Lately, I’ve felt as if my shindigs have been becoming increasingly more and more successful but I have to level with you, my parties very well might have reached their pinnacle of awesomeoness with the New Year’s Ultraparty. It was named as such because of the featured band The Ultrasounds and boy, let me tell you that this was most certainly, at many times, the party that we all thought would never happen. Planned specifically around the fact that our Chicago friends The Ultrasounds were in town, our private, speakeasy-themed New Year’s bash was plagued by last minute venue changes, personal drama, and all sorts of other craziness but when the proverbial clock struck twelve, all of my friends and I rang in 2012 at the most massively successful party ever.
There’s a lot I can tell you about New Year’s Eve. I can tell you how great Nora’s cleared out living room was as a makeshift stage. I can tell you how amazing it was to be surrounded at all times by my friends, a handful of which are very talented musicians who were there specifically to play an awesome house show for all of my friends that aren’t very talented musicians. I can tell you how we were loud and young and stupid and drunk and I can tell you that the cops did not get called a single time. What I can’t tell you, however, is the one thing I’d love to tell you: How great The Ultrasounds were. I mean, by the time the band actually started playing, I was totally peaking, a term which here has nothing to do with drugs whatsoever. Thankfully, however, I’ve seen The Ultrasounds a number of times in the past, dating back to just over a year ago when my friend (and co-party planner) Matt forcibly made me listen to the band because they were “just so rad.” Thankfully, Matt is one of those people whose taste can be trusted, especially so far as music is concerned so it was only natural that I loved The Ultrasounds. Before long, the band became my friends too. When the opportunity arose to plan my New Year’s party around an Ultrasounds live show (the band was in town to play the Michigan-themed bash, Mittenfest), I was super stoked because I knew it wasn’t going to be my usual party. It was gonna be much more epic.
See, the thing about me that you might have picked up on is that I’m a pretty big folk music fan. Naturally, this means “Amber party” bands are usually much more in the vein of past party players The Appleseed Collective than, you know, Pantera. This is all well and good but nothing livens things up like a change of pace and I was pretty gung ho about making n.y.e. rocking enough to put Dick Clark to shame. Naturally, what I’m getting at here is the fact that there’s nothing folky about The Ultrasounds. I mean, there might have been a smoke machine in their living room show! I say “might” because I know there was going to be a smoke machine but I don’t remember if it happened or not. Regardless, nothing says “rock and roll” like a power trio of jean-clad Midwestern kids with a smoke machine and a tight, psychedelic sound.
The Ultrasounds hail from Michigan but have since emigrated to Chicago. Funnily enough, I lived in Chicago while they were doing time in the live circuit of Michigan basements and dive bar venues so I didn’t get hip to the band until after they departed the mitten. This bums me out because The Ultrasounds have sort of got a Black-Keys-in-1960s-Britain feel about them that is basically impossible to hate on. In the time since their debut album was recorded, The Ultrasounds have cultivated a much expanded sound with spacey guitars from Patrick Conway, beastly drumming from mega babe Sara Kay and some seriously atmospheric keys from frontman Chris Gilbert. Give Up The Fight, the three piece’s debut, is a solid album but it pales in comparison to what you can expect from the forthcoming release Phases, to be released digitally on February 1. Honestly, if you can keep from developing a megacrush on Gilbert after listening to “Stray,” you’re a stronger person than I.
Oh, did I mention that “Stray” is available for free download on the band’s website? Because it totally is. And it’s a jam so you should all make like Donna from Parks & Rec and get it.
After The Ultrasounds played and we all toasted 2012 with swigs from various bottles of classy beverages, The Appleseed Collective got out their gear and played some old timey tunes that aided and abetted our loose speakeasy theme (Hey, I mean, like five of us dressed up. That’s something!). As if an encore performance from my favorite Michigan band wasn’t enough, afterward DJ Paw Paw danced us in to 2012 and I literally boogied until my feet bled and I felt like I was having heart palpitations. But what did I care? It really was the best party ever.
Next time in My Rock ‘n’ Roll Lifestyle, it’s time for tour prep! That’s right, guys! Amber’s gonna be hitting the road!