PREVIEW: RE:CLAIM : IMMERSION

 

Come visit the Washtenaw County Courthouse tonight (9/15) from 5:30 to 8:00 pm to experience the opening night of RE:CLAIM. RE:CLAIM is a project seeking to honor the complexity and diversity of the community impact of the criminal legal system as it affects youth, adults, and families.

Tonight will be filled with song, dance, poetry, and visual arts. It will surely be an experience to remember with over 30 dancers, poets, and musicians performing. The night will also include poems featuring artworks from the Embracing our Difference Exhibition that took over Gallup Park, Leslie Science and Nature Center, and River Side Park.

REVIEW: That Brown Show

That Brown Show, presented by Michigan Sahana, is an annual event that showcases South Asian performance groups at the University of Michigan. The show allows for members of the South Asian community and others to enjoy a night of traditional and not so traditional performances. The night started off with a performance by Michigan Sahana Music, who performed Indian classical music as students showed their skill with various instruments as well as their voices. Also performing a musical number was Maize Mirchi, a South Asian a cappella group that presented a Hindi-English fusion song mix. I really enjoyed watching their performance and loved how they were able to combine songs of different cultures into a cohesive production.

The various dance performances were also very entertaining to watch. Michigan Sahana Dance and Michigan Mayuri both performed Indian classical dances that were traditional in style. Both groups were very skillful and expressive, able to communicate an entire story through dance. Michigan WolveRAAS also performed, mixing traditional regional dance styles with some contemporary elements. Their performance was extremely energetic and very entertaining to watch. South Asian fusion teams Michigan Taal and Michigan Manzaat also danced, mixing Bollywood and South Asian music and dance styles to create incredible and unique programs. The night ended with a series of thank you’s as  WolveRAAS won the judge’s choice award and Manzaat took home the audience choice award. I truly appreciated the sheer variety of performance groups, each of which offered something new to the audience while still highlighting South Asian culture.

REVIEW: A MoodSwing Reunion

I believe this is the first time I have been to a live jazz performance. It was AMAZING.

The jazz ride the MoodSwing took the audience at the hill auditorium was a one with graceful arches, twists and turns. The night’s performance starred Joshua Redman on Saxophones, Christian McBride on bass, Brian Blade on drums, and Sullivan Fortner on the piano. These four amazingly talented musicians did not let one theme restrict them for the 90-minute show. Each piece had different moods: the vibe of the music went from cheerful, dramatic, beautiful, to playful. I used to think that jazz has a lively, humorous vibe in the background as a default. However, tonight I heard a piece that was so graceful and beautiful that it felt as though the stars were shimmering down and a one that was really serious, dramatic, and heroic. It was a discovery of jazz’s diversity and now I’m eager to dive more into the genre. If you turn the most unpronounceable, subtle emotions to music, that would be jazz. It was amazing how the musicians expressed such different shades of atmosphere with the same instruments.

I also really loved how the leading role switched from Saxophones, drums, and pianos, to the bass. I really appreciated the moment when the bass was leading, because that does not happens a lot in modern pop or rock music. Christian McBride amazed the crowd with some playful but precise shreds(with the bass! yes!). While he was at it, Sullivan at the piano was observing him and chimed in with a few notes at the curves that supported the bass sound beautifully to make the music even fuller. It was so interesting to see how the musicians were interacting and compromising while the tune is going – the risk and impulse coming from the fact that the interaction was happening live definitely made the performance thrilling and attention-grabbing. Seeing the live chemistry between the musicians definitely made the 90-minute running time feel short. If you want to explore music without the lyrics but classic does not draw your attention just yet, try going to a jazz concert. Because the emotion in the performance is more dramatic and clearly spelled out in jazz compared to classic concerts, and also because you can easily notice the different phases of music with the shift of leadership and roles between the instruments, jazz will be an easier starting point to the love for instrumental music.

REVIEW: together PANGEA

together Pangea delivered an exceptionally lively set last Friday at the Blind Pig, one that brought house show energy to a space that I’ve never seen so animated. The space itself was packed with fans ranging from loyal front-row occupants to casual enjoyers at the back– an impressive feat given the downpour happening that night. Cue the show itself, as the openers preceding together PANGEA were Sad Park and Skating Polly. I didn’t catch Sad Park (though I’m sure their work is worth a listen), but I was able to see the last few songs of Skating Polly and thought they were excellent. Accessing Riot Grrrl sounds with creative vocals and a dynamic stage presence, this band is definitely one I’ll be tuning into a lot more from here on out. The crowd clearly has similar sentiments, as it bopped and moved as one to the punk ensemble.

 

In terms of the main act, together PANGEA played a fantastic show. Playing a wide range of their discography, there was a clear control over the energy of the room as their set would effortlessly move between more intense, pit-stirring hits like “Badillac” and more popular rock in their newest songs. They also shifted the tone to a questionable “country” label, playing a personal favorite song of mine, “Love & Alcohol.” The change in tone and tempo was welcomed by the crowd, as the frontman’s voice had a chance to shine in this number.

 

That said, the moments where the set picked up were a blast, too. The pit was exhilarating and countless members of the crowd managed to crowdsurf during the set. It was a bit wild, but in the most perfect way. It was easy to see the band feeding off of the crowd’s energy as they stuck around for an encore, taking their time to really enjoy playing their instruments and show off their musical talents. In moments between songs or during solos, you could tell from the looks exchanged between band members that they still loved performing live, even after touring and making music as long as they have.

 

I highly recommend catching any of these bands on tour, in Ann Arbor or elsewhere, as their shows have the kind of quality that wake you up and remind you why live music is an experience like no other.

REVIEW: Lorde: The Solar Power Tour – Detroit

After a week of rain and snow, the sun launched its revival just in time for the first week of Lorde’s Solar Power Tour. 

This was her second show in four years, and man was she in good shape. From the live vocals that went off without a hitch, to her insane range, the two-hour experience in Masonic Temple Theater felt surreal. Lorde’s groovy dancing and laid-back body language made the whole thing feel like a casual jam session between friends – the perfect space to let loose and feel the stress of the semester fall off of my shoulders. An encouraging hurrah before finals kicked in; a celebration in anticipation for summer right around the corner.

My seat was perched up in the nosebleeds – the literal last row in the house – so high up that I could physically touch the peeling ceiling with my fingertips if I just reached up. I somewhat mourned the state of my view, especially upon seeing the GA pit get showered in confetti during Solar Power. But thanks to the intimate size of the theater, I could see Lorde with perfect clarity.

Thoroughly exhausted from staying up late in the sewing studio to finish the top for my concert outfit, I took a quick nap after the opener, Remi Wolf, finished her set. Lorde is one of my favorite artists, but I wasn’t feeling nerves, excitement, anything. It didn’t hit me until the house went pitch-black, her silhouette appeared, and I felt all my tiredness detox itself from my body as a beast awakened within. I was up on my feet and screaming at the top of my lungs like everyone else before I even registered that I had woken up from my nap. 

The emotions were running high this Tuesday night.

As Lorde crooned the opening song, Leader of a New Regime, I burst out bawling, unprovoked. I continued to nurse a tissue in one hand, and shakily record in the other during Ribs, and blew my nose through the chorus of Liability. 

The mood boosted when the band started to pump out the vivid strums of Mood Ring and psychedelic colors filtered through the set and on screen. Harder hits like Perfect Places, Supercut, and Green Light had everyone jumping like the place was one giant house party. 

There was such good energy in the venue. You could tell that everyone in the intimate audience (Lorde’s idea) were big fans who genuinely loved her so much. The noise in the crowd was no joke. With every body screaming to the best of its ability, I felt twinges of pain deep in my ears. They started ringing at one point, as if my eardrums were creating reverberations in attempts to shield themselves. Several scream-worthy moments included Lorde’s two outfit changes – one where she disrobed directly on stage (behind a piece of the set that kept a spotlight on her silhouette) during the Secrets From a Girl interlude. Her adorable dancing – where she kinda punches the air and wiggles around (but makes it look good) – also raised hoots. Finally, the finale. I had scoped out the setlist ahead of time to mentally prepare (and last minute memorize some lyrics) but the encore song, Team, was unexpected. See, this song and I go waaay back. In 2013, my family would blast it on the car ride to school, light up when it came up on the radio. The derailing intro that repeats the lyrics “send the call out” fades out in a rhythm that makes the order actually sound like “the call out send,” which my family always jokingly mis-sang as “the cold Allison,” during the height of my emo middle school years. To hear the wholehearted chorus of a few thousand people singing “and you know, we’re on each other’s team,” followed by Lorde flouncing away with a cute skip off stage, left me reeling.

We drove back from Detroit with sore throats, sleepy and sated, hugging overpriced merch in the back seats.

PREVIEW: A Moodswing Reunion

Do You like Jazz? I do. I liked it even before I watched Disney-Pixar’s lovely appraisal for it.

I like jazz, first of its sound. It has playful, jolly, yet emotional edges and curves in its tunes. Also, the harmony between the drum, saxophone, piano, and guitar just seems to be enough. They compliment each other so well. If I think one step down the musical appreciation, I love jazz because of its freedom. Its impromptu-ness makes the musicians take the risk and discover the sound that is only present on stage. It’s always a magical, thrilling ride to see how things could go in harmony.

If there are any more jazz lovers out there, you are in luck-a interesting, the reunited crew is coming to Hill auditorium, Ann Arbor this Thursday(April 21st, 7:30 pm). It will be starring:

Joshua Redman, tenor saxophone
Brad Mehldau, piano
Christian McBride, bass
Brian Blade, drums

This group that released its album, MoodSwing, back in 1994 is reuniting again after the change of the century. This will be a great goodbye to this semester!