Road Trip!

We're pretty lucky when it comes to Canadian indie bands playing the Metro Detroit/Windsor area. But if bands we want to see don't come to N2D-- well, N2D will go to the bands.

Sarnia's an easy hour drive for us; we've even hauled to London and back. So when we found out The Besnard Lakes and Malajube were playing Oct. 5 in Kalamazoo, and Hollerado the next night in East Lansing, the answer to "What are we going to do?" was "Road trip!"

Although paired with The Besnard Lakes, one of our top 10 shows of 2010 and an all-around favourite (review here), we would have journeyed to the land of K-Zoo just to see Malajube making their first appearance in Michigan. It's a shame most of the crowd at The Strutt that night were probably saying "Mala-who?", because this award-winning Francophone band and their intelligent, nuanced, melodic rock deserves a much wider audience.

They've been around since 2004; they scored the film The Trotsky; the last three of their four albums have all been either short- or long-listed for the Polaris Music Prize. The way we see it, there are no barriers, linguistic or otherwise, to appreciating great music. So we applaud the one person who shouted "Porte disparu!" Lead singer Julien Mineau politely declined the request; instead, with one exception ("Cristobald" from Labyrinthes), their entire set list was made up of songs from their latest album, La Caverne.

After a stay at the budget-friendly and tres acceptable Red Roof Inn Kalamazoo East, we headed for East Lansing by way of the Gilmore Car Museum and a lot of rural roads through rolling farmland. Our destination: Macs Bar, a blast from the past for one of us and a venue so no-frills it doesn't even need an apostrophe.

With their water-spouting, confetti showers and other on-stage antics, we can't think of a band better suited for a college town than Hollerado.We'd been trying to catch up with them since NXNE 2010, when six months after winning $250,000 in a contest, they not only rocked Toronto's Hard Rock Cafe but let the audience order whatever they wanted on the rocks with a 10-minute open bar on their tab.

Look beyond the frat house mentality and you'll find pop rock with irresistibly catchy hooks and singalong lyrics that range from clever to poignant to whimsical. They were nominated for a Juno in 2011 (Best New Group, which went to Said The Whale). Their catalog of videos are as fun and engaging as their music ("Americanarama" has more than a million views and won Best Video in the 2010 CBC Radio 3 Bucky Awards; "Good Day At The Races," which features the band racing ostriches, was also nominated for Best Video). Even their website is a hoot. Although they've released some new singles recently, we know there are a lot of fans waiting for a follow-up to the enormously popular Record In A Bag; count us among them.

Photos: Russ Gordon/N2D Images,
Lincoln photo --->