Editor’s Note: A Daily staff member performed at this concert, but was not involved in the creation, production or publication of this piece..
Punk-soaked indie-rock band Luna Pier may have formed last August, but they’re far from newbies when it comes to the local Ann Arbor concert circuit. In fact, the Ann Arbor and Detroit-based band have already performed at beloved local venue The Blind Pig four times since their inception last summer. The multi-talented band consists of LSA sophomores Dexter Kaufmann on guitar and Alex Calderwood on drums and piano, recent UM transfer Marcus Hoh on rhythm guitar, and Wayne State junior Joey Shuster on bass. In an interview with The Michigan Daily ahead of a performance at The Blind Pig, the musicians explained how they became Luna Pier:
“We were roommates,” Kaufmann said, waving at Calderwood, “and then I was in another band with Joey for a while,” Calderwood continued. “I just joined a bit ago, in October,” Hoh added.
Kaufmann, Calderwood and Shuster first performed as Groupchat at last year’s Artscapade, the annual Welcome Week event hosted by Arts at Michigan and the University of Michigan Museum of Art (UMMA). Eventually, the trio settled on Luna Pier, a name that comes with a story.
Calderwood explained, “I drove all the way to Toledo to buy some Waffle House just to do it. It was so stormy on the way back that I had to pull off the road, and stopped at this town called Luna Pier because it had a cool name. He added: “It’s right by the lake, and the fog was coming in, and it was amazing, the perfect atmosphere, and I was thinking about the name on the way back and I was like, ‘You know what, that would make a great band name.
Thanks to Waffle House, Luna Pier came to fruition and has been busy ever since. The patchwork quad named both alt-rock band Ween and free-form rock chameleon Frank Zappa as influences for their sound, an eclectic mix of contemporary indie and high-energy punk-rock. It’s the perfect kind of music for house shows and close-knit local venues. When asked what they loved most about these intimate settings, Luna Pier praised the sense of community within Ann Arbor’s music scene.
“It’s really a community-oriented place, you know? These are people from the community playing for the members of the community. There’s a nice energy to be here and play for your friends,” Calderwood said.
Praising The Blind Pig in particular, Shuster shared, “My favorite part of it was the sound guy… He’s fantastic. He took the time to mount my cabinet mic and take a direct signal from my amplifier, which never happens with most sound technicians.
This aforementioned attention to detail and cozy atmosphere was palpable on the night of the Luna Pier performance on February 5. The evening began with LSA sophomore Aneesa Sheikh, whose country-pop flair and cover of Dolly Parton’s “Jolene” was enthusiastically received by the crowd.
Next came LSA junior and Daily member Cece June, a folk-pop talent with a jaw-dropping voice and an equally jaw-dropping collection of original songs. UM alum Jacob Sigman was the final opening act, delivering an upbeat pop about love, global warming and Pete Davidson’s weird looks.
When Luna Pier finally took the stage, they began with an electric rendition of DEVO’s “Uncontrollable Urge,” a lead intro into what would be a dynamic set. Between an array of punk-inspired originals, the band intertwined elements of indie-rock and even country into their repertoire. The song “Jewish Cowboy” proved to be a highlight, mixing twangy instrumentals and goofy storytelling over Kaufmann’s harmonica accompaniment.
They covered Harry Nilsson’s “Coconut” and My Chemical Romance’s “Teenagers” to a perfect and unexpected ending, reinforcing the band’s ability to transition easily between genres. It’s obvious to any viewer that Luna Pier knows how to have fun on stage, feeding off of each other’s energy during performances and eager to share the good times with their audience as well.
Luna Pier is an exciting addition to Ann Arbor’s student music scene with an undoubtedly bright and boisterous future ahead of them.
Follow them on Instagram to stay up to date with upcoming performances and releases.
Nora Lewis, daily arts writer, can be reached at [email protected]