Duo Fest features dynamic two-piece rock, punk, and metal bands generating as much sound as bands twice their size at the Sanctuary in Hamtramck.
A musical duo is not limited to pop, folk, or singer/songwriters such as Sonny and Cher, The Carpenters, Simon and Garfunkel, or Peach and Herb. Far from it, my friends, the power of the duo can create more volume, energy, and excitement than bands twice their size. Justin from one such powerhouse duo called Bubak had the brilliant idea of putting together a show featuring duos.
The assembled two-piece bands span the genre from roots rock, to punk, to sludge, to death metal, and beyond. The venue for Duo Fest (which could morph into an annual gig) is the most wonderful Sanctuary located in the heart of Hamtramck. Grab your earplugs, and let’s tango.
Launching the Duo Fest voyage is EnD from Ypsilanti. They are engineers of electronic chaos. Working consoles rumored to have piloted the doomed Jupiter 2 mission in a parallel dimension, EnD creates riveting anxiety provoking soundscape. As the music wormed into our brains, cosmic imagery stolen from Ken Kesey’s mind is displayed across a pair of panels as well as the suits worn by these sublime technicians. I think at one point; my mind began to melt.
Gathering at the temple of Sabbath and Sleep, we witness the almighty fury of Solar Monolith. As the name suggests, this band delivers riffs of monumental weight with the blasting power of the sun. The shuddering of the Earth could be felt across the riff they created in space and time. Bold and unabashed stoner sludge that roots you to the core of all creation.
The monstrous sounds of Bloody Butterflies drew the crowd like moths to a flame. We reveled in their aggressive riffs and barrage of percussion. Without vocals, the music of Bloody Butterflies allows the listener to create their own stories while the guitars gnash and drums blast. In my mind’s eye, I saw a fire upon the land renewing the Earth through destruction.
Who knew drum and bass could be so fierce? Minus 9 knows. They tore into their set like rabid hyenas in a blitz of hardcore leaning into grind. The bass guitar burns with gritty brilliance as the drums rain down with devastation. In a way, Minus 9’s barrage of tunes felt like being in the middle of a firefight as they unloaded round after round of mayhem. I could not stop smiling while witnessing this performance.
I’ve seen the name Ommnus on some great lineups and have wanted to check them out for a while. My chance arrives with Duo Fest. It is amazing that two dudes can generate the writhing agony of Bathory, Venom, and Entombed. Don’t get me wrong, this band may have elements of classic death metal, but their formulation is unique. The call and response vocals are delivered in contrasting and complementary styles while the music traverses a landscape of doom, death, and even hard rock riffage. Check out Ommnus if you enjoy music that bludgeons your soul into solace.
Being a fan of Michelle Thibodeau’s artwork and the other band she is in called Cult of Spaceskull, I was intrigued to hear Dear Darkness. This two-piece features Stacey MacLeod on guitars/vocals with Michelle on drums/vocals. They ripped and roared punk music that is intense and nuanced. Dear Darkness has the raw energy of the Germs with the emotive finesse of Velvet Underground. Their music compels you with quavering vocals and insistent drums accented with crashing guitars.
It has been too long since I’d last seen the amazing two-piece Orc. Their heavy-weight grooves have lost none of their luster. You can’t deny that what made Soundgarden so irresistible is their mastery of creating memorable riffs and the supreme power of Chris Cornell’s vocals. Orc captures this same combination of power and exhilaration with just two men. They played a new tune called “Crawl,” which showcases Orc’s brilliant songwriting and electric performance. I’ll be watching for the new Orc album coming soon.
From the fetid swamps of Midland or at least near the dank regions of central Michigan bearing a trove of ghastly stories is Witchfist. With a marching drum and crunchy guitar, the witches of Witchfist pummel us with morbid visions in songs such as “Babylonian Bitch Slap” and “Throne of Toads.” Even though they claim to be instrumental, a few tunes include vocals which intensify the comparison of their music to the primordial black metal of Hellhammer and Celtic Frost. Witchfist is a ton of fun for a couple of hags that are over 400 years old.
Ladyship Warship celebrates Duo Fest with the release of their new EP called Possum Nova. The new music retains its primal roots in rock with a taste of LSD it adds an edge of darkness. I love how the guitars and drums swell as Kristin and EZ sing “slip, stumble, and fall!” on the title track, “Possum Nova.” The upbeat swing of “Get Me Outta Here” with its weird anxious energy had the crowd bouncing. The pink and blue lighting added to the feeling of swallowing the red pill. Ladyship Warship’s performance was impeccable, and I can’t wait to witness it again.
Bringing up the rear are the Slovakian boogie men in Bubak. I have no idea if Jeff and Justin are Slovakian, but it sounds cool, right? They cranked up their patented super low-end concrete sludge machine to 11 and did not look back. The cosmic roar of songs like “Space Weed” and “Weedman” pulverized our bodies and minds. I was overjoyed when Bubak struck hard with “Shroomivore.” I could have sworn Bubak unveiled a new tune for an upcoming album, but I failed to make a note for my fuzzy brain. Let’s hope Bubak will deliver a new album of thunderous wonder soon.
We’ve got a gallery chock-full of photos from Duo Fest. Take a gander if it strikes your fancy.
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