PREVIEW: Poetry Slam feat. Kevin Kantor

As a member of LHSP’s poetry club, I’m really excited to finally attend a poetry slam!  In the first ten minutes of every poetry club meeting, we watch a poem.  One of my favorite performances was Takara’s “Poet Breathe Now.”  My poetry club is also having a recital soon, and I hope to gain some inspiration for my own poetry from attending tomorrow night’s slam.

After doing some research on Kevin Kantor, I’m even more excited!  According to his website, “Kevin Kantor is a director, actor, performance poet, and teaching artist.  Kevin hold a bachelor’s degree in acting from the University of Northern Colorado, where he founded and acted as artistic director of SOAPbox Productions, a student-run theatre company and spoken word poetry venue dedicated to producing projects believed to be socially relevant, culturally conscious, and politically engaged (GO THEATRE FOR SOCIAL CHANGE!).”  I’m really looking forward to hearing the messages in Kantor’s poetry and also learning from the way he delivers them.

Check out the UMich slam poetry team’s tumblr page to see their full schedule and more information about them.  The slam begins tomorrow night at 6pm in the League Underground.

REVIEW: Azaya: The Unity of Experience at Hill Auditorium

IASA’s show had a wonderful mix of both traditional and top 40’s music.  It attracted audience members of all backgrounds, be them students, families of the performers, or just people looking to see some amazing dancing (which they definitely got!).  The show also supported the Nisvartha Foundation in India (an organization that helps students in need get the necessary resources to pursue a higher education).

There were ten dance teams in all, and there were also videos regarding board members, background, and IASA promotional displays.  In addition, there was a guest performer, Jai Matt, who is an internet sensation.  Such diversity within one performance made the IASA show exciting throughout its duration.

In the middle of the first song, the group stopped to take a selfie.  This was the first indication that the IASA show was something more than I’d expected.  It was respectful to traditional culture while at the same time accessible to every age group.  Another dance team demonstrated this trait with its name: “Can’t Filmi Face,” which is a direct allusion to a song on the top 40’s charts.

Another dance team, showcasing “serenity,” demonstrated remarkable grace and talent.  Check out my video!  My friend performed in this number, as well!

Dance team four did a stellar job, and I happened to get it on film!  Another one of my friends was a dancer on this team, and despite the eight hour rehearsals the teams were subjected to in these past two weeks, she fell in love with the program.

The next group, demonstrating their ability to be “daring,” used glow sticks in a breathtaking light show.  Check out my video!  They used color to their advantage, making the audience scream even louder than they had been.  At one point, the team was in a huddle onstage, showing just how strong their friendship had become.  The team also used motion to their advantage.  They built a human pyramid and one of their teammates ended up taking a running leap and knocking the person on top of the pyramid to the ground.  This example really showcased how energetic the entire IASA performance was.

After intermission, the Dicks and Janes performed “Over The Rainbow.”  This was also when Jai Matt had his performance.  At one point, he asked for a volunteer from the audience and serenaded her!  This was followed by a sentimental video of all the teams discussing their experiences.

A fusion group after this related the IASA show back to the university.  At the beginning of their number, we heard the famous quote: “The team, the team, the team.”  In the middle of their number, two of the members used special effects to create fire!  As you can imagine, the student section was going pretty wild by then.

Team seven’s theme was “honor.”  Team eight represented “amour” and Bollywood.  Both of these teams were very popular!  Team nine was “vivacious,” which you can see for yourself in my video.  Their use of costumes was astounding!  Team ten, to conclude the show, represented “aspiration.”  This team used different scenes to label each dance.  For example, one scene was “spring break” and another  was “employment.”  Again, these themes related the IASA show back to university life.

In conclusion, the IASA show was incredible!  9 months of planning and a crazy rehearsal schedule really paid off.  These dedicated individuals, whether they were dancing, coordinating, or anything else, were extremely passionate and talented.  I can’t wait for the next show!

REVIEW: The Avett Brothers at Hill Auditorium

There is a reason why The Avett Brothers are my favorite band of all time (and, of course, why I’ve seen them in concert six times).  Before Friday, that reason was because their music is inspirational to say the least.  Since Friday, however, I’ve added a small infinity of reasons to that list… the first of which is the fact that the communities of fans that have formed because of their music are full of amazing people.

