Lipstick Jodi at The Avenue Cafe in Lansing, MI

Lipstick Jodi @ The Avenue Cafe, Lansing | Photos by Jena McShane

Capital City Film Festival-goers danced the night away to bouncy, synth-laden, indie pop from Lipstick Jodi at Lansing’s The Avenue Cafe.

Michigan’s Capital City Film Festival is known for bringing an eclectic mix of musical acts, ranging from heavy metal and hip hop to folk music, to complement the international and indie film screenings that it curates each spring. This past Thursday night, it was the synthesizer’s time to shine. 

Lansing’s The Avenue Cafe served as an ideal backdrop for the show. The venue features a mezzanine level lined with pinball machines that overlooks the stage, an award-winning ramen joint on the first floor, and a gritty, LGBTQ-friendly atmosphere that gives off almost punk-like vibes. 

After a thorough sound check, Detroit-based Dirt Room kicked things off with their energetic brand of shoegaze-inspired electronica. The group was formed in 2016 and currently features the live quartet of SJ Sprague, Pat Norton, Duncan MacKillop, and Nate Zonnevylle. The band has one full-length album to their name, Summer Salts, released in 2020. 

Band leader SJ Sprague’s vocals laid out an emotional narrative as the rest of the four-piece group used improvisational sample collages, drum loops, and synthesizer magic to create a wall of sound that kept the crowd on their toes. Over the course of their hour-long set, multi-instrumentalist Norton would occasionally provide an emphatic leap off their amp while stretching guitar chords into layered, sometimes eerie textures. 

Three-piece headliners Lipstick Jodi then took to the stage and brought the energy in the room up another level with their synth-heavy indie-pop sound. The Grand Rapids-based trio was formed in 2014 and is fronted by lead singer and guitarist Karli Morehouse who, despite a broken foot, kept the crowd bouncing on their feet throughout the show. 

With a self-titled album released in 2017 and their latest album More Like Me issued in 2021, Lipstick Jodi has developed a growing reputation for blending rich vocal harmonies with earworm-like melodies that drip with synthesizer. While musical influences like Tegan and Sara and St. Vincent were clear throughout their setlist, the band has a sound that is all their own. 

Songs like “Take Me Seriously,” from their More Like Me album, were emblematic for the night with lyrics that expressed the universal angst any up-and-coming band must feel paired alongside a catchy pop hook that made everyone in the room bob their heads. Lipstick Jodi had the near-capacity crowd dancing and hopping as they tried to close out the show with their jams “Don’t Wanna Know” and “do/SAY,” both of which have been recently released as singles. 

Festival-goers weren’t quite done partying, however. They demanded one more song as the group left the stage, so Morehouse and bandmates obliged by pulling out an excellent cover of The Killer’s “Mr. Brightside,” as the final dance of the night. 

LIPSTICK JODI
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DIRT ROOM
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CAPITAL CITY FILM FESTIVAL
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THE AVENUE CAFE 
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About Jena McShane 27 Articles
Jena McShane is a Lansing, MI based photographer specializing in candid portraiture, live music, and stormy landscapes.