A spectacular September weekend covered many bases outside and inside: indie-rock, country, funk, jazz, psych-rock and more. Local Spins was there to capture it all.
EDITOR’S NOTE: indie rock bleachers kicked off the Calvin University Concert Series in Grand Rapids on Saturday night, part of a busy week that also ignited the Perrin Backyard Party with regional acts, the Grand Rapids African American Arts and Music Festival at Studio Park, at Kalamazoo Edison Jazz Festival with a host of talented players, Sullivan Field’s Baseball Stadium Jama Morgan Wade stop the tour at Elevation inside the intersection and Ghost Note impress fans at The Livery in Benton Harbor. Check out a review of Bleachers here, scroll down for Local Spins photo galleries from other shows, and check out full reviews of Grand Rapids Symphony season opener at DeVos Performance Hall and Paula Cole/Sophie B. Hawkins/Lucy Kaplansky at the Forest Hills Fine Arts Center online here.
Support our coverage of
West Michigan Music Scene
STANDS AT THE CALVIN’S VAN NOORD ARENA
As Bleachers performed their song “45” on Saturday night, members of the Grand Rapids audience sang with passion.
Unfortunately, they were out of tune – so out of tune, in fact, that Bleachers frontman Jack Antonoff noticed from the stage.
“Horrible,” he laughs. The crowd laughed right away.
Tiers, the stage name of a well-known and amusing producer. Band member Antonoff delivered an energetic set in front of a crowd of over 1,000 at Calvin University’s Van Noord Arena.
The audience was mostly made up of young adults, who huddled against the floor. Around them, more reserved spectators dotted the stands. Many attendees were students of Calvin, but some had come from further afield.
“We got up at 5 a.m. and drove from Detroit this morning,” said Alys Bruton, who scored a second-place finish with her companions. “Bleachers has such fun songwriting and such a unique style of music.”
Indie pop singer Isaac Dunbar kicked off with a 30-minute set, featuring the songs “Gummy”, “Makeup Drawer” and “Kissiy Kissy”. Her stage presence was confident and almost ethereal; at a quiet moment, an audience member shouted, “Kill!”
After a 40-minute break, the lights went out without warning and the Bleachers song “91” began playing. Amid total darkness, a bright flash suddenly reveals Antonoff on stage, singing on his knees.
After such an emotional start, the energy of the concert quickly built up. Bleachers performed their greatest hits, including “Let’s Get Married”, “Rollercoaster”, and “Don’t Take the Money”. The energy of the songs was complemented by the band’s use of brightly colored lights.
Antonoff was a skilled and lively performer who made good use of space, constantly moving around the stage and climbing to higher points. The members of his band – from the saxophonist to the tambourine player – were also in good spirits. The crowd responded in kind, with virtually everyone dancing and waving their arms.
“If you’re brave enough, get on your friend’s shoulders,” Antonoff shouted at one point. “Let’s make this s— feel like Glastonbury!” And the crowd obeyed.
“My favorite part was being up front and being able to make eye contact with [Antonoff]because he really has personality,” Calvin University student Amy Miller said after the show.
But the show also had poignant moments. During the emotional “Don’t Go Dark,” in which Antonoff sings about the end of a relationship, the crowd spontaneously created a sea of lights by turning on their phone flashlights. “Gorgeous,” Antonoff remarked from the stage.
During the concert, Antonoff made sure to show his appreciation for his host city. “I love coming to Grand Rapids,” he told the crowd. The city holds “a million memories” for him, especially the Skelletones Concert Hall for all ages. “I’m just saying – Grand Rapids is the s-.”
The show ended with the incredibly danceable hit “Stop Making This Hurt”. The crowd was sizzling with energy, especially as the group released several tomato-patterned beach balls into the crowd.
Afterwards, fans didn’t hold their breath for an encore: Antonoff had spent a few minutes during the show railing against the practice. “We don’t do encores, because they’re stupid,” Antonoff said, describing them as an “ego hit” for artists.
So needless to say there was no recall. But Antonoff was right: the bleachers didn’t need them anyway.
PHOTO GALLERY: Perrin Brewing Backyard Bash (Saturday)
Gunnar and the Grizzly Boys, The Hacky Turtles
Photos by Eric Stoike
PHOTO GALLERY: BBI at the Festival of African American Art and Music, Studio Park (Saturday)
Photos by Elle Lively