake and hunch like Thom Yorke, but their physical appearances are so uncanny that it’s feasible to believe one might be able to donate plasma to the other, if necessary.

Friendly Foes: What writes short, tight, pop-fused and punk-inspired songs, and manage-edits a magazine on the side? Why, it’s Friendly Foes! In this outfit, tunefulness and accompanying sax solos are friends, but foes are scarce to be found. If only our social life was really this fun and devoid of frienemies.

Sloan: It’s the duty of the headliner to make an entrance, and thus did Sloan, dropping by to close out the evening and delivering to the throng of hundreds exactly what they had been chanting for: inoffensive, radio-friendly modern rock. Chris Martin only wishes he had his own cheering section. (“Slo-an! Slo-an!”)

Pic By: Sam Doyle


The Silent Years: After walking through shit-smelling mud and almost getting eaten alive by an angry pitbull, we wandered into the Saturday BBQ at the CAID to catch the Silent Years play an Archers of Loaf cover. Not a bad way to start this shit.

Pic By: Bianca Garza

The Word Play: Th’ Play struggled a bit through their set, but we’ll be damned if “The Critic Darling” isn’t one of the best jams to come out of the whole Suburban Sprawl troupe. Also, there should be more crust-punk drummers in indie rock bands.

Pic By: Bianca Garza

The Mahonies: Talking to the singer of the Terrible Twos later on Saturday night, we were trying to explain how people generally seemed to get the humor behind two-piece punks the Mahonies. He responded to us by saying, “Yeah, I mean, what’s not funny about singing songs about corn dogs?” We couldn’t agree more.

Pic By: Bianca Garza

The Decks: The Decks also seemed to have a bit of trouble, as guitars weren’t working, and sound levels seemed a bit haphazard. That said, the kids smiled their way through it, supplying us with a sharp example of the next wave of Detroit-style garage pop; one weaned on the best parts of the Von Bondies and the Go.

Pic By: Bianca Garza

The Pop Project: They sounded the best of the day — hands down. Pulling off three-part harmonies and complex arrangements (with, not to mention, a fill-in drummer behind the skins) is not an easy task in-of-itself. Doing it out in the hot ass sun on a PA that could have been a bit more, shall we say, projecting (get it?), well…our hats are off to these guys. Also, best moment of the festival comes when singer/keyboardist Zach Curd tells everybody to get on the ground and put their hands behind their heads. And then they do. You would know immediately if this is funny to you.

Pic By: Bianca Garza

Serenity Court: We’re used to drummer Carey Gustafson playing only a floor tom and snare drum (you know, when she played the part of “Outrageous Carey” in Outrageous Cherry, right?), so seeing her make a full kit her bitch was pretty great. “Zebra” goes down good with our hot hot dog and cold High Life.

Pic By: Bianca Garza

Kiddo: This sounded pretty good from where we were sitting.

Pic By: Bianca Garza

The Golden Dogs: Something magical must be in the water up in Canada, because every time we turn around, another amazing group of Canucks pops up and steals our heart. This time it was Toronto’s the Golden Dogs; a late addition to the festival — and tourmates of Sloan — that sped through a dizzying set of urgent power pop and new wave jam-gems that sounded perfect after a long day of getting a sunburn.

Sex Ghost: We popped up to the Magic Stick to see Sex Ghost for a few minutes and got zapped by their electroclash click clack. The rest of the night up in the Stick would prove to be an ever-evolving dance party, and Sex Ghost was a perfect way to kick it off.

Copper Thieves: This was, perhaps, Copper Thieves’ fifth show ever, yet their ballsy set of riffing indie rock made it seem like they’ve been shredding jams in bowling alleys for the last 15 years. Awesome guitar tones, killer drumming, and Christian Doble in another band, this time with a snarling bass instead of a guitar or sax. Still with a beard and hat, though.

Pic By: Amanda Zee

Solitary States: Eric Weir and his new band Solitary States make writing hooky pop songs seem easier than 2+2. Also, we enjoyed standing slightly far from the stage, observing how guitarist Noah Eikhoff’s chest hair sort of resembled the Ford Thunderbird symbol.

Nice Device: Okay, yeah. Matt and Alicia were in the Von Bondies for a hot minute. SFW? The Nice Device’s commanding set in the Garden Bowl — playing to a fucking PACKED audience, at that — reminded us to forget the drams and just enjoy the rock (even if they did a little “eff you” to their VB’s past by playing the end riff to “C’mon, C’mon”). Simply put, they sounded like Berlin (the band), and looked like Berlin (the city). Good good shit.

Mason Proper: Mason Proper jiggled and jived their way through a set of skronk-pop that sort of sounded like Coldplay covering the Minutemen, with a healthy does of 90s alternative rock thrown in for good measure. Yes, this is a compliment.

Pic By: Sam Doyle

Friendly Foes: Again, this sounded pretty good from where we were standing.

Sloan: The Majestic was simply a-buzz, with tons and tons of peeps packed in to see one of Canada’s biggest rock bands throw down and do their thing. After some delay, Sloan finally came out and played a bunch of songs from their last two records; a pretty ballsy move, if you ask us, especially considering that people hate hearing new songs until they become old songs. Then, when it seemed like that’s all we were gonna get, they came back and jammed “Coax Me,” “Penpals,” and “Money City Maniacs,” and just like that, it was 1997 all over again. Except, really, it wasn’t. It was June 14, 2008, and we we looked around at the people happily singing along to something about a body being covered in “coke fizz,” we realized that we pulled this motherfucker off.

Pic By: Trever Long

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No Responses to “Rock City Recap: Day 3”

  1. fivethreedialtone » Detour Photos: Day 3 on June 16th, 2008 1:58 pm

    […] DETOUR ROCK CITY PHOTOS: DAY 3. wow. I remember some of that.   […]

  2. Obama PISSED at Detroit « just another zombie on June 16th, 2008 8:27 pm

    […] more important news…or actually, back to the aforementioned festival. From what I could tell, Detour’s lovely festival went off without a hitch. That is, unless you were planning on seeing Tiger […]

  3. care on June 18th, 2008 12:54 am

    here’s a recap from Handmade Detroit on the CAID day-party art projects:

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