My former high school’s Homecoming was this past Saturday.
Having graduated early, and in a bit of a huff (I burn all of my
bridges with napalm, it’s really the best way), I wasn’t really
looking forward to going back. My girlfriend, who is still in high
school, luckily had the same feelings, so we ditched the dance and
drove the dark and lonesome streets down to Detroit and the Magic
Stick, where we planned to see the cello-wielding, neo-Goth band
Rasputina. Because we lacked the proper (by this I mean ‘illegal’)
identification, we were booted out of this safety and onto the
street. Wandering around, scared and alone, we stumbled across
Young Soul Rebels record store (in the attic of C-Pop Gallery)
while trying to sneak into the side door of the Rasputina concert.
It was as if the record store was holding a concert just for us.
The band Ida was visiting from New York City, and Ann Arbor’s own
Fred Thomas (of Saturday Looks Good To Me) opened the show with a
solo set, played drums for Ida and sat down to talk with me.

My only problem was that I had no idea who either of the bands
were. To make matters worse, the record store was overrun with the
kind of people who actually believe they were born cool, making the
rest of the room feel like the last girl to buy a bra or the last
boy to develop a voracious interest in his father’s porn magazines
with their hipper-than-thou stares. If we were seeing bands who
actually promoted this nonsense, I would’ve left, but Ida and Fred
Thomas played their music for everyone – even the newly and
waiting-to-be cool.

When Ida plays with their mix of three vocalists and slow
acoustic guitar solos, one can’t help but think of Yo La Tengo.
When the guitar solos grow longer and (a bit) harder, it’s almost
as if they are playing with Cat Power, but stop drawing
comparisons, man, ’cause Ida has this fantastic sound that’s at
once happy and accessible. Coolness or not, anyone would have loved
Ida in the attic of C-Pop on Homecoming night as the sewers pumped
their endless clouds into the Detroit sky.

When I finally did get to talk to Fred Thomas, I was really
worried that the story I was planning (the one which you are
reading now) was too self-indulgent, too unconventional, too gonzo
for print in our reputable newspaper. For the uninitiated (as I
was), Saturday Looks Good To Me is a revolving band whose only
permanent member is Thomas. He writes all of the music and always
tours with completely different musicians, leading to an extreme
diversification of playing styles – perfect for Ann Arbor. Lucky
for me, Thomas encouraged my story and said that the normal
journalism style (i.e.: “this new record is as dumb as it is …
stupid”) is bland and sterile. I couldn’t agree more.

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