Thursday, January 8, 2015

This Will Always Be Detroit Rock City!

Photo borrowed from Facebook
Wednesday night our Facebook feed was flooded by news that immediately made my heart sink. The Magic Stick would be changing formats, the legendary rock 'n' roll venue would be no more. This venue has always held a special place in my heart. Sadie and I love the entire Majestic complex, but the Stick houses so many memories for us. From Thursday dance nights when we were 18 to some of the best shows we have every seen, we've had countless good times at this venue. We could sit here and list off a long list of shows and events to you, but the truth is we all have a ton of memories from this place. Let's be honest, the Magic Stick is THE rock venue in Detroit, and it has been for years. No matter what crowd you are from, indie, metal, ska, punk, hardcore, this was a great place to see a show and if you are a musician, you wanted to play on that stage! As silly as it may sound, getting up on the stages at the Stick to host events like Detroit X Detroit, was one of the coolest feelings in the world. I was even lucky enough to work at this venue for a minute, and it was one of the best times in my life. The people I met during that time and the bands I had a chance to work with, well let's just say, looking back it blows my mind. There are still times that I can't believe I had that opportunity.

It wasn't just Detroiters that loved this place. The Magic Stick was recognized by Rolling Stone magazine as a great venue. It became quite famous in the early 2000s because of an infamous event involving Jack White. A- List stars that were in town when Michigan was a movie making mecca were often spotted at the Magic Stick or on the Alley Deck. Huge musicians like Lady Gaga make sure to stop by and at least bowl at the Garden Bowl downstairs while in town. The place is legendary.

Yes, the Majestic Theatre will still be around, with some changes, as will the Garden Bowl. It even sounds like there will be shows in the Cafe again. But, we just can't help but think that things won't quite be the same. We completely understand, despite nostalgia and the good shows and good times that were had at this venue, it is a business. The owners need to do what they feel will be best for their business. We wish nothing but success for everyone at the Magic Stick, but we are still so sad to see the Magic Stick as we know it go.

The Detroit News broke the story announcing that the venue is taking a new direction and will now be an Electronic Music venue. Some are saying it is a sign of the times and that rock is dead. That is one area where we disagree.

Just like many of you, we have been going to shows for as long as we can remember. There is no denying that over the years crowds have gone downhill. In turn, venues are closing and touring bands are even coming around less often. We need to change this! Each of us play a part in the Detroit music scene. If we want to keep it alive and keep our venues alive and well, we need to all do our part. Here's what we think needs to happen.

1) Fans need to fucking go to shows! It's that simple. Get off your couch, quit making excuses. There is nothing like seeing a band perform live. Whether your favorite band is heading to town or you don't know a single name on the bill, just get out to these shows. It could be the best show you've ever seen. You could discover your new favorite band. But staying in because it's too cold out or you would rather spend the $10 on Qdoba tomorrow is ridiculous and needs to stop. (Not to knock Qdoba, they make some tasty burritos!)

2) Local bands need to stop playing every weekend! We have touched on this before. Wonder why not as many people were at your show? Oh, maybe it's because you just played last weekend. And you are playing again in two days. We get it, you want to play. You want people to hear your music. You want to get your name out there. But, if people think they can just catch you "next time" because it will be here sooner rather than later, those people that you want to hear your music aren't going to. Play less often and create some hype about it! Get stoked and your fans will too!

3) That brings us to our next point, shows need to be promoted! This goes for both the bands and the venues. Hey, you know what, if no one knows that you have a sweet show on Thursday night, no one is going to be there. You need to pass out flyers, make Facebook events, send out press releases, hang posters in windows, take out ads. Do something to let people know that they should be at your show!

4) If you are at a show, have fun! News flash! None of us are cool!!! No matter how many tattoos you have or how awesome your hair and shoes are, you probably still watch bad tv shows, walk around your home singing horribly, and love doing dorky things like playing board games. It's ok! Shows are not a place to out-cool each other. They are a place to listen to music and have a good time. Fans need to sing along and god forbid, maybe move a little. Dance, jump, whatever feels right to you. But, standing there with your arms crossed trying to look like a bad ass and like you could be doing something way better is getting old. If we're sick of it, we can't even imagine how the people on stage feel.

5) Tell bands that you want them to come to Detroit! At one time all touring bands, big and small, HAD to stop in Detroit. It was the place to play. Bands used to rave about how it was their favorite city to play, they said we had the best shows and the best venues. Somewhere along the line that changed. If we want to have that reputation again, we need to do the things we listed above and we need to tell bands that we want them here! Hit them up on social media and tell them you want to see them play here! You aren't going to drive to Chicago anymore, they need to drive to Detroit! If you are friends with a touring band, tell them they have to stop in Detroit. Tell them how amazing our music scene is and that they would be fools if they skipped it. Tell them you will help promote it. Offer to head up your favorite band's Detroit street team. (Are those even things anymore? If not, maybe they should be.) According to #1 and #4 fans are already going to show up more and actually have fun, so now we need to make sure the bands are coming here.

So, yes the Magic Stick is changing and it won't be the rock venue we all know and love. But, the Detroit music scene is still strong and there are still a lot of great venues in Detroit and the Metro Detroit area. Small's, PJ's Lager House, The Loving Touch, The Crofoot, Corktown Tavern, St. Andrew's, New Dodge, The Old Miami and The Painted Lady are just a few. Then there are new places popping up,  like the recently (re)opened UFO Factory or The Sanctuary. We've even heard Zeke's is going to have shows! There are a ton of great places to play! There are a ton of great bands to see! We just have to make sure to go to the venues, to see the bands, and to be good fans!

We here at Hip In Detroit are going to keep doing our part to support the Detroit scene. We are going to get you out to shows, tell you about musicians you need to hear, and make you leave your comfort zone a little. Coincidentally we just announced our 3rd Anniversary Bash that is being held at one of our favorite venues, Small's, and has a lineup that will bring together all of the different groups from the Detroit music scene. You might think we are crazy when you see the lineup, but we know that there are a ton of amazing musicians in Detroit and we want you to check out all of them, not just the ones you are used to. When we first started Hip In Detroit one of our biggest goals was to promote Detroit music and bring that community together, and we are going to work on that now more than ever. We are definitely sad to see the Magic Stick go, but we are just going to take this as a wake up call and a challenge. This is still Detroit Rock City, but we need to step up our game if we still want to be known as that.



  1. Fantastic write up, and your points are all 100% on point for how things are with the local music scene.