When in the world are they going to start on the high-speed Chicago to Detroit rail connection? That was my ongoing question as we drove the road-hell that’s called Interstate 94 to Detroit. These two cities are close together and share a passion for music. With a rail connection, we would be able to easily see a show in Chicago and Detroit in one weekend and then have drinks and a fine meal on the train back to Chicago. But I digress.
Our trip to Detroit was actually planned by the lovely B. Usually we just wing it, but this time we had a mission to see two great bands that we had heard about through friends and researched on the www. On the one hand we succeeded by seeing Null Paradox. On the other hand we missed the other band, but that was purely due to timing and our inability to navigate the maze of streets between the two venues. On the third hand, if there was a subway or train available… I know, wishful thinking.
In high school, I wasn’t passionate about all that many classes, but there were a few that I loved. In one instance, a subject that I loved (writing), my teacher turned out to be an absolute nightmare. What could have been an amazing class, was turned into hell because of this teacher (name withheld because he’s still teaching). I was pissed and went to talk with my counselor. Her advice to me: Suck it up because even the worst teachers can’t wreck a passionate student.
Detroit has this bizarre need to hide music venues in the strangest of places. The Token Lounge is concealed within a small strip of buildings and looks deceptively small from the outside. And that would partially explain why we drove by it several times. Fortunately there was some type of friendly festival/BBQ thing going on outside in the back of the venue, so that helped out with us eventually finding the place.
The Token Lounge is large by bar standards but not as large as some of the other venues that we’ve been to in Detroit. At first glance the venue seemed to be a perfect fit for bands. Lots of places to stand or sit. A nice bar. Relatively large stage and what appeared to be a first class sound and lighting system.
Then the illusion ended. The sound emanating from the sound system was a wreck. It takes mad skill to use a reasonably good quality system to fashion this auditory nightmare. And the lights? How can you create so little actual light from so many lighting fixtures? Perhaps the random blinking was a signal to another planet? A computer could have accidently created a better mix and lighting show.
Passion wins. Null Paradox is a band. And a book. And a tale. Several tales as it turns out.
The band’s tale is about Crystal Sherry, a gothic waif-like singer who happens to be ex-Air Force from the east-coast who meets a music writer and bass player (of all things) named Tom Libertiny. I’m exhausted just typing that sentence. This show is Crystal’s fourth show with a band. Ever. And you’d never have known it because she has a compelling stage presence. Flirty, gothic, sly and at times bigger than life. And her vocal range is huge. Even through the subpar audio mix, we received tasty morsels of her voice. You can’t hide passion and talent
But it gets better. Chris Mick looks like he can kill you. Seriously. I want armor. Fortunately, he’s busy playing guitar, alternating between subtle and then punching through with a level 13 guitar solo. Eric Prater is everything that you’d want in a keyboard player. He brings much of the brooding, dissonant mood to songs like “My Sweet Hell” with his wonderful duet intro with Crystal and the strangely attractive creep-show waltz break that they share later in the song.
Then there’s Dave Ziozios on drums. Stunning power. Clever jazz. All from the simplest of drum kits. That’s talent.
Together on stage, they proceed to tell you a fascinating tale of making a decision. One of those life changing decisions. Perhaps “The” decision. It’s right there on their website. “Will you choose the love of your life (orange) or your destiny (purple)?” I don’t get the color thing yet, but there are so many layers to everything about this band and their music, I suspect that I’ll be happily digging through the tale for quite a while.
“Black and White” seems to be the early favorite from their CD. The song is powerful and exotic live. For me “Ord Festival” captured the night. I can hear this song and indeed the entire set in front of an arena audience.
All this from their first show together. With Null Paradox, their passion has won.
My advice: See them live at their next show and check out their recorded music. www.nullparadox.com
Mike Vet, the Music Vet