Last Night: The Deadnotes, Western States Motel and Castledoor @ Detroit Bar on 5/12

Better Than: Ick, it’s Monday. This is probably the best thing happening.

Detroit Bar’s no-cover Monday started off with The Deadnotes from San Clemente. An upbeat five-piece, they played the sunshiney good stuff that comes straight from the vein of The Turtles “Imagine Me And You” complete with back up vocals consisting mainly of “oooo oooos" (always impressive when a drummer can sing while pounding away, no matter how simple the crooning may be). Although they had some slightly off-key moments, highlights included the Beatles cover “You Can’t Do That” and a rockin’ keyboard solo that rocked as much as a keyboard solo can. The Deadnotes have an EP coming out within the next month should this be up your alley.

Tragically, a new design flaw kept the crowd pushed to the back of the room. Detroit had set up a row of low tables and chair several feet from the stage that acted more like an electric fence than comfortable seating. Not a single person would cross the line to get to the front of the stage—at least the crowd was polite, though sadly unable to dance.

The second band on the bill was Western States Motel. Another five-piece, this band added an acoustic guitar providing an organic sound that meshed well with this group’s electric elements. Oh, and there were maracas, too. And a xylophone. And a cowbell! Notably, this band did an absolutely delicious job harmonizing their vocals, blending the two voices together like butter. There were a few microphone issues (volume control, the occasional high-pitched wail), but that didn’t distract from Western States Motel’s sound: a squeaky clean, mid-tempo, folk-pop vibe that leaned toward Americana from time to time. Southwestern chill? That sounds right.

Finally the headliner, Silver Lake’s Castledoor, was up (they also hold the Monday night residency for the month of May). An almost vaudevillian ensemble, this clash of folksy flamboyance was just as visually appealing as the sweet music they made together. Two drop-dead gorgeous ladies played the keys and cooed wispy back ups, but the spotlight (had there been one) was definitely shining on frontman Nate Cole. Possibly the most comfortable person on stage I’ve ever seen, he shook and danced and gyrated to no abandon, thrashing about in his scarf and cardigan. Finally, some life from the audience was stirred in the form of wooos and howls.

Naturally theatrical, between songs Cole babbled on about hippy shit, the idea of being free, free pants and drinking water between your cheap margaritas. Castledoor had not one, but four tambourines along with another xylophone which seemed to be the instrument of the night. The lovably eccentric ensemble immediately conjured up a likeness to early Devendra Banhart — and sure enough, two songs after this realization the band covered Banhart’s “The Body Breaks." Loves it.

Critic’s Notebook

Personal Bias: After experiencing the live version of “Magnetic Forces," the song had claimed the title of My Favorite in the Castledoor catalogue.

Random Detail: Three bands... three hot drummers.

By The Way: Castledoor will be playing May 19 and May 26 at Detroit before their residency is up.

View photos of the event here.

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