Detroit's Retro Psychedelia Rock Club Will Trip You Out

Brooklyn artists FAILE and BAST's touring neon arcade finds a permanent home in a space with world-classing staging for live music by Radiohead's creative director.

Artists FAILE and BAST's transient art installation is now Detroit's hot new music venue.

Step inside Deluxx Fluxx, the basement arcade-cum-rock club doubling as the latest addition to Detroit’s cocktail and concert scene, and you’ll feel the noise before you ever hear a sound. The bar’s gritty visual chaos, punctuated in neon, wheat paste, mural, and strobe, is the culmination of an eight-year touring exhibition by the Brooklyn artists FAILE and BAST, whose roadshow of retro psychedelia and 8-bit entertainment finds a permanent home here, where every picture’s free to scream a thousand words. And while the project has served as a collaboration among the artists themselves for the past eight years, it’s the their local partners that breathe life into the art installation with a constant crowd of locals and touring bands.

Deluxx Fluxx occupies an unmarked basement along a downtown back alley art walk better known as The Belt, a transformed remnant of the city’s former garment district, and is the passion project of Anthony Curis, a founding partner of Library Street Collective, Detroit’s foremost contemporary art gallery. The collective is known for curating exhibitions and public works, including the towering bronze KAWS sculpture “Waiting,” fronting downtown’s One Campus Martius, and Doug Aitkins’s “Mirage Detroit,” a mirrored house inside the State Saving Bank building. Curis meanwhile moonlights shaping the city’s nightlife, and Deluxx Fluxx marks the third venue he and partner Joe Robinson have opened along the alleyway, joining the James Beard–nominated bar and restaurant Standby, and outdoor hangout The Skip.

Custom street art murals and retro arcade games inside Deluxx Fluxx.

“We were deeply interested in creating a 24-hour community within the neighborhood and began to explore the cultural needs and programming to make this happen,” recalls Curis, who had been working for years to bring Deluxx Fluxx to Detroit and ultimately sealed the deal when Library Street Collective hosted a FAILE exhibition in 2017. Next, he acquired the basement of the office building next door to his gallery, and reached out to friends for finishing touches, including Radiohead creative director Andi Watson, who supplied the curvilinear LED lighting from the band’s last tour, providing local bands with world-class staging, while bartenders serve glow-in-the-dark drinks out of a custom tap cocktail system. It gives the bartenders more time to make change for backroom arcade games designed to celebrate the
city’s art history putting players inside the murals of Diego Rivera at the Detroit Institute of Arts, an early contribution to the city’s artistic legacy that  Library Street Collective serves to honor.

And if Detroit’s cultural resurrection confirms anything, it’s that nothing here is ever final. “We’re insistent that Deluxx Fluxx will continuously transform and evolve,” he says.

Once a prop in Radiohead's last tour, the curvilinear LED lighting has been repurposed for the basement club.

(Images: courtesy Adam Robb)

All Stories