Three days furlough from a coast-to-coast tour and 24 hours after snagging a Detroit Music Award for Outstanding Rock Artist/Band, the road-weary Hard Lessons showed little sign of battle fatigue as they played to a hometown crowd of 700-plus at St. Andrew’s Hall Saturday night (April 21) at the first-ever installment of Spin Presents. What began as an already full house for openers, Hifi Handgrenades and SPIN.com Artist of the Year finalist the Silent Years, became a packed house within minutes of the headliner’s presence. All walks of life pumped fists all night long — tweens, hipsters, college kids and aging rockers alike swapped sweat beads and high-fives as the shoe-string troubadours combusted with their signature high energy rock ‘n’ roll spectacle.
As a solitary stage light shone, keyboardist/vocalist Koko Louise opened the show with a coquettish version of Neil Young’s “Harvest Moon,” which instantly morphed into a breakneck version of the band’s sing-along favorite “Carey Says” (Watch!). And as if to secure a stranglehold on concertgoers, the band lovingly dished a 90-minute set of prime cuts from their already prolific repertoire.
While the hook-laden set list was entertainment enough, frontman Augie Vissochi’s almost-dangerous stage antics scaled speakers and bounded from stage to drum riser to crowd surf and back again — the solitary sign that the night would ever come to an end came in the form of raw vocal chords and a ticking clock. Amplified by the impossibly clamorous chops of diminutive drummer the Anvil — apathy was an impossibility.
Arguably the band’s best song to date, the spanking new “See and Be Scene” is not only a ballsy referendum on Detroit’s fickle rock scene, it’s also a song so perfectly constructed, so supremely catchy, it begs to be cast in platinum. Also inspirational was the ballad-cum-pop song “Don’t Shake My Tree” (Watch!) which is a telling look into the band’s more mature future. Major label contract imminent. EVE DOSTER / PHOTOS BY JOSHUA BAND
VIDEO FROM SPIN PRESENTS IN DETROIT:
We asked: What was the hardest lesson you’ve ever learned?