Tents, food trucks and a pop-up biergarten will take over Ferndale this weekend for the city’s Pig & Whiskey fest, but there’s more to the event than booze and barbecue. It’s also a three-day showcase for local music.
Thirty regional acts will be lining up to perform this weekend, either outdoors between the W.A.B. (Woodward Avenue Brewers) and the Emory (on Troy Street) or later at afterparties at the nearby Loving Touch.
The two high-energy headliners are the Electric Six, the always well-received hell raisers of electro-rock and dance-metal, and Laith Al-Saadi, the blues troubadour who won national attention as a finalist last year on “The Voice.”
Pig & Whiskey was launched in 2010 just as food trucks were catching on locally. This year’s menu includes barbecue from 18 local restaurants, including Zeke’s Rock ‘n’ Roll BBQ and Slows Bar BQ in Detroit. On tap: a dozen local breweries, including like Short’s and B. Nektar, and more than 70 distilleries offering multiple varieties of whiskey.
The free, all-ages fun will start at 6 p.m. Friday as Pig & Whiskey kicks off its eighth year. In honor of the occasion, here are eight of this year’s top musical acts.
The High Strung (outdoor stage): This well-oiled machine makes power-pop anthems featuring kinetic percussion, expressive bass grooves and four-part (sometimes five-part) harmonies. It’s impossible not to get amped up for rousing jams like “Luck You Got” or “Standing at the Door of Self-Discovery.”
The Erers (Loving Touch afterparty): The Erers will just run you over with volume. The tidal crash of feedback-fringed riffs and howling choruses blends the ferocity of something like metal with the brash vibes of garage rock. The group also has quite a presence. Expect a predominantly black wardrobe, long hair, growling guitars, melodically snarled vocals, heavy drumming and some soul-shaking distortion blasting from the amps.
Libby DeCamp (outdoor stage): DeCamp is a rising star in the roots, Americana and folk scene. Raised near Romeo, the 21-year-old troubadour who now calls Detroit home has an angelic voice that’s augmented by a blend of guitars (and occasionally a banjo). It sometimes seems to belong to another era, specifically the 1930s and ’40s and the heyday of Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger. DeCamp is definitely an artist to watch in the year ahead.
Laith Al-Saadi (outdoor stage): Al-Saadi has a gruff, growling voice that’s perfect for the blues, but he sweetens it when he turns his attention to soul singing. His signature guitar style can be refined and stately like Mark Knopfler’s or intense like Jimi Hendrix’s. Al-Saadi is a crowd pleaser who made it to the final four on the 10th season of NBC’s “The Voice.”
Rah the Son (Loving Touch afterparty): Rah the Son is the recording and performing moniker of Detroit pop-fusionist Rahbi Hammond, who has a soul-R&B voice and delivery that sometimes suggests the flow of hip-hop. Bass and drums as well as some dreamy synthesizer vibes are prevalent on his summery tracks. The performer’s background in theater augments his stage presence, and he uses it to compel audiences to dance. His funk song “Sunny Detroit” is a bit of a party starter.
Eleanora (outdoor stage): With baroque elements like violins and a rhythm section that suggests R&B, Eleanora brings a refreshing elegance to its rock music. The subtly dazzling guitars can break loose into some sweet shredding, but the radiant, soulful harmonies of singers Leah Woods and Julia Stephenson are the heart of the group.
Earth Engine (outdoor stage): This ensemble is on a mission to aggressively renovate the possibilities of rock music with multiple guitars, bass, keyboards, harmonies and inventive arrangements. Its sound has the freeness of jazz, the esoteric textures of psychedelia and the unpredictability of prog-rock. The group’s wild musical rides can hit the 5-, 6- or 7-minute mark, but just go with it. These young players will guide you on a new kind of trip.
Palaces (Loving Touch afterparty): Pig & Whiskey’s 2017 lineup is rich in folk, blues and Americana, but Palaces is an act for the avant-garde indie rockers in the audience. The young duo dresses its propulsive, woozy rock riffs with lots of dreamy distortion and reverb. Its performance is a must-see for lovers of thick guitar drones and layered effects.
Pig & Whiskey
6 p.m.-midnight Fri., 11 a.m.-midnight Sat., 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Sun.
East 9 Mile & East Troy
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