Detroit’s Hell City Records celebrates five years of releasing some of Detroit’s most invigorating records with the return of synth-laced emocore outfit Brave Rifles (pictured), performing together Friday for the first time since late 2008.
Since 2005, Jason Lockwood, of the now-defunct Idle Kids Books and Records, along with Robert Enell has been throwing muscle behind some of Detroit’s most promising acts, releasing records from the Amino Acids, the Hadituptoheres, the Casionauts, the Blackbird Suite and more. Recently Hell City expanded to a distribution company, cataloging records by some of Detroit’s more capable heavy hitters such as Hellmouth, Today I Wait and the Grande Nationals, along with Woodbridge Records’ complete discography. “From years of playing music and working with other bands I quickly learned how difficult it can be to get your music pressed and distributed. Our main reason for starting the record label was to help these bands in any way we can.”
Reflecting on the momentum that has been driving fans away from record stores in droves, Lockwood admits that it’s now more difficult than ever to keep an independent label alive. “The music industry has gone mostly digital, so running a record label is becoming a challenge. Not that it wasn’t before, but it is definitely harder now. It’s also very frustrating trying to get people out to the shows. In Detroit it is a huge problem because of an oversaturation of music. On any given night there are multiple shows of similar genres around the city. It makes it difficult to pay bands and without some money bands don’t survive.”
Claims Lockwood, everything is worthwhile “when you finally hold that CD or record in your hand knowing how hard that everyone has worked to write, record and produce it. Plus watching the bands evolve and progress is amazing to be a part of. My favorite part has always been seeing them perform live. Sometimes you can almost see the energy that connects the band and the crowd.” Considering Brave Rifles’ extended severance from the stage, plenty of energy will likely be circulating Small’s on Friday night.
Hell City Records Showcase w/ Brave Rifles, The A Gang, Noman, Benedict Arnold (St. Louis), The Blacklist, The Eeks • 7/2, 8 p.m. • Small’s • 10339 Conant, Hamtramck • 313.873.1117 • hellcitydetroit.com • $10 • All Ages
photo by Hellcat Kelly