City Slang: DIY in Ferndale

September 16, 2013
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If the DIY Street Fair in Ferndale isn’t already the best outdoor festival in Metro Detroit, it’s fast becoming that very thing. OK, the weather turned a little shitty on Sunday, but on Saturday we had that perfect blend of end-of-summer sun and start-of-fall cool The vibe of the event is fun, happy and family-friendly, which, as I type, I realize sounds a little hippy-dippy, but the festival is also rock ’n’ roll enough to have a little edge too. More than anything, it’s become the perfect way to say goodbye to the summer and howdy to the cooler weather. Now we can turn our attention to cider mills, haunted attractions and trips north to see the leaves turn.

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But on Saturday (at least), it was still summer. I got to Ferndale as Blaire Alise & the Bombshells were kicking into their set. These guys are great, and the perfect festival band. They don’t really sound like anyone in the city either; the old school girl-group feel of their swingin’ rock ’n’ roll anthems is infectious in an Amy Gore sort of way, but the cutesy factor is dialed up and the snarls abandoned, resulting in a sound that sits somewhere between Ronnie Spector and the Go-Go’s.

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The Salt & the Sea (aka Pablo Sebastian) has a revolving lineup of musicians, but at DIY Sebastian stood alone front and centre, fiddling with his many little toys and boxes of tricks. The result could have been as dull as all hell but, in fact, the guy created from wonderful noises and he actually has some catchy tunes. Imagine Paul Simon at his most ‘world music’, discovering electronica.

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The Handgrenades are evolving into one of the best bands in town. Everybody knows by now that the harmonies are exquisite, the tunes are great and the musicianship is tight. It’s almost a cliché to compliment them, but it’s impossible not to.

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Caught a bit of Sean Forbes, and then it was time for the weekend’s highlight – the return of Thunderbirds Are Now!. This was the band’s first show in five years, though you wouldn’t know. All of the members have gone of to do other things, and bands like Destroy This Place and FAWN are excellent, but it really was special to see these four dudes on stage together. They were immaculate, and they looked to be having a blast. There’s something about Ryan Allen’s voice over his brother’s keyboard tinkle that is just right.

Right, who’s ready for cider and Turkey-Day?


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