Last Night: Papercranes, 8MM at Detroit Bar

Review by Reza Allah-Bakhshi

Papercranes, 8MM
Detroit Bar
January 27, 2008

Better Than: Watching Conan O’ Brien since he grew a beard and his writers went on strike.

Download: “What’s Left.”

It was definitely one of those nights where Detroit Bar was more like a lounge.

A lone DJ stood in the corner spinning remixed funk renditions of old classics like the Beach Boys' “Good Vibrations” while scattered patrons threw back a pint of beer or sipped on wine. It was all too fitting for a show that would start out with the ethereal Nu-Jazz trio 8MM and end with the tepid wall of sound that is Papercranes.

Unannounced, 8MM stealthily crept to the stage at 10 p.m., unbeknownst to most. But within the first few seconds of “You Know,” a swath of patrons came out of their alcohol-induced daze and made their way to the front of the stage to sway and swagger to the haunting voice of Julliete Beavan.


By the time 8MM wrapped up with “Give It Up,” they had all of Detroit in their grips. I was looking forward to more, but some technical difficulties cut their set short. Their self-proclaimed “David Lynch, Aimee Mann and Portishead had a baby” sound, may be a bit overrated, but with producer/guitarist Sean Beavan having worked with NIN and Marilyn Manson, these folks are well on their way.

The crowd thinned as the Papercranes tuned up and began their set. I ordered another beer as Rain Phoenix took the mic and instantly enthralled the remaining crowd.

I still get a kick out of someone who sounds better in person than on studio recordings; it goes against the grain. The music was supercharged live, and every song built up to a massive explosion of sound. One could argue that Papercranes could get the same effect with a smaller group and a computer, and I agree, having listened to their recordings, but I'll still take watching someone play an instrument live over staring at a screen. If they could transfer the energy of their live shows to record, the Papercranes would be a force to be reckoned with.

Critic's Notebook:

Personal Bias: I’m willing to give Papercranes more credit because the late River Phoenix is Rain’s older brother.

Random Detail: 8MM attributes the technical difficulties they had to their fog machine being possessed by the Devil, or by God.

By the way: If you wanted to catch the Papercranes but couldn’t cough up eight bucks, they’ll be playing a free show at Spaceland tonight.

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