Local Lansing folk will probably be hip to this now, but GTG is more-or-less booking and promoting the majority of the music at The Avenue Cafe these days. Here’s what we’ve got for the whole month of August:
That’s a good run there, eh? We’ve got the first full-length show by The Wild Honey Collective, the first public Lansing shows from Cavalcade and The Plurals in at least 18 months, a record release by the Cartridge Family(?!?!??), GTG Fest familiars like The Ryne Experience, LVRS, and Marsha, Mike Reed from Small Brown Bike… great stuff all around!
Shows are getting to be a little more commonplace – on top of the above listed we’ve got The Plurals playing Taste of Michigan City (Michigan City, IN) the afternoon of August 7, The Wild Honey Collective play from 5-9 at the Beer Garden at Horrocks Farm Market in Lansing on August 21 as well as an afternoon slot at Sundried Music Fest in Mason on August 28, and then The Stick Arounds take the Horrocks stage themselves on August 28 too. All of these events are free and promise great times. We need ’em! Stay safe out there everyone, masks are still a good thing!
Some kinda new music! Here’s a previously unheard live recording of The Plurals at The Robin Theatre from May 4, 2019. This was the MUMBLEBEE release party and also the last full Plurals show for a good few months as Hattie was super pregnant at this show. It was a great time and we’re really happy to have a document of it. 18 tracks, lots of goofin, songs from across the Plurals catalog, plus a Cheap Trick cover. Check it out – there will be shows again!
But first! The Stick Arounds are celebrating ten years as a band and they’re having a big ol’ shinding at The Avenue Cafe on Friday November 15! Joining the Sticks are GTG Family The Plurals, Jeremy Porter and the Tucos plus Detroit’s Popular Creeps!
The third annual StoopFest is taking place in Lansing this Saturday, April 21st. Located in six house venues, The Avenue Cafe, Mac’s Bar, and Allen Market Place, StoopFest features a full day of music, comedy, food, and art all over Lansing’s East Side Neighborhood. Headliners this year include Speedy Ortiz, Erica Freas from RVIVR, and Suzi Analogue, with a variety of Lansing area acts rounding out much of the bill including GTG Fest alums City Mouse, Blaine and His Keyboard, Dasterds, Birdhouse, Tidal, Half Tongue, Jake Simmons and the Little Ghosts, and Rent Strike alongside many other solid area acts like V Soul, Ozay Moore, Conspicuous Bystanders, Worn Spirit, Krissy Booth, Welman and so much more. Tickets, schedule, and more info can be found at the official StoopFest website.
This year GTG Records is an official fest sponsor and your humblish writer Tommy Plural is on the fest organizing board. I won’t claim any credit in securing the lineup, I’ve mostly been a brainstorming presence and sounding board that will be completely overworked show-running the day of the festival, but I’m super proud to be involved with this festival. The Plurals played the first two years and I also stage managed/volunteered but it’s been a blast being involved from the ground up this year. I’ll be stageside at the Avenue for much of the day before high-tailing it to run sounds at Mac’s Bar for the night show there but I’m hoping I’ll get a chance to pop into a house venue or two at some point in the day. There’s too many acts to highlight but if I can catch a tune by Erica Freas and Speedy Ortiz I’ll be satisfied as a fan.
Before we know it the fest will be here and done so I want to quickly give a shout to the people that I’ve had the good fortune to work alongside. The entire group of folks that have curated the fest this year is a great collective of different Lansing music figures from different backgrounds and perspectives, not like GTG Fest’s boring old “all indie/punk musician” fest board. Dom Korzecke – whom I’ve known as a radio personality at 88.9 for many years – and James Radick – from Fusion Shows and GTGers Small Parks – are the festival founders and main movers and shakers, the ones that are there first and stay the latest, agonizing over every detail and I can only assume somehow they enjoy themselves (they do). Working alongside Cale Sauter once again has been a pleasure, he and I go too far back and too deep together with the Cartridge Family and Bermuda Mohawk, but having someone with Cale’s wealth of knowledge and experience (dude was already a veteran of running house shows and booking DIY bands when I met him as a wee lad in 2005) is a big plus for the fest this year. Fusion Shows fixtures Erica Marra and Claire Postelli are always a joy to work with, they’ve shared the pain with me during some of the long load-ins and soundchecks and delayed schedules at Mac’s Bar so kudos to them for wanting to continue being around all this show garbage! I’ve really enjoyed hearing their perspective on the best way to put this fest together and I hope they don’t think I’m just ripping off their ideas at GTG Fest this year. John Warmb from Rent Strike is a force of nature and his vision and passion for house shows is something we could all aspire to – along with Cale, John is hosting performances at his own house as well as organizing (and performing, sheesh!) so that’s a big tip of the hat right there. Joe Steinhardt from Don Giovanni Records is the last of the main organizers and also the latest for me that I’ve had the pleasure to make the acquaintance. Joe has many years of different experiences in the DIY community that we’ve all gained something from in the final manifestation of this fest and I look forward to seeing him stumble around the fest showing the touring bands a good time. There’s of course many other cogs in the wheel and I know graphic designers Zoshua Korzecke and Autumn Hilden, Ted Wilson from Replay, Tricia Chamberlain from Comedy Coven, Zane Vicknair from StreetKitchen, and all of the venue hosts deserve a shout-out too – basically this is a great festival highlighting Lansing. Let’s show ’em all a good time!
