Waking Windows Festival hit Detroit last weekend in Southwest Detroit’s hip venue El Club on July 21-23th 2017. Since its origin in Winooski, Vermont this festival has continued to evolve and grow. It will now travel to Portland, Maine after its three-day pit stop in the Motor City.
The three-day celebration proved that diversity was the name of the game, and they played it well.
National acts like Dâm Funk and Margarete Glaspy and local performances from Craig Brown Band, Bevlove, Moonwalks, and Video7 transformed the stage with their energy, captivating the audience with their unique sounds and spirit. Headliners Whitney, Car Seat Headrest, and Moodyman performed each night closing out the full day line-ups.
The Craig Brown BandDetroit’s own, Craig Brown Band took the stage Friday evening and captivated the audience with his honky-tonk, Americana, rock and roll set. This six piece band – including Bonnie and Caitlin Drinkard, who had performed their solo act just a few hours before as The Drinkard Sisters – vibrated the walls and emitted a bottomless rock and roll, dive bar deluxe of energy into the air. Watching Craig Brown perform one song live will leave you convinced that he’s not just a musician, he’s a natural born performer. His spins and kicks portrayed an energy similar to that of Jack Black; his music rang bells of Jack White. It’s no surprise that his debut album, “The Lucky Ones Forget” was recorded with Jack White’s own label, Third Man Records.
Video7Eleven people, horns, keys, and synchronized dancing – what more could an audience want? How about five more people? What usually consists as a seventeen-piece band, consisted of eleven on Saturday night at El Club, but this didn’t stop Video7 from emanating their jazz locked, hip hop, won’t stop attitude. “It’s a love mission,” they said, “and music is the strongest way we know how to express it.” Aside from their seventeen-piece ensemble, they each have solo projects they are working on.
Detroit’s Jay Daniel- he has already had international success an outside of his hometown. In fact, he just received the Spirit of Detroit Award from Detroit City Council for outstanding achievement in Electronic and House music internationally. The spin master took El Club’s stage on Saturday evening with a grandiose effect. Bringing a unique perspective to dance music, fans were enthralled with the beats leaving attendees with no other option but to dance his set away. Daniel heated up the stage, hot and ready for Dâm Funk and Moodyman to finish off the night in style.
BevloveWhen Bevlove speaks, you listen. When Belove sings, you swoon. Talk about a performer that has the ability to captivate the room. While she could have maintained the audience’s attention with her lungs, she offered so much more. “Queen-Bev” has perfected her performance with both of her choreographed dancers turned up the heat, complimenting her as she swept the audience away and left them jaw-dropped and spellbound.
MoonwalksWith only vocals, drums, a guitar, and a bass, Moonwalks created, yet again, their primal driving, dark-colored tone that they’re known for. Their use of melding heavy, grunge riffs with trance-infusing, psychedelic transitions was seamless. It could be said that Moonwalks portray similarities to that of Thee Oh See’s and had no problem filling the room.
Following DiscoPhantom was California-native Dâm Funk who brought his high energy to the packed crowd on Saturday night. Damon Garrett Riddick is a modern-funk musician, vocalist, and producer that brought his entire musical tool set, team, and experience to El Club. He portrayed that his understanding of modern funk brings a whole new perspective to the game and demanded the audiences’ attention. His energy was palpable and the audience went along for the unique, captivating ride from his multi-musician set with his full-bodied performance.
Paper CastlesPaper Castles took the stage following The Drinkard Sisters performance, with a set oozing a grungy, indie-rock vibe into that air that lasted for the remainder of the night. Consisting of steadily strummed guitar rhythms and swinging riffs and bass lines, Paper Castles achieved their goal of simultaneously memorizing and disorienting the audience. Paddy Reagan’s (vocals and guitar) droning energy complimented his swaying voice and helped create what one member of the audience said was “a Lou Reed-like sound”.
PriestsPriests is a pure, high-energy punk band; they may have emitted more gusto than any other band during the festival, and the fans praised them for it. Front-woman Katie Alice Greer tells the audience that, “our Savior is Madonna” right before bursting back into their explosive, head banging, Rage Against The Machine-like, raw-punk performance. They came with something to say and everyone heard it.
YOU.Opening Sunday, the final day of Waking Windows was post punk/synth group YOU. Their set complimented the high-paced electronic music with their sharp toned, chorus guitar, deep bass, vocals and drums. They have home bases in Detroit and Brooklyn, so check yourself on the lookout for their next show, you won’t be disappointed.
ROUGH FRANCIS“Detroit is our real home!” yells lead singer Bobby Hackney, and it’s true. Consisting of three Hackney brothers, Paul Comegno (guitar), and Steve Williams (bass), Rough Francis’s high energy performance and deep, chill-setting, rock and roll screams warmed the blood in the audience’s veins until it nearly boiled. The name Hackney should ring a bell to any punk fan from Detroit. In the 70’s, Bobbie’s father and uncles started a Detroit based band called Death; today it’s seen in many groups as one of the first punk bands in the world. From Rough Francis’s show at Waking Windows, it’s clear that they have the talent and enthusiasm to successfully carry the torch.
Empty HousesEmpty Houses was anything but empty. Consisting of vocals, bass, drums, a tambourine, and three horns, Empty Houses took the stage powerfully and filled the entire venue with their big band sound. From unveiling original tracks to covering Bruno Mars, “Saatchi on the Floor”, theyhad no problem entertaining the audience and filling them with electricity.
DiscophantomHailing from Vermont, DJ Brian Nagle is familiar with the Waking Windows scene, and he made his appearance on the second day. DiscoPhantom has a large following in Vermont, and there’s a reason behind it -he knows what he’s doing. Every time he would transgress steadily into a different tempo, the audience would willingly followed him. DiscoPhantom’s performance successfully inspired the audience to get on their feet and dance, they were left with no choice. If you’re looking for a DJ that keeps you on the toes of your feet- you’re looking for DiscoPhantom.
Words by Richard Forzano.