Concert Review: Fusion Shows 6th Birthday feat. The Wild, You Blew It!, Kevin Devine, and The Front Bottoms

January 10, 2014: The Crofoot, Pontiac, Michigan

After a long and frustrating day the last thing I wanted to do was go to a concert. All I really wanted was to curl up in bed and watch an awesomely bad movie but I reminded myself that no matter how exhausted I was, this concert would be worth going out.

Atlanta band, The Wild took the stage first. Their sound reminded me a lot of The Front Bottoms, who would be taking the stage later. A nice alt folk sound with the perfect amount of punk thrown into the mix. There was a lot of energy on that stage from a group of people that were clearly having fun jamming with their friends and excited to be among the other bands that would be performing later that night. It was a step back in time to the early days of punk infused with the spirit of early political folk pioneers. It’s still early in the year, but I think I can honestly say that they will be a favorite find of mine for 2014.

I’ve seen quite a few articles devoted to You Blew It! in the last couple of weeks. Their newest album, Keep Doing What You’re Doing, comes out this coming Tuesday (January 14) and the reviews I’ve read are pretty good. I thought about giving them a listen before going to the show but decided that I would wait to hear them live. I find that seeing a band perform will boost how much I like them exponentially and You Blew It! was no exception. There’s a great sense of nostalgia that I get from their sound which reminds me of bands that I fell in love with in the early days of discovering my music persona. Their influence is clearly that of emo bands from the midwest, mainly Chicago, from the early 2000’s. Lead singer, Tanner Jones, stated that it was strange to be in such a venue considering they had written all their music based on playing in basements and small dive bars and it’s becomes clear when they play but their music could fit any venue, large or small.

Kevin Devine was the reason I had dragged my miserable self out that night and when I saw him handling his own merch booth, I instantly felt better about my day. I quickly made my way upstairs where all the merch was, nervously introduced myself and thanked him for the wonderful music that he makes. He was personable and humble, thanking me for the compliments before graciously signing my poster and talking about the album artwork for Bubblegum, one of two new albums he released last year. Lots of people flocked to meet him and he was a perfect example of what you hope meeting a musical idol would be like.

He took the stage with his “rock star entrance”, as he referred to it, with just him and his guitar. The crowd continued to buzz with chatter as he began his set, but for me all of that melted away as soon as he started playing. Kevin’s voice is smooth and relaxing providing exactly what I needed after a long, tedious day. His set ranged from quiet and reserved on songs like “Bubblegum” and “Carnival” to showcasing the true power of his voice on “Brother’s Blood”. Could easily be one of my favorite performances of the year.

This marked the second time that I’ve seen The Front Bottoms live and the devotion of the crowd was just as mesmerizing as the first time. Everyone on the floor pushed forward as soon as Kevin Devine left the stage and was sent into a frenzy as the band came out. I remember enduring just about anything to get as close as possible to the band I loved in my younger years but now it just looks uncomfortable and like a terrible way to spend an hour of my life. Guess I’m just getting old. The band provides the energy that fuels this kind of behavior from their fans. I watched the faces of people as they got shoved, kicked by crowd surfers, and pushed down by people attempting to start a mosh pit and they never stopped singing along. One guy even hung from the banister of the balcony, dropping, and thankfully not landing on top of anyone, to the floor before immediately being escorted from the building. That probably had to do more with alcohol than the music though. It was insane, but a great testament to just how amazing these guys are to see live, just make sure to stand a safe distance from the surging crowd.

All in all, a fantastic first show of 2014.