Sometimes low-attendance shows bring out a lack-luster performance from touring bands, but Red City Radio and crew stepped up for an intense Mother’s Day show at Detroit’s Magic Stick. The crowd was probably less than 150 – there was another show across town featuring Choking Victim – but those who were there were more than enthusiastic about the set.
Pink Lighter B’hoys were the only local band on this lineup, and quite frankly I can’t understand why I haven’t seen them play before. Some digging revealed they’ve been on a bit of a hiatus, but hopefully that’s in the past. If they hadn’t mentioned it (and shook the stiffness from their hands between each song), I would never have guessed they weren’t active. Thoroughly Midwestern punk, they were a little bit reminiscent of The Lawrence Arms with a tad more melody. With any luck, we’ll be seeing more of this three-piece around Detroit.
Albuquerque’s Russian Girlfriends were a stand-out act for the night. Lead singer Adam Hooks bounced wildly around the stage without missing a single note in his powerful vocal performance. Just watching him made me winded – how that man manages the balance between chaotic energy and strong vocals is truly a thing of beauty. The rest of the band followed suit, effortlessly meandering around Hooks’ center.
Despite some initial sound issues The Bombpops were the party of the night, celebrating Mother’s Day the way only a band with a Mom in it can. A surprise second “Poli” brought whiskey shots and lipstick to the stage before jumping in on Poli’s guitar for one of the funniest highlights of the night. I’d been really hoping to see this SoCal quartet for some time, and I’m so glad they ventured this far into the Midwest. Their fun, catchy, down-to-earth punk is the perfect antidote to some of the more testosterone-fueled bands in this corner of music.
Skating Polly was a last-minute addition to the lineup. On their way to Pouzza in Montreal, this three-piece was sonically reminiscent of Seattle’s 90s grunge and riot grrl boom. Their discomfort in the line up was a little obvious, but they quickly made up for it with unyielding dual vocals and energy – barely resting between songs. Despite the crowd breaking up a bit for their set a few (so, so very) enthusiastic fans came up to sing along to every song at the stage, which was a great bit of fun to watch.
I’ve never seen Red City Radio fail to bring a crowd to a frenzied, tear-filled sing-along. Despite playing to a tiny crowd and high as fuck (more on that later), they still managed to put the room on in a fervor. Their harmonies only ever get tighter, and even more infectious is their obvious love for being on stage. The most fun bands to watch are having fun, too, and Red City Radio has that down. They’re certainly a band on the cusp of something big.
They did choose to forgo a leave-the-stage encore because, as lead singer and guitarist Garrett Dale put it, they were “just too high.” I’ve seen lots of folks hit the stage high or drunk, but I’ve rarely seen an entire band as wholly and unequivocally high as Red City Radio was in Detroit. They were, however, on some magical stoner wavelength because they were still tight as hell. If this is them too high, then someone get these guys some more weed.
Check out Zack Jacob’s photos from the night below: