Almost Free takes Detroit style to Lansing


For former Lansing resident Ben Keeler, the front man of Ben Keeler and the 500 Club, Saturday’s show at The Loft in Lansing, was a reunion among old friends.

“There’s always this funny feeling you have when you come home,” Keeler said. “But it’s always a good time, and you see a lot of good friends.”

The band performed as the opening act at The Loft, 414 E. Michigan Ave., for Detroit natives Almost Free, a three-member group complete with shredding guitar and the occasional ring of a synthesizer. Although Keeler said the crew comes back to Lansing to perform at least twice a year, it was Almost Free’s first show at The Loft.

The trio released its first EP, “Modern Mistakes,” in 2009, and recently released a full-length album, “The Mirror Stage,” in November. Almost Free’s front man Andy Bird said although numbers at the show were a bit lackluster, sometimes it comes with the territory.

“Sometimes it’s a full house, and sometimes it’s a really good practice space,” Bird joked. “It’s so hard to be a band in Detroit, where they’re a dime a dozen … The business is so cutthroat.”

Despite the show’s turnout, Chris Vertigo, Almost Free’s manager, said it’s important for the band to reach outside of their Metro Detroit roots.

“Instead of staying where they’re from, the entire state of Michigan is a go-to place,” Vertigo said. “Why not show their music to every possible person?”

Bird said even though he doesn’t always have time to fully immerse himself in Detroit’s music scene, he said it has evolved since their emergence as a band.

“More bands are gravitating away from the minimalist garage bands to a more electronic sound,” he said. “Techno started in Detroit, so it’s really no surprise.”

When it comes to the difference in industries, Keeler said it’s only a matter of time before the change spreads to Greater Lansing and across the nation.

“There’s a really cool thing going on in Detroit right now,” he said. “I hope that it’s enough in itself to support itself.”

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