FUNHOUSE Festival Artist Profiles

5 Up & Coming Bands Rapidly Rising to National (and International) Acclaim

Posted In: Arts & Entertainment, National Music, Artist Feature,   From Issue 877   By: Robert Martin and Matt deHeus

04th April, 2019     0

One of the key factors making the FUNHOUSE Art & Music Festival so unique is the quality, stature, and popularity of the bands slated to perform at the 3-day showcase scheduled for April 25-27th.

According to festival co-organizer Curtis Dalton, “Musically, by bringing these bands into the Saginaw/Bay area we are delivering something people don’t ever get to see, unless they drive long distances. Doing three days of shows like this in a row is a rare opportunity for this region. A band like Twin Peaks will probably never play Saginaw or Bay City again, because they are really blowing up - and like a lot of the bands we are featuring - will soon be drawing crowds too big to play the venues in our immediate region.”

For the uninitiated, here’s a breakdown on five of the performing groups riding  rising stars into larger public acclaim.

Twin Peaks

In the Lynchian world of parallel realities explored in the cult TV series of the same name, FUNHOUSE festival headliners Twin Peaks hail from the Windy City and possess a musical style regarded as a mixture of 1960s Garage Rock and 2010s Garage Punk, oscillating between turning out memorable chugging power chord riffs in the vein of the Stones in the Black Lodge while writing wonderfully winsome and infectious power-pop tapestries on the curtains of the White Lodge - always leaving their ever-growing audiences singing along and clamoring for more as they travel along that Dark Highway and charter a course into the musical unknown.

With a musical style critics have described as ‘sloppy, Replacements-inspired Rock’ on their debut album, to psychedelia, punk ballads, and baroque pop on their second outing, influences ranging from The Black Lips and The Strokes to The Beatles, The Stooges, The Beach Boys and of course, the aforementioned Rolling Stones have been lobbed at the band.

According to lead vocalist/guitarist Cadien Lakes James, “Originally, we were purely just playing to have fun. The first tour was a goal to see some of the country we hadn’t visited;  and also play for people outside of Chicago. Really, not much has changed - we’ve grown to love a vast range of music that influences our sound; we’ve grown up and lived more, we’ve been broke and on our own, we’ve been around the world playing our songs and feeling high or going through heartbreak - always winging it!”

With four studio albums (Sunken - 2013) (Wild Onion -2014) Down In Heaven (2016) and (Sweet ’17 Singles Series - 2018, Twin Peaks formed back in 2010 and formed out of Chicago’s DIY Scene, performing at House Shows throughout the city. By the time they recorded their debut album two years later, the band started to outgrow the Chicago DIY scene and with their second release in 2014, they started getting national attention, with Rolling Stone giving the album a 3.5 out of 5 rating and saying,  “they pull off Exile-era Stones strut and Velvet Underground guitar poesy with a sophistication that’s beyond their years, and a sense of humor, too.”

2014 also marked their breakout performance at the Pitchfork Music Festival and the following summer they played Lollapalooza for the first time, with their first European tour commencing in February, 2015. Following that came an appearance on Conan, and their first tour of Australia along an appearance at the Bonnaroo Festival in June, 2016.

For James the most distinguishing factor about the music and songwriting of Twin Peaks is the fact “We’ve got four unique voices amongst our band between all our writers, and I think it shows in the range of emotion and how our respective tastes are all tied together.”

What kind of roots does Twin Peaks have in DIY (Do It Yourself) culture; and do they see the band playing a house show again, just for fun? “The vast majority of shows we played for a couple years were in basements, garages and living rooms - great memories. Our whole first tour was 17 shows in 19 days, and only two were at proper venues. I’m sure we’ll play in a house again. We’ve continued to do so here and there with other projects.”

As for musical goals over the upcoming year, “We’re just always hoping to reach new heights with our live show, play longer sets, and switch it up night-by-night. We’re looking forward to getting back out on the road and touring a bunch on a whole batch of new songs.”

