Hells Half Mile Festival 2017 Music Line Up Revealed

Indie Bands Rock Annual Bay CIty Event

Posted In: Arts & Entertainment, Local Music, National Music,   By: Matt deHeus

14th August, 2017     0

Now in it's 12th year, the Hell's Half Mile Film & Music Festival is not only a fixture in the local community, it is a much-anticipated annual event for movie and music buffs from across the region.

In an August 10 Reveal Party at Unity Park, festival organizers revealed the 2017 line-ups that will make up the film and music schedules for this year's incarnation of the festival.

As has been the custom in past years, the music portion of the festival will feature an eclectic mix of local and national talent.  Presented at a variety of downtown venues, the HHM music committee’s offerings are a key part in establishing the “vibe” of the event. 

Following is the music schedule for the weekend, with band bios provided by Cole Waterman of the HHM Music Committee.

More information on the event, including ticketing, volunteer and sponsorship opportunities can be found at  http://hhmfest.com/ or on the Hell’s Half Mile Film & Music Festival Facebook page.

10 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 28

Old City Hall, 814 Saginaw St.

The Old Adage (Detroit)

Synthpop takes on a cinematic sprawl in the hands of these brother-sister sound auteurs. With Mimi Chavez’s supple vocals above Nino’s layered beats and synth melodies, the duo is nothing if not evocative and enthralling. Myriad rich tapestries deliver syrupy hooks that hit like a jolt to your emotional core.

9 p.m. Friday, Sept. 29

The Empire Room, 1205 Washington Ave.

Sidewatcher (Detroit)

If your senior prom had morphed into a punk rock show, Sidewatcher would be the band tearing up the stage. Or, if you missed prom, this feral trio would provide the soundtrack to your night of plotting revenge for being jilted. They’re a band of punkish, surf rock dichotomies — sweet and bitter, charming and dangerous, seductive and snotty. They’re a hot rod that takes corners on two wheels and barbed wire wrapped around sugar cane.

Blanca Luz (Grand Rapids)

Blanca Luz masterfully walks the tightrope between early adult wistfulness and the rebellious energy of youth. Their propulsive songs champion a refined tightness that comes from maturity, while being defined by an exuberant sense of abandon. Nostalgia mixed with a lust for the future, they’re all you could want from an indie rock band with a distinctly Midwestern flavor.

PALACES (Detroit)

PALACES somehow interweave nocturnal moods with sun-scorched vibes, making chilly detachment cleave against warm intimacy. Surging guitars and throbbing basslines are laced with a corona of melodic, skittery synths. They employ the swagger and strut of Queens of the Stone Age, mix in the eeriness of Joy Division, and add a dash of My Bloody Valentine's mysterious ambiance. 

The Messenger Birds (Detroit)

This duo’s spartan roster belies their massive sound. Conjuring fuzz-laden distortion and pummeling percussion from a Delta blues template, they’re the kind of band that could shatter cinderblocks. Few acts better embody the tradition of Detroit forbearers the MC5, the Stooges, and the White Stripes.

Willa Rae & the Minor Arcana (Detroit)

Serpentine and spellbinding, this sextet summons a rough and tumble reinvention of Rust Belt Americana. Sewing together folk, blues, and country, they inject a punk fervor and gothic mood into a roots-based bedrock. Rollicking percussion, seesawing strings, and ramshackle guitars surround Willa Rae’s soulful vocals, crafting an incendiary revelation.

8 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 30

The Scottish Rite Masonic Center

Strange Lakes (Bay City)

Post-rock quartet Strange Lakes has found a way to weld multiple lifetimes’ musical influences, creating a palatable variant of opium den psychedelia rife with solid, driving rhythms and coruscating counter-melodies. The group is composed of Bay City born-and-raised journeymen who have played in notable groups such as San Diego-based instrumental outfit Tristeza, stoner/doom/van-and-bandana metal aficionados Whaler, and hardcore punk legends Bev.Clone alongside HHM Music's founding father Tommy Jenkins.

