HELL’S HALF MILE MUSIC FESTIVAL • Bringing Indie Sounds to Bay City

Posted In: Arts & Entertainment, , Artist Feature,   From Issue 885   By: Jason Dean

17th September, 2019     0

The Hell’s Half Mile Music Festival, happening in Downtown Bay City September 26-29, features a varied lineup of North American independent artists from the Midwest and beyond that are worth checking out. Acts from Los Angeles and Toronto are among the bands contributing to the scintillating soundscape of new music that makes Year 14 of the festival a multi-layered sonic treat.

Thursday Sept. 26 •  10 PM • Old City Hall, 814 Saginaw St.

Coastal Club (Detroit)

Guitarist Alex Hirlinger is the chief architect behind Coastal Club’s jaunty surf-tinged sound that while paying homage to The Beach Boys and Dick Dale as well as ’80s-era college party groups like The Housemartins. Drummer Avery Benter has stepped up of late, also contributing to the songwriting process. Hirlinger counts COIN, Knox Hamilton, and Colony House as some of the band’s influences. Coastal Club’s latest single, “Make It By,” is a breezy, ebullient slice of dream pop that sounds like a convertible cruising up Pacific Coast Highway. 

Friday Sept. 27 • 9 PM • The Warehouse, 311 Third St.

MULTIMAGIC (Cincinnati)

Singer/guitarist Coran Stetter pens songs swirled with dream pop flavors of ear candy ringing out in a summer breeze. MULTIMAGIC, the vehicle for his musings, realigned in 2019 with a completely new backing band that includes singer/keyboardist Meg Kecskes, drummer Evan "Smokeface" Brown, guitarist James Ruehlman, and bassist Anthony Maley. The band’s new single, “Dreams,” 

North by North (Chicago)

A two-piece lineup with a big sound, North by North lands somewhere between the rock bombast of White Stripes and the “econo punk” of Minutemen. Guitarist Nate Girard serves up meaty riffs with precision and drummer Kendra Blanks, who originally played keys with the band before moving behind the kit, matches Girard’s energetic delivery with her steady rhythm attack. The band’s mantra, Tour Until We Die, has them on the road almost constantly (24 shows in February this year), while tightening the duo’s crisp, lively stage show. The nine songs on the much-anticipated follow-up to the brilliant 2016 opus “Last Days of Magic” are road-tested, high-octane rockers that showcase the band’s renegade spirit.

Ariana and the Rose (New York)

The leader and namesake of this synth-driven New York pop band, Ariana DiLorenzo is a performer in the true sense of the word, and her sinewy movements complement a hypnotic soundscape driven by her breathy and agile warble. She has said, “I call myself a performer rather than only a musician because ultimately, that feeling comes for me when I give my art away. When...the show is happening, when the audience gets to have it.” Unabashedly brandishing precision hooks left and right, the unexpected uppercut is the penetrating lyrical content that digs deeper than the majority of her peers. 

Saturday Sept. 28 • 9 PM • The Warehouse, 311 Third St.

Prude Boys (Detroit)

With a live show that is crass, brash, and ready to pounce, Prude Boys ensure the Motor City spirit is represented in true DIY style at HHM. Caroline Myrick (bass, vocals), Quennton Thornbury (guitar, vocals), and Connor Dodson (drums) careen with savage purpose through jangled surf pop that buzzes and churns with the energy of a tropical storm. Their latest single, “The Reunion,” shows the band maturing without showing their age, with Myrick’s slight vocal quiver lilting above the melody, channeling a touch of Natalie Merchant and Stevie Nicks.

The Mynabirds (Los Angeles)

Laura Burhenn has reunited the band responsible for her 2012 breakthrough album “Generals” for a whirlwind, one-week, seven-date tour that includes HHM. Burhenn, who started out with Washington, D.C. indie duo Georgie James, formed The Mynabirds in 2009. The eponymous single from the band’s second album, “Generals,” put the band on the map. “This band is such a magic thing,” she says. “If we can make it happen on the East and West coasts, I'd love that.”

In September, the singer/keyboardist released a cover of Portishead’s “Glory Box” on the heels of the 25th anniversary of the release of “Dummy.” Another recent collaboration, with Ram Dass and East Forest, is the single “Perfect Perfect.” With influences that include Tori Amos, PJ Harvey, and Nina Simone, Burhenn is unflinching in expressing her views--political, feminist, or otherwise.

“Be Here Now,” The Mynabirds’ fourth album, was written and recorded in the months after the 2016 Presidential election and subsequent Women’s March. The raw spectrum of emotions, including hope, are on vivid display, especially on the anthemic title track.

Reflecting on reassembling the players from “Generals” 7 years later, Burhenn muses, “The years since we last toured together have been wild. Some of us have started families, companies, had babies.” Burhenn relocated to Los Angeles, which led to a period of disillusionment with the music industry. “But as the world changes and turns in all the wonderful and terrible ways it does, bringing people together to sing songs in unison and harmony is the thing that binds us together forever.”

Dilly Dally (Toronto)

Co-headliners Dilly Dally draw their sonic influence from Jesus and Mary Chain, Souxsie and the Banshees, and Bjork, among others, creating a sludgy shoegaze hybrid ideal for dark alleys, cloud-shrouded graveyards, and, of course, no-holds-barred live performance. Singer/guitarist Katie Monks growls, coos, and screams verbal daggers with gutterral conviction, while Liz Ball (guitar), Jimmy Tony (bass), and Benjamin Reinhartz (drums) maintain an imposing wall of sound around her. The band followed up its 2015 debut, “Sore,” with 2018’s “Heaven,” upping the ante with a collection of moody dirges that build on the band’s mystique.



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