May 16, 2018

Detroit

This post is a little delayed, but the circumstances are unique. I was in Detroit April 18-22 for a job interview. It was a fun time, but I hesitated to share the experience because there was a strong reality I would not get the job. However, I did get the job after all and am moving to Detroit in July!

There are lots of different angles to this trip, but for the purpose of this blog I will of course stick to music. It was a fun time to be in Detroit, and it was clear music is a huge part of the city.

To start, I picked out some songs to listen to in advance. The first has been one of my favorite songs for about 15 years, and a fun love song. Here is a live version from The Anniversary's reunion tour in 2016:


And then of course Sufjan Stevens has an entire album about the state of Michigan, including this song about the city of Detroit:



Sufjan definitely wrote that song when Detroit was near its worst, and thankfully it has come a long way in restoration since these lyrics:
Once a great place. Now a prison. 
All I can say. All I can do. 
People Mover: Bad Decision. 
From suburban. Now a prison. 
All I can say. All I can do. 

From the trembling walls. It’s a great idea! 
Everything you want. It’s a great idea! 

One of the first things I do when I visit a city is check concert listings. I was thrilled to discover Waxahatchee was playing at Saint Andrews Hall next to my hotel the night after my interview! Seeing Katie and Allison Crutchfield play for the first time could not have come at a better time. I shot this video:



I called 2017 "The year of the Crutchfield sisters", so to see them perform together was terrific. I wasn't sure if Allison always plays in Katie's band, so I was glad she was there to sing harmonies and play guitar and keys. I also took these photos:



Created with flickr slideshow.


I also happened to be present for Record Store Day in Detroit. Amazingly, I bought no records! It was fascinating to see the assortment of stores though, and visited a bunch: Rock City Records (didn't go inside, but drove past), Third Man Records (Jack White's place), People's Records, Hello Records, Primavera Sound, and Ripe Records Detroit (brand new, was actually grand opening). My first observation is that I didn't see a single RSD exclusive release for sale. I didn't get to any of the stores until after 3, so maybe they were all sold out, but I think a better observation is that most of these stores weren't even selling them.

These stores were 95% used records, which is cool, and shows just how important old Motown music still is. I do want to know where I would buy new indie records when I move there. I loved the inside of People's Records specifically:


Third Man Records was packed, and had a terrible, live in-store performance. The highlight of going there was the ability to see the vinyl pressing plant and machinery. But not being a Jack White fan, the selection was poor. Mostly the store sells shirts, mugs, etc. all with the Third Man logo. Definitely more a tourist place rather than a true record store:


Finally, I listened to satellite radio exclusively during my stay and had a few observations:
1. The sound quality was HORRIBLE. I learned later this could have had more to due with the crappy car stereo rather than satellite radio itself, but it sounded like 28kbps.

2. The playlists are incredibly repetitive. I listened to SiriusXMU and Lithium the most, and heard so many repeat songs! I wasn't even in the car that much. Probably should have spent more time on Pearl Jam radio; at least then I hear interesting live versions of songs I know. Overall I am reminded at why I have never enjoyed listening to the radio (thus the title of this blog).

3. One of the songs I heard multiple times stuck with me, and I was glad to finally discover who it was a couple weeks later and a few days ago:


The song "Mistake" is catchy, and the whole album is great. I would expect it to wind up in my top 10 of 2018.

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