Mary Shaw 1Detroit Chic braves a night of brutal metal, beautiful girls, and bully cops.

Having long heard positive things about the (almost) all girl metal act Mary Shaw, I was excited to do some coverage for Detroit Chic of the band, at last.  Mary Shaw was playing at the Modern Exchange in Southgate, a venue which by day is a clothing shop in the front, and also sells local artists cds.  Located just off exit 40 of I-75, the Modern Exchange is a hotbed for local talent.  Behind the small shop, it holds the venue — a massive standing room and a large stage.  The place is decorated with local art giving it a stylish feel.

(All pictures by Jason Mick and Detroit Chic)

Jason ThumbnailThe place showcases many different kinds of musical acts; on April 11th, it was to hold a night of energized hardcore and metal.  Mary Shaw was to headline but also playing were Fate He Fears, Borland, Signs of Collapse, Fortune Favors the Bull, and From The Shallows (Tribunal Records).  Borland and Fortune Favors the Bull were late editions to replace the cancelees And Hell Followed With and Time of Plague (Truth and Justice Records).  Hopefully we’ll get to cover these two acts sometime soon!!

Bracing myself for a night of heavy metal craziness, my ears were assaulted by a mighty sonic barrage as Fate He Fears took the stage.  The band had a very solid metalcore sound that reminded me (in my limited experience) of a more melodic version of the band As I Lay Dying, especially in its instrumentals (which is a good thing!).

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Pictured: Fate He Fears rips it up with priceless tunes such as “Dance Dance Execution”

The band did a good job telling the crowd the names of its songs, something that I always consider a mark of good showmanship.  The crowd seemed to know at least some of them.  Its songs had humorous names like “Sex Appeal”, “Dance Dance Execution”, and “Screw Girls, I Just Want To Dance”.  All these songs heavily featured the deeper throaty range of screaming of the vocalist, Ryan.

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Pictured: We should have known we were in for an intense evening with the start Fate He Fears gave us

I always say theres a few predominant styles of screaming in the hardcore/etc. scene.  Some bands only have one, others feature more than one.  The main that I’ve picked up on are: throaty (deep) screaming, high pitched/blaring screaming/shrieking, and punk-like scream chanting, which typically is mid-range.  Fate He Fears appeared to mostly utilize the throaty screaming, but on the song “White Lies”, which was a bit slower at first they featured some more high range/shrieky stuff too, which was fun.

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Pictured: Vocalist Ryan lets loose a throaty howl.

The band’s guitar lines slammed the audience, which still seemed a bit dazed and trying to prepare themselves for the rest of the night.  A few brave souls started off the hardcore dancing, but most just watched Fate He Fears shred the place up.  The band’s guitarist Dustin was very talented, and was a highlight.  The band pulled out some fun breakdowns, especially on guitar.

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Pictured: Dustin shows of some fancy picking, shredding through epic guitar lines in a classic power stance.

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Pictured: The hardcore dancing ensues.

Next up was Borland.  I had heard good things about this band from the Mary Shaw girls, but nothing really prepared me for the furor and agressiveness of the band’s noise.  After a humorous audio intro featuring Alvin of the Chipmunks discovering he had cancer and was going to die, the band took the stage.

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Pictured: Ready to tear stuff up? …The meek may inherit the earth, but Borland will inherit the universe.

Ryan, the lead singer, is insane.  As in, claw your eardrums up and make you want push your neighboring friends to the ground insane.  While some metal vocalists keep their screaming more theatrical and performance area, never really testing their limits, Ryan would not fall in this group.  He approachs his lead vocals with a fury seldom seen, even in the intense hardcore/metalcore scene.  Literally every song his thin frame heaves with tremendous effort as he lays down monster howls and screams.  Its as if he is intent on destroying his vocal cords, himself, and taking you with him.  And that’s a good thing.

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Pictured: Borland lead vocalist Ryan gets ready to destroy something.

