The Submarines at Detroit Bar Last Night

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Brandon Ferguson
The Submarines
Detroit Bar
Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Husband and wife pop duo the Submarines have been producing sugary sweet ear candy together since 2006. Singer Blake Hazard sings softly with an aw-shucks demeanor while husband Jon Dragonetti fills it out with poppy guitar and warm fuzzy digital loops. With two albums under their belt, the Submarines have attained a remarkable level of ubiquity; two of their songs have been featured in iPhone ads. Rank commercialism aside, take any song off the band's 2008 release Honeysuckle Weeks and there's some fantastic listening material for the lovelorn or just lovers of the star-crossed variety.
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Brandon Ferguson
This is evidenced in the song "Xavia" where Hazard sings over and over "One heart to break. My Heart."  Lord knows there are plenty of people in this world that can benefit from such entertainment. But judging by the enthusiastic response of fans closest to the stage, heartache didn't seem to be an issue.

Alas, the band's performance was plagued with technical issues. Mid-set, Dragonetti announced they hadn't played in a long time and they were sort of "winging it." Suddenly everything clicked: the forgotten lyrics, the part during the iPhone hit "Submarine Symphonika" when the band fell out of sync with the pre-recorded loop and had to scurry to catch up, and Blake Hazard's incessant nervous giggling, which manifested every time the band flubbed.

But even if they had managed to deliver a pitch-perfect performance, the material they have to work with is so pedestrian and Hazard's voice so meek, it's hard to imagine these guys really delivering anything close to powerhouse.  it's impossible to listen to either "Submarine Symphonika" or "You me and the Bourgeoisie" without hearing a voice in your head repeating the line "there's an app for that." The highlight of the set came during the song "1940." A change of pace from the saccharine pop of the other tunes, it featured a dub/reggae vibe. Hazard sang in a more sultry voice, and suddenly Mrs. aw-shucks was breathing a hint of danger into the set while she deftly hammering at the xylophone in front of her. The Submarines were preceded by vintage rock outfit A B & the Sea. Utilizing three-part harmonies delivered in a high register, these guys were sort of reminiscent of the Beach Boys or perhaps ELO. But the combination of heavy percussion along with singer/guitarist Koley O' Brien's aggressive guitar playing gave the music significant punch. They were fun to watch.

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Brandon Ferguson
The Crowd: What can be said about Detroit's crowd on a Tuesday night? Everybody was drinking beer and the gender scale was tipped toward female.

Overheard: A girl asking one of the guys from A B & the Sea where he was from. He told her San Francisco. "That's why you're so adorable," she gushed.

Set List:
Brightest Hour
Peace & Hate
Symphonika
Thorny
1940
Shoelaces (New)
Brighter Discontent
Swimming Pool
Xavia
You Me and the Bourgeoisie
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