Oxymorrons (New York City)

Take the fire and furor of Rage Against the Machine, the intriguing experimentation of TV on the Radio, and the unpredictable virtuosity of Jane’s Addiction and you’ll start to get an idea of what Oxymorrons is all about. As bomb-detonating drums, frenzied guitars, and pulsing basslines create a bedrock behind them, vocalists D and KI alternately rap and sing provocative and titillating wordplay. Genre trappings are rendered asunder by this quintet, their raw energy erupting in torrents.

The Kickback (Chicago)

The Kickback is a burgeoning indie rock phenom. Their cup runneth over with youthful vitality that manifests in their infectious hooks. They’re unhinged and experimental, yet they temper their tunes with a degree of familiarity and intimacy when need be. If you took the paradigms set by Spoon, Vampire Weekend, and the Shins, add in the fevered mania of Hunter S. Thompson’s writings, and a pinch of Twin Peaks’ surrealism, you’d arrive at the crossroads the Kickback calls home.

Gringo Star (Atlanta)

Gringo Star was made for sultry, Indian summer twilights. Their aesthetic emanates from an idiosyncratic realm wherein the swamps of the Deep South and the arid mesas of the southwestern deserts share a border. With a cheeky yet deft approach to mining America’s musical legacy, they explore Delta blues, twangy alt. country, dusty folk, proto pop, surf rock, and trippy psychedelia then deliver it through a filter of unbridled garage rock.


Terror Pigeon! (Nashville)

Were aliens to pick up dispatches of Earth’s pop music through some interstellar haze and try to replicate the sounds they heard, Terror Pigeon! might be something they’d come up with. The project from Neil Fridd slices through pop conventions, lays out the components, then stitches them back together in an overpowering aural tableau. Fridd brings a joyful sadness to his concoctions, an optimism that shirks its fetters, so be prepared to dance your asses off and shake your demons out.

3 p.m. Friday, Sept. 29

Electric Kitsch, 917 Washington Ave.

Northwoods Improvisers (Midland)

Northwoods Improvisers formed in 1976 and have rotated their roster ever since. The current trio is based in Midland and has been performing for more than 30 years, playing avant-garde/world jazz across the globe. Members have performed and recorded with jazz greats — Faruq Z. Bey, Connie Crothers, Eddie Gale, Eugene Chadbourne, Peter Kowald, and several more. 


5 p.m. Friday, Sept. 29

Jake’s Corner Lounge, 114 Third St.

Shawn Butzin (Bay City)

Hailing from Colorado, Butzin’s craft is naturally imbued with the free and pensive spirit of the American expanse. Blending folk, Americana, and alt. country reminiscent of Ryan Adams and early Wilco, his songs aptly accompany a glass of whiskey over ice or an afternoon beer.

3 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 30

Electric Kitsch, 917 Washington Ave.

High School Sweetheart (Detroit)

Electronic dance-rock at its finest is what this duo presents. From the ashes of Sugar Baron and the Lunar Calendar arise a surfeit of synth melodies paired with lyrics exorcising personal demons, juxtaposing the poppy with the confessional.

5 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 30

Jake’s Corner Lounge, 114 Third St.

Sorry Hunny (Grand Rapids)

This all-woman quintet brings a ramshackle, devil-may-care energy to their fusion of folk and Celtic punk. An early evening cocktail isn’t necessary to enjoy the set, but it couldn’t hurt to have one in-hand to toast these lasses as they belt out last call sing-alongs, bar fight anthems, broken-hearted lullabies, and foot-stomping jigs.

2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 1

Tavern 101, 101 Center Ave.


This local troubadour has built sizable grassroots rep in recent years, criss-crossing the country with his emotive brand of acoustic indie rock. On the final day of HHM 12, he’s bringing his evocative tunes to you for a matinee show at Tavern 101. Grab yourself a Bloody Mary and soak it in.




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