While the Fate He Fears seemed a bit tame in terms of crowd action, Borland‘s set kicked the crowd into a frenzy, like a boot to the teeth.  There was stage diving, which almost took Detroit Chic‘s SLR camera out of commission, had it not been for my strong grip and a well placed block.  There was a frenzy of hardcore dancing as the attendees whipped their arms in an energetic display.  And a massive mosh pitten began to form threatening to engulf the entire standing room.

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Pictured: The Band features a hearty side helping of monster guitar to go with its brutal vocals.

Borland was really amazing to watch.  This band seems destined for bigger stages, should they stay together (and should Ryan’s throat not go the way of Sonny Moore’s).  The instrumentals are definite, with energized fret lines and pounding drums.  The overall feel really pushes an agressiveness that is welcome and unusual.

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Pictured: Borland jams out during a breakdown.

Unfortunately some of the crowd members got a bit too into the fury, as the band had to stop midset when a fight broke out.  Apparently someone got punched in the mosh pit and got angry at it and decided to seek a bit of payback.  While I don’t know the exact details, I wish people would remember, in cases like these, the old aphorism, “If you can’t take a punch, stay out of the pit.”

After Borland restarted, they played through some more songs before another rude interuption.  This time apparently four or five kids began beating on one kid, who was trying to escape.  Again it was hard to see exactly what was going on.  Security showed up (they seemed to be nowhere originally) and tried to get a handle on the situation.  Now, the first incident I could somewhat understand as it seemed like a one on one dispute, but the second fight was pure stupidity.  The reason you go to shows is music and its a shame that people should ruin the occasion by launching a gang styled attack on one of their “enemies”.  I’ve been to numerous hardcore shows, and this was the first time I’ve seen multiple people attack one kid.  I don’t mean to go on and on about it, but it bothers me, as it seems pretty cowardly.  Final remark on the issue– if you can’t handle a mano y mano, one on one, fight don’t be starting stuff and don’t be a coward and resort to gang violence.  That garbage is imbycillic.

After that Borland cleared off, the band Signs of Collapse set up.  At first only Matt Dalton took to the stage armed with his guitar.  He sang a melodic ballady like composition, that had many of the audience crying “emo” and putting their lighters up in the air.  The short intro song, really wasn’t bad it reminded me of The Juliana Theory, but I was left scratching my head a bit at how this act snuck into the lineup.

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Pictured: Vocalist Matt Dalton shows off his more “delicate” range.

Well it turns out the soft intro was all a ruse.  On the next song Dalton launched into blood-curdling screams that pummeled the listener, like Chuck Lidell in a bad mood.  The part of the crowd unfamiliar with the band was left to swallow their prior snide remarks, forced down their throats by the heading mix of metal that Signs of Collapse was ripping through.

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Pictured: Psych!  Just when you thought he was a softie, Dalton counters with a metal explosion.

Signs of Collapse‘s Jeremy Merritt, proved himself an able metal guitarist, deftly massacre unwitting guitar lines, while drummer Jeremiah Tucker and bassist James Lascu provided him with a heady, pounding backbeat.  The instrumentals were solid and the vocals were superb culminating in a very enjoyable experience, which will surely please fans of As I Lay Dieing, It Dies Today, or In Flames.

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Pictured: Merritt, sporting an old school White Zombie tee, rips it up on guitar– rips up the music that is.

Dalton, while lacking the wanton desire for vocal destruction of Borland‘s vocalist, approached his duties with a more mature stance.  He was agressive, but showcased a broad range.  In all I think I liked Borland a tad bit more, but I definitely give Signs of Collapse a lot of credit, and think that they too are destined for greatness.

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Pictured: Dalton gives a good intensity level and a full range, showing vocal maturity. His vocals are appropriately heavy and mosh-pit forming.

Not content with the mere effect of his quirky intro, Dalton kept the audience on their toes, playing a cover of Eminem’s “Cleaning Out My Closet”.  The effect was quite comical, to see the suitcoat wearing styled Dalton, fresh off roaring metal, rapping fluidly to the lyrics Detroit’s most (in)famous white rapper.  The crowd seemed relatively entertained, though some looked a bit confused at Signs of Collapse‘s unique performance.

