PREVIEW: The Timbre of Cedar

From the Metro Detroit area, The Timbre of Cedar is coming to Ann Arbor to conquer the stage at The Ark. This 5 member alternative indie band is bringing their unique sound to the music scene. Strong vocalist Marrissa Parham will tantalize the stage with the soulful lyrics and emotions this band passionately evokes. With songwriter Chris DuPont opening, the night is bound to be one to remember.

8:00 PM. January 17. The Ark. Be there.

Tickets are $15 and can be purchased at or at the Michigan Union Ticket Office. This event is also free with a Passport to the Arts voucher! All the more reason to go!


REVIEW: The Head and the Heart

Situated in the upper most balcony of Hill Auditorium, the view was much better than I had expected it to be (the eternal feeling of falling forward, out of the balcony and towards the stage, though, was entirely expected of Hill). The space lacked the closeness I normally look forward to in concerts, where it feels like a conversation with the performers, rather than an arena-style, bird’s-eye-view. Both the members of the opening act, Whitney, and the Head and the Heart worked to create what intimacy they could, chatting back and forth with an expansive and faceless audience. The crowd, much to my surprise, was made up of largely older couples. It could be that I’ve created the illusion of the late-teens/early twenties indie audience based off of one too many music festivals; likely, Ann Arbor is more conducive to a wide-range, indie folk audience than elsewhere.

The stage was set like the cover of the Head and the Heart’s new album, Signs of Light. Potted palm-fronds were scattered throughout, with a neon sign that evoked only the best new-agey seventies vibes. It transformed Hill from a concert hall into almost a basement lounge atmosphere (filled with all 3,500 of your friends), aided by the performers continual toasting of red Solo cups.  While the setting of Hill relaxed its “acoustical perfection” for a more casual atmosphere, elements of its austere presence remained.

For this concert, especially with how chummy and charismatic the performers worked to be, I just wanted to be able to dance. One of my favorite benefits of live music is being able to stand uncomfortably close to the stage, being able to feel the music of the speakers shake the floor, the air, and the crowd, and watching everyone dance however they feel moved. In Hill, I could look down from the balcony to see maybe two or three carefree listeners dancing in the aisles, but the rows upon rows of chairs, as well as the added threat of height, kept most in their seats.
The opening band complemented The Head and the Heart’s music, adding a bit more of an indie-pop feel to the feature’s folk vibe. I loved the incorporation of a trumpet into the band, adding a bit of an unexpected (though not unseen in contemporary music) twist to their music. The Head and the Heart performed many of their most popular works – namely “All We Ever Knew”, “Lost in My Mind”, and ending with “Rivers and Roads” – in quick succession, moving from one piece to another.  

All in all, I loved being able to watch the Head and the Heart perform so close to home, a chance that seems to be getting smaller and smaller as their popularity grows. It made me crave the intimacy and closeness that smaller spaces like The Ark provide (that also allow for the glorious choice of sitting, standing, or dancing), but I can’t denounce a venue that’s directly on campus and offers an unobstructed view and acoustical perfection of a front-running indie band. Their folksy, sweet Americana feel makes for a nice addition to any upcoming summertime soundtrack.


PREVIEW: The Head and the Heart

A part of their Signs of Light tour, the indie-folk group will be performing with the opening band Whitney. If you’re looking to catch the rapidly-rising Head and the Heart in your own Ann Arbor backyard (they’re also set to perform at The Governor’s Ball, Bonnaroo, and Coachella for this summer’s festival season), the performance will be held at Hill Auditorium on February 28, at 8 pm. Tickets range from $30-$40.

The Head and the Heart’s work first entered into my orbit of interest with their self-titled 2010 album (my favorite track being “Ghosts”). Their song “Rivers and Roads” is probably most notable, even to those who don’t initially recognize the band’s name. It’s feature on the season finale of TV’s New Girl sent me frantically searching for the artist of the song, and thus an interest was born. Their songs have woven their way through various Spotify playlists of mine, though I’ve got a ways to go before I could classify myself a fully-versed fan. I think this will be quickly corrected, though, for their natural sound makes for a great live experience.

PREVIEW: Brett Dennen at the Blind Pig

If you haven’t heard of Brett Dennen, the singer-songwriter hailing from Oakland, CA, I invite you to listen to one of my favorite songs from him:

An oddly satisfying blend of pop and folk, right? Brett’s newest album, Por Favor, was released in May, and you can hear it live at The Blind Pig on Thursday, October 27th

Where: The Blind Pig

Time: Doors open at 8

Cost: $25

Satisfaction at seeing Brett Dennen perform live: Priceless

Jaded Incorporated with Mayor Hawthorne, 14 KT & The Black Opera

Ladies and gentlemen,

This Saturday at Ann Arbor’s own Blind Pig, you can experience something special. Rather than attend another disappointing football game, why not spend your money on a concert where you can see exhilarating beat wave music!

What: Beat Wave Music (Hip-hop, funk, EDM all combined into one)

Where: The Blind Pig

When: Saturday, September 13th @ 9 PM

Why: Why not? Check out this music video:


The Big Knock

REVIEW: Graham Colton at the Ark

If you have never been to the Ark before, the best word to describe it is intimate. Upon entering you are guided upstairs by the sound of indie music, to a room that you would almost expect to be used for art house movie screenings than concerts.

As Cumulus singer Alex Niedzialkowski (even Graham Colton didn’t dare attempt to pronounce that last name) put it, the Ark was like a “classroom.” Cushioned chairs filled the back while coffee tables adorned the front—in other words, not the proper conditions for standing and jumping to the beat.

It is a rare treat to attend a concert where the opening band is as good as the headliner. Cumulus, a band from Seattle, was one of those cases. Indie-pop at its best, Cumulus combined meaningful and heartfelt lyrics with the kind of bittersweet melodies you would find in films like 500 Days of Summer.

Alex’s voice is slightly reminiscent of Regina Spektor: her words have the same enchanting feeling that would make me love the music even if she was only singing the alphabet. Luckily, that wasn’t the case.

Most important of all, Cumulus had a memorable character. As an emcee, Alex was exactly the kind of endearingly awkward you might expect from an indie artist who writes deep lyrics. Unlike many bands that simply play through their set and leave, Cumulus spoke to the audience, added emotion to their playing, and overall proved to be a fantastic opening band.

After a brief intermission, in which I purchased Cumulus’ album despite mistakenly listing the wrong zip code for my credit card and had to start the process all over again, Graham Colton took the stage.

Graham is the kind of artist comfortable to be on stage. He makes comments freely, such as telling the audience they helped themselves to a bottle of celebratory alcohol before the show, or the fact that he repeated his name in case anyone “stumbled in from outside.”

Every song rocked with energy. Between songs Graham encouraged the audience to stand, and by the end of the concert most of the room was indeed standing. It was hard not to: Graham spent his time dancing or jumping on the stage, snarky comments by the bassist made everyone chuckle, and a fellow singer-songwriter in the band that was probably equally as talented as Graham.

Songs from Lonely Ones certainly had a more aggressive, electric sound. Taking 18 months off to reinvent himself seemed to work. Yet, even his earlier stuff was as good as it has always been.

Check out Graham Colton. Check out Cumulus. And if you have never been to the Ark before, do it!
Graham Colton

Graham Colton