Last weekend, Outta This World Booking, a local booking group I spoke with a few columns ago, put out a compilation album featuring 10 bands from Southeast Michigan. When I found out about this, I checked out their newly-formed Bandcamp page, bought the album and hit play. At first, I thought the album had some great songs along with some inviting production, and then moved on with my day. But after revisiting this album several times this week, it’s finally hit me how meaningful something like this is for both myself and the scene as a whole.
The reason why I didn’t think too much about the compilation before was that I wouldn’t consider myself particularly close with anyone on it. I’ve seen all of the bands live, and am friends with several members of different bands featured, but I wouldn’t say I’m particularly close with any of them. But after listening, I realized I didn’t need to be best friends with anyone for this album to mean an incredible amount to me, even after only a few listens.
This compilation is such an important representation of the scene, and at a time where I’ll be leaving the Midwest in just a few months, it has made me think about how the scene has changed over the past four years, and all the memories I’ve made along with it.
The compilation kicks off with a demo from Daddy and the Long Legs and I immediately thought of the night I played a gig with them at Club Above, supporting a solo act from Texas named Frosty Palms. They played an acoustic set at the back of the venue for the 10 people or so that were there on that Sunday night, but acted as if there was a crowd 10 times that size in front of them, consisting entirely of their closest friends. After that, there’s a track by Taurus Moon called, “Shit Geminis Say” that immediately reminded me of the astrological banter they had between songs during a set of theirs I saw last summer, where I donned a button-up Hawaiian that matched the rest of my bandmates.
I could go on and on with little anecdotes like this for every band on the compilation, but the point is that each of these bands has a special place in the back, front and sides of my mind. But this isn’t just about me! These bands each mean something different to people in the scene, and this idea applies to so many other scenes around the country.
From the lo-fi, intimate songwriting of Young Adult Fiction (one of my favorite projects on the scene), to the belting, distorted sounds of Spacecadet, there’s a pretty wide range of music on this compilation. But what I find even more attention-grabbing than the variety of music is the similarity between these 10 songs and the 10 projects that wrote them. Maybe it’s because I’ve seen most of these projects live, or that they were all mastered by the highly-skilled Tyler Floyd out of Eureka Records, but there seems to be a lengthy thread that connects each of these tracks — and I think that thread is this special little corner of the Great Lakes State that we all occupy.
This idea of DIY being a simultaneously local and global community has been beaten to death in this column, but I really am continuously reminded of just how extensive, inclusive and thriving this community is. If you’ve ever been curious about what Southeast Michigan sounds like, even when quarantining is preventing us from going to shows, I would definitely encourage you to check out this compilation.