Concert Review: Wayne Szalinski, Jack and the Bear, San Cristobal, and Flint Eastwood

April 17, 2015: The Blind Pig, Ann Arbor

How did I make it until the middle of April before seeing my favorite local bands play this year? That’s what I kept thinking when Flint Eastwood took the stage last Friday. As I’m sure I’ve said before, their live show is not to be missed, but I don’t want to jump the gun, there are three other bands that I saw that night that need to be reviewed first.

The first band up was Wayne Szalinski, who I saw last year. Once again we were treated to glistening indie rock perfect for blasting out your car windows on a warm summer (or spring) day. The guys released their first full length LP, Black Mirror, back in October so we got to hear some newer music which is always great. Lead singer Andy Milad brought the charisma and kept the crowd entertained between tracks. He asked who was in love before singing a track about being in love, then was brave enough to ask if anyone in the audience was an MSU fan before jumping into a song about frat parties there. Even after just over a year I can already see some growth in this talented young band and I’m excited to see what they do in the future.

It’s always exciting to get to experience a new local band, we’ve got to see so many talented Michigan bands at the Blind Pig (it is the place where we caught Flint Eastwood for the first time after all) and have yet to be disappointed. I didn’t seek out the music of Jack and the Bear purposely so that I could (hopefully) be wowed by their live show. Like Flint Eastwood, seeing Jack and the Bear for the first time was definitely a unique experience, different from just about anything I’ve seen before. Their show kicked off with a lengthy instrumental intro that went from something that sounded like you might hear used as an introduction to a Circus to some good ole 70’s classic rock and back again. I remember looking at my cousin Jen at one point and saying “It’s a bit strange…and I like it.” They reminded me a bit of a mix between Foxy Shazam and My Chemical Romance, specifically because lead singer, Brandon “James” Schreiber’s voice sounds like Eric Nally’s (Foxy Shazam) and Gerard Way’s (My Chemical Romance) voices put together. Their Facebook describes them as “theatrical rock” and I would completely agree with that. I look forward to catching Jack and the Bear again for another unique musical experience.

Another UBL favorite band, San Cristobal, was the last to go on before Flint took the stage. It was the last show for the guys for the foreseeable future so it was nice to get to see them play again. As usual, they brought the funk and poppy goodness which made it hard to stop moving even though the Blind Pig felt like a sauna that night. We got to hear “Lovely Lisa” and “Mr. Wise Man” which I reviewed back in January and some great covers including Alicia Key’s “If I Ain’t Got You”. The energy was high and I’m hoping that the guys had as great of a last show before their hiatus as the crowd seemed to have.

I’ve been pretty tired and worn down lately so even thinking about doing anything aside from going home after work and getting in bed is exhausting. This means that my concert game has been a bit off this year. The moment Flint Eastwood took the stage by storm I was reminded of the reason I love going to live shows in the first place. As usual, they gave it all they had and Jax Anderson made sure that every person in that bar was participating and having a good time. They played all their older tracks before premiering some new stuff. Jax has been in the studio for months now working on an album and showed off some of that work with two new tracks. No surprise, they were amazing and sound like they could be the summer hits of 2015.

I didn’t think it was possible to be more excited for Flint Eastwood’s upcoming album but after hearing a couple of new tracks I know that I was definitely not excited enough before. All the bands playing the Blind Pig that night were on point and gave performances that created a memorable night at the Blind Pig.