Blondie’s – Detroit, back from the dead

by CultureOfNone on September 16, 2008

One surprising bit of music news around the Detroit area this month is the Grand re-Opening of historic heavy metal venue Blondie’s after 18 years of silence. Actually, it’s a new location, but all indications are (via their myspace here) that it’s still the vision of original Blondie’s mastermind Ruzvelt. I will always remember calling the phone number in their ads, to savour the crackly phone-answering machine message that served as their information line, with Ruzvelt croaking out band names over the deafening rumble that was undoubtedly any ordinary night of rockin’ mayhem.

There’s a loving tribute to the original, legendary Blondie’s here, and you can see the astounding list of classic, death, and thrash metal bands who’d appeared on that tiny stage over the years. The place was rowdy, cramped, sometimes scary…and had a hole in the wall of the restroom that was covered with chicken wire, providing a quaint view of the parking lot.

Although the new incarnation of this infamous venue will surely never replace the original, I did feel compelled to share the few ‘all ages’ concerts that I was able to attend there as a 15 year old metal fan:

  • Christian Death w/ Nemesis – Thrilled by the announcement of Rozz Williams reuniting the original L.A.-lineup of Christian Death, the Detroit goth community gathered on this chilly winter afternoon in ’89 to witness a rare, unforgettable event. Unfortunately, the black eyeliner and funeral clothing were for naught: after over hours of waiting, it was announced that Rozz & Co. would not play due to travel complications. For our trouble, we only got to see a short opening set by Detroit’s industrial-goth troupe Nemesis, for which Ruzvelt kindly refunded us each $2 of our $5 cover. Few things spell ‘sad’ like a disappointed goth.
  • Fates Warning w/ Sanctuary, and Dead On – ‘Refuge Denied’ by Sanctuary was my choice Walkman headphones tape while cutting lawns as a teen, and I’m a huge Fates Warning fan. This show was simply awesome, especially since vocalist Ray Alder was ill, and assured the audience between songs that he would do his best to hit those high notes despite a severe head cold. Sanctuary rocked fiercely, a better ensemble at that time, in my opinion, than when compared to their current work as Nevermore. Dead On was forgettable, but I still own their CDs and revere them a true metal fan’s curiosity. One other thing I recall about this night was that I stood on a chair for most of the show to see above the heads of the crowd.
  • Death w/ Pestilence, and Carcass – This was one of the hottest death/thrash metal shows you could ever dream to see. Carcass expertly delivered their mathy splattergrind as a spastic skinhead attendee screamed “GUTS FOR BREAKFAST! GUTS FOR BREAKFAST!” while he kicked and punched at the rest of us folks in the audience. Pestilence vocalist Martin Van Drunen roared “Hello Michigan!… Detroit…U.S. of A.” as their crushing Dutch metal histrionics resembled a quartet of longhaired fish occasionally showing face to come up for air – and then face down again, heads bobbing, and buried in frenzied sonic brutality. Not much more in the way of sincere praise can be added to the Death legacy at this point: sheer absolute majesty. They were supporting the ‘Spiritual Healing’ album, and played much of their ‘Leprosy’ and ‘Scream Bloody Gore’ material.

I intend to keep an eye on the developments at the new Blondie’s establishment(s), and here’s looking forward to some real metal in the Detroit area!

{ 1 comment }

1 Anonymous January 16, 2009 at 7:36 pm

But with a thug like POETX running the club can anything good come of it?

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