Jam-grass all-stars and Summer Camp favorites The Infamous Stringdusters are picking their way across the country on their fall tour. The Nashville quintet is riding the wave of their recent Grammy Award win for the Best Bluegrass Album for their excellent release titled Laws of Gravity.
I just so happened to be visiting my folks in the Detroit area when the Dusters rolled into town for a show at the recently renovated Flagstar Strand Theatre in Pontiac. This beautiful, historic theater re-opened last year after a massive $20 million project to fix it up. I’m all about supporting the revitalization of the Detroit area, especially when it means I get to cut a rug to some mean bluegrass in the process.
Even though it was super last minute, I managed to snag a photo pass to cover the show for you fine people. Thanks a lot to the Dusters for showing the SCamp family some love!
My wife and I made the hour-ish drive out to Pontiac and got there just in time to catch the last track from opening band The Wooks. As somewhat of a w00k myself, I love their name. I enjoyed the little bit of music we managed to hear from them and will definitely be checking them out.
They certainly did a nice job with this place, and I hope it succeeds in bringing live music and other events to downtown Pontiac. It’s absolutely gorgeous inside and is a very intimate place to see a show, with just under 900 seats in the house. I had to stop and snap a photo of this very musical backdrop they have on the walk into the theater.
While the balcony was closed for the show, the lower level was packed with people ready to boogie down to some bluegrass on a Thursday night. The Infamous Stringdusters were welcomed to the stage with a nice ovation from the Motor City crowd, and wasted no time getting down to business with an opening “Where the Rivers Run Cold.”
Next up was one of my favorite Dusters tunes – “Don’t Mean Nothin’.” While I listen to them quite a bit, I must admit I’m pretty bad with their song names. This one is quite easy to remember, though. It was early in the show, but most of the room was already up and dancing at this point.
Throughout the rest of the first set, we were treated to some classics as well as three tunes from Laws of Gravity – “Black Elk,” “Back Home,” and “Maxwell.” These songs crush live just as much as they do on the Grammy-winning album, so be sure to go out and catch these guys if they come to a town near you!
Having only previously seen the Dusters at music festivals, I really enjoyed catching a full show from them. It’s always nice to see a band play their own gig without other distractions. One thing in particular that impressed me was their light show. Their LD definitely does a great job playing along with the band, especially when they start jamming.
After “Fork in the Road,” the band told us to take a quick break before another set. I wasn’t sure if these guys played two sets or not, but I sure was happy to find out they do! As I usually do at set break, I went off to check out the merch, chat with fellow concert-goers, and grab a drink. I believe I requested “a hearty pour of Bullet on the rocks,” and the bartender delivered. Hooray for intimate shows in new venues with a friendly staff!
After moving around taking pictures during the first set, I got comfortable in the middle near the soundboard and settled in for some more foot-stomping bluegrass. It’s so cold in the D, but a lil’ bourbon and Stringdusters quickly warmed me up.
To kick off Set Two, we got a “Hobo Song.” As a perpetually wandering gypsy, I can totally relate to this tune. We also got the sort-of-title-track from their most recent album with “Gravity.” This is a catchy one, folks. Be warned that if you listen to it, you’ll be singing it all day.
The guys in the band weren’t the only Tennesseans in the house that night, as my lovely wife hails from Johnson City. Imagine her excitement when the band busted into a cover of the Grateful Dead’s “Tennessee Jed.” A fitting cover for a Nashville band, and one very well executed at that.
After that epic sing along, we got some solid Dusters originals with “Long Lonesome Day” and “Fire.” These guys have put out eight albums in a decade, and they’re all good. You should probably put them on Spotify right now as you’re reading this, if you haven’t done so already. Here – I’ll make it easy for you!
The band had a few more choice covers up their sleeve for the Detroit Rock City crowd. First up was one of my all-time favorite Pink Floyd tunes with “Fearless.” After a beautiful rendition of the Floyd tune, the band beamed us up to their UFO with a funky bluegrass take on “2001.” Yes, I’m aware that it’s the song from “2001: A Space Odyssey,” but it’s a Phish song to me. After just seeing Phish play this in Vegas a few nights earlier, I loved hearing the Dusters’ take on it.
An awesome second set came to a close with “Peace of Mind” off their 2014 album Let it Go. The rabid fans in the D weren’t ready to let the band go, though, as we cheered them back on stage for an encore of the title track from said album.
All in all, it was a solid show and I’m glad I made the trek out there on a chilly Thursday night. These guys put on one hell of a show, and they’re putting on lots of them in the next few months. Do yourself a favor and get yourself to one. It’s a long, cold winter, but it’s much more bearable when you’re dancing to bluegrass! Here’s to hoping we’re kickin’ up dust with them again at Three Sisters Park next Memorial Day weekend!