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Traveling for the music: The Detroit experience

by Baylie Clevenger The sun is bright and happy; almost seeming to foreshadow the night ahead. The road is bumpy on the way out of Muncie, but we don’t mind.  250 miles. 100 miles. 50 Miles until we reach our destination. Zero miles. We’re here—only a few hours until the lights, laughs, and loud sounds. We’re in Detroit and we came for the music. 

Here we go again

The hostel set the scene for the city around us with lockers that had stickers from different radio stations. Image by Baylie Clevenger
I am no stranger to traveling for concerts—camping out for hours just to get front row, losing my mind when the artist finally comes on stage—it’s all at the core of some of my foundational memories. So, when a friend asked if I wanted to go to Detroit to see The True Blue, a band I barely knew, of course I had to say yes.  We booked a hostel; a room with ten other people and bunk beds would await us. The tickets were only $10, and there is nothing more tempting than that.  Two weeks after we booked the room, we packed our duffle bags and waved a temporary goodbye to Muncie as it got smaller in the distance. The drive there is always the best part—the excitement, the laughs, and the memories start here.  From the passenger seat, I felt the bond between my travel companions and I grow. We shared music, laughs, and stories on the way there. That’s really the only way to truly get to know someone; trap yourself in a car with them for three and a half hours. 

Music + Memories 

While scarfing down vegan food, we sat outside the venue in what felt like an alternate reality. Snow flurries whirred around us—none of us wearing coats as not to ruin our carefully-planned outfits—and the lead singer of the headlining group appeared in the distance, walking down the sidewalk right toward us. In a rush my friend who prompted this trip—the one who spent years waiting to see his band—practically threw herself over the outside railing to ask, “Are you Christian?” 
The Mouths performed a unique mix of alternative and country music before The True Blue took the stage.
Image by Baylie Clevenger
After a confused yes, he removed his air pods and gladly agreed to a photo. Christian was giddy that we had traveled all this way just to see his band perform.  The venue was also a bowling alley and in the midst of the hustle and bustle of Detroit nightlife, we found ourselves upstairs in a large room with a bar and overhead lighting. A multitude of blue LED lights shining at different brightness set the scene. The opening acts felt like a fever dream. One of them sang sweet little tunes-- just him and his keyboard. The final opener; however, performed twangy tunes with a cowboy hat and a violin. All of the music I heard that night is so ingrained into my brain. The excitement leading up to the headlining performance was incredible, but I will never forget the sound of the violin and twangy vocals that set the crowd up.  All of my memories from that night are so vivid, and concert memories always are. I cannot recall a concert where I did not feel entirely absorbed by the atmosphere. To me, these are the best memories. 

The truest blue

Christian Koo, the lead singer of The True Blue, captivated the audience with emotional vocals.
Image by Baylie Clevenger
The True Blue finally took the stage around 11 pm. They captivated the audience with their dramatic scenery and emotional lyrics. It was a soft but impactful daydream.  I kept snapping photos of my friend who had this ridiculous, cheesy smile on her face as she watched one of her favorite bands.  The end of the night brought us out of the venue and to a magical little bakery where we shared sleepy smiles and a few pastries.  Back at the hostel, we sat in the common areas with snacks and glasses of wine, looking at the ridiculous photos and videos we collected as souvenirs. The night soon drifted away in a drowsy wind.  We spent too much money and slept too few hours. None of that matters. Nothing can remove the memory of singing, dancing, and laughing through a show we traveled 500 miles total for. 
Images: Baylie Clevenger Featured Image: Baylie Clevenger