Detroit’s Arenas

Detroit has been a hub of activity in the state of Michigan since the state was formed.  Like all big cities in the US, there are a lot of events that are constantly going on in Detroit.  Everyday there is some form of sporting event, conference, and concert. Detroit has an abundance of concert venues from The Detroit Opera House to the Fox Theatre.  The newest venue is the Little Caesars Arena that is the hockey stadium for the Red Wings and also doubles as an event center. Little Caesars has replaced the Joe Louis Arena for the home of the Red Wings and for a concert venue.

The Joe Louis Arena was built in 1979 and replaced the Detroit Olympia.  The Joe Louis Arena was the 2nd oldest hockey arena in the U.S. with only Madison Square Garden being older.  The Arena hosted many other things besides just hockey games. They hosted figure skating competitions, basketball games and tournaments, and concerts. In 1980, the Palace of Auburn was built and had taken over a lot of the concerts that the Joe Louis Arena used to hold.  

The Little Caesars Arena opened in September 2017.  It succeeded both the Joe Louis Arena and the Palace of Auburn Hills as the home of the Detroit Red Wings and the home of the Detroit Pistons.  Like both the Palace and the Joe Louis Arena, the Little Caesars arena is also a concert venue, and it is now the only of the three venues that hosts concerts as well.  The Arena has a capacity of 22,000 for concerts, 20,000 for basketball games, and 19,000 for hockey games. This is bigger than the Joe Louis Arena by about 1,000 seats.

As Detroit grows and the sports teams become more popular, the stadiums and arenas increase in size.  The transition from the Joe Louis Arena to the Little Caesars arena is a perfect example of this because not only is the Little Caesars Arena bigger than the Joe Louis Arena, it also has newer amenities and a newer look.

Concert Culture

Name: Jeannie Marie

Codename: “Blondie”

Mission: Your mission is to infiltrate the crowd gathered at the Fillmore, Detroit on 4/7/2015. You must get as close to the stage as possible. You must not fail.

Mission Results: FAILED

So, last night I got to see one of my favorite bands, Walk The Moon, live in concert. Not gonna lie, it was kind of a dream come true for me – I haven’t been to a concert in a really long time, and I haven’t really been to any while I’ve been in Michigan (Houston native, in case you’ve forgotten). So when I found out that someone from [arts]seen was driving to Detroit for the Walk The Moon concert, I knew I had to go.

Now, since she’s reviewing the concert on [arts]seen, I won’t do that here, but on my way to the concert and even during the concert, I started to think about live concerts and how they’ve shaped music history.

I’m sure everyone who reads these articles knows about the famous ones, Woodstock and the like, and the current resurgence of the music festival has it’s roots way back into the 60s. Concerts have been a staple in music practically as far back as music has been around. I mean how else would you get to listen to Beethoven in the 1800s if you didn’t go see him live? But rock concerts specifically have a really interesting place in music history.

I say this because rock concerts have a specific connotation to them. It was a lot harder back in the 60s and 70s to spread music; it was a slower process using the radio rather than the internet in order to garner popularity. In the same way, concerts were a lot different back then. You couldn’t just go to YouTube and look up your favorite band singing a Queen cover live. Thus, if you went to a show, you had bragging rights. I got to see the Rolling Stones live. Suck on that.

And I’d argue that it’s much the same today, perhaps even more so. Concerts lend an aura of authenticity to someone claiming that they like a band. They show dedication and love for a band; you aren’t a lukewarm fan that just listens to them on the radio, you actually go see them live. This might also come from the fact that concerts typically cost between $50-$100, and that’s for a cheap ticket, gas, parking, and a t-shirt. Your expenses can reach even higher if it’s a high-ticket act like Beyonce.

But even so, when I got to the venue in Detroit, and made my way towards the massive crowd of people, I realized something else. I in no way could make it anywhere near the front of the stage. And I was kind of annoyed.

Why did I even come? I spent (well, my dad spent, thanks daddy) $30 + fees to see the back of some tall dudes head for the duration of the concert? If I was in Houston, I probably would have done some slipping around, gave a couple of “excuse me”s, and pushed my way to at least the middle of the crowd, perhaps even in the front half of the crowd. But I’m unfamiliar with the concert culture in Detroit, and seeing how this was my first concert I really didn’t want to do anything stupid. So I stuck it out in the back.

But then, as time went on, the songs just got louder and louder, the people around me jumped higher and higher, and I jumped with them. I remember looking around me and seeing a guy completely drenched in sweat, grin plastered on his face, never faltering. People around me were dancing and screaming and clapping, and even though I could only see the singers face every other second when I jumped, I could hear him singing, I could hear the guitarist playing, and I would give anything to relive the memories I have.

