VIDEO: La Dispute at the Howell Opera House, November 22, 2008
7 1/2 years ago, the group that would eventually become Fusion Shows first hosted the band La Dispute. I can remember it very clearly. LD drummer Brad Van Der Lugt had been filling in on drums for a radio rock band called Broken Sunday, and for a few years, we had been bringing them to Livingston County. He kept telling me “we’ll have to get my actual band out here someday”. Eventually, we worked it out, and we added the band on to open Monte’s EP release party at the Howell Opera House on September 29, 2006. Also on the crazy multi-genre bill were Bringing Down Broadway, Tips, Apathy For An Enemy, and The Story Changes.
They arrived first, before any of the other bands. The band that was scheduled to play first that night was running late, so I made La Dispute play first. I did so many awful things to bands in those days, I didn’t really know what the hell I was doing. There was probably 20 people in the room when they played (the show ended up selling out, but it was late arriving crowd - ahhhh the good ol days), and La Dispute ripped through a short set of what was likely songs from their Vancouver EP.
We brought them back to play the two biggest Blue Collar Booking shows in 2007, kind of as an “I’m sorry”, and also because I really liked them, both as musicians and as people. They played the February SayHy Radio birthday bash with The Hard Lessons, The Killing Moon, Ender, and more, and then played at Skate-A-Que at Meijer Park that summer. I remember watching their mid-afternoon set at Skate-A-Que, and Jordan noticed someone with their back turned to them, chatting with a friend while they played, so he snuck up behind him, jammed the microphone in the unsuspecting dude’s pocket, latched onto his leg like a toddler getting a free ride, and screamed lyrics through the dude’s jeans and into his leg. It was one of the funniest moments I can ever remember at a show, but also just showed a showmanship that can exist even in a band with such a great punk, DIY ethic.
From those high-energy sets, we built the band to eventually be able to sell out a series of two Opera House shows, that rank among some of my favorite memories to this date as a promoter. On one of them, my mom showed up to the show, and if any of you know my mom, she’s not one for loud music or whatever. But she showed up randomly just to say hello right before La Dispute went to go on stage. I told her “Mom, you have to experience this band”. I gave her a pair of earplugs, and she stood with me behind the band on “stage” (the Opera House didn’t have a stage, just an open floor), and she refused to leave until it was over. She was really amazed to see the amazing outpouring of love and connection with the band’s lyrics that marked a La Dispute show.
Overall, tonight’s show will be the 21st show my companies have hosted with La Dispute somewhere on the bill. That includes 4 straight Bled Fests (2008-2011), opening and then headlining slots at every venue in Livingston County, headlining shows across the state, a support slot with Frank Turner (we knew that was weird, but we didn’t care), and a bunch of other shows.
So fast forward to today. The band has done it their way, all the way through. I’ve never been so proud of a band’s success, because all along the way, they’ve always taken care of everyone they come into contact with. One of the most selfless and truly team-oriented bands I know. The new record is amazing (pick it up if you haven’t already). I’m so excited to see my friends tonight, and to celebrate what live performance is all about. It’s bittersweet, because Kevin Whittemore is leaving the band after this tour, and it’ll be my last time to see him play live. I love that dude.
Thanks for being along for the ride. Let’s take care of each other tonight and have an amazing evening!