REVIEW: SpringFest

This past week marked the annual SpringFest capstone event hosted by MUSIC Matters. Founded in 2011, MUSIC Matters purpose is to “utilize the power of music to unite the Michigan community and promote educational accessibility.” The organization spends the entire year hosting various events on and off campus to promote music and create cohesion amongst students. SpringFest is their culminating project that attracts an audience of 10,000 people for their daytime and nighttime events.


This year, the Daytime festival took over State St. and North U., hosting over 80 student organizations, 7 food truck vendors, live performances, and various pop-up shops. One of the newest additions to this year’s Daytime festival was hosting Ann Arbor artisans. Traditionally, corporate sponsors were invited to have pop-up shops but this year focused on inviting smaller companies and student sellers. Aside from this addition, the festival included live dance and music performances from student organizations such as Maize Mirchi, the Men’s Glee Club, and FunKtion. Another component of the festival that I personally enjoyed was the presence of various orgs that promote health, wellness, and sustainability. There were interactive events for yoga, sustainable food practices, and CAPS even had representatives from their CAPS In Action student committee. It was really inspiring to see so many talented, ambitious, and creative students showcasing their work and talent to the campus community.


Following the immersive Daytime festivities is (what I believe to be the more known of the two) the Nighttime Concert. Since 2012, MUSIC Matters has hosted artists Common, J. Cole, 2 Chainz, Migos, and Lil Yachty in Hill Auditorium. As a junior who is also a big fan of well-known hip-hop artists, this was surprisingly my first time ever attending. This year’s headliner was A$AP Ferg, otherwise known as a member of A$AP Mob. Amongst some of Ferg’s most popular songs are Plain Jane, Shabba, New Level, and Work REMIX. His opening acts consisted of two DJs and two performance groups.


The first DJ was Jeff Basta. Had it not been for him being the DJ to play as people were still entering the auditorium, I think he could have gotten a lot more energy out of the audience. I really enjoyed his music choice and his energy while playing was admirable considering not many others were entertained/paying attention. The second DJ was Namix who served as a transition for the first opening act — Tracy Money (IG: prodbytracy). “TracyGang #333” is a group of three current and former U-M students who go by the names of $cottie Pimpin’, Fatz, and Tracy D. Although this was not my first time seeing them perform, this was my first time seeing them own the stage in a large auditorium. Their performance got the crowd on their feet and ready for the night.


Following Tracy Money was B Free from Detroit. I could be biased, but my personal preference for style, originality, and overall entertainment purposes would choose Tracy Money over B Free’s performance. Nonetheless, both performances were a well-needed segway into opening for A$AP Ferg.


Ferg was full of energy and was an authentic performer. You could sense his desire to be just as engaged with the audience as we were with him. However, this desire quickly led to some shockingly inappropriate comments on his behalf targeted at several women in the audience. I think it’s reasonable for a performer to want to feel more connected with the audience and interact with them but to single specific women out and express sexual desires in front of everyone, into the microphone, was embarrassing and disgusting. The remainder of the concert left me feeling odd and distraught as I was stuck questioning “Did he really just say that”?? Carrying on, he performed all of my favorite songs and it was a fun concert. I’m certain that this will be remembered as one of my favorite undergraduate experiences, despite the belittling comments that put a damper on my overall impression.

Photos courtesy of IG:

PREVIEW: A/PIA Heritage Month Closing Ceremony’s Prism Gala

Deck out in your fanciest gear for A/PIA Heritage Month’s last event of the year. Called the Prism Gala, the ceremony will features dancers, speakers, and awards for the A/PIA community.

There will be a screening of campus organization Uncover: A/PIA’s video “In My Mind: A/PIA’s and Mental Health.” The evening will also feature Seoul Juice and rXn.

The event was possible by the efforts of MESA, United Asian American Organizations, and the A/PIA Heritage Month committee.

The event is at the UMMA on April 20th from 7-10PM. You need to RSVP but it is a free event! The dress code is an encourage black tie or cultural attire. I’ll be the girl in the black shalwar kameez.