So was I in the front? No. But did I have an amazing time? Of course. And to me, that’s where the true richness of going to a concert lies. It’s not whether you get the t-shirt or if you put on face paint (though I wish I had some, it was kind of epic looking). It’s about how you feel in the moment. And even if you’re not that big of a fan or you didn’t know every word to all the songs, you’re still welcome. Because a concert welcomes everyone. You don’t know anyone around you besides maybe your friends, and that’s okay. Because that means you’re all equal. For better or worse, you’re all in this hot, sweaty, probably dehydrated crowd together.

Concerts aren’t about authenticity. They’re about togetherness.

Random side note: This piece of writing doesn’t encompass even half of how I feel about concerts, so expect a part 2 sometime not soon. Concerts are crazy man. But I love them so much.

The Multi-Valenced Ann Arbor

I really had no other reason to be at this concert besides who I was sitting next to. He asked and I said yes. Luckily.

I glimpsed (more like studied; the room was silent and there was little else to do besides read since my voice tends to fill most spaces even at their largest) at the program and read, “Schumann: Dichterliebe.” Or I at least read Schumann and had a flashback to curly hair, beautiful professor, Deleuze event, and something about “the Refrain.” Lately, I’ve often forgot how amazing it is to be at the University of Michigan, not because it is amazing

(the Central Student Government silences and oppresses the very students it claims to represent)

but rather because there are a lot of opportunities for class and life and interests to have a real conversation. Namely, there are chances to take what I study and apply it to situations OR I can see what I study “in the real world,” which, as an English and Philosophy student, is sometimes difficult. Tucked behind/beside/near the Aut Bar (some could say a gay bar, family restaurant, or gay studies lab), the Kerrytown Concert Hall is one of the cutest venues I’ve been in and I absolutely love the cozy atmosphere. There is a facade of escape at such concerts, and for me the escape is heightened when the music performed isn’t from this century–it is my form of time travel.

(Since, as I’ve said, campus life is beyond unbearable, and this is coming from a person with almost all agent social identities, i.e., I identify as a white, cis-man, middle class, temporarily able-bodied person . . . . And to see not only the student government act atrociously but also other students stand behind such actions makes me (on the tame side of my emotions) want to never look at this campus again. And then when you pile on my queerness, I’m ready to evacuate immediately and call this campus, more or less, a war zone where a majority of my friends and my community remain unsafe on a daily basis. I would like to travel by any means necessary: time, space.)

As the Schumann started, I realized that I had analyzed (or been in the presence of an analysis of) this very piece’s first movement. For a Deleuze Interest Group event. How did a friend taking me to a concert send me spiralling into the philosophico-musical feels? I don’t know, but it happened.

The song melted away, much like when I oil pull in the morning–it starts of granular? or at least in some conglomeration of solid until it melts into a liquid and congeals in some sort of liquid mass of “detoxification and whitening”–and only solidified, perhaps, when I left the venue, walked away, into my night (a drag show). Chords unfinished continued to haunt me as a queen flashed the audience and I was left agasp not at perfectly sculpted breasts but at Schumann, lurking just behind me, never to be fully seen or taken in.

After a few more songs that helped to fill out the theme of “A Lovers’ Discourse” started, happened, and ended, the pianist/composer/friend-of-my-friend-on-the-left-of-me’s compositions began.

The first. Three Frank O’Hara poems. The second. One Sylvia Plath poem.

Now it is dangerous, as someone who “studies literature,” to attend such events. I have been trained to be a snob, although the training has been undertaken, more often than not, by myself. SO. I obviously have a lot of feels about these two songs.

I think what matters most to me, and to this blog, is not how I felt about the composition itself (which I loved by itself, however, I disliked the tenor singing the lyrics of the poetry since I felt there was a HUGE disconnect between form and content, which could be the point even though I doubt) but how I felt inside of someone’s interpretation of the poetry. Live music is not just something I listen to, but I become the music. It fills my nostrils, it enters my body, and fills, yes, “my soul.”

(My soul aches. I am aching because the Ann Arbor campus, a place I was taught and eventually learned to love in some real way, is parasitic to its most important inhabitants. It is a sad thing for an institution to remain passive when individual, one-off microaggressions happen. It is an unspeakable offense for an institution committed to “social justice and diversity” to enact the very crimes it condemns. The rampant racism, transphobia, ableism, homophobia, sexism is abhorrent. I can only hope the University and its various governing bodies take responses like this one to heart and take responsibility, acknowledge their accountability, and do things (not just say things) to rectify what they’ve done.)

And I hated the interpretation. Though it was refreshing to be in a conversation about poetry without using any words. It was like listening to the most beautiful one-sided debate, and I was the other team refusing to speak.

What is beautiful about this campus may be purely aesthetic. I can study, I can read, I can feel, and then I can go and see things enacted, performed, experimented with by those in or near my community.

Days like today I cling to the aesthetic, sit in my corner, and count the minutes I have left before I can take flight.