Thursday, September 29th, 2016 is a night to remember. Special thanks to Jess Thibodeau and his hard-working team at St. Andrews/The Shelter for putting all this together!
Tobacco, aka: Tom Fec, is the frontman for psychedelic electronica group Black Moth Super Rainbow. “Black Moth Super Rainbow” was supposedly originally a name for a cereal that Tom Fec created. And his moniker “Tobacco” is taken from the Tobacco Man character in the 1987 Troma movie Redneck Zombies.
For the past few years, Tobacco has been doing some solo work and he’s here tonight with “The Seven Fields of Aphelion” (aka: Maureen Boyle), “IFfernaut” (aka: Donna Kyler) on drums and “Father Hummingbird” (aka: Seth Ciotti) on the gong and guitar.
Tobacco is on tour for his new album “Sweatbox Dynasty,” which recently came out on Ghostly International, an excellent record label based in Ann Arbor, Michigan and run by Sam Valenti IV. As per every Tobacco album, it is unapologetically unique, rather nebulous and eminently enjoyable.
Outside of The Shelter, you’re in a line, shuffling past bums who are drunk and rambling and vacuuming up loose change. You’re patted down at the door. You enter the basement of St. Andrews to see hustling bartenders, busy merch tables and a smiling crazed-eyed sea of live music lovers.
Ah, the good ole intimate brick-walled basement of Saint Andrews Hall, “The Shelter.” Always feels like you’re in somebody’s basement here, like being suddenly transported back to the days o’ crackin’ brews and spittin’ flows. Or like you’re in some renegade survivalist’s hand-built underground safe space.
We run into Dan Conley, production manager for the venue, “I’m from Washington DC,” Dan says, “moved to Los Angeles and now I’m living in Detroit, just moved here. I’ve been a fan of Tobacco for a while now. All his people are super chill, they’re awesome to work with and I’m really excited about this show. We’re doing 65 shows in 70 days here this Fall, so having Tobacco in Detroit is a great way to kick things off. ”
Dino Ignagni, head of security, chimes in “Yeah, I’m also a fan of Tobacco and I love my job, so it’s gonna be a kickass night. I’m from Grosse Pointe but I’m saving up my duckets to move to Downtown Detroit. It’s getting crazy expensive to live down though here, man!”
When you go to your favorite bands show, in this case mine is Tobacco, it has the sense of re-joining a tribe of normally spread-out adherents who assemble periodically to feel real good through music. Normally you are scattered across the world and unconnected. But when your favorite musician comes to town, you’re suddenly all unified and electric, swaying to the beats together like psychedelic seaweed. One of the most meaningful rituals in the world is experiencing live music shows.
And what an incredibly diverse fanbase! Always love the variety o’ humans at a Tobacco show! The Shelter is thickly seething with Tobacco’s unpredictably eclectic fans. One man has a beard illumed by Christmas lights, there’s a red haired girl in a striped shirt and overalls who looks like a life-size Chucky doll. And some barefoot dreaded-out hippies for good measure. The guy has a single white feather in his hair and the open sky in his eyes and the girl is wearing baggy Aladdin pants with a paisley shawl over her knotted locks.
The first of two kicker acts take the stage. Odonis Odonis are from Toronto, Canada. Heavy industrial type sound, reminiscent of early Nine Inch Nails. You step on the elevator, it drops, you’re free-falling. The tunnel is swirling, the void is opening and you’re falling, falling, falling. Head banging thrasher-like, instrument infused electronica, the sonically pulverizing your solar plexus type drops and scurries.
After that, the second kicker act goes on. High Tides, a Malibu electronica duo, lay down calming beach music supplemented with hilarious surfing and homemade boating tourism videos from the 1980’s, thus providing a gentle segue into the headliners manifestation.
At 10:45pm, at long last, Tobacco and company come on-stage to wild applause. The crowd is compacting towards the front of the stage, you can feel the body-push tightening.
IFfernaut sits at the drums wearing a black skimask, Father Hummingbird is in a baseball hat hitting the gong and playing guitar, Tobacco’s woman The Seven Fields of Aphelion is on the decks behind an LED “Tobacco” sign and Tobacco himself is maskless and beardless in a baseball hat, sitting cross-legged on floor next to her.
The music is gooey, hard-hitting, space-time warping. The homemade videos, a trademark of Tobacco shows, are hilariously bizarre. Each song builds the audience up more and more and more. High-energy crowd. One fan is dancing in a neon green latex Tobacco mask. One girl is wearing a purple head dinosaur fin, another man is in a Mao hat and Phantasm hooded sweatshirt.
Tobacco mixes in some old favorites with his new album and when he plays “Constellation Dirtbike Head,” a full-contact mosh pit springs up in the front center. By the end of the show, you feel like a walking jellied piece of Creepy Crawlers Plasti-Goop, multi-colored liquefied PVC, partially melted from all the pogo-sticking jumping and headbanging around.
Tobacco has a huge following in Detroit and after a well-deserved encore, Tobacco and company exeunt stage right. The smiling audience, howling with good vibes, filters up the stairwell, gyro-coptering up and out into the Detroit night.
JobbieCrew photo gallery of TOBACCO live in Detroit: