On Tuesday, June 28th at 6:30am, I quietly left my home in Sault Ste. Marie Canada and headed off on an adventure to see one of my favourite bands play two very special shows. I’m choosing to split them up because though it was the same band, each show was very different.
I arrived in Detroit, MI around 12:15pm and Sarah and I met up at the hotel and walked to the venue as she hadn’t purchased a ticket yet. Caleigh joined us shortly after. It’s a testament to Brian Fallon and the boys that the three of us were together for this show: myself from Canada, Sarah from North Carolina and Caleigh from Lansing, MI, all of us having met at various Gaslight Anthem or Brian Fallon shows over the year. It’s really kind of amazing that through his music, we (and countless other people) have found lasting friendships with other fans that we would probably not otherwise meet.
Since we were pretty set on getting a solid position at barrier, we arrived at St. Andrew’s Hall at around 2:30pm, about 4 1/2 hours prior to door. Caleigh and I have been to other shows together in Michigan where this is expected, so we settled in on the steps of the venue to wait it out. Surprisingly, we weren’t joined by many other people until quite a bit later, but the weather was nice and we were able to catch up and also chat with a venue staffer named “Holland” who quickly warned Sarah as she ate a slice of pizza from the place around the corner: “It’s a good thing we have nice bathrooms”, intermittently coming back to check on us, at one point asking jokingly: “How’s your butt hole?”
Finally we began lining up at the venue’s request as it got closer to doors, which is when we found out that people had been able to purchase “Fast Passes” prior to the show, which effectively allowed them to skip the line and enter before us and the other people who had waited patiently outside the venue for hours. I understand people don’t enjoy waiting in line, and I get that it can be tedious, but I look at it as part of the experience! Standing in line is where you meet people, discuss the band or other music that you like, and get to know one another before the show. Obviously we weren’t thrilled at this development, but we were still able to get a prime barrier position once inside, so it thankfully didn’t affect too much.
Chris Farren was up first with another perfect set, playing songs from his bands Antarctigo Vespucci and Fake Problems, as well as solo material including two new songs (“Say You Want Me” and “Brighter”) which are anticipated to be on his upcoming album that will be dropping in September. Caleigh and I had seen Chris play last summer when he was on tour with Dave Hause and Rocky Votolato, so we had some songs that we were really looking forward to hearing again during this set, including “Bang!” which he closed his set with. He is an extremely high energy performer and his sets are always really fun to watch and sing along with, so it was a great way to start the show off.
(Apparently I’m inept at lining photos up like a normal human being SORRY)
Brian & the Crowes took to the stage shortly after Chris, and they were met with a lot of excitement from the Detroit crowd. Excitement that included a girl who managed to push through to the front to tell Brian that she was a 5’10” prison guard who wanted to hear “Teenage Dream” (I’m not sure why her height or occupation were necessary information but Brian took it in stride, and since it was on the set list already, she didn’t manage to delay the show more than a few uncomfortably awkward moments), as well as an errant crowd surfer who I somehow managed not to notice until I had his foot in my face as security was trying to tell me too late to duck down. Fun fact though: as confirmed by Brian himself, this was the very first crowd surfer he’s had since he began his solo tours. His shoe, my face: making history.
The Detroit show was given a great set list that included some songs I hadn’t been able to see before, including Rosemary and Open All Night (both personal favourites) and Georgia, from his recent Record Store Day LP. Jared Hart was sounding especially good on backup vocals for “Black Betty and the Moon” and “Mary Ann” from the Horrible Crowes.
Truly I can only say good things about the performances. They were at the top of their game for sure. However, I would say that the venue has some issues with lighting and sound that could use some addressing for shows in the future. I’m not sure if it is solely because we were at the front and very close to the stage, but the lights were often shining directly into our faces and making it difficult to avoid being blinded, as well as saturating any photos that we tried to take. You’ll find I don’t have many quality photos to share for this reason. The sound was similarly distracting, almost too loud and thus actually drowning out some of the vocals. Having seen Brian with the Crowes at similarly sized venues, I think it could have been toned down just slightly to a level that was a little more suitable to the style of music. These are just nit picky little things of course that could be strictly personal opinion. I did find the crowd to be a bit strange as well, and that seemed to be a general consensus among the girls I was there with, along with a couple people we met at the venue. I’ve never been one to get drunk at a show because usually if I’m there to watch someone whose music I appreciate, I want to be able to remember the experience. For some people in the audience this didn’t seem to be of similar concern, and we noted at one point someone who was in the front with us standing with their back to the stage for the majority of the show, and cracking racist jokes with their group of friends. Ain’t nobody got time for that, yo.
We were able to talk briefly with Chris, from whom I had won a prize during his recent Stage-It show, although sadly he was already out of my size in his awesome glow in the dark t-shirts (I actually cannot wait until that makes it to his online store so I can grab one).
I was also able to grab a copy of the tour poster and the tour exclusive vinyl release of “Elsie” by the Horrible Crowes from Danny as well, both of which are lovely. I’ll update this to include the poster once I have it framed.
So that was basically my Detroit show experience in a nutshell….but that’s not all! The following night, I headed to see a second show on this tour in Cincinnati, OH! Stay tuned for that recap as well…