/var/folders/89/wc6bhqt91w76yfwpv70fp86w0000gp/T/ Dynamic

“This isn’t so much a reunion, as much as it is picking up where we left off.” This is how front man Chris Tanner describes the return of Vince Dynamic, both as a recording and live act.  After a three year “hiatus,” during which Tanner worked on other projects, including Darn Wishes and playing with Alex Kostka, the indie rockers are back, with a “new” line up of Vince Dynamic alumni and new tunes.

The band was originally formed in Bay City in 2004, developing their own version of the “grungy nerd rock” that was in vogue at the time. The band reintroduced itself to fans last fall when the dropped a video for the song “Feeling Kinda Good.” 

The band’s bio describes their music as “beautiful, melodic, independent love songs.”  Feeling Kinda Good ups that equation a bit, as the tune is a dynamite piece of power pop.  Hooky, with pure vocals and overdriven guitars.  Whether it is in this new song or in previous work, Young Jersey Friend, the band creates comfortable musical arrangements that allow them the platform to convey complex emotional messages. The other cool thing is the band makes legit videos.  It harkens back to the hey day of MTV, when a promotional video was required for any song that for which you wanted airplay. 

In addition to stalwart Tanner, the current version is made up of veterans of previous incarnations of the band. Terese Mauch was previously in the band from 2006 to 2011 and returns playing synthesizer.  Dave Daniele, who toured with the band as a guitarist in 2013, is now playing drums.  Alex Kostka, who has known Tanner for years and with whom Tanner played over the last few years, is playing bass.

With all due respect to everyone who has made Vince Dynamic special over the years, Tanner indicates the current version is “very much what we have always tried to sound like.  This is like the perfect version of Vince Dynamic.”

The band is currently in the studio finishing up a batch of new songs.  They are in the mixing and mastering phase and hope to have the project complete for an early Fall release. Fans can learn more about the band’s plans on their Facebook page and find their music on Youtube, Bandcamp or Amazon Music.


Midland native and current Kalamazoo resident Jason Singer is by the standard definition, a Michigander. One listen to output from Singer’s musical alter ego Michigander, reveals work that is anything but standard. 

Drawing from the palette of big, melodic “prog-pop” acts like Coldplay, Muse, Doves and Porcupine Tree, Michigander is clearly differentiated from the current generation of rootsy, singer-songwriter’s that in many ways define the current sound of independent Michigan music.

Singer was very appreciative of the comparisons, as these are indeed influences on Singer and his developing musical identity. Midland is a fabulous debut work, full of the lush orchestration that makes Singer’s influences such influential bands.  Layers of guitars, synths and Singer’s own vocals deliver a level of sophistication that is atypical of bands who qualify as “indie rock.”

The six-song set includes some extremely catchy fare, such as album opener “5 AM” and up-tempo heart-tugger “Fears.”   It’s extremely listenable stuff, with excellent arrangements and well executed recordings that really capture the mood of the songs.

The release captured significant attention, as “Fears” was featured on NPR’s World Café and “Stolen” was featured on NME’s New Music Monday. 

The band has been touring now for two years, gathering followers as it takes the music across the Midwest.   Similar to the history behind Alice Cooper, Michigander is both and individual and a band. While Singer has not adopted an associated stage persona, there is some ambiguity between the individual and the collective.  One goal is to be different than the typical definition of Michigander.

Singer, et al are currently in the studio working on a follow-up to Midland. 

“We hope to a make a different kind of record.  More mature, which everyone says.  Just more cohesive.  The songs we are recording were all written during a six-month period, so they all fit together.”

Michigander’s appearance at the Fun House Festival is part of a 10-state tour that will take them across the Midwest and then out to Seattle, Washington. You can find Michigander’s music on their own website, Youtube, Spotify, Bandcamp and other digital music outlets.

The Sidekicks

It’s a “thing” in the punk rock world, and it has been known to happen to the best of them.   In every generation of indie rock, bands have started out fueled by the energy and a reaction to the perceived dysfunction around them. But a funny thing happens in music when you stick with it:  You get better.  Your influences broaden.  You grow up and can even start to imagine growing old.  You find you can use experience to maintain your edge, rather than loose it.