REVIEW: Xylem Release Party

Xylem, according to the opening letter of the 2018-2019 issue, has existed since 1990. I myself have been a part of the two most recent issues of the magazine, and even in the span of that one year it evolved immensely. I can’t imagine what it must be like to be a part of a publication with that type of history and capacity for growth. This year’s issue presented a unique collection of artists, each expressing their own forms of metamorphosis. While the release event itself was inspiring, the magazine is what I would like to preserve in writing.

One of the pieces that stood out to me during my initial read through of the magazine was Notes on Colors by Christine Mackenzie. Instead of normal stanza breaks, Notes on Colors separates lines with simple dashes. This creates a stream of consciousness feel to the read of the poem, which strengthens its subject matter. Notes on Colors, to me, is about being able to associate other senses with the perception of visual color. The poem utilizes a lot of nature imagery, like the feeling of wind to evoke the blue sky of a summer’s day or cranberry juice drying on your tongue to evoke the heat of redness. All in all, it’s a brilliant poem focusing on multiple forms of perception to solidify its expression of one.

Another piece that was particularly striking was Elizabeth Le’s Out of Many, One. The aspects of the poem that I found the most captivating were in its discussion of “broken language.” This is a theme I’ve discussed many times in past classes, so I’m familiar with its academic discourse and what it can bring to a classroom conversation. Despite that, I haven’t come across that theme a lot in my everyday life, so I thought it was refreshing to know the subject matter in a different context.

Out of Many, One accomplishes a lot in the small space of the poem. The narrative voice contrasts itself with certain aspects of her mother, illustrating how eloquent the mother figure is and how inadequate the narrator feels by comparison. The importance of physical beauty and musical talent are important to the narrator because they are emblematic of her culture. The narrator, however, feels as if she doesn’t belong to neither American culture nor her native one. Most of this internal struggle stems from observations she makes about language. Le ends her poem with “Bless it despite its ugliness. / Bless it / anyway.” It was a powerful poem with an optimistic conclusion.

The cover of the magazine itself is also really cool, with a glossy feel to it and a stark black and white color scheme. Images are printed in color on special paper in the middle of the magazine. While I understand the practicality of that, part of me wishes the images were spread a little more throughout the other works. Overall, however, I’m really glad to be featured in the 2018-2019 issue of Xylem, with my work residing alongside many other incredible pieces of art.

PREVIEW: Xylem Release Party

Xylem is one of The University of Michigan’s literary magazines. The magazine features University of Michigan undergraduate artwork, including poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, artwork and photography.

Tomorrow, April 9th, Xylem Literary Magazine is hosting their annual release party to celebrate the newest issue of their magazine. From 7-9pm, the event will be held in the West Conference Room of Rackham Graduate School (on the 4th floor). Published authors and artists will get a chance to grab copies of the magazine, read their work, and celebrate another successful issue of Xylem!

REVIEW: A Streetcar Named Desire

A masterpiece of Southern Gothic at its best, Rude Mechanicals put on Tennessee Williams’s iconic play “A Streetcar Named Desire” and executed it with intensity and emotional fervor. Proper and aristocratic-at-heart Blanche DuBois, portrayed wonderfully by Juliana Tassos, travels to New Orleans to stay with her sister after she lost their family plantation, and her lighthearted yet grand arrival soon takes an ominous turn. Stella, played by the talented Stella Kowalski, welcomes her with open arms, yet it is clear that Blanche does not belong in this dilapidated apartment, nor in the life of Stanley, her husband. Jack Alberts executes this intense character with scary yet admirable fortitude, his sudden outbursts captivating our attention with a breathtaking startle. Though Stella and Stanley have an animalistic love and desire for each other, Stanley’s propensity toward violence drives a permanent wedge between him and Blanche while driving the play forward toward its imminent end. Blanche’s Southern mannerism and charms and denouncement of realism directly contrast Stanley’s aggression and manhood and pragmaticism, and this dance between their personalities and views of life lead to an inevitable clash between the two, with Stella caught trying to mediate it in the middle.

