Title Fight @ The Magic Stick, January 13

In the background of America’s political turbulence exists a scene of rebellious youth staging a protest against blind conformist regime. You’d expect to find rallies such as this on the streets of Washington or the front step of corporations, but you’d be looking in the wrong places. On January 13 at the Magic Stick, a humble second-floor venue situated atop a bowling alley on the aesthetic Woodward avenue in Detroit, there was a different kind of protest. In a club which initially appeared to have more bars than attendees, the younger generation flowed in and opted to take a few moments of their time on stage to address the larger picture. Pennsylvania native and No Sleep Records artist Koji spoke of the “wholeness of humanity” and praised his beloved genre of punk rock for allowing a sense of agency to its listeners. His melodic voice filled the room and carried a strong sense of authority. His style of music, both in performance and recorded material, ranges from the traditional twangs of folk guitar to the aggression of hardcore punk. Koji allowed this same agency to his audience as he covered popular protest song “We Shall Overcome” by Pete Seeger, encouraging the audience to join him in his performance. Aside from his career in musicianship, he is known to be a dedicated activist, as portrayed through his musings on stage. Koji stood alone in front of the audience with his guitar and a shirt that brazenly depicted a single word: unity When headliner Title Fight – currently signed to ANTI- records – took the stage, the crowd’s energy was noticeably amplified and the room suddenly moved forward, bodies squeezing into every available space in order to be close to the stage, which appropriately enough had no barrier. The intimate performance was part of a small series of shows in celebrating Fusion Show’s 9th birthday and $5.00 from each ticket went directly towards supporting an LGBTQ shelter in Detroit, stark in contrast to the anti-liberal perspectives of Trump’s campaign. Jamie Rhoden, lead vocalist for Title Fight, began the set by welcoming the crowd and offering a warning of safety. The band’s newer shoegazy sound mixed with their older hardcore roots provided an atmosphere of aggressive energy reminiscent of an older grunge era. “Hypernight” is the band’s latest release and shocked listeners with the transformation since previous album “Floral Green”, which harnessed a more post-hardcore, punk sound versus their new indie rock, shoegaze routine. Alongside Rhoden are twin brothers Ned and Ben Russin, providing drum beats and bass slaps. Lastly, their most recent addition (as of 2005) was melodic guitarist Shane Moran. The four piece, also coming out of Pennsylvania, seamlessly blended their alternating styles together into one cohesive set, taking cues from classic post-punk group Joy Division. The political discussion continued as the instruments came to a silent hum and Rhoden openly expressed his fear, claiming that “everything will change in less than a week”. He encouraged his audience to fight loudly and take the same passion embodied in this room and apply it to every day encounters – to be authentic and bold, politically and otherwise. It’s easy to forget that the youth of the world have such an important voice because we often neglect to use it. In a dingy, dimly lit room smelling of hidden joints and Pabst Blue Ribbon, the alternative lifestyle was recognized and praised. As the set came to a close, there were more audience members than band members on the small stage, screaming into the microphone and diving into a sea of strangers. Rhoden’s last words after closing with one of my personal favourite tracks, Shed, was “take care of one another”, a final example of the serious undertone to the environment otherwise devoted to musical escapism. It’s easy to forget about reality when you’re trapped in a venue such as the Magic Stick, and sometimes (most times), this is my preferred version of reality.


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