Photo By: Nathan Ryall
Written By: Nathan Ryall and Mel Says
“This one’s called ‘Better Off (Strictly Doods)’, except for this chick right here,” said lead singer Chad Nicefield in almost a mumble, pointing at Backroads with Phyllis’ Mel Says. This would be the least audible Nicefield would be for the rest of the night. The ear-splitting show came just a short while after we had the chance to have a chat with the Party-Metal band Wilson. We could go on and on about the hypnotic moments that happened that night; like covering party favorite “Thunder Struck” by AC/DC, the synchronization between guitarists Jason Spencer, James Lascu and bassist Kyle Landry, the reckless and second-natured antics of Nicefield, or even the wild but accurate strokes of drummer Matt Puhy. But when you boil it all down and sift through all the flower language, you would find one thing in common: Wilson is, plain and simple, a band with a solid, clever sound, a second-to-none stage show and a willingness to party that would rival even The Beastie Boys circa 1986.
This was not the first time that we have had the immense pleasure of watching this band make mincemeat of the stage, but it was the smallest venue we have ever been able to see them in. Playing small rooms is something that seems to really drive Wilson.
“You kind of see a little bit more of a connection when you are playing for a smaller crowd,” said drummer Puhy.
We might even go as far to compare their typical live show as something like watching Godzilla battle Mothra across a thriving metropolitan city.
The band, who are fresh off of a memorable performance at the Mid-Michigan festival Dirt Fest, continued to say, “… It’s really easy to interact with people [in a small crowd]. You can smell how into it the crowd is.”
And you could most definitely smell the crowd in this cramped venue, which was little more than a glorified hallway under an apartment building called 4731 Gallery in Detroit.
If you have never seen or heard of Wilson, we can’t stress the urgency enough because soon it will be near impossible to see this quintet of mass destruction and partying on the small stage. When asked what was next for these guys, they let us in on a little secret; Wilson is currently in the process of recording their first full length album due to drop sometime in mid-to-late February. 2013 should be an exciting year for the guys who are planning to expand their tour and cover more of the Plain States as well as parts of the South and the East Coast.
We were worried for a bit while Live it Out, who would go on next, was setting up for their co-headlining set. It would be hard for any band to follow the sweat and beer-soaked show Wilson just put on. This was, after all, the album re-release party for Live It Out, and it would be a shame to watch them fizzle after the party ejaculate Wilson had just unleashed on the crowd. The stakes were high but this would be a great chance for lead singer Seth Melrose, bassist Anthony Gaglio, drummer Ted Craft and guitarists Tim Devore and Austin Birkett to show that not only can they pack a room, but they too can bring out the same energy in a crowd. Luckily for them, they had a stacked crowd full of friends and family to give them a boost if they needed one. We think it’s safe to say that that boost was unnecessary, unless you are talking about an actual boost up to the ten-foot tall ledge that Melrose would hurl himself off of into the outstretched arms of the masses of fans that had gathered under him. By the end of the set, most of the audience had followed the band’s lead in removing their shirts, some even their pants, and in the case of hippie guitarist (wait…a hippie in a hardcore band?); his skirt. While their live show was very energetic and fun to watch, it’s hard to tell whether it was the crowd feeding the band energy, or the band feeding the crowd. We would be interested to see the Live it Out show in front of a crowd of strangers, but are fairly confident that these guys could get any crowd moving.
We also had the opportunity to sit down with Live it Out, who are freshly signed to South Division Records.
“We have a label who’s not just doing things for us, they are showing us the right way to do stuff,” said Melrose.
Axe master Austin Birkett would continue to say, “When it came to making our album, [South Division] was like, ‘Alright, DIY time.’ We spent the next couple of days making our CDs and wrapping them ourselves.”
The physical album, titled Illuminated, is technically a re-release of the digital version of the same name that was strictly released via Band Camp. Up next for these rockers from the East Side is more writing and recording that will begin around November of this year.
As you will soon learn, the trio that makes up Backroads with Phyllis is a sucker for local jams, good hangs and cheap beers from a trunk cooler in a sketchy parking lot. Local shows like this one with Live It Out & Wilson are our bread and butter, the sticky stuff that brought us together as friends back in high school and any other cliché you can think of. We’ll see you in the pit.