Detroit bands gather to revive 5-year film project

Chris Azzopardi
Special to The Detroit News

Local bands are getting a second chance to appear in a film that was supposed to be released five years ago.

Jesse Shepherd-Bates doesn’t know what happened to the footage from that night in 2011, when 18 Detroit-area bands descended upon PJ’s Lager House for a split-stage performance called “URGH! A Detroit Music War,” filmed with the intent of becoming a feature-length DVD. At the time, 77 backers pledged $5,428 via Kickstarter to get the project off the ground. A trailer for the movie, entitled “Everyone I Know,” named after a song by local band Lightning Love, was released. But the film itself? Nowhere to be seen.

“The idea kind of got hijacked by a local filmmaker and the film never came to fruition,” says Shepherd-Bates, 29, who, along with co-promoter Jo Champagne, began planning a five-year anniversary show in February — this time with an actual film release.

Slyly making note of the movie debacle, “Everyone I Owe,” a twist on the original title, is set to film at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday at the Loving Touch in Ferndale. Shepherd-Bates will edit the final footage from four local filmmakers into a mixed and mastered feature that will be available online, he assures, “within a few months.”

“It started as a joke,” says Shepherd-Bates of the name change. “And yeah, it’s a little sarcastic with its play on words, but also, the Satin Peaches is a band that I played in for years and that (2011 gig) was actually our last official show. We were excited because we didn’t hype it up and we were gonna have it be in this movie, and now we’re like, ‘We owe ourselves this.’ ”

The Satin Peaches played its last gig in 2011 when the “Everyone I Know” film was attempted the first time.

Twenty-three local bands are on the bill for the Loving Touch shows, which are slated to include a hodge-podge of Detroit-made sound, from the progressive-jazz-pop of Earth Engine to the electro-influenced Siamese and two-piece blues-rock group the Messenger Birds. While some originally played the Kickstarter-funded gigs in 2011, others are new to this weekend’s event.

“It’s all over the map,” Shepherd-Bates says. “And once the music starts, it never stops because it’s a two-stage deal so it ping-pongs every 15 minutes. If you stand in the middle of the floor, all you gotta do is turn around.”

One of the bands that reunited specifically for this event, Lightning Love was on board immediately. Though the minimalist keyboard-driven group hasn’t played as a trio since 2013, Leah Diehl, 30, says her brother, Aaron, “heard it was kind of a revenge show and that’s the kind of thing that motivates him.”

For the Royal Oak-based frontwoman, the show’s original inception was “a whirlwind.” In fact, the commotion was so intense the first time around, Diehl recalls the trio drinking in the parking lot to enjoy a few extra minutes of seculation before entering the packed venue.

“It was one of those shows where you can feel the floor moving because there are just so many people jumping up and down,” Diehl recalls.

For this weekend, Lightning Love will play one of the first songs the group wrote, “Everyone I Know,” along with material from the late 2000s.

“I think we’re actually gonna try to keep it nostalgic and play our older stuff — pretend it was five years ago,” Diehl says, laughing.

Chris Azzopardi is a Canton-based freelance writer.

Everyone I Owe

7 p.m. Fri. and Sat.

The Loving Touch

22634 Woodward, Ferndale

Tickets: $10 each night

(248) 820-5596

thelovingtouchferndale.com