Amidst the dead of winter, when most people are cozied up in bed or doing other winter activities, the city of Hamtramck comes alive with art, culture, and music via the Hamtramck Music Festival. You know the saying, March goes in like a lion, but comes out like a lamb? Hamtramck Music Festival is spearheading the entrance of March with one lion of a music festival this year. With around 200 bands playing 24 venues and restaurants, if you’ve always wanted to experience the best that Detroit’s music scene has to offer, HMF is the way to do it.
This year starting on 2/27 through 2/29, the bars and venues of Hamtramck are packed with music lovers, artists and musicians… and every single occupiable space becomes a bad-ass venue. You can plan out an entire weekend’s worth of music, starting in the early evening and continuing into the early hours of the morning. Whether you’re walking (we recommend bringing hand warmers and wearing a warm coat!) or taking a shuttle from venue to venue to experience Detroit’s best bands, HMF not only showcases an extensive array of different genres of music, but also celebrates the spirit of our diverse community. 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. It is also important to note that while most venues are 18+, there are also an array of family-friendly performances earlier in the day – so the festival is a great event for all ages to enjoy.
We’ve selected an eclectic mix of can’t-miss bands playing the festival for this week’s Playlist!
Thursday February 27th – Opening Night – The High Dive / Barter
Opening night of Hamtramck Music Festival is an electric atmosphere. With many bands picking up their wristbands for the weekend, this is also where you can go to buy a wristband for yourself or pick one up if you have one waiting for you at will call. There are two venues hosting bands – The High Dive and Barter — and it’s convenient that they are right across the street from each other.
9:30pm – Bad Fashion – “Drag Me Down”
After picking up your wristband, head to The High Dive to hear the new project of Austin Carpenter, Bad Fashion. With a newly released single containing sounds straight from a video arcade and vocals reminiscent of surfy rockers The Drums, “Drag Me Down” follows their dreamy 2019 release Vulnerable. The band is sure to be a chill start to your weekend.
10pm – Maiyana Davis – “Bottles of Detroit”
Head over to Barter around 10 and get ready to head bang (be careful, you might get whip lash) with the high energy rock of Maiyana Davis. “Bottles of Detroit” is like the best fusion between the vocals of the Beastie Boys and the incendiary riffs of The White Stripes, creating an anthem you’ll be singing for the entire weekend.
Friday February 28th
5:30PM: Get out of work and start your weekend early with performances by Hamtramck Elementary Schools Choir, followed by STEM Jazz Band and Carmel Liburdi Quartet. These three acts are hosted at Hamtramck Public Library and are a great way to experience the culture of the city, while supporting the heart and soul of Hamtramck Music Festival.
8:45pm – The Lows – “Love Will Find A Way”
Playing at The Polka Dot, Detroit rockers The Lows bring the energy with their new October release “Love Will Find A Way”. Fusing modern elements with classic rock vibes, The Lows are an awesome weekend opener, especially for fans of bands like Catfish & The Bottlemen and The Record Company.
9:45pm – AM People – “Just Friends”
After you rock out with The Lows, mosey on over to The Film Lab. Self-described as “punk goths who go to the beach”, they are our next pick for Friday Night. Their 2018 album release Songs for the Mourning features a lo-fi, shimmering sound with a fuzzy yet summery vibe that is sure to warm you up on a late February winter night.
10:45pm – Boys N’ Ties – “Songs That I Write”
Catch indie-meets-garage rockers Boys N’ Ties at Trixies for a spirited live show and music reminiscent of Weezer with interesting storytelling elements like that of Bright Eyes. Their 2019 EP Time Wasters is an energetic collection of songs that will be an exciting addition to your HMF weekend.
11:30pm – James Linck – “Spark The Babies”
James Linck himself is a Detroit music legend because you won’t hear songs like his at any other venue throughout this festival because they are that unique. An ode to the venue he is playing it, meet James Linck at the Painted Lady and be prepared to dance and sway and sing along to his song “Spark The Babies”. He also has two newly released songs, “Play Wonderwall!” and “Evergreen” which are both wonderfully unique and I’m sure will be on his setlist this weekend.
Saturday February 29th
After you eat lunch (read: scarf pierogis) …head over to Café 1923 in the afternoon, because their venue showcases artists from 3PM-6PM, and is free for all ages. Another venue, Delite Café, will have family-friendly activities in the afternoon as well. Also note that St. Florian, an absolutely stunning church, is opening its doors to the public and will have music between 7:30-9:30. That is definitely worth checking out.
9:30pm – Rube Goldberg – “Anxiety”
Rube Goldberg plays Whiskey in the Jar Saturday night. The venue tends to get super packed really quickly, so get there early so you can get a good spot. Rube Goldberg will transport you to CBGB because if this band was around back when the venue was in it’s prime, they would be playing there alongside Misfits and Television. Quick vocals and crunchy guitar riffs will leave you breathless as you jump around with a crowd full of people beside you.
10:45pm – Milk Bath – “Spy”
“Spy” is the high energy song that will keep your Saturday night moving and, at the same time, will cool you down with slinky bass lines and electric energy. You’ll be left breathless by the time their set is over.
12am – Hala – “What is Love? Tell me, Is It Easy?”
Cap your Saturday off at New Dodge Lounge, which is boasting a stacked lineup all weekend. Hala, the project of musician Ian Ruhala, has gained national notoriety lately with a few nationwide tours and this song being sampled by rapper Big K.R.I.T. With songs that are fresh and bright that make for a smooth, easy-listening experience, Hala is a perfect ending to a weekend of music.
Find all of these songs (and more from other various HMF artists) by following my profile, Kathlyn Mooradian, or the below playlist, curated by yours truly.