It’s that time of year again. The nights are cold, the snow appears to be endless, and it feels like the relief of Spring might never return to Detroit. But, what’s that sound? Just a few miles away, in the neighboring city of Hamtramck, there’s electricity pulsing through the air. Buzzing amplifiers and amalgamation of musical arrangements unite into one of the season’s biggest events, The Hamtramck Music Festival.
Once a year, the streets are flooded with concertgoers, every single occupiable space becomes a bad-ass venue, and we plan out our entire weekend with as many bands as we can fit into each night. Whether you’re walking or taking a shuttle from venue to venue to hear the best bands that Detroit has to offer, HMF celebrates Detroit’s diverse music community, with hundreds of bands playing in dozens of venues. For $15 (all proceeds go to acquiring instruments and supplies for the Hamtramck Schools Music & Art programs) you receive a wristband that gets you access to an entire weekend of live music.READ MORE: Metro Detroit Women, Linda Orlans and Carla Walker-Miller, Honored in Southeastern Michigan Business Hall of Fame
We’ve selected an eclectic mix of can’t-miss bands playing the festival for this week’s Playlist!
Panda House – Wake Now
Thursday night is always special at Hamtramck Music Festival because of dueling venues and staggered set times at Ant Hall and Ghost Light — you can see up to nine bands throughout the night. Progressive indie-rock band Panda House is the perfect way to kick off your Hamtramck Music Festival experience. Playing at 8:30pm at Ghost Light, Panda House has a big sound that is entirely different than any other band on this lineup. Influenced by bands like Tiny Moving Parts and La Dispute, Panda House’s math-rock style is complex and intense, yet calming.
Cosmic Light Shapes – Can You See In 3-D?
Fusing psychedelic pop with surfy sounding rock, Cosmic Light Shapes has soaring guitar riffs and low-fi vocals that work harmoniously in their newest release, “Can You See In 3-D?”. With Eugene Strobe on guitar and vocals, and backed by Zenas Jackson on drums and vocals and Adam James Fuller on bass and vocals, Cosmic Light Shapes is a solid band to add to your Thursday night lineup. At 10:00pm at Ant Hall, see Cosmic Light Shapes bring sonic sounds from outer space that will abduct you and bring you back to Earth in no time.
Wasabi Dream – Beef of the Sea
Start your night off at Moose Lodge with ethereal indie-rock band, Wasabi Dream. Their eclectic debut self-titled EP has experimental sounds ranging from dream-pop to sludgy rock. Each track is different, and reminiscent of Washed Out mixed with Animal Collective. Wasabi Dream is a great first band to see, and they will soothe you into the evening with their upbeat sounds. They play at 9:00pm, so get there early, cozy up and have a drink.
SLOB – Sticky
After Wasabi Dream, get ready for some #SICKGIRLPOWER by heading over to P.L.A.V Post 10 to see SLOB, the brainchild project of Taylor Saunders aka Taylor Moon. SLOB embodies grunge rock with vicious vocals and edgy guitar riffs…and their raw, complex sound makes them a must-see band on Friday night. They go on at 10:00pm.
VVISIONSS – Truth Hides
Keep your HMF Friday night momentum going at 11:30pm at Whiskey In The Jar with indie-rock band VVISIONSS. Their low-fi, psychedelic recordings are combined with an energetic, intricate live show. Although they are a relatively new band, VVISIONSS is a supergroup comprised of musicians in other Detroit bands…carrying on with a DIY attitude and groovy sounds.
Who Boy – Toy Plane
With influences like The Cure and Depeche Mode, Who Boy is a three-piece alternative-indie band that is playing at 8:00pm at Moose Lounge. With layers of silky guitar and jazzy sounds, their bedroom-pop single is mesmeric. Cozy up with Who Boy for a great way to begin your Saturday night.
Ch’i Machines – Lovesick Child
Ch’i Machines is a funky solo project with chipper beats and a sound ranging from folk rock to electronica…self-described as “rocktronica”. The interesting debut self-titled EP is perfect for a cold winter night when you’re wishing for summer. It is comprised of warm sounds and slinky vocals with an obvious electronic undertone. Catch Ch’i Machines at 9:30pm at Whiskey in the Jar.
Kimball – Guns
Perhaps one of the most up-and-coming bands in Detroit right now, melodic indie-rock band Kimball plays Moose Lodge at 11:00pm on Saturday. Kimball’s single “Guns” from their debut EP North Wilson has beautiful, lyrical vocals, while the rest of the EP features upbeat, ethereal songs and harmonically intimate sounds. Kimball is a band that you simply can’t miss during HMF.
Tart – Like Lovers Do
Tart’s newest single roars with bulldozer-sized riffs and volcanic melodies, and Zee Bricker’s vocals combined with a bombastic drum beat will leave you breathless. It’s catchy. It’s amped up. It even has a call and repeat section that will be stuck in your head all week. This exciting track will keep you captivated as Tart performs at 12:00am at Ant Hall.
James Linck – Sunset Barbie Pink
“Sunset barbie pink… far as I can see” …back from L.A. with an inspired sun-kissed single, alt-R&B vocalist and multi-talented musician James Linck is a must-see on this year’s lineup. James Linck is simply not just a musician, he is a true artist, so plan dancing the night away and getting lost in each melody throughout his set alongside his loyal fans. Meet him at Baker Streetcar Bar at 12:15am on Saturday for the perfect cap to your weekend.
Want more songs? Follow my Hamtramck Music Festival playlist, with all of this music PLUS more here: