Written By | Jared Evangelista
DETROIT, MI – 96.3 WDVD, a Detroit radio station with an extremely catchy tagline (known to those of us who live here and have heard it approximately ten million times), put together an “end-of-summer” event at St. Andrew’s Hall in Detroit which was capped by a headlining performance from the Plain White T’s.
The opening group, Undesirable People, were fantastic. If you’re into bands like Turnover, Pentimento, Basement, or The Wonder Years, you should 100% check out their new 2018 album “Ask Me If I Care.” It rules.
As someone who was heavily involved with Southeastern Michigan’s DIY music scene, it was awesome to finally see a band that has been grinding for the better part of 10 years. In high school, these guys played in a local punk band called No One’s Anthem, and trust me, they were sick. You can actually check out one of their more popular songs from back in the day on YouTube. It’s called “Forever Young.”
Next up was another local band called “Stories Untold.” As I was walking around, I noticed a plethora of people wearing their merch, leading me to believe there would be some decent crowd interaction. I ended up finding myself a bit disappointed with the live-performance. Not only did it seem like the crowd was over 50% uninvolved (I could hear a million conversations throughout the room while the band was playing), but the set itself seemed somewhat sloppy.
I’m always hesitant to critique local bands like this because I fully understand the grind. It’s not lost on me. Sometimes you just have a bad set, and there’s really nothing else you can say about it. However, I think the main issue here was that this is a three-piece group comprised of a guitarist, bassist, and drummer (which is already hard enough as it is to pull off live), who are used to playing mostly smaller rooms and stages. When you play in the underground DIY scene, sloppiness and errors are more easily forgiven. Sound systems are generally worse, rooms are generally smaller, and kids are generally more involved with the live performance as opposed to the actual sound, it’s very easy to slip into the habit of playing your set like you’re playing a house party every single time.
The truth is, different venues and shows offer new dynamic challenges and should force bands to change up the status quo; change your amp settings so the guitar tone can travel properly through different sized/shaped rooms, make logistical changes so the songs flow more professionally, stay cognizant of stage volume as volume knobs don’t need to be anywhere close to where they would otherwise be in a smaller room, be aware of the frequencies each instrument is emitting so important tones aren’t lost to the abyss of sound, etc. This may sound a bit over the top, but honestly, these are the things that separate local bands from the hard-working professional touring bands.
All of that being said, these kids make good music, straight up. You can check out their 2017 full-length album “Can’t Go Home” on any of the streaming apps. The music is super catchy and relatable. In a few years, I’m certain the live show will come together if the guys can be a touch more intentional with their sound. If they continue to write and record solid music, there’s no reason why they shouldn’t continue to progress upwards and gain more popularity.
After Stories Untold finished, some of the WDVD radio guys came out and played a short cover-set with their band. That’s all I’ll really say about that.
Finally, Plain White T’s took the stage. The energy throughout the room was somewhat drained, the cover-set was enjoyable to a few, but for the most part it seemed to take the wind out of the sails for Plain White T’s. That didn’t stop the music industry veterans from playing a solid set, however.
The set had a healthy dose of songs from the group’s new 2018 full-length “Parallel Universe,” which released August 24th via Fearless Records. Yes, the album dropped at midnight after this show. Literally. You can check out the full set-list at setlist.fm.
The platinum awarded songs, “1-2-3-4” and “Rhythm of Love” sandwiched the entire set nicely, with the former being played 3rd, and the latter being played 13th out of a 15-song set. This was a good way to keep the crowd involved, rather than stowing all of the popular songs at the end.
However, there was one song that had absolutely no other place in the set other than directly at the end; more specifically, the encore. “Hey There, Delilah” is a nostalgic tune that we all know and (mostly) love. It’s pretty hard to not sing along when you hear that intro, wherever it’s being played. The bowling alley, coffee shops, in the car, etc. I didn’t even realize that the song was nominated for two Grammy’s in 2007, but I’m definitely not surprised.
It was really cool to see a band that’s been around for a while still playing live music. Although the Plain White T’s are kind of “re-starting” in a sense with their new album on Fearless, and they’re nowhere near as huge as they were in past years (further shown by their underwhelming 27k Instagram following), I have nothing but respect and hope for them. It’s extremely tough being a nostalgia band while trying to build a new foundation and a new future. These guys have built their lives around music, and I’m stoked for whatever they have planned for the next few months/years.
Good vibes to Plain White T’s and everyone else.