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Local Music

"We wanna hear Polish music!"

The Wonder Twins workin' a Hamtown Labor Day

Ra Ra Riot: “Where the hell are the pierogies they promised??”
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Published 9/9/2009

While most Americans spend each week fulfilling the prophecies of a Loverboy song, on Labor Day weekend, the gainfully employed are rewarded for their amazing work ethic via a whole extra day off. And lovely Hamtramck annually celebrates the holiday with a four-day fest of live music, carnival rides, pierogi and opportunities to win cheaply framed Zac Efron pics while mastering games of skill!


D'Anne:
I am really disappointed that we missed the pierogi-eating contest!

Laura: I know you were. You trained so hard too. That plaque should've been yours.

D'Anne: I probably had no chance — the guy who won looked like he'd been training his whole life. Plus, they probably didn't have vegan pierogi.

Laura: True. Plus, with a belly full of pierogi, you would've had to stay off all those crazy carnival rides, lest you shower the crowd with vomit.

D'Anne: We did see several people with umbrellas — my guess is they learned the hard way after walking under the "1001 Nights" ride.

Laura: I hate to be the fun police, but I just can't imagine actually going on something like that. If I'm going to be hurled high into the air, held upside down and then spun around in circles, it's just not going to be via a ride that's taken apart and put back together every other week.

D'Anne: You just have to put your faith in the carnies, Laura. 

Laura: Like that guy with the, "Save a ticket, ride a carnie" T-shirt?

D'Anne: Well, he was the master of the rope ladder game. Making it look all easy to get people to foolishly think they had a chance to climb to the top. 

Laura: I felt really sad when they fell. And they all fell.

D'Anne: Carnival games are pretty much a racket that takes advantage of machismo. 

Laura: Right! But really, what kind of man are you if you can't win your girlfriend a framed picture of Zac Efron or another celebrity who's much more attractive than you?

D'Anne: Which we did witness happen! And his friend also won a game.

Laura: But he wasn't there with a chick, so he got to get a manly prize — a Lynyrd Skynyrd picture featuring a bikini-clad woman and an American flag!

D'Anne: Which he promptly held in front of his crotch and pretended to hump.

Laura: Oh, like that's not what you would've done with it.

D'Anne: When in Rome...

Laura: ... or in Hamtramck. Which meant lots of Polish pride on display.

D'Anne: From Polish-themed Detroit T-shirts, to one that looked like the Metallica logo but said, "Hamtramcka."

Laura: The biggest display of Polish affinity was the large crowd that gathered to watch Hamtramck's own Polish Muslims.

D'Anne: They really should've played on the South Stage. The North Stage area got so crowded that it caused a bottleneck. 

Laura: This is true — but you really can't blame people in Hamtramck for losing their minds over Polish-themed parody songs. 

D'Anne: The crowd was just eating up the Billy Idol "White Wedding" parody when they sang, "It's a nice day for a White Castle/It's a nice day to fart again."

Laura: Literally eating it up. Since the band was tossing White Castle burgers into the crowd. 

D'Anne: Yes. People love free food with their sophomoric humor.

Laura: And later in their set, the Honorable Karen Majewski — Hamtramck's mayor — was onstage with pom-poms dancing a jig.

D'Anne: Next time, instead of a pesky election, Hamtramck should just have a dance-off hosted by the Polish Muslims.

Laura: I agree — dancing is democratic.

D'Anne: Next we saw the Terrible Twos.

Laura: I had just seen them two nights before at the Magic Stick with Child Bite and the Intelligence. I was curious to see how the crowd here would react to them.

D'Anne: Indeed. Less than 30 seconds into their set, two older women looked at each other, wide-eyed, and got up and left. Others followed suit or stood there making faces like they smelled something terrible.

Laura: But the majority of the crowd was really into it — which was both awesome and fascinating, considering the diversity of those watching their set.

D'Anne: Raucous punk brings out the animal in some people.

Laura: Like the guy spinning as fast as he could windmill style — he seemed to be dancing as if his intention was to inflict bodily harm on as many people as possible.

D'Anne: Luckily, most people gave him a wide berth — except for the two dudes who seemed intent on starting a mini-mosh pit.

Laura: The best part was the old Polish guys watching the younger guys' antics and cracking up.

D'Anne: They were totally egging them on. And one of the old dudes even joined in. He wasn't slam dancing, more spinning really fast with his arms out. 

Laura: The Terrible Twos — plus a whole day's worth of Polish beer consumption — can make an old man do crazy things. The band sounded awesome, though. The sound was really spectacular on both stages. 

D'Anne: It was kind of "opposites attract" for the Terrible Twos to basically open for headliners Ra Ra Riot.

Laura: Very fitting for Hamtramck, though, considering they do call their city "the world in two square miles."

D'Anne: It was great being right up close for Ra Ra Riot's set. Everybody around us seemed to be there specifically to see them.

Laura: Lead vocalist Wesley Miles kept saying, "We're glad to be in Detroit," and such until the violinist, Rebecca Zeller, whispered in his ear that they were actually in Hamtramck!

D'Anne: They sounded great — they are such a good live band. Everybody in the band seems so excited just to play.

Laura: They remind me of a lot of really great ‘80s pop. Sorta like the Police if they didn't hate each other. Although Ra Ra Riot's lead singer is way cuter than Sting. Not that that's hard to be.

D'Anne: And, hopefully, no matter how famous Miles gets, he'll never regale us with tales of tantric yoga sex.

Laura: The best part of the show was when the really drunk Polish lady elbowed her way to the front of the stage and yelled at the band, "Hey! You people! We wanna hear Polish music!"

D'Anne: That was awesome — especially since they broke into a polka for a minute after that. 

Laura: This did not appease the lady, who then yelled, "That sucks!" before grabbing the young awkward indie boy next to me and forcing him to dance the polka with her. 

D'Anne: I wish she had grabbed you.

Laura: And I wish Labor Day weekend was every weekend.

D'Anne: There's nothing stopping us from partying like that's the case.

Laura: Except the desire to stay employed. 

D'Anne: Well, there is that. ...

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