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Pictured: Is that Dalton or Eminem?  We can’t tell.

In the end, I was sad to see Signs of Collapse go.  Sure the cover of Eminem carried on a bit too long, perhaps, but the band really offered a mature sound, which still maintained an agressive bite.  And I always get a kick out of bands who go to lengths to offer a unique stage presence, and Signs of Collapse definitely did.

After Signs of Collapse and Borland, Fortune Favors the Bull had their chance to show off their stuff.  The band, though not originally billed, tried valiantly to put on an energetic follow the previous two standouts.

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Pictured: The gentlemen of Fortune Favors The Bull take a turn on stage.

Unfortunately the band seemed a bit all over the place in terms of vocals.  I know vocals are tough, but the current setup just wasn’t working as well as some of the other bands of the night, and in the dog eat dog music industry, you can’t leave a weak spot in your act.  Vocal responsibilities are currently shared between Daniel Byington and Jesse Jacobi.  Jacobi seemed to be the mildly better vocalist, but neither sang very clearly.  Both vocalists sounded rather muddy (I’m a big fan of screaming that at least sounds sharp, crisp, and aggressive) and lacked range in their growls.  Some of this could have been due to whatever sound setup they were using, but I think that there’s definitely some issues they need to address here.  They might consider looking for a new lead vocalist.

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Pictured: Jesse Jacobi– the slighty better of the two vocalists, and a sweet guitarist.

I feel bad leading off which such a critical note, as I do love local music and support what the band is about.  I just consider it my job to give an honest assessment of the good, the bad, and the ugly.  Listening to FFTB‘s set, the band really has some skill instrumentally and could evolve into a really strong act.  The key is going to be refined vocals, though as you need those skilled screams and howls to get the crowd going.

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Pictured: Daniel Byington the other vocalist, relatively similar in talent; good guitar, weak vocals.

Nonetheless the band played a short and solid set and were an interesting watch.  It was admirable of them to take on the show on such a short notice.  Hopefully we’ll see more of them in the near future.

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Pictured: FFTB‘s bassist moves to the groove.

Last up before headliners Mary Shaw was the band From the Shallows.  Led by vocalist Steffan Howey, these intrepid hardcore rockers travelled all the way from Toledo, Ohio, to join in on the metal-fest.  Howey provided good vocals and Bobby Futey on guitar, Pierce Roberts on bass, and David Rhoades on drums all rocked.

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Pictured: The sick sounds of From The Shallows will drop you dead.

I would say that From The Shallows, while blazingly heavy at times, has a slightly more traditional/classic rock feel to it.  The bands Myspace pays homeage to “bands with long hair”, so surely this derivative style is the results of some familiarity with some classic vinyl.

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Pictured: The band features a pretty killer guitar.

From the Shallows reenergized the crowd that at times during the previous set had looked a bit lethargic.  They lined up like firing squad and blasted the crowd with salvo after salvo of sound.  The crowd, perhaps inspired by a mysteriously changed signed that went from reading “No Stage Diving!” to “Stage Diving!” engaged in stage diving, moshing, hardcored dancing, and more general acts of violence.

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Pictured: Meet the firing squad of metal.

Stage Diving
Pictured: Who could have made such a humorous and entertaining modification to the venue’s oft ignored warning?

From the Shallows certainly seemed a solid lineup and it was great that they drove all the way up to Michigan to play for us.  It’s also worth noting that the lead vocalist is black, which I think is really a good thing, as it’s great to see more interest in hardcore/metalcore/punk music among the African American community.  After all, rap pioneers such as NWA, always labelled themselves as “black punk rockers”, something lost on today’s generation of commercialized rap creations.  We look forward to covering this talented act more in the near future.

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Pictured: Steffan Howey was a highlight of the set, with strong vocals that pumped the crowd up.

