I’ve been writing about Detroit’s annual Black Christmas in some capacity for the last five years. Because of that, I’ve been privileged to watch the festival grow and shift from a unique perspective. Being a “music journalist” sometimes puts you in this grey space where you see a little more than an average show goer – you end up peaking behind the curtain just a bit.
Black Christmas has been around for the last seven years and during that time has grown to being the biggest punk and hardcore show in the area, and all while staying very DIY. The whole thing is put together by a small group of people – Ramona Caldwell with Black Iris Booking, Rich and Jay from the Suicide Machines, and the Majestic Complex. For uninitiated, it’s always headlined by the Suicide Machines who debut all sorts of antics every year. Sometimes it’s new music, sometimes it’s jello shot cannons and an on-stage bar, and sometimes it’s drop kicked presents full of merch into the crowd.
It’s been super wonderful to watch the festival grow and see tiny details worked out, rearranged, and made better. For example, this year the Majestic Theatre main stage had a photo pit. That probably doesn’t seem like a crazy addition, but for years photographers have had to shoot the Suicide Machines from the crowd, a dangerous task when upwards of 1,000 people are packed in behind you.
The stand-out act for the night for me wasn’t actually a band, but the lineup itself. This year’s show had more women, LGBTQ+, and persons of color on stage than ever before. I know this is a result of hard work behind the scenes to make sure the night stays representative of what we want our future in punk and hardcore music to look like. I’ve been at this point in my life where I’m craving, truly aching for more diversity on our stages. Seeing an influx of femmes on stage has truly given me life, and seeing that moved to a huge platform like Black Christmas is probably what’s kept me from dropping out of this sausage fest of a scene.
What’s special about Black Christmas – what keeps us all coming back year after year – is the hard work Black Iris Booking, the Suicide Machines, and the Majestic Complex put into curating the event from lineup to photo barricades. That hard work and attention to what our community wants is what makes Black Christmas feel like the only family holiday party worth attending. If you’ve met me IRL I’ve probably talk-yelled at you about how thriving Detroit’s little scene feels to me and Black Christmas is the heart of that.
I guess you’re probably interested in bands that played, so go check out WOMB. They blew my head off in the first 15 minutes of the night.
Photographers Gene Butcher and Zack Jacob joined me for the night. Check out their wonderful shots from the evening below.
**Photos below from Gene Butcher
**Photos below from Zack Jacob