It was 2pm on Friday when I decided to walk to Panera.  As I was walking, I passed a young woman with an Avett Brothers handbag.  I asked her if the buses parked along the street belonged to The Avett Brothers, and she very animatedly replied with some variation of, “Yes!”  We got to talking, and I found out she was part of the Avett Nation group (who are, by the way, wonderful!) and she asked me to sign the banner.  The banner travels to each concert and will be handed up to the band at their NYE show.  Scott refers to it as his “cloak.”


After that, there was nothing left to do but wait for the concert.  According to my new Avett Nation friend, the band would make an appearance from their tour bus before the show.  So, we did what any reasonable fans would do… and we waited.  At about five minutes before the concert was to begin, I got to meet The Avett Brothers for the first time!  (It’s not like I’m still freaking out about that or anything…)

IMG_5759!!!!!  What’s even better, though, was how amazingly nice they were.  Mike and Joe both shook our hands.  Seth shook my hand and, upon telling me how cold it was, proceeded to try and warm it whilst genuinely thanking me over and over for making it to the show.  He hugged us all at the end, as well.  The Avett Nation banner was signed by all the band members, which was also huge!

The show itself was truly amazing.  The band has quite the reputation for giving awesome live shows, and they never disappoint.  One of the friends who came with me to the show had never seen them live before, and she is already looking for another ticket for their tour.

The first song they played was “Laundry Room” which is, incidentally, my favorite song by them.  It was an amazing rendition, and I captured some of the beginning on film here!  The end of “Laundry Room” always makes me want to dance, and all of the audience was on their feet.  See the clip I posted here.

Later in the night, the band performed their song “St. Joseph’s” from The Second Gleam album.  I wasn’t expecting them to play it, as they don’t usually do so.  It’s a beautiful song, and I’m incredibly happy they chose to perform it.  Check out my video!  They made it very sentimental.  The Hill Auditorium was the perfect place for it.  They also performed another of my favorites: “Die Die Die.”  I’d never heard that one live before, so it was amazing!

There was one point in the concert when someone yelled, “I love you guys!”  Scott replied in one of the best ways humanly possible: “We’re all masculine boys up here.  There is some power behind that love.”  They kept the show interesting throughout its entirety by interacting with the audience and changing things up a bit!  Bob had a solo during one of the songs, and was encouraged heartily as it progressed.

Some other memorable moments were when the band encouraged audience participation at the end of “Paranoia In Bb Major.”  I managed to get some of it on video.  At one point during the song, “Kick Drum Heart,” the majority of the band was huddled on their knees in the corner of the stage, rocking out on their respective instruments.  Scott and Tania later did something very similar (which I posted here).

They performed “Salina,” “Murder In The City” (which I mentioned in my preview), “Head Full Of Doubt, Road Full Of Promise” (excerpts are here and here), and many more.  Joe tweeted the complete set list after the show.

All in all, it was the best show (and night) I’ve had here in Ann Arbor.  I can’t wait to see The Avett Brothers again soon!  If you’re lucky enough to have tickets for this year, keep an eye out for Avett Nation and the banner.  Look for my signature next to Tania’s!


PREVIEW: The Avett Brothers at Hill Auditorium

The Avett Brothers are coming to Hill Auditorium tomorrow night.  They’ve been my favorite band since I was a kid, so I’m very excited!  As follows is an excerpt from their website which I feel accurately defines The Avett Brothers in a couple of words: “…all that’s left behind is the unwavering beauty of the songs. That’s the commotion, that’s the celebration, and wherever The Avett Brothers are tonight, that’s what you’ll find.”

The Band:
Scott Avett – Vocals, Banjo, Kick Drum
Seth Avett – Vocals, Guitar, High-Hat
Bob Crawford – Vocals, Bass
Paul Defiglia – Keyboard, Organ
Tania Elizabeth – Violin
Joe Kwon – Cello
Mike Marsh – Drums

You can watch some of their music videos on their website.  I especially like “Murder in the City.”  There are more videos (and interviews and the like!) on their YouTube account.

Their music is a delightful combination of folk rock, indie rock, ragtime, country, and quite a few other genres.

The band has a reputation for awesome live shows (I speak from experience – I’ve seen them five times).  Tickets are still on sale, and you can buy them here.  Hope you enjoy the concert!