Veteran Ohio rock outfit The Sidekicks knows this arc very well.   As told by drummer Matt Climer, the band started in 2006, spawned out of a love of punk rock.  They originally emulated acts such as Rancid and Bad Religion, second generation punk acts that combined raw guitars with catchy melodic hooks and vocal harmonies.

With their fifth release, Happiness Hours, The Sidekicks enter a new phase of their prolific now careers.  Where earlier releases could be termed edgier and more punk influenced, the new album works the borders of Power Pop, where bands like Big Star and Television blazed the trail and acts like Teenage Fanclub and The Legal Matters keep it alive.

“As you ‘grow up,” you get exposed to other music and you start to incorporate it,” said Climer.  “We were always attracted to music with vocal harmonies. This time around it was about trying to write a fluent album and just get better as a band.”

Happiness Hours is eminently listenable.  A nice combination of grunge guitars and tight melodic tunes.  The band, which also consists of Steve Ciolek (Vocals & Guitar), Toby Reif (Guitar & Vocals), and Ryan Starinsky (Bass & Vocals), gives a very polished performance which is a clear evolution from their early, punkier roots.

On songs like “Other People’s Pets” and “Don’t Feel Like Dancing,” the band offers a wry and ironic look at regular life.  The kind of bemused observations that a grown up, grown out anarchist might make in the mellow light of adulthood.

The Sidekicks were assisted in this project by veteran producer John Agnello (Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jr) and the album benefits a great deal from the collaboration. “We’d wanted to work with John for awhile and finally were able to on this album.  He is just the sweetest, most funny guy.  He is so knowledgeable and can make you feel much more comfortable. John works very quickly, but not out of haste.  It’s because he knows his s*** and everything has a very natural feeling.”

When queried about the path of a band that now finds its self in territory the members probably didn’t contemplate when they were first playing in basements and sleeping on living rooms floors across the Rustbelt. Climer indicated “We are on a steady upswing.  We all have the ‘want’ to do this and we still find ourselves growing as a band.”

Fans of the Sidekicks and guitar pop will have a chance to check them out at the Funhouse Festival. The band’s music can be found on all the usual digital outlets, as well as their website:

Teddy Roberts & The Mouths

Teddy Roberts sang and played guitar for Detroit bands Hampshire and also played drums for Fireworks and Loose Planes. Signed to Save Your Generation Records, this Detroit-based emo band have built up a considerable following with their songwriting skills and uniquely crafted musicianship.

According to Teddy, “This group we have right here has been playing together in many forms over the last 7 years. We all met through playing shows and touring together and it’s been a great friendship since the beginning. Everyone comes from very diverse musical backgrounds and that makes things exciting and always fun.  The only objective we have with this band is to make music and have fun. We love playing music more than anything on planet earth and that’s always going to be the focus. Everything else is secondary.”

When asked about the qualities of their music and songwriting that distinguishes it the most, Teddy responds by saying, “At the end of the day people like it or they don’t and that’s totally fine. These songs mean the world to me and when I brought this batch of tunes to the group everyone brought them to life and made them their own. Everybody in this group has a completely different musical trajectory and that makes for a hell of a lot of fun in the studio. I'm not gonna say what distinguishes our music from others because that’s up for the listener to decide. We're just gonna keep on playing and make the noise that makes us feel good.”

“As this band evolves and the years go on the only plan is to just keep making music,” he continues. “It's what we do. There's no way to tell how this band will evolve because life ends up deciding that. Who knows what record we're gonna make next? That's what I love about music. Every song can end up being a time capsule for a certain part in your life. The only hope is to look back and not regret anything but I think we're on the right track. We've got a record soon to be released and we sincerely hope you enjoy it because we do!”

The Funhouse Art & Musical Festival runs from April 25-27th.  Performance times, locations, a complete artist roster, ticket pricing and purchase can be made by visiting



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