Local Trio Unleashes an Anthemic Blend of Punk and Garage Rock

The Idiot Kids garage punk anthems may be hard to define, but they’ll sweep you off your feet

If we categorized The Idiot Kids as merely punk, then you’d wonder why your toe was tapping. If we told you it was garage rock, you’d wonder how you wound up with the crisp, soaring melodies of the chorus stuck in your head for the rest of the day. If we told you it was anthemic psych-rock, then you’d just ask us what that even means anyway and instead probably find yourself simply turning the volume up.

This trio, led by singer/guitarist Jon Mikal Bartee, formed in Flat Rock, Mich., and has been playing their intense tunes around the Detroit music scene for almost five years. They’ll be releasing a self-titled full length album digitally later this summer, along with a few festival appearances like Motor City Pride on June 9th.

In the meantime, they’ve got a new video for a song they released last year, “Currents.”

A song like “Currents” shows how sometimes it can take a certain adrenaline to break loose from the stagnation of a status quo. That frenetic energy is the essence of The Idiot Kids’ guitar-heavy riffs. As you can see in this video, which comes from Bartee’s own concept, our singer is steadily being bound by bands of otherwise seemingly harmless white cotton, until, well, he’s mummified. A creative collaboration between directors and artists John Brock, Kasper Ray O’Brien and Mar Mnz, it’s a compliment, albeit a dark compliment, to Bartee’s vocals about fighting a current from carrying you away. In the end, the song’s message is about embracing the coming tide of change one might be sensing beneath their feet upon the metaphorical shoreline of their life.

One of the best defenses against being kidnapped by an illusion or caged by a creed is to channel your energies into something cathartically exertive — like a perfect and wild and gnarly rock song like “Currents.” It’s a wake-up spasm.

Bartee is joined by Nicholas Zambeck on bass and Andrew Maslowsky on drums. Their self-titled album will be available digitally in July, and by that time, they’ll be planning to get back into the studio to start recording Bartee’s latest demos for a future EP.

Erick Buchholz



  • Jeff Milo
    Jeff Milo is the host of "MI Local" on 101.9 WDET. He's a longtime music journalist documenting the Michigan scene for 20 years.