iSPY Magazine 2 YEAR


April 23, 2012

The High Strung’s ¿Possible o’ Impossible? + Totally Awesome Fest #8

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Written by: Jeff Milo
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The Totally Awesome Fest is all about audience engagement; a whitewater rapid’s-splashing-together of culture, from music, to visual arts, to more eccentric forms, namely shadow puppetry, streaming across a range of easily navigable venues throughout the Ypsi/Arbor area.

This free, all-ages event was started in 2005, spearheaded by musical abstractionist Patrick Elkins, renowned locally for his elaborate/cinematic puppetry productions and his contributions to a handful of local bands, most recently the Rainbow Vomit Family Band.

Elkins sees events like Totally Awesome Fest as a rare effervescence to the average-show-going-crowd; a healthy shaking-up-of-things by shaking-just-about-anything-all-together …and spilling it out in a weird, melodious mess of music and art.

Video – “A Day In The Life of Totally Awesome Fest -2011”

This year features more than 40 bands spread across multiple venues, indoors and out- across three days, augmented by live painting by a handful of artists, a fashion show and groove-facilitating DJs The Absolute Beginners),

“Varity and mystery,” Elkins said, are also key elements. “I’m interested in stimulating, entertaining and engaging people, so it always seems safer to err on the side of the outrageous, rather than the mundane when it comes to performing live.” Read: His impressive serious of surrealist puppet shows and his energetic, avant-garde blends of psychedelic rock, fractured folk and swiveling space-pop.

Things start Friday, 5:00 pm, at VG Kids on Railroad St then shift to the Dreamland Theatre around 9:30 pm.


Next, I wanted to tell you about an album that just came out, but…honestly, I’ve been listening to it with such frequency in the last few days that I fear my brain has turned to mush…in the best way, that way where you start feeling possessed by a piece of music, regardless of how riled up or fuzzed out that piece of music is. The High Strung have always been about energy –a clatter-kicked, shred-stitched, yell-and-twirl-and-croon-and-groove kind of energy.

The Detroit quartet have, on their latest album, tapped something Who-ish, something Doors-ian… they make a hailstorm look giddily tempting, like a twirly-slide… they make you want to air-guitar and fucking forget whoever smirks at you… and they hit that subtly sweet blend of tones and timbres that make you stop, stop talking or stop writing, as I just….did….and just listen…blink, nod, smile.

And then it starts again – the bass stars snaking back in and the drums start kicking at your heels and we’re back off again. ¿Possible o’ Impossible? Is the 7th proper studio album by The High Strung and it’s out, now, on Paper Thin Records.

The quartet hasn’t reinvented any wheels, here – they’ve just hit all the right notes. Together.

None of the songs here will change the world, but taken as a whole, it feels like a complete work – that’s why you feel its bigness –like any song amongst them could be strong enough to be “considered” as a potential “single.”

¿Possible o’ Impossible?feels like a classic rock record – transcendent of any bloggoid trying to tag it with lo-fi-indie-windy-rock-pop-post-prog—no… The rhythms will not let you go – the bassist/drummer pair has been playing together for more than a decade so they’ve already got a foundation that could withstand any post-internet-rock cynic’s snarky jackhammer, you will be hooked. And then thrown…by the guitarist slashing in sinuous solos shifting song-to-song from arena-rock roars, to Brit-pop inspired blues wails…and what other singer sounds like this, high, agile, keyed-up at points, fluttery and crooning at others…

Sometimes you can just let it rock.

Anyways, I can’t stop listening… This band put their album out online last week – and I bring them up because their essentially distant-cousins of the Ypsi scene, counting various singer/songwriters in this area as either converted super fans or past collaborators. If they hit Woodruff’s anytime soon…


About the Author

Jeff Milo
Jeff Milo
Jeff is another awesome member of the iSPY team.

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