Catch The Plurals live and grab a copy of SWISH on vinyl before its street date of September 1st! The midwest, west coast, and southwest are about to have to deal with all kinds of clowning around from the fuzzy punky trio. Check it out!
8/8 Chicago, IL @ Cobra Lounge
8/9 Milwaukee, WI @ Quarters Rock and Roll Palace
8/10 Madison, WI @ Mickey’s Tavern
8/11 Minneapolis, MN @ Seward Cafe
8/12 Minot, ND @ Why Not Minot
8/14 Helena, MT @ House Show
8/15 Missoula, MT @ ZACC Below
8/16 Spokane WA @ Baby Bar
8/17 Seattle, WA @ Kraken Lounge
8/18 Portland, OR @ Twilight Cafe
8/21 Oakland, CA @ Golden Bull
8/22 Los Angeles, CA @ Golden Beat
8/23 Long Beach, CA @ 4th St Vine
8/24 San Pedro, CA @ Harold’s Place
8/25 Anaheim, CA @ Parks and Rock
8/26 Phoenix, AZ @ The Lunchbox
8/27 Tucson, AZ @ Club Congress
8/28 Albuquerque, NM @ Winning
8/29 Denver, CO @ 7C
8/30 Wichita, KS @ Kirby’s Beer Store
8/31 Omaha, NE @ Lucy’s Pub
9/1 Iowa City, IA @ Trumpet Blossom Cafe
9/2 Normal, Il @ Meltdown
Today, May 11 2017, The Plurals play at Mac’s Bar in Lansing with Local H. Local H is a band that tours hard and has played pretty much everywhere and I’ve had several friends share the stage with them but this is the first time that The Plurals are in this position. In many ways it’s just another show, I’ve been playing for long enough to know that opening for a “national act,” even if it’s one of your favorite bands, rarely “changes” anything, but since this is something I’ve wanted to do since I was 17 I’m just happy to achieve a personal goal.
Local H are in a strange position as they had a moment of strong radio presence at the mid-90s height of “grunge” radio, but they never became top of the bill “stars” and have been in the trenches of independent touring basically since the end of the 90s and the collapse of the music industry as a relentless money vacuum. People that are just aware of their big hit or their minor hit sometimes, in my opinion, unfairly shove them aside with less interesting bands like Candlebox or Collective Soul or even Creed but while the lineage of flannel clad angst is indeed present in their music, a closer listen reveals that they have far more in common with the Replacements than Bush. I myself am not sure if their big hit “Bound For the Floor” really registered with me as a little Plural, but I do remember the now doubly defunct Lansing area alternative station 92.1 the Edge playing “All the Kids Are Right” a lot in the fall of 1998 as I was starting middle school and have always had a strong affinity for that particular tune. A definite lost classic of the 90s if there ever was one.
My love for Local H wasn’t cemented until I saw them live for the first time in 2005. By that point on the recommendation of some of my older friends I had their album As Good As Dead in my CD collection and I had impulsively picked up their 2004 album Whatever Happened to PJ Soles (sidenote – this album is a fucking masterpiece and I won’t hear a word against it; it’s a definite all-time favorite for me) when I unexpectedly came across it in the Ionia pawn shop but I (along with the other nascent Plurals and our friends that formed the original core of GTG Records) went to see them live largely because local heroes XU were opening the show. XU is another essay unto itself, but the main dude from the band runs the label Hot Capicola Records now. Anyway, this first Local H show was a revelation. They hauled their own gear, ran their own merch, had no crew, and played their asses off. Scott Lucas ended the show by crowd surfing to the merch table where he promptly began selling t-shirts. It didn’t seem like they were “has-beens” in any way, more that they had forged their own way after a stint of fleeting major label success. Can you imagine how huge this was to us, as teenagers just beginning to understand the idea of DIY music? These guys didn’t need anyone, and they still don’t. They largely self-release their music and while some of their albums have been licensed to larger labels, they certainly aren’t pandering to anyone else’s commercial interests. It’s no exaggeration to say that The Plurals and GTG would probably not be the same if we hadn’t gone to see Local H when we were in high school.
