This past Wednesday, Zola Jesus made her first Detroit appearance in a performance at the Contemporary Art Institute of Detroit. Her set started a little after midnight, and was relatively brief. Brief but amazing. Which was a huge saving grace since everything leading up to her set was hardly passable, let alone amazing.
Zola Jesus, for those who don't know, is tiny. Very tiny. She is also apparently 21 years old or so. For a voice like that to come out of a girl of that stature and age is astounding to me. She had a band with her - three guys on synths/keyboards and a drummer. Think The Cure circa Disintegration with a powerhouse female vocalist with the commanding presence of somebody much larger. Wow.
Now, I don't want to be one of those "I hate the CAID" people. I don't hate it, and the institution itself is not my main gripe here. But I can't help but question why, somebody who's as critically acclaimed and talented as Zola Jesus has to make her Detroit debut here as opposed to someplace you know, way better. Like virtually all other music venues in the city. Especially since this show was presented by the Crofoot. Which, last time I checked, had several ROOMS worth of way better music venues, all of which have better sound and lighting than the CAID. I mean, maybe there was some discussion and Zola Jesus personally said, "I refuse to play anywhere but the most obscure of art galleries that also double as music venues - preferably ones with questionable security and a history of runs ins with the police." It's possible, right?
But even so - you've got ZOLA JESUS playing your obscure art gallery. So you know, maybe step it up a notch and pull together a killer show. I think this is a reasonable request - not to mention a prudent marketing and financial decision. The caliber of Zola Jesus' performance was so far above and beyond the two other bands on the bill that it seriously felt disrespectful and embarrassing - like Detroit couldn't be bothered to bring out some of (even one of!) its many fucking awesome bands to play this show with her. Instead we got Wire Eyes (aka The Ramshackle Bedroom Folk Sniffles) and Turn To Crime (aka Hey Check Out My New Noise Act Don't You Like Wavves Too?). Oof. The first band was anemic (they announced they all had colds when they started playing but I have a hard time believing they're usually more dynamic) but were at least listenable. The second act was embarrassing. Maybe I'm not cool enough to pretend being terrible is awesome. But give me a break.
And another thing... this is the second Something Cold related event I've attended now. The first one being a show where I was one of maybe three people not in one of the bands playing that night. I like the concept of this, and the guy in charge seems like a really cool dude with a love of music and Detroit and all that is good and fair. That's why I am presenting to you this little pro tip/because I care suggestion: You play/spin really great music. I actually love listening to your selections. But you are playing your shit WAY. TOO. LOUD. When there are four people standing around waiting for a band to start, don't crank it up so that those people can't talk or think. Because that's why they go wait in the other room. I don't think that's what you're looking for - in fact, on your Facespace page it says "Dancing...Dancing...Dancing... Everybody's dancing." No they are not. So you're ruining it for yourself and for all of us. It's a lose-lose! Turn it down!
Next time Zola Jesus comes to town, you need to go. And she needs to play someplace with a kick ass sound system and a working time keeping device. I hope it is sooner rather than later. I'm kind of obsessed now.
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