As I drove downtown Saturday around 5 PM, I wondered how the night was going to turn out. Although I had heard of the bands I was going to see that evening, I had never seen any of them perform live. Sure, I had heard that both Ty Stone and the Infatuations, both releasing new CDs that night, were amazing. I have been told that before and been disappointed. My experience consisted of watching a YouTube video of The Infatuations about two weeks ago and I only hoped that the live sound would be as good as the edited sound. I arrived at St. Andrews around 5:45 PM, checked in, got my media credentials, and walked into the main room. It was already full even though there were still about an hour and a half until the event began. Photographers from several media outlets were taking photos of the bands with their fans, friends, and family that all showed up in support. I stayed back and watched as so many people were eagerly anticipating what was in store for the night.
The first band to take the stage was Shotgun Soul, a nine piece ensemble complete with a horn section. This band, fronted by the amazing Liz Girard on vocals was jazzy, funky, lively, and a definite testament to "old school" music. I figured that if this was any indication for how the night was going to go, I was in for a great night of music. Sometimes it is hard for me to get into some opening bands but I was definitely impressed and found myself paying attention and dancing along to their entire set.
Next up was Stereo Jane (formerly See Jane Rock), who kept the mood high and the groove going. The five- piece band, which show cased a set of twin girls on drums and vocals was not something I was prepared for. It is not often you see a girl on drums, but to see a girl play drums well was definitely a surprise.
Ty Stone was next on stage and this guy is so incredibly happy that he makes everyone around him happy. His grin is infectious and you can tell that he is having the time of his life up on stage. His style is something that anyone from any background can relate to because it is simply good music. Every song he played that night was something that I could relate to and while I may not have experienced the Ty Stone magic before, I am a fan for sure now.
It was then time for the headliners to take the stage. Before I go into what was probably one of the best live performances I have seen this year, let me give you a little background about The Infatuations, who are managed by Detroit based 7 Stone Management. First, they won five Detroit Music Awards this year. That to me is a sign if ever there was one that you should pay attention to this band. Their classic (and extremely well dressed) style is something that people from the west side to the east side as well as north and south rave about. They are a mix of r&b, soul, funk, jazz, in short, they epitomize what is truly the “Motown” sound. The first time I heard Caleb Gutierrez’s voice was in a YouTube video I watched after a friend suggested that I would love them. From the first note, I was hooked. He bares his soul in his music and it is something that is evident even if you have your eyes closed. I loved watching him dance around the stage and engage every person in the room. He is not the only one up there that is mesmerizing. Although it is usually his height and his Mohawk with designs shaved in the sides of his head that makes you notice Rhythm Guitarist Chris Polite at first, it is his well played riffs, stage presence, and supporting vocals that make you pay attention and want to know more. Bass player “The Wolf” makes sure that there is always a funky bass line that keeps you dancing. His style is a little different from the rest of the band. Nevertheless he fits in with them perfectly. Both lead guitarists Christian Draheim and Nick Benhan play flawlessly and I was interested to see what the dynamic would be with three separate guitar players on stage. It did not clutter the music at all but rather added to the fullness of the sound. Last but certainly nowhere near, least is drummer Robert Myers who sounds like he was born with drumsticks in his hand. Gnyp from 93.9 The River said, “If you want to know how Detroit actually parties, watch the Infatuations”. I think that quote is dead on. They ended their set with a cover of The Temptations “Papa Was a Rolling Stone” which is probably my favorite Temptations song and as I have stated before, I get very nervous when bands cover songs, especially high profile, well known songs. It is just so unlikely that they will get it right. Well…the Infatuations did much more than get it right. They nailed it. I have only seen one band cover this song before and like it and they are musicians who have been playing for over 30 years. That cover has now been replaced by The Infatuations’ version.
What made me happy about this show, in addition to the fantastic music happening all night was the amount of support that was shown. It was kind of like a Michigan Music Scene & Friends party. I saw so many different people from promoters to bands to media all coming together to support our local music scene. I read a quote once that said “Your favorite National band was once someone’s favorite Local band” and I have made it a point to remember that every since because if we don’t support our local musicians, how will they ever get to be someone’s favorite National band?
All in all it was a great show and I am now a fan of some new bands. I will definitely keep The Infatuations' tour schedule handy as I cannot see myself missing another one and if you have not yet seen them, definitely make the effort.