erasing clouds

Live Review: The Lucksmiths, The Sprites, Pas/Cal at Marge's Donut Den, Wyoming MI, July 26, 2003

Article by dave heaton, photos taken by luis j. caseñas

Drivers in suburban Grand Rapids on July 26 might have been a tad bit confused as to why there was a crowd of young people hanging out at the local donut shop on a Saturday night. It was a typical-looking donut shop, in a small strip mall on an average-looking street: not the type of place most people associate with rock (or pop) music. But inside, the proprietor of Marge's Donut Den was busy being the generous hostess behind the counter, handing out free donuts and cookies, while the Australian band The Lucksmiths stood in the corner, delivering their wonderfully melodic, witty pop/rock songs.

"Playing here is quite a change for us…we're usually the house band at the Ponderosa steakhouse across the street," guitarist Marty Donald joked between songs. The group had both a typically friendly demeanor (between songs singer/drummer Tali White praised particular donuts and bantered with Marge) and sounded typically wonderful. Opening with a batch of crowd-pleasing songs from their earlier albums ("Music to Hold Hands To", "T-Shirt Weather," "Smokers in Love"), the group devoted most of their set to introducing listeners to their new album, Naturaliste. These more layered and mostly slower new songs had the same rich textures and melancholy-midnight aura as they do on the album, plus an extra bit of oomph. On several of them they were aided on guitar by Drew from The Utensils, who also played a short punkish-pop set immediately before the Lucksmiths as The Mosquitos, with Tali White helping him out on drums.

The evening started a couple hours earlier with the Detroit area band Pas/Cal. A mix of 60s rock energy and a more current stylish pop sound, the group played mostly from their debut EP The Handbag Memoirs. Their set was quick but impassioned, with singer Caz continually falling into rock-preacher mode to rev up the crowd. After Pas/Cal came The Sprites, whose equally enjoyable set was filled with melodic yet low-key pop-rock songs. Harmonies, sensitive-guy lead vocals, and catchy, slice-of-life songwriting was at the forefront.

And the band seemed genuinely excited to be playing their music, a quality that permeated the entire evening. Marge, who said this was the first time she's opened the donut den's doors for a show like this, seemed happy to hand out donuts, listen to the music and sell $5 Marge's Donut Den T-shirts; the bands seemed happy to have a break from the usual rock-club atmosphere; and the music fans in attendance left with smiles as well. All in all, the kind of fun and sweet night you might associate with donuts.


Issue 15, September 2003

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