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Concert Reviews:
AWOLNATION parties hard at the Fillmore Detroit
 

By GARY GRAFF
Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

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DETROIT -- AWOLNATION frontman Aaron Bruno sported a red T-shirt for God's Country on Friday night, Dec. 18, at the Fillmore Detroit.

And that's exactly where the group's fans, attending the weekend's first The Night 89X Stole Christmas show, felt they were.

With just two albums and some significant hits -- notably 2011's "Sail" and "Hollow Moon (Bad Wolf)" from this year's "Run" -- Bruno and company have made a rare kind of connection with their audience, as a band rather than merely producers of songs. The earnest nature of the material, sometimes angsty but often uplifting, certainly helps, but throughout Friday's 75-minute set AWOLNATION established itself as a group whose fans know everything from the hits to the album tracks -- and proved it by singing along even to deeper fare such as "Knights of Shame," "Jailbreak" and a hard-hitting "Like People, Like Plastic."

The quintet came out thrashing, backlit and pounding through the anthemic "Run" track "KOOKSEVERYWHERE!!!!." With Bruno declaring "we are here to party with you," AWOLNATION did just that, stripping some of the polish from its studio recordings in favor of muscular energy that had the room bouncing along to the likes of "Kill Your Heroes," "Jailbreak" and the rocking "Dreamers." There were more melodic and even soulful moments like "Not Your Fault" and "Woman Woman," while "Burn It Down" lived up to its title with frentic ferocity and with drum and guitar solos by Isaac Carpenter and Zach Irons, respectively, while keyboardist Kenny "Y.A." Carkeet took a dive into the crowd as they played.

The encore included a portion of Stone Temple Pilots' "Dead and Bloated," unspoken tribute (and perhaps commentary) to the late Scott Weiland, whose cause of death -- a drug overdose -- had been announced earlier in the day. That made the closing "Sail" a bit more poignant -- a moment of genuine band-fan solidarity that closed AWOLNATION's 2015 touring itinerary on a high note.

Canadian electro-rockers Metric made its own mark earlier in the evening, playing a hot 45-minutes that saw frontwoman Emily Haines sport a variety of capes, fabrics and even peacock feathers as the group charged through "Lie Lie Lie," "Cascades" and an extended "Synthetica" (highlighted by James Shaw's guitar solos) before finishing with a semi-unplugged "Breathing Underwater." PVRIS (pronounced Paris), meanwhile, soldiered on despite technical problems that allowed only two of the three band members to play a low-key set that showcased Lyndsey Gunnulfsen's vocals.

The Night 89X Stole Christmas continues Saturday (Dec. 19) featuring Sublime with Rome, Ubiquitious Synergy Seeker and Mutemath. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Tickets $49.50 and $35. Call 313-961-5451 or visit thefillmoredetroit.com.

Web Site: www.thefillmoredetroit.com

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff

 



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