Saturday, February 10, 2007

The Toledo Sound?

My quest to define the musical sound being produced in different Midwestern cities continues. This will also include Toledo.
I know, you are already saying, "Toledo? (double take) Wait, did you say Toledo?? That's where they make Jeeps, isn't it?"
Yes. But I think Jeep shut its factory down.
In its defense, Toledo actually has a personality (Cleveland, you could take some notes). For the most part, the people there are really nice and diverse. Sadly enough, however, Toledo stole most of its personality from Detroit. They can't help it, Toledo is just the only big city located south. Detroit bands HAVE to play there, unless they have a boat.
I'd like to explain the Toledo sound by comparing it to Katie Holmes, now Katie Cruise. She is from Toledo. She was a pretty good actress, but she got a bit too hung up in the kiss-ass lifestyle of Hollywood. Somehow that paid off and she latched on to Tom Cruise's leg. She grew up a nice Midwestern Catholic girl, who decided to take her personality, wipe her dirty butt with it, then throw it away. Now she's with Scientology's new Jesus Christ and became a Stepford Wife. That passion is still in her, I think, but she just gave up.
Enter Toledo.
Once a bustling metropolis, it rusted out. The downtown is now a shit hole. It used to be cool. Most of the suburbs are downright dangerous because of drunk drivers and some weird law to have most roads 25 mph.
It's just frustrating because original music is alive and well in Toledo. There are a ton of great bands like Sangsara (now on hiatus), A.M. Error, The Homeville Circle, The Drawers, Infinite Number of Sounds, Fast Piece of Furniture (Jeff Nelson of Minor Threat's band), Che Guitara's GLAMtasm, Muschi, Boogaloosa Prayer, The Anti-Villains, Rooted Truth, Rediscover. There are also great venues like Mickey Finn's Pub (my favorite), The Underground, Headliners, The Masonic. You also have organizers like Taking on Explosives ( setting up shows (although, I recall they seem kind of stuck on making bands pre-sell tickets, which I'm totally against).
I'd explain the sound going on right now to be somewhere between a low key 80s synth vibe (but the cool vibe from the late 80s, like Echo and the Bunnymen) mixed with some kind of retro tough surf music thing and another side angle of rootsy psychedelic folk. There's also a cool blues and jazz scene, but I'm focused on indie rock.
I guess Toledo just doesn't try hard enough? So it allows itself to be overpowered by Detroit. The worst example was when Swing music broke in the 1990s. Detroit is to blame for that one. Maybe Chicago too, but I digress. I guess the whole thing was fun while it lasted. It brought a ton of people out to the bars, for a change. People started dancing again. But it also gave some an excuse to become walking cliches, like people who wear Misfits leather jackets - except it was zoot suits.
So my advice to Toledo, is the same advice I would give Katie Holmes:
Don't give up, girl. Fight it! I see the passion in you. It's like a beautiful ornate lamp someone covered with a blanket.


Kyrux said...

Well, we appreciate the attempt, but I think you more than missed the mark. You glossed over a few of the lengthy historical points that contribute to where we are musically and underestimate Toledo's place in the Industrial Midwest. There is obvious Detroit influence - a lot of good damn music has come from that city - but at the same time there is a rebellion ... admittedly maybe not unlike a kid trying to outgrow his older, cooler brother's shadow ... But, those influences and rejections are what define our sound.

This is obviously a couple years old, as places like the The Underground sadly don't exist anymore, but nonetheless, you still hit on most of Toledo's best bands. Though, I feel the descriptions were a tad lacking and your mission of defining the "Toledo sound" wasn't ever quite achieved. I don't hold it against you though ... it's really not something you can put your finger on.

Again, thanks and come back again. While you're here, enjoy being a city with some of the coolest bands in the world, and virtually no coherent scene behind them.

Oh, and Katie Holmes? Nice try ... but we like to try to forget about that. Except that movie where she shows her ta-tas.

Christopher Animalhead said...

Granted I did this post about a year ago. Things have kind of changed since then.
But I totally have to disagree with you that I missed the mark. The way I look at each city isn't from a focused point. I'm looking at Toledo as it sits in relation to music scenes of the entire region. I ask myself, "What does Toledo offer that no one else does?"
The fact is that there is a glaring trend, spanning back the past 20 years, with Detroit or Chicago starting a trend and Toledo picking up on it years after the fact. So if anything, this is what has defined Toledo's overall sound.
Updating this post, I have noticed a more modern trend of Toledo becoming more into the Stylex sort of sound. That is a new branch to the city's history. But it's only a more pop and modern step from Industrial Tech that prevailed in Detroit years ago. So arguably Toledo is still getting their sounds from somewhere else.
And seriously, if you are convinced I have missed the mark PLEASE post bands from Toledo present and past that I need to know about. This whole project is about really getting to know every city in the Midwest. I don't know everything.