It didn’t stop in high school though. Hattie and I scrounged together our non-existent “savings” multiple times in our late teens and early 20s to go see Local H live whenever they were within 100-200 miles of us. We gave Scott Lucas so many Plurals CDs, not thinking about the fact that he was just getting burdened with more shit at his shows, but he always was polite and acted interested. So many Plurals “bits” are from the Local H playbook – at one show the fans voted on the setlist via a lottery system before the show, at another show they pulled one of their album titles out of a hat and then played the whole thing (they did PJ Soles that night and it’s still my favorite show of theirs in my personal history), at other shows they would have a “guest singer” come out and do pointless backing vocals but treat it like a serious and integral part of the performance, and, (all right) oh yeah, the Mr. Show references in song titles – but the performance itself from the band has never once been phoned in or jokey. As a teenager their music resonated with me with their early album themes about being a misfit in a nowhere town – in my forever dorky ways I relished the parallel that my nowhere town “Ionia” wasn’t too far off in name from their nowhere town of “Zion” – and I still get a kick out of this wry observance of the darkness in small town aimlessness, but their relentless work ethic and fearlessness in expanding their sonic palette has kept me a fan as I enter my third decade on this earth. We once covered their song “High Fiving MF” at a backyard redneck party at one of our first “shows” ever, an act that surely should have gotten our asses kicked, and now all these years later we finally get to be part of the show. And now they’ll know we’re lame!
Stoopfest 2017 is this Saturday April 22nd! The second annual edition of this Lansing DIY fest takes place at 6 house venues as well as The Avenue Cafe. The Plurals, Narc Out the Reds, and Frank and Earnest are all playing this year as well as many other local and national independent musicians. Great stuff! Check out the schedule below and the event page for updates as things get closer to the fest.
Sorry I used the word “fortnight.” GTG bands and friends are playing in (mostly) Michigan and New Jersey in the next couple weeks. Mark ’em down!
7/23/16 – The Stick Arounds & the Devils Cut @ The Green Door (Lansing, MI)
7/23/16 – Bong Mountain, Undesirable People, Typesetter, Cardboard Swords @ The Sanctuary (Detroit, MI)
7/24/16 – Honah Lee @ Roxy and Dukes (Dunellen, NJ)
8/1/16 – Some Plurals, The Arrangement, Poet Radio, & Deacon Earl @ The Green Door
8/3/16 – Some Plurals & Red Teeth @ Curly’s (Buffalo, NY)
8/4/16 – Narc Out the Reds, Stocksmile, Lucy, & Larson and Killin @ The Avenue Cafe (Lansing)
8/4/16 – Some Plurals, Red Teeth, Idiot Boy & Husky Bundles @ Mill Hill Basement (Trenton, NJ)
8/6/16 – Some Plurals & Red Teeth @ Punk Rock Picnic (Bethlehem, PA)
8/7/16 – Some Plurals & Red Teeth @ Blind Bob’s (Dayton, OH)
8/10/16 – Carm @ TBA (Pittsburgh, PA)
8/11/16 – Carm @ Kung Fu Necktie (Philadelphia, PA)
8/12/16 – Carm, Dreadpool Parker, Alpha Rabbit & Meko Brando @ Mill Hill Basement
8/13/16 – Carm @ Buzzbin (Canton, OH)
THEN… there’s City Mouse and (real) The Plurals shows in the midwest, more local shows, news about GTG Fest… the rest of the summer is, to quote Carlos Santana and Rob Thomas of Matchbox Twenty “a hot one.”
GTG Fest may still be four months away, but a summer fest in the same spirt called Fledge Fest is this weekend in Grand Ledge, MI! Music from noon to midnight on Saturday June 18th featuring The Plurals, the Hunky Newcomers, Frank and Earnest, Carm, Cavalcade, Jason Alarm, Blaine and His Keyboard, Devils Cut and many more! Check out the schedule below, as well as afree samplerof some of the bands playing. More info can be found here! Thanks to Andy Fox, Jerry Norris, and everyone at The Fledge for making this happen!
Jeremy Porter & The Tucos brought their Detroit-made powerpop n’ roll to GTG House when they were touring with the Plurals earlier this spring and we’re happy to kick off the summer-ish time by releasing the latest episode of GTG Sessions, featuring four tunes by this power trio. Check out more of their music and tour dates here.