A Summer of Detroit Weekends

Greetings metropolitan Detroiters -- that's you Metromode readers in suburbs new and old, large and small -- welcome to what we plan as the freshest series of experiences you're likely to have in the city this summer. 

When we say "city" we mean Detroit proper, of course, arguably the funkiest, edgiest most stimulating 139 square miles on the planet. You'll get no argument from us, just a subjective list of the coolest stuff to see and do from now until until Labor Day.

We can't fail to mention that for maximum Detroit impact we encourage walking and cycling over motoring (note: the accompanying photos were done while wandering on foot in Detroit residential, commercial and industrial locations). Drive a car if you must, but our advice is to park it and hoof it whenever possible: explore, get lost, discover places on your own, get found, have fun, stay safe.  

Let's get started.

July 18-19-20

One of the expected highlights of the Detroit summer is upon us in a hurry. This Saturday, July 19 at Roosevelt Park (that's the green space in front of the Michigan Central Station), a gathering of street bands and street art will take over the gateway from the Corktown to Southwest Detroit neighborhoods. 

Appropriately called Crash Detroit, the lineup includes Chicago's Black Bear Combo, Second Line Social Aid & Pleasure Society Brass Band from Boston, Minor Mishap Marching Band from Austin, Atlanta's Black Sheep Ensemble and our own Detroit Party Marching Band. Several other local and out of town brass bands will be performing at this free event, which runs from 2 to 9 p.m.  (Note: The bands will be popping up to play spontaneous gigs at Detroit businesses on Friday, July 18. Fun!)

Also on July 19 at New Center Park (Second Blvd and W. Grand Blvd), it's worth checking into "I Do Mind Dying," described as a live action mixtape featuring Michigan hip hop innovators Tunde Olaniran, Invincible and Miz Corona. Word. It goes 8-11 p.m. and is also free.

On July 20, get acquainted with Bumbo's, a new pop up food business rumored to be heading for a premanent location soon. This week's service at North Corktown's Nancy Whiskey (2644 Harrison St.) features Polish food, including kielbasa sliders, potato and gouda pierogi and green borscht served cold.

July 25-26
Created and curated by local horn player, composer and improvisor James Cornish, Radical Music Detroit is where serious music peeps go for their experimental sound fix. 

The next one is July 25 at Detroit Contemporary (on the edge of Woodbridge, 5141 Rosa Parks) and features performances by Curtis Glatter, a percussionist who will perform with Cornish; Paul Schauert: composer, drummer, music educator; Sam Hooker, an electronic improviser and organizer of avant music events; and Kirsten Carey, a composer and guitarist who performs in a duo with reed player Molly Jones. Carey has recently written an opera about James Joyce's Ulysses. James Baljo also performs at the event.

Doors 8 p.m., show: 9 - 11 p.m. Suggested donation is $5.

On Saturday, July 26 head over to the Factory at 333 Midland in Highland Park to see the extraordinary Big Paintings exhibition. Make sure to message the curator here so he knows how many visitors to expect.

Aug. 2-3

The month begins with a bang at PJ's Lager House with the return of R.U.R., one of Detroit best bands of the original post-punk era of the late 1970s/early 1980s. The show on Saturday Aug. 2 also features the Seatbelts and is emceed by Dirty Show impresario Jerry Vile. Stand up front and yell out you want to see Jerry's "Flying Nun routine." He'll know exactly what you mean.

On Sunday, Aug. 3 it's back to Nancy Whiskey for more experimental music, this time courtesy of techno entrepreneur Drew Pompa's Aphotic Segment event

The night features Chicago-based guests Karl Meier (affiliated with Karl O'Connor of British Murder Boys and his current Regis project) who will perform a DJ set; and a live performance by What We'll Be (We Are All Machines), made up of Pipé Scuttleworth (who partners with Pompa in the group The Siege) and Jeremiah Klinger. Resident DJs Soren and Drew Pompa open. The party is wild (in all the right ways) and free and goes 10 p.m. - 2 a.m.

Some date TBA in August 

We just heard from a source close to the flame at the terrific Nigerian BBQ Lagos that the next food party (and it is indeed a party, complete with raunchy West African tunes) at the Southwest side joint on West Vernor will be in mid-August. Here's what you do: go to the Lagos Facebook page, like it, then check back here to make reservations when the date is announced. 

Plan on a full night of food and fun: the June event included an after party on the rooftop lounge at the Music Hall.

Aug. 19

Oh no, what, not hip to Kiwi rock, possibly the most influential indie scene of the 1980s/early 1990s? No matter, just go get tickets and see the Clean with no hesitation. Trust us, this New Zealand band, an inspiration for lo-fi champs like Pavement, Yo La Tengo and Guided By Voices, will not disappoint. 

Brought to you by Greg Baise of MOCAD, this show is at Trinosophes in Eastern Market (1464 Gratiot) Get tickets here

Aug. 23

There has to be one event where you can dance all night, leave the club as the sun comes up and cap it off with breakfast  coneys at Lafayette or Duly's, right? Yes, and this is it, an appearance by Silent Servant (Juan Mendez from L.A., also associated with the aforementioned British Murder Boy Karl O'Connor) at the Works (1846 Michigan Ave., Corktown). This guy makes dark-hearted, minimal techno following lessons learned at the whip of Detroit-Berlin masters. Also appearing: Project 313, Windsor's Kero, Paxahau's Chuck Flask and others. Find details here.

Aug. 30-31 Sept. 1

Labor Day weekend is all about Hamtramck for us. The food, the beer, the music, the people, the parade at the annual three-day festival are as close to sublime neighborhood messiness and imperfection -- just the way we crave it -- as it gets. Musical highlights are plentiful, including the Witches, the Volebeats, Melvin Davis, Dennis Coffey, Michael Hurtt and the Haunted Hearts, Cosmic Light Shapes, Mexican Knives, The Potions, the Polish Muslims and more. Just show up anytime during the weekend, your serendipity will be rewarded. Everlasting memories are made from times less than these.

While you're in Hamtown on Aug. 30 make sure to visit Lo & Behold Records & Books for an event to help owner Richie Wohlfeil match funds for the Knight Arts Challenge Grant he won last year. His music parties -- folk-blues and space-jazz -- are some of the most far-out but welcoming in town and his series of folk-blues live recordings are important archival treasures. A new series, called Hamtramck Explorer, is in the works. Give this guy some love -- and your money, if only just a little bit. Get more details here

Words and pictures by Walter Wasacz
Enjoy this story? Sign up for free solutions-based reporting in your inbox each week.