Whether you bleed Maze and Blue or you are a Michigan import, one thing that seems to bring all of Ann Arbor together and the thriving music scene. Ann Arbor has evolved into a mecca of influence in both the music and artistic genre. Today, we are going to cover the top 5 influential bands that have left an impact on Ann Arbor over the last 2 decades. Much like the Electoral College, we generated 1,000 different votes from various counties in Ann Arbor to come up with this list by asking participants to vote for their top 3 bands over the last 20 years and to select one the song that most inspired them to cast their vote. We will provide the list in reverse order starting with number 5 and leading to number 1 on our list along with a link to the song most selected via a YouTube link. Before we get into the top 5 list, the following bands made honorable mention: Don Blum and Deniz Tek. Both native products of Ann Arbor, these two artists did generate a lot of attention. Popular commercial bands such as “Brand New” and “Goldfinger” also made some noise on our list. With that said, let’s take a look at the top 5 bands according to our polls:
5. “The 1984 Draft” A surprising entry into the top 5, the Ohio band received 10 first place votes. The group gained fame with their appearance in the NFL Networks “Caught in the Draft” special which was dedicated to the 1984 NFL Draft. One of the more interesting bands that has developed a major following in Ohio but has not had an impact on the national scene. Surprisingly, many University of Michigan Alums have travelled to the “Horseshoe” to watch Michigan play the Ohio Buckeyes and have stated that despite their hostility towards Ohio State they have had a lot of respect for “The 1984 Draft”. The one song that seemed to draw them in was “Scarlet and Cream” which was filed in Lincoln, Nebraska. The lead singer Joe Anderl is said to be a huge Nebraska Cornhuskers fan and this song is to honor the school’s football program. To view the video on YouTube go to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F_Q6f2SQTrY. The bands website is located at: https://the1984draft.bandcamp.com/.
4. My Chemical Romance The New Jersey product was born in 2001 and had an amazing run until they decided to breakup in 2013. With powerful lyrics produced by lead singer Gerard Way, “My Chemical Romance” (MCR) was arguably the top band in the country in the 2006-2008 era. MCR gained acclaim with their albums “Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge” and “The Black Parade”. The Ann Arbor college and graduate community was hooked on MCR for many years and despite the band breaking up they still have a strong following and garnered nearly 200 first place votes. The one song that surprisingly captured the attention of our community was one of their first songs, “Early Sunsets Over Monroeville” which can be heard here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q0NERhGOr2w. You can visit the band at: www.mychemicalromance.com.
3. Hawthorne Heights
The Dayton, Ohio product that started their climb to success as “A Day in the Life” when they broke onto the scene in 2001 has sustained an amazing amount of commercial and local success. While many will be surprised that a second Ohio band made our list, there is no question that “Hawthorne Heights” has attained more commercial success that most bands throughout the country. A unique sound, “Hawthorne Heights” has been described as a hybrid between rock and alternative music. The impact left upon the Ann Arbor community is undeniable. As Brent Largey, a lifelong Ann Arbor resident said, “Hawthorne Heights” is one of the most powerful bands the Midwest has ever seen”. Hawthorne Heights grabbed 253 votes in our poll. The one song (though it was a tossup) that seemed to influence our community the most was “Four White Walls” which can be heard here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qs-M_EmVXH4. The bands website is located at: http://www.hawthorneheights.com/.
2. Blink 182 While it is hard to believe, “Blink 182” has been around for over 20 years. The band started its career in 1992 when they were simply known as “Blink” and were a constant until a breakup in 2005 only to reunite in 2009. Most people said they grew addicted to “Blink 182” when their first commercial hit “Dammit” hit the music scene in 2000. Patrick Crespin, a former Michigan student whom now works in Portland, Oregon stated, “In college, if you were at a party there is no question Blink was a part of it. Like most of us, the band has evolved over time and they have had amazing staying power. I still sing Dammit at karaoke”!!! Not surprising, “Dammit” was the song that most captured the attention of the bands Ann Arbor fans. Here is a link to the famed video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sT0g16_LQaQ and here is their website: http://www.blink182.com/. “Blink 182” received near 300 first place votes I our poll.
1. Lucky Boys Confusion Lucky Boys Confusion (LBC) is a band that was born in the suburbs of Chicago in 1997. While they never achieved the fame they deserved in their younger years, their 2017 release “STORMCHASERS” captured nation attention by breaking into the top 20. Krista Larwood, a pharmacist that lived in Dexter and Ann Arbor during her academic career was quoted as saying, “It’s hard to believe that our generation has grown up with LBC. I remember driving through the snow of Ann Arbor to hear them play at the “House of Blues” in Chicago. The new album is absolutely amazing and my whole family is in love with the album but the one song that made us all long for LBC was “Fred Astaire”. “Fred Astaire” was on the 2001 album “Throwing the Game” and while the band has publicly stated that the album was a commercial failure, it has grown in popularity throughout the years. To listen to “Fred Astaire” go to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MzX6I9lcwYM. To learn more about the band and their new release STORMCHASERS, visit: https://www.luckyboysconfusion.net/. In what many may consider an upset, LBC received more than 300 votes in our poll to be ranked our most influential band of Ann Arbor over the last 20 years.
All of these bands and so many not listed have left a profound effect on our community. What is so incredible about the bands on this list is how they have sustained success for over 2 decades when most groups have not lasted more than 2 years. Give us your thoughts on your favorite bands and look for future polls on our site. William Amadeo is a partner at the law firm Ann Arbor Legal with Matthew McManus in Ann Arbor, Michigan. William is also an Associate Attorney for Grabel and Associates and runs BAT Tutoring in Lansing, Michigan with fellow attorney Ashley Johnson. He can be reached at: Amadeo@McManuspllc.com.