The Pyramid Scheme, Grand Rapids
Dec. 5, 7 p.m.
$10 advance, $12 day of show
pyramidschemebar.com, (616) 272-3758
Those looking for a taste of feel-good tunes a la Kings of Leon, The Killers or other alt-rock heavy hitters would do well to check out American Wifi’s release show.
The Grand Rapids youngsters, fresh off winning the ArtPrize selection for best pop/electronic artist, recorded their sophomore album, HotSpot 2.0, with engineer Alex Hamel and consider their newest batch of songs a testament to the group’s lyrical and musical growth, according to Greyson Bos (vocals/rhythm guitar).
“It’s a big soul-searching record,” Bos said. “The first track, ‘Howl,’ I wrote about being fresh out of high school and feeling completely lost and bewildered after being thrust into the real world.”
Other tracks on the record, like “White Flag” and “Dancing with Fire,” follow similar themes of early adulthood’s highs and lows, Bos said, including losing friends and figuring out which path to make your own - with the latter tune tackling a little heavier subject matter.
“‘Dancing With Fire’ is about my best friend in high school,” Bos said. “After we graduated, we kind of drifted apart and I started hearing about how he was messing with hard drugs. … When [guitarist Sam Starkie] bought in this really frantic guitar riff to practice one day, it immediately made me think of my friend and his struggles with drugs.”
HotSpot 2.0 was recorded between the group’s home studio and Hame’s House. Bos said the recording process varied slightly from previous efforts, with the group taking more of a live approach to tracking the songs.
“It was a much more ambitious process, but also more efficient and time effective,” Bos said. “I prefer the production style on this CD to that of HotSpot, because it captures the energy we have when we play live. I think the songs are just different. It's hard for me to say if they're better or not because I wrote them; I guess we'll have to wait and hear what the fans think.”
Despite still being in their teens, some of the dudes in American WiFi (Bos; Cohen Parker, bass guitar/back vocals; and Levi Lilly, drums/percussion) have been playing together for almost four years, which comes through in the group’s polished sound. However, winning the ArtPrize award, with St. Cecilia Music Center throwing down $2,000 to five different groups, came as a shock to the group, Bos said.
“We were all really caught off-guard by the whole thing,” Bos said. “It was surreal.”
On Dec. 15, Bells Brewery hosts Square Dance Kalamazoo! with Celery City Sodbusters, an old-time band from Kalamazoo (with a truly incredible name). Take the opportunity to saddle up, grab a partner and check out something a little outside the box. (Err…square?)
Earthwork Music darlings Red Tail Ring play at Salt of the Earth in Fennville on Dec. 14. The group sells this place out pretty regularly, so reserve a seat early by calling (269) 561-7258.
Ultraviolet Hippopotamus is playing a three-set performance at The Intersection on Dec. 5. It’ll be your last chance to see the GR jam-band staples before the dudes take a hiatus from performing and touring. According to the group’s website, the band has no immediate plans for a return date following the break.
Grand Rapids psych-rock outfit Heaters kicks off its winter tour at The Pyramid Scheme on Dec. 11 with The Mystery Lights (NYC) and Moonwalks (Detroit).
Rick Chyme performs at Tip Top Deluxe Bar & Grill on Dec. 12 with PitchBlak Brass Band, a Brooklyn, N.Y.-based 10-piece funk/jazz/hip-hop group. All signs point to an awesome show.
The always-excellent post-punk duo Sapphic plays at Spoke Folks in Grand Rapids on Dec. 6 with Xerxes (Kentucky) and Elisa Lam (GR). If you haven’t caught a show here yet, it’s one of the area’s cooler DIY spaces and definitely worth checking out.