Saving Throw, Nick Johnston, David Maxim Micic, and Plini @ The Loving Touch in Ferndale, MI

Review & Photography by: Emily Veillette

Being a fan of instrumental music myself, I knew I was in for a treat this night. The lineup included four instrumental acts, so the only sing-alongs were to the instrument’s melody. The show was close to being sold out. Over 300 fans were packed into the intimate venue by the end of the night, it was awesome.

Much of the crowd arrived early to catch Saving Throw, a local band that was selected to open up the show. Saving Throw is an instrumental progressive rock band that is fairly new to the scene. Already though, they have released an E.P titled The Ragtag EP and a full length album titled Roll Initiative. As soon as they started playing, the energy in the room increased dramatically. Each member of the 3-piece band stood out musically, combining heavy and fast paced elements. Their already growing fan base cheered them on for the whole set, and with good reason because their music and performance was fantastic. Saving Throw played songs from their recent album as well as new music, so a new album may be expected.

Next to the stage was Nick Johnston, a Canadian rock guitarist. Johnston has released four albums and has been featured on several artist’s albums including Periphery, Intervals, Polyphia, and more. Although he was not the main act, it was clear most of the crowd was already educated on his guitar playing. Johnston is known among guitar lovers because he has mastered it. His performance consisted of wailing guitar solos, soft melodies, and a slight Spanish vibe throughout. Possibly having an early blues influence, Johnston left his rock sound for one song to play a blues-heavy tune that the crowd received very well. As expected from an instrumental performance, each song must have been at least 6 minutes long. Sure, some long songs feel like they drag on forever, but Johnston kept the crowd fully engaged with his talent.

Following Nick Johnston was David Maxim Micic, a progressive metal guitarist from Serbia. Micic has total of 7 E.P and L.P releases, with the latest being Who Bit the Moon. Not to my surprise, the crowd also warmly welcomed Micic, indicating they had done their fair share of listening before the event. A funny interaction between him and the crowd happened after a fan asked what his band name is. They were unsure how to pronounce his last name. Micic responded humorously by telling everyone they had to stick around until the end of the set to find out. His set consisted of heavy and atmospheric guitar backed with deep bass and drums. There was an interesting mix of intensity and relaxation coming from the stage which was a beautiful thing to experience. Micic is as chill as they come. His movements were calm and he was dressed in a hood. It seemed like the only thing he was focused on was his guitar. To end the set he introduced himself, as promised, and cranked out a song at least ten minutes long.

Last up was the main act, Plini, who is an Australian metal and progressive rock guitarist. The cool thing about instrumentalists, is that they often don’t fall under one genre. Plini’s music, along with the other acts, also includes hints of jazz, blues, math rock, fushion, and the list goes on. This tour was Plini’s first headlining tour in support of his debut album, Handmade Cities. His other releases include three E.P’s and a handful of singles. On stage, Plini perfectly executed his independently written music with the help of drummer Troy Wright, bassist Simon Grove, and guitarist Jake Howsam Lowe. Plini’s performance was a combination of heavy, fast paced, atmospheric, melodic, and climactic notes. Listening to Plini live was almost like an out of body experience. His unique sound has a way of making me, and I’m sure others, feel like they are flying through space. What else could a person ask for from a musician? Well there was one thing. Plini called out an audience member who asked him simply for more. He did not want the music to stop. Later Plini got the crowd to chant more, more, more, in a humorous way. The engagement between the crowd and Plini was quite funny. The ongoing joke for the night came about when a fan yelled out “you’re the loving touch!” after Plini mentioned the venue’s name. The simple, yet hilarious response from Plini was, “no, we’re the loving touch”, pointing to everyone in the room. Jokes aside, the set was concluded with amazing performances of fan favorites Paper Moon and Away. The final touch was the welcoming of Nick Johnston and David Maxim Micic back to the stage to partake in a massive jam session. To many of the fan’s delight, the performers stuck around for casual conversation and photos ops.

If you would like to learn more about these artists click the links below!

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