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.


This Friday, Californian rock band together PANGEA will be performing at the Blind Pig. Offering a range of punk garage tunes, together PANGEA is sure to offer an energetic set, as they’ve been making music for over a decade. Come for highlights from their fantastic 2014 album, Badillac, alongside hits from their newest album, DYE.


Doors open at 7, and two openers will be playing: Skating Polly and Sad Park. Both openers have intriