REVIEW: The Halloween Concert

The best end to Halloweekend was surely seeing the Halloween concert at Hill Auditorium. The majestic venue of the event, the fervour of the audience ranging from babies to people who had seen the concert over 10 times (!) and of course the concert itself was a truly fun experience. I had the pleasure of going there with a few people who had performed in orchestras before and they asserted that this was one of the best orchestra performances they had seen. Very few other orchestras can compare to seeing musicians dressed in bunny costumes and peanut-butter Jelly sandwich suits perform.

Right from the music pamphlet to the way the performers entered the stage, all was done according to the holiday theme and there were no dull moments. Timed at a short and sweet 1-hour duration, the concert moves at a refreshing pace and keeps the audience captivated. I liked the selection of pieces that were performed and the mastery of the performers. As a newcomer to classical music seeing such a huge orchestra perform was exciting. It was hard to believe that all the music I heard came from just the orchestra. The power of the music was extraordinary and the sheer skill of the performers was awe-inspiring. It was beautiful to see all the performers bringing their skills together in harmony to create an experience for the audience. The hard work, talent, and coordination of the performers were a marvel.

The show “ended” with Rhapsody in Maize and Blue in a passionate Wolverine way but then we got the special traditional ending that wowed everyone (there was a dance break involved!).

This was about the Halloween concert’s 47th year and the cheering proved what a classic feast it is for the locals here. I would recommend everyone who is in Ann Arbor during Halloween to at least go once to see the Halloween concert to get a taste of this local Ann Arbor/University of Michigan tradition.

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.

REVIEW: The Holy Bones Festival

The holy bones festival was a Halloween themed festival-carnival of sorts with enough novelties to satisfy any occult appetite. Held near downtown Ypsilanti, you could see a lot of Ypsi spirit and pride. From 3D-printed Ypsi structures to local artists, the city’s art scene was reflected pretty well. The festival lasted an ample 7+ plus hours and had exciting events like drag shows. Even though the festival featured 40+ artisans, the fair could be explored in an hour or so. The art ranged from stickers, t-shirts, crystals, jewelry to novelty items like skull wall decorations, a mini horror-themed room, haunted dolls, and much more. There was also a tarot card reader who had a really cozy tent set up. 

There were also some decorated skulls on display with backstories of their own. 

The events really came alive (or dead since it was horror-themed) in the night after the carnival lights were turned on. I watched the drag/costumed show where people lip-synched to songs and gave interactive performances to the audience and went to see the Ypsi downtown and returned again after sundown. There was live music throughout the event and had up-and-coming artists perform some of whom had released albums with the support of Ypsi artist funding.

For food, there were 2 food trucks and one stall. One could pick their choice of Nigerian food, tacos, or sliders. All of these had lines throughout the duration of the event so you know the food was good.  

There was also an improv show for which you had to buy tickets separately. It was held in a nearby church. The church had LED lights inside with spooky music that really upped the ante and gave a gothic vibe to the event. The performers were unfortunately not very good and not worth the price of a ticket. Their jokes or the storyline was not that funny but the performers did perform very enthusiastically. Sadly many members of the audience left during the intermission. 

All and all the holy bones festival would be a nice one-hour event to go to if you want to see spooky things on display. It has only been a thing since 2019 and considering that all the ticket proceeds go to the restoration of the Ypsi art scene, we can expect this festival to gain major traction in the coming years and be on the level of a full-blown paradise for all things evil and occult Halloween carnival!

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 Haunting of Bly Manor

The Haunting of Bly Manor is the latest installment in The Haunting anthology created by Mike Flanagan for Netflix. The series consists of nine episodes, and follows the story of an au pair who arrives at the haunted estate of Bly Manor.

The series uses horror elements in a very understated way; it elects to hide ghosts in the background that often go unseen rather than to have jumpscare after jumpscare. It has an overall eerie tone – a large, old house and two children who advise their governess not to roam the grounds after dark – but it is very slow burn, which becomes one of its faults. The series takes several episodes before a cohesive storyline begins to unfold, but once the inklings of an intriguing plot emerge, it becomes too complicated. Bly Manor has a massive cast: the au pair, the two children, their uncle, the housekeeper, the gardener, the cook, the dead parents, the previous governess, and many other characters introduced through flashbacks. What Bly Manor does well is showcase the talent of the many actors, however it fails to set up a clear, main storyline supported by the side characters. Instead, it gives each character a subplot and while all of the characters are genuinely well-written and interesting, the show does not give itself enough time to fully flesh out each subplot and tie them each into the main storyline.

The second-to-last episode, “The Romance of Certain Old Clothes,” is the weakest episode even though it is supposed to serve as the explanation as to why the estate of Bly Manor is haunted, what happened to the current governess’s predecessor, and why any of this is relevant to the current staff of Bly Manor. It comes across as a filler or even throw-away episode, and it adds another layer of confusion to the story. I understand that Flanagan wants to retain an air of mystery to keep the audience engaged, however when the story is so confusing for so many episodes, it becomes frustrating to watch. Ultimately, the series wastes a decent amount of time keeping the audience in the dark, resulting in a rushed conclusion of the ghost story before moving on to conclude the ongoing story of love and loss. That being said, one thing that Flanagan does well is create a bittersweet ending that emulates the central theme that to truly love someone is to accept that loving them is worth the risk and pain of losing them. However, though the last 15 minutes of the final episode carry the entire show, it cannot be ignored that the majority of the show is too slow, and that Flanagan adds another subplot in the second-to-last episode that only opens up more plot holes.

Finally, I cannot review Bly Manor without discussing its predecessor, The Haunting of Hill House. Hill House is overall a tighter and cleaner story that does a better job of balancing horror and very human themes – grief and guilt, in this case. Flanagan ties in fear as a projection of guilt and trauma in this series – rather than a separate and debatably related aspect – with a satisfying conclusion addressing family and forgiveness. However, Hill House also falls into a lull with the two episodes before the finale, but those episodes act more as a set-up for the finale rather than an entirely new addition to the story like in Bly Manor.

Overall, I expected both series to come to a huge, dramatic, maybe even disturbing conclusion, but what Flanagan choses to do instead is to subvert expectations and craft two conclusions that that are empathetic and wistful. The last fifteen minutes of Bly Manor and the finale of Hill House showcase Flanagan’s ability to depict compelling stories of human relationships, which is ultimately what draws a large fanbase to the two shows.