The Feminists: I Took One Last Look At Detroit

There were several fun experiences in Windsor for me. Gazing across the Detroit River to the skyline of Detroit was definitely one of them. Mike and I were walking along a path at Windsor’s riverside park and he leaned down to me and whispered “pretty impressive for a small-town girl from Salmon Arm BC to be looking at Detroit while on tour with her rock band, eh?” Huh. Maybe. I would be more impressed with myself if we had actually played a show in Detroit, but I was grateful for my first glimpse of Motor City.
I watched as the dusk gathered and the skyscrapers darkened and rose black and stark against the night sky. The light in the windows gradually spilled onto the river and reflected softly off the constantly moving surface of the water. I could see the GM tower with its tiny faraway elevator outlined in lights zooming up and down the side of the building. I’m sure the Detroit River is hopelessly polluted, and I’ve heard that Detroit is one of the toughest, most violent cities in the world.
But as I stood quietly waiting, to absorb that sweet fleeting moment when the edge of the last beam of sunlight disappears and darkness rushes in like a dark watery wave, the skyline seemed to wait with me and we sighed together, relieved, as the last shadow was suddenly extinguished by blackness. I studied the reflection of the city’s skyline on the water and marveled at how all was softly illuminated, peaceful, and silent.
I thought about how I was too far away to see any of the millions of people who were surely there, rushing about and preoccupied by a million details of everyday life. I guess that’s the key to avoiding the ugly slap in the face of reality…stand back far enough so that the noise, fear, desperation, and pollution fade away and all that’s left is the illusion of peace and quiet. Works good for the few who have the option of standing back, not so good for the many who don’t.
As I looked around for one of my bandmates to share my shatteringly deep insights with, I noticed that they had started walking back towards the club, a clear indication that the window of opportunity for contemplation had slammed firmly shut and there were urgent matters of rock and roll to attend to. I took one last look at Detroit, was suddenly overwhelmed that I was standing next to the place where most of my favorite music in the world had been created, and ran to catch up to the guys.
We played at a little club called The Phog Lounge. The owner Tom was generous enough to feed and water us. He was a talkative friendly guy who really likes his job and really likes music so we all got along just fine. There was a good sized crowd gathered by the time the opening band started. I, Crime was a trio from Detroit that contained…a woman. Our first sighting of that rare creature, the female rock musician, so far on this tour. She was fully dressed, played guitar, was a good singer, and co-wrote their material.
It hurts me that it’s totally remarkable for me to see a competent female rock musician who doesn’t casually expose tits, belly, legs and ass, but that is a subject that warrants more time and space than I currently have. I will say that I am a big fan of female beauty and sexuality…but it seems to me that the stunning impact of a mostly naked woman’s body is somewhat cheapened when it’s used as a promotional tool.
The thing that was so nice about the Windsor show was the music-loving audience. Somehow on this tour we are playing at venues where the owners actually care about providing high quality live music. Guys like Tom carefully choose bands that they think will put on a good show that will please a discerning crowd, who thus proceed to do Tom’s advertising for him, spreading the word and bringing their friends to the next show.
And so it came to pass that we played in a very small room that was packed with people who were open, curious, and accepting of a band that they had never heard of. They sat in rapt attention and it sure was fun to see one person after another let their mouths fall open in amazement during each song. The screams of appreciation and enthusiastic applause between songs didn’t hurt either.
Naturally, having such an engaged audience, we played great. We were all electrified by the growing energy and attention of the crowd. It’s like we each have these little antennae that are designed to pick up and feed off of the intensity of the listeners. Too many times, our antennae cautiously poke themselves out and then retreat, humiliated, in the face of another cold dose of soul-killing apathy. But sometimes we’re in the right venue on the right night and we get a tantalizing glimpse of what it’s like to really be heard. I think this may be a big part our motivation, and we play each show with the hope that maybe we will unfold our song-paintings for a few someones who will hear and understand us.
There was a beautiful, wild, slightly crazy blond woman that stopped our show to announce that she had to go, but she wanted to give us money. We suggested she wait until the end of the set, and then she could exchange her money for one of our cd’s but she was having none of it. She matched up to the stage waving some cash while I dug through the merch bag for some stickers and buttons. I handed her some stuff, and she raised her eyes to mine and whispered “I can’t over the person playing the keyboards.”
Okaaaaay. She pulled me close and clasped me tenderly, wordlessly. Abruptly, she released me, turned on her heel and strode purposefully through the silently watchful audience and out the door. Being a musician is really weird for me sometimes.
We slept at a truck stop and broke camp this morning for the long drive to Sudbury. We’re dirty and stinky and kind of slimy. It’s nice to finally leave the crowded smelliness of southern Ontario. Tomorrow it’ll be showers, Internet, and playing a show at The Townehouse, another of Canada’s most respected rock venues.