At long last the wait was over and it was time for Mary Shaw.  The build up was intense.  It was late, about 11:30 when they took the stage, so about half the crowd had left (likely teenagers whom it was past their bedtime, literally), and was partially replaced by a new group of avid fans.  The band obvious had a strong fan base, both male and female that was eager to see them perform.

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Pictured: Valerie Klaft in the background whips the bass as she and drummer Josh Badura start the madness.  Lead singer Nina Cislaghi, shows off her impressive ink and waits patiently.

It was Mary Shaw‘s night certainly.  They had put together the show and it was their EP release party, and by the looks of the crowd, they’d sold a whole lot of their hot pink shirts to loyal fans.  Mary Shaw may be an all girl band, save the drummer, Josh Badura (poor guy, must be a rough lot, stuck in a band with four smoking hot rock vixens), but they give up nothing in terms of sheer power, intensity, and musical prowess.

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Pictured: Cislaghi explodes, with vocals that have a 99% chance of melting your face.

Lead singer/screamer Nina Cislaghi, has throaty, intensely punishing vocals that are as sharp as they are brutal.  Dueling guitar beauties Jennica Wahl and Kristen Woutersz pump out powerful chords, with Wahl offers up pounding guitar lines, primarily, and Woutersz leaning more heavily into the more electric-edged spiralling metal chords, using deft finger on the fret board.  The pair are like yin and yang, with Woutersz laid back, while laying out sweet guitar, and with Wahl pounding away like a madwoman in a classic rock “power stance”, and yet they combine to make sweet, sweet metal.

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Pictured: Guitarist Jennica Wahl rocks out the classic “rock star” power stance.  The girl can sure play guitar.

Except, there’s nothing saccharine about the metal, really.  Valerie Klaft adds an energetic, oft swinging bass, and together the band rips through brutal breakdowns and intense vocals that few men could dream of.  Okay, so this is my impressions from the one terribly intense song that the band played through.  Still, I was very impressed.

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Pictured: The beautiful, but deadly Kristen Woutersz shows off some her sweet fretboard maneuvers, proving herself to be a pretty rocking guitarist.

Unfortunately my fun was cut short when Mary Shaw made a grim announcement.  The Southgate police had come to shut down the show.  Apparently there’s a law in the city rule books that bands can’t perform past 11 pm in the city of Southgate.  And apparently, rather than having anything better to do, say patrolling the streets and arresting gang members or drug dealers, the Southgate police found in particularly valuable to pick on the Modern Exchange.

It’s a shame because not all police are bad.  However, it’s pretty hard to defend the cops when they’re shutting down a rock show.  Music has an incredibly positive influence on many kids lives, and keeps them out of hard drugs and crime.  To take away this creative outlet is a travesty.  As one observer deftly put it, “When I was a kid I would look up to cops cause I thought they were cool….now when I look at them I’m just like shit…I’m gonna have a bad day…”

Mary Shaw sportingly even offered the cops a shirt and cd if they would let them play just one more song.  Surely that would be a more than fair compromise right?  After all this was Mary Shaw‘s night, and they hardly had time to play, only playing one song thus far.  Sadly, the cops were unmoved by this earnest offer.  Their retort– get off the stage or get arrested.  Mary Shaw, remorsefully complied, and were forced to give a disappointed appology to fans on their Myspace blog.

This was simply ridiculous.  First of all, I’ve never heard of a stupid town rule like that, and secondly the police have no right participating in this brand of bullyism.   I encourage all the readers who feel anger at this to call Southgate’s city leadership and protest.

Still, despite the sour end, it was a great night of rock.  Borland and Signs of Collapse led the stalwart group of hardcore and metal acts.  Be sure to check them out along with Fate He Fears, From the Shallows, and Fortune Favors The Bull.  And don’t forget about Mary Shaw.  Despite only playing one song, they owned the night.  Be sure to pick up a copy of their EP Knighthorse, which we will be reviewing briefly.  Those ladies rock, as do the rest of the bands playing.  Detroit Chic certainly hopes to provide you with full coverage of one of their sets in the near future.