The title of the opening track on The Infatuations’ Detroit Block Party says it all: “Tonight We Celebrate.”
Lead singer Caleb Gutierrez yells, “Get up!” and adds, “If you came to party, you came to the right place.”“We wanted to set the tone that this is a soundtrack for party events in your life whether it’s a graduation party or wedding, just hanging out for the weekend or whatever it is, we want to be that soundtrack,” said guitarist and band co-founder Christian Draheim. “‘Tonight We Celebrate’ is a song about let’s go have a good time.
“I think so many artists are so deep and so heavy; they have so many important things to say. And at the end of the day, I started doing music because it was fun; it was a way to escape all the important, mundane stuff.”
Fans have been moving and grooving since the Motor City band’s disc dropped in May. The group’s retro-sounding modern mix of rock, Motown, soul and funk has been compared to Fitz & The Tantrums and Mayer Hawthorne.
Essential to that sound is Gutierrez’s distinctive voice.
“[Marco Lowe, band co-founder and songwriter, and I] knew we had to find the right lead singer for this project,” Draheim said. “We had come up with a description of what we should keep our eyes and ear open for: Somebody who has that power and depth of a Levi Stubbs and the full vocal range of Stevie Wonder and can get a little gritty and sound like Rob Tyner, somebody who can symbolize all these Detroit vocalists and have their on thing at the same time.”
Draheim saw Gutierrez take the stage at an open-mic night at a Dearborn bar in 2009.
“It was the first time I heard Caleb sing. And the whole place stopped, even the dart game. He commanded the whole place,” Draheim recalled.
Gutierrez joined the lineup in 2010. One year later, The Infatuations released a video for the single, “Blame It on You.”
“We had a pretty good idea of what we wanted our sound to be; it was kind of a combination of Motown, funk and Detroit-inspired rock ‘n’ roll,” Draheim said. “ ‘Blame It on You’ really had that backbeat Motown feel to it, just something easy for everybody to grab on to and sing along to with us.”
Since then, the group has shared the stage with George Clinton and the P-Funk All-Stars and Here Come the Mummies.
“As we started playing festivals, I noticed that there’s young people, there’s older people, there are all sorts of different ethnic backgrounds in front of us. And the crowd is four times the size it was when we finished our set versus when we started,” Draheim said. “I think there’s something in [our music] for everybody.”
Get ready to dance: The Infatuations — Draheim, Gutierrez, Lowe, bassist the Wolf, guitarist Nick Behnan and drummer Bobby Myers — will cruise down I-75 to open The University of Toledo’s Music Fest Friday, Aug. 29, at 4 p.m. in the Rocket Hall parking lot.
It’ll be the good-time band’s debut performance in the Glass City.
“I’ve heard nothing but great things about The University of Toledo Music Fest,” Draheim said. “Our drummer actually worked on the crew that set up the sound system last year and said, ‘Man, if there’s a way we can play this, that would be awesome.’ And here we are this year playing it. We’re excited.”