The physical and emotional abuse of Stella by Stanley, followed directly by their subsequent embrace, is mirrored by Eunice and Steve, portrayed by Jillian Lee Garner and Jackson Verolini, which shows this unfortunate commonality of brutal marriages within the Southern lifestyle. Though Stella occasionally tries to stand up to Stanley, his loud strength always overpowers her, and she always goes back to him when he calls for her. In the very end, Stella’s fearful and morose isolation in her bedroom and Eunice’s somber reflection on the doorstep while Stanley returns to the next room to play poker shows the distinct separation between the emotionally-scarred women of the play and the misogynistic yet dominant men.

Blanche’s doomed relationship with Mitch, played by Austin D’Ambrosio, reflects her inability to confront her past and face the light. As Blanche’s past is revealed, from her dead husband to her stay in hotels to her forbidden relationship with a student, she slowly withdraws into her fantasies. Stanley’s role in her hysterical breakdown is more than direct, revealing her past to others and furthermore, sexually assaulting her. Blanche’s gradual mental deterioration was painful to watch, yet there was a beauty in Tassos’s performance of it. Her thoughtful and regretful soliloquies throughout the play solidified her tenderness and her talent, even through the pain.

The Southern dialects of the characters, combined with the rapid speed of their delivery, sometimes made it tough to understand their words, but it captured the setting of the place and their frenzy. The lighting and scenery set the mood, as did the foreboding tones that often sounded in between scene transitions. Every character in this play is complex and hypocritical to an extent, and this cast did a phenomenal job bringing these flaws to life and making these characters seem human, however flawed. With Blanche’s unacceptable sexual behavior and Stanley’s abhorrent violence, these characters bring out the best of the Southern Gothic genre, and Tassos, Alberts, and Avnet excelled in putting on this phenomenal production.

REVIEW: BEES the Musical

Once again, NERDS has delivered a wonderfully poignant and hilarious musical with this semester’s performance of BEES the Musical.

Avery Fessenden played Charlotte “Charlie” Peppers, the daughter of big-time bee farmers in Honeyville. Her wonderful number “Buzzing On By” shows how she looks forward to moving on with her life by pursuing her dreams of being a detective. Though everyone questions and doubts these dreams, she becomes the newest recruit in the police department, and she’s instantly put on the big case of the missing bees. Her partner, Penelope Wright (Sam Dunlap), is abrasive and direct, a great contrast to Charlie’s gentle and optimistic demeanor. They butt heads when it comes to interrogation techniques, and their different backgrounds — Charlie from the successful agricultural side and Sam from the poorer industrial district — also act as a source of difference and tension.

However, as they are stumped from this crime, they realize that something must change in their partnership. The duets between Dunlap and Fessenden were particularly beautiful, their voices complementing each other’s wonderfully. From their first song together, “My Way or the Highway” to their song closing the first act, “Moving”, the two detectives evolve a long way, recognizing that teamwork and compromise is important when they share the same goal.

From the very beginning, the audience learns that Frank B. Napper (Perry Fiero) is the obvious criminal bee napper, an enjoyable twist of dramatic irony that made Fiero’s blatant panics when he is interrogated or suspects he’s close to being caught that much better. His “Bee Burglin’” song was catchy and amusing, as he scooped yellow ping pong balls with black stripes into a jar. His motives for stealing all the bees was simply to find his only friend, a black bee with yellow stripes, who ran away. This elicits sympathy from the audience, as well as Charlie and Penelope, who decide to not arrest him, which is unfortunate for womanizer Dustin (Sean Moore), who was framed for the crime.

This musical displayed compassion and friendship in the most humorous ways, from Chief Montana’s incompetence to Mr. Peppers’ fatherly figure. Probably the highlight of the musical was when Frank’s Bee (Dylan Beasley) emerged during “Bee-F-F (The Ballad of Frank B. Napper),” a lovely and heartwarming song that featured a beautiful fluttering and dancing human bee.

The ending romance of Charlie and Penelope was a beautiful cherry on top of overcoming differences and finding companionship. As Frank inherits Peppers Farms and is constantly surrounded by bees, and the two detectives continue to solve crime alongside each other, there’s a happy ending in Honeyville (except for Dustin, who is forgotten behind bars).