In just a year’s span, indie genius Michigander has gone from opening up for regional favorites (see Joshua Powell’s album release show at the Hi-Fi in Indianapolis last December) to headlining comparable rooms around the country himself. However, one of his final shows of this year came as direct support for another name you may recognize, albeit for different reasons. Nearly two weeks ago I had the privilege of catching my favorite Michigander in Louisville, where he supported veteran alt-rock darlings Silversun Pickups.
While songsmith and Michigander main man Jason Singer is no doubt accustomed to playing for different audiences unfamiliar with his music by this point in his career, he doesn’t let this impact his performance or his interaction with the crowd. Rather than becoming visibly frustrated with concertgoers busy talking or distracted by their phones mid-set, he instead displays an incredible amount of grace and poise. I have to figure this is part of the reason why he is able to open for such a diverse array of artists and come away with new fans each and every time.
Of course, it helps that Michigander’s music is both catchy and profound, something I harped on in my review of his new EP Where Do We Go from Here. And although Singer’s charisma and ability can easily be heard on the EP, you will notice this right away when you’re seeing him live as well. He effortlessly engages with his audience, regardless of whether he’s the one they came to see, and this held true as the opener for Silversun Pickups too.
Singer and his backing band, who joined him on stage for the penultimate time this year, rocked all the Michigander essentials, including the majority of Where Do We Go from Here. They hit on tracks such as “Nineties” and “5am,” in addition to performing a riveting live rendition of the phenomenal Midland closer, “East Chicago, IN.” I was not the least bit surprised with how Michigander ended their set: this was my third time seeing them live in the past year, and thus my third time witnessing Singer’s brief interpolation of the Radiohead classic “Karma Police.” This time around, though, the 1997 hit led straight into current radio single “Misery,” before the trio closed with the driving singalong “Fears.”
For Michigander, their show at Louisville’s Mercury Ballroom with Silversun Pickups was simply business as usual, even if the majority of the audience was experiencing their signature indie sound for the first time. The result was quite a few locals who had come just to see SSPU leaving with Michigander merch, music, or plans to purchase the music digitally. It was cool to watch happen in real time, especially as someone who has been following Michigander’s rise all year long.