Salt and Pepper

We were just looking forward to seeing not one, but two bands we enjoy, plus catching up with fellow R3 blogger jojodillon. As it turned out, the Islands/Gregory Pepper show on July 13 at Detroit's Magic Stick had more unexpected plot twists than a mystery novel.

For one, as much as we already liked Pepper's oeuvre (yes, we just used the word "oeuvre"), including his most recent release With Trumpets Flaring, we did not expect to proclaim their too-short set the highlight of the evening. The too-short part turned out to be due to a last-minute band addition: Steel Phantoms, which features Islands drummer Aaron Harris.

We confess that the lure of a warm summer night was greater than the allure of their music. On the patio we met Gregory Pepper and His Problems, and another unexpected pleasure ensued: an immensely enjoyable conversation with the band. How enjoyable? "Um, I think
Islands is on their second song, we should probably go in..."

Islands' frontman Nick Thorburn, clothed in white and one glittery glove, played the perfect salt to Gregory's pepper, much to the squealing joy of the most energetic crowd we've seen yet at the Stick. Maybe too energetic; Nick seemed genuinely concerned the "pogo-sticking" dancers were going to hurt each other.

In the most bizarre sequence of the night, someone did apparently get hurt. Towards the end of Islands' set, the music halted, guitarist Geordie Gordon descended into the crowd and a girl climbed up on stage. We heard Nick say "That wasn't cool." The band disappeared into the back and everyone was left wondering what the heck was going on.

Evidently the girl had been struck or pushed into the stage, and as a result lost her camera. After a brief search for it, Islands returned, performed "No You Don't"-- and ended the show.

Photos: Russ Gordon