Motor City Muscle Review: Impaler, The Gories, Ace Frehley, August 18, Hart Plaza & Campus Martius


Though Motor City Muscle had mostly big touring acts as the headliners each night, the organizers made plenty of room for local legends and newer acts to take the stage with the weekend seeing some solid performances from the likes of The Detroit Cobras, Death, John Sinclair and The Craig Brown Band. And one of the more unique performances from a local act came in the form of the man they call Impaler.

First, a bit of background on the Impaler. Impaler is Anison Roberts, a now-50something who took to dressing like a vampire in order to stand out in the Detroit punk scene back in the day (you can read more in Metro Times’ 2014 story on Roberts. He’s a little too old to pull that look off day to day anymore – the vibe is more Count Floyd than it is Twilight – but still busts it out for the occasional show, which he did in an afternoon slot on the “underground” stage – a little theatre space tucked away under the area opposite the mainstage at Hart Plaza. And it was certainly a unique show. Backed up by a guitarist and keyboardist and reading off notes in a folder he held so he wouldn’t forget any lyrics, it was an odd performance but fun in its own way and you’ve got to give props to any dude who wears a cape onstage. Bravo, Impaler.

Another local act that was a must-see for me was longtime Detroit garage rockers The Gories. Sure, an outdoor stage in the middle of the city during daylight hours with a mostly seated audience isn’t the ideal setting for a rock show, but The Gories put on a great show regardless at the Campus Martius stage, running through songs from throughout their career as well as few covers (their version of John Lee Hooker’s “Boogie Chillen” was a standout). They also caught this Canadian’s attention with a song they sent out to all the Canucks in attendance: “This is a song about Canadian water rights … the only one ever written.” They’re probably right on that count, although surely someone like Stan Rogers or Gordon Lightfoot or Propagandhi must have written a song on that topic too. This calls for further investigation on my part.

Closing out the mainstage back at Hart Plaza was Ace Frehley, who probably drew the biggest crowd of the weekend, but put on one of the more disappointing shows. Don’t get me wrong, the former KISS guitarist’s set still had it’s moments (“New York Groove”, a cover of Thin Lizzy’s “Emerald” and of course, “Detroit Rock City”) but he lost any good will he’d built up in my books when he told the crowd midway through that they were going to essentially pause the show so that they could film a video for his upcoming single “Rockin’ With The Boys.” This in itself wasn’t that bad since bands do live video shoots with fans all the time, but the fact that this wasn’t really presented as a video shoot going in and that they went on to play the song a second time right after that just kind of killed any momentum they had going.

Weak sauce, Ace Frehley.

Posted on by Paul in Concerts