Preview: The Halloween Concert

Happening on the very day itself, the Halloween Concert a 40+ years long Umich tradition features graduate conducting students who lead more than 125 costumed (Yes costumed!) musicians for a fun-filled, spooktacular concert.

I have heard about the Halloween concert for the last 2 years and I am overjoyed to finally attend it. It will have music for everyone to enjoy whether you are an orchestra nerd or a newcomer to classical music. If you don’t like attending orchestra concerts because of how formal they seem with their tuxedos and bow ties then seeing musicians dressed all goofy and silly will take the edge off. It is the only SMTD ticketed production that is open to kids of all ages so you know it’s an all-age favorite. 

You can also dress up to your heart’s desire for this event so you can take this as an opportunity to show off your Halloween spirit. In previous years the concert had funny skits to introduce musical pieces so you won’t only get to enjoy music, play dress up, see others in funny costumes but also see a funny skit or two. Doesn’t that sound like the best version of an orchestra concert?

Word on the grapevine is that the concert’s tickets are running out quickly! So grab you and your friends a good seat before it’s too late at: https://tickets.smtd.umich.edu/5200

REVIEW: The Holy Bones Festival

If you’re looking for some kitschy fun, look no further that Ypsilanti’s Holy Bones Festival. The Halloween Spirit was out in full force as local artists and performers showcased their spookiest wares and performances. I commend the talented drag and burlesque performers for doing their routines on a chilly evening!
During one memorable number, Johnny Rocket, dressed as a mummy did a striptease unraveling their bandages. Local drag queen Zooey Gaychanel, I first saw perform at the Spectrum Center’s Fair in September was also headlining.

Johnny Rocket strikes a pose

The Halloween Market featured everything from antiques to enamel pins to bath bombs and indie comics. I particularly enjoyed talking with Detroit-based Bad Love Design who sells cheeky, high-quality affordable prints inspired by retro cartoon an 60s pin-up aesthetic. Bad Love is working on a forthcoming tarot deck, so keep your eyes peeled! I also stopped to talk to the owner of Conjure Goddess, a new hoodoo shop opening up in Ypsilanti. They stock everything a witch could need from incense to Tarot cards to conjure oil. I was really impressed by the diversity of magic shops and businesses in Ypsi as well as the amount of queer-owned and women-owned businesses at the fair.

Owners of the Conjure Goddess
Bad Love Design

 

Last but not least, the food options were few but notable. Fork in Nigeria was definitely the stand-out, with various kinds of fufu and jollof. There was also a more economical taco truck option. Both had vegetarian choices. There was also a lot of hot cider going around! I ducked out before the festivities ended but I did get to hear some of the mellow tones of London Beck before I left. The fun, lighthearted atmosphere nearly allows you to forget how hard the performers and artists work to put events like these together. All in all, I think the Holy Bones festival is a great choice for families and for students and young adults.

PREVIEW: Princess Nokia at the Majestic Theater

 

Genre-crossing Bronx based rapper Princess Nokia is ascending to new heights on her Bloom tour, coming to the Majestic Theater in Detroit this Monday the 18th. Bloom is her first world tour and she will be performing songs from her two new full-length albums released during quarantine, Everything Sucks and Everything Is Beautiful. These two albums truly showcase her range as an artist and her influences from 90s hip hop and the various New York subcultures that nurtured her career.

In Everything Sucks, we meet her more emo persona, a bitter and braggadocious young woman who seeks success to spite her enemies and her critics. Everything Sucks explores more fully the themes she rapped and sung about on A Girl Cried Red, her 2018 mixtape, which contained candid lyrics about her hurt and anger at past traumas of being a foster child and having a loving but inconsistent relationship to her birth family. This Nokia is all about control; she needs no approval from others and the men in her life are plentiful and disposable. Singles from this album include “I Like Him” and “It’s Not My Fault”.

Princess Nokia, real name Destiny Frasqueri, celebrates her duality as a gemini with these two albums. In Everything Is Beautiful, we see the Nokia who embraces and celebrates her loved ones. This Nokia found peace and sings a lot about her chosen family, forgiveness, and transcending the ego. She also celebrates her Puerto Rican heritage and her connection to the strong women in her life who keep her grounded. In tracks like “Soul Food y Adobo”, she layers Spanglish lyrics over brass instrumentals evoking 60s Soul. At age 29, Nokia has taken up the mantle of adulthood and all that entails. She no longer looks to her past as something holding her down but rather the platform on which she has built her success. The Bloom tour is a triumphant celebration of her fully realized self.

PREVIEW: Hobo Johnson & The Lovemakers

If you don’t know who Hobo Johnson is, you’re missing out—Frank Lopes Jr., known for his stage name Hobo Johnson, has a repertoire of wacky, sometimes-political, spoken-word, hip-hop inspired music.

When I first heard Hobo Johnson’s music, it was on Twitter. A clip from his Tiny Desk Concert instantly intrigued me. It was rap, but it wasn’t—it was something that felt so raw, perfectly messy, encapsulating my frustration and amusement with the world and the lingering longing of heartbreak. I remember showing the Tiny Desk Concert to my friends. Some were into it, some didn’t like it at all. Hobo Johnson is definitely not everyone’s cup of tea, but its unapologetic character is what draws me so much to it.

Frank’s most recent two albums, dropped this year, have signified a change in sound and style for Hobo Johnson, a move away from melodramatic scream-singing towards more goofy punk. After recently starting his own record label, Hobo Johnson seems to be moving into a different stage of his artistic career, one focusing his angst into the politics of the music world as well as his music. 

UPDATE: Hobo Johnson & The Lovemakers were scheduled to appear at the Blind Pig on Monday, October 18th, but the show was cancelled due to COVID-19 concerns.

Preview: The Holy Bones Festival

To all Halloween enthusiasts,

I will be the brave one to address what’s on everyone’s mind: Fall break is just around the corner and you don’t know what to do! Halloween season is about to start! Your midterm couldn’t have been scheduled at a worse time! AT&T stock drops toward 11-year low, as dividend yield rises further above 8%!

Fear not I have an event for you that will cast away your worries and give you the perfect, ghoul fuelled start to your fall break.*

*applies to folks free between 3 pm EST and 10 pm EST on the 16th October 2021 only Terms and Conditions apply.

Skeletons partying like there’s no tomorrow

Thee (with the special e sound) Holy Bones Festival!

If you were looking for a sign then here is the official start to Halloween season for you. This spooktacular event is held right in your backyard: Ypsilanti. A quick (did I mention free?) bus ride away from CCTC. Forget taking the bus to your North Campus 8ams this is where the groovy kids take the bus to. 

The festival will have over FORTY local artisans and tarot readers, live music, drag shows, an art show, an auction (c’mon have you ever been to a freaking auction?),  and an improv show.

So put on your Jack Skellington T-shirts and be ready to have fun in the sun like the skeletons in the poster. Do you see how much fun they’re having?! 

Also, their early tickets are prices devilishly at $6.66 so don’t wait too long. Grab a friend and let’s go!

 

Review: The Mersey Beatles

I’ve never had the opportunity to go to a tribute concert before, so when I discovered that the Mersey Beatles would be coming to play at The Ark in Ann Arbor, I was ready and rearing to go! That said, I had no idea what to expect and was just as full of questions as I was excitement. How “into character” would the tribute band be? Would they be emulating mannerisms just as much as they were emulating voice? How would the group dynamic compare to the real thing? And most importantly, just how good were The Mersey Beatles? They are considered to be the number one Beatles tribute band, but that really meant nothing to me at that point since I had no experience with tribute bands as a whole.

Needless to say, I was a bit nervous standing in line to receive my wristband for the concert. I’d meant to wear my Beatles t-shirt to show some fan spirit, but sadly I’d forgotten ( so much for fan spirit). I got to the venue about thirty minutes early to get a good spot in line, but I needn’t have bothered. I’d been imagining a string of people extending down the block trying to get into the concert, but there was just a few older couples when I arrived. And to make matters worse, a passerby, having noticed that The Ark was hosting The Mersey Beatles said: “The Beatles? Never heard of them before….must be new.”

Now, I hope he was joking, but at the time it seemed like something right out of the movie Yesterday (If you haven’t seen it, it’s a must watch, feel good film where practically the entire world forgets about The Beatles).

Eventually, there was a good crowd waiting in line for the concert and when we were invited inside, I didn’t have to worry about searching for a good seat. Because the venue was relatively small, every seat in the room had a decent view of the stage. Drinks and food were available to be purchased and there was even room to dance if we so chose. All in all, The Ark is a very cozy and comfortable venue.

And then The Mersey Beatles made their appearance. They certainly made an impression, breaking into song the instant they walked on stage. Almost all of the songs they played were The Beatles greatest American hits, which was a very intelligent move on their part. Classics like Yesterday and Day Tripper were a particular hit with the audience while songs like Eight Days a Week and A Hard Day’s Night had a group of audience members dancing and singing along.

I was amazed at how closely The Mersey Beatles mirrored the vocal tones and layers of the original Beatles. I can only guess that there was a great amount of time and energy spent researching John, Paul, Ringo, and George as well as  their albums and performances.  The Mersey Beatles, smiled while in song, engaged the audience in classic banter, and joked around with a couple who walked in late, saying something along the lines of: “Now we’re just waiting for the Royal Family.”

I enjoyed the performance immensely and have a new found respect for tribute bands. However, if I was to be nit picky about anything concerning The Mersey Beatles, it would be the lack of interaction between group members. They were all very good at interacting with the audience throughout the concert, but there was a lack of engagement with each other. The Beatles were often playful with one another on stage, whether it was goofing off a bit during a song, or something as simple as making eye contact and smiling at one another. They were a group that shone on stage because you could see how much they loved performing and enjoyed the company of each other.

I believe the next step for The Mersey Beatles is just to loosen up a bit more. Focus on one another as well as the audience. Don’t be afraid to goof off a bit. It’ll make you even more loveable in the long run.