Combine Metallica–era Metallica with a healthy blend of slightly more recent metal bands like Staind and Disturbed and you’ll basically have Voodoo Lighthouse. The only problem is all three of those bands were more creative.

I saw these guys live at the Green River Café here in East Lansing last night. I suppose it was fun to ridicule post-UofM fratboys with their entourage of high school seniors, but the music left something to be desired. The highlight of the evening were their covers of the Foo Fighters and one of those catchy-but-non-descript 90s pop tunes that I can never remember the name of.

There were supposed to be two other acts, Joe Sleep and No Fat Chicks, but we didn’t see them anywhere, so we took off after Voodoo’s set.

But the whole experience got me thinking about how the venue effects the music. Would arena rock bands be as cheesy (or awesome) if they were playing in a dank bar? Does being surrounded by hippies make you feel differently about the act on stage?

The Green River Café is supposedly a little indie coffee shop, but in reality it’s a hippy/vegan/wiccan (probably) coven. I support fair-trade and organic coffee, and if people want to be vegetarians that’s all right with me, but I got the distinct sense they didn’t appreciate my leather coat. (If they’d known it’s lambskin they probably would have skinned me to see how I liked it.)

As covens tend to be, it’s also very cliquey. At least 80% of the people there all knew each other. My friends and I were very much outsiders. Of course, high school students and just-out-of-high-school 17 or 18 year old freshman who can’t go anywhere do tend to be cliquey, so it wasn’t wholly unexpected.

But I was also thinking about better venues, like St. Andrews and Magic Stick in Detroit. St. Andrews tends to attract what can best be described as mopey-semi-religious-pop-punk, bands like Mae and Gym Class Heroes and The Ataris. Magic Stick has a much more indie/post-rock line up, like Ted Leo, Blonde Redhead, and Of Montreal.

Obviously, albums are a different category. Some artists are great live and terrible on record, and vice versa. But in terms of shows, I think the venue almost matters as much as the band. It shouldn’t. Why can’t EITS play as well at St Andrews as at Magic Stick? So I’ll suck it up and go anyway and try not to let it bother me.