"It's all new songs. All of them," Lo-Fi Bri yells to me, looking at the band. He's smiling, bewildered, camera in hand. I know. I saw them a month ago at the CAID, where the above pic was taken.
Let's scroll back a little here. I could give you the entire history of the Rogue Satellites, besides parts of 2010 and 2011. Everything that band did for most of its history, I knew about. But I'll truncate that history: a drummer and a singer-songwriter played around with a synth way back in fall of 2007. There were beers, tears, many late-night loft practices, apartment fires, marriages, marriage proposals, divorces, mini-tours, stolen cars, projections, and Pictionary games that followed, speckled with dirge-y two-piece pop-rock that would wake up in a bar called a "coffee" shop in the morning sun. There was a bassist for a while. Then there was a keyboardist-singer, and then the drummer quit, so the band had made its way back to a two-piece, in a different form, in late 2009. Another drummer dabbled for a while. Then the keyboardist-singer parted ways as well, and for a moment the Rogue Satellites were singular.
Then, a very fierce and unexperienced woman named Lisa was (as I understand it) coaxed into doin' a little auxiliary work, and, unsure as she was, started practicing intensely on vocals, glockenspiel (as I like to call it, "the glock") and tambourine. The first time I saw this incarnation of them, I must admit, I was disappointed--perhaps mostly because of my history--at the stripped down and awkwardly performed songs. Too slow; little zygotes of songs; and being in the cold, decidedly silent Trumbullplex didn't help. But I did notice that this woman, who had never considered singing in front of people before, had quite a sweet voice, that might actually grow to compliment Jaye's. That was in October.
Last month the Rogue Satellites closed an art show at the ever-interesting Contemporary Art Institute of Detroit. And they really blew me away. The songs that seemed to trudge in fragments before, now held together nicely, varied in atmosphere, tempo, melody. Jaye's insistence on barre chords had matured into the use of a heavily effected bass played as a rhythm guitar. Lisa, so unsure and quiet in October, now shone, perfectly complimenting Jaye with her voice and getting there with stage presence. The parts are very specific and seem to be painstakingly mechanically written, but they work, especially with the moods of the music.
So I saw them again last night at the art/music studio space they rent in Corktown (appropriately called Corktown Studios), with two other incredible bands. Though some more animation would be good for Lisa, the subtlety and serious calm of her confidence really works well with the darker, crafted music. It was great. They've worked very hard and it's paid off.
The Rogue Satellites have really grown in the last few months, and I would suggest anyone who hasn't seen them lately, or at all, should go out and see their next show. I don't know when that will be, but you can keep up with them on le facebook. I mean, they make Lo-Fi Bri excited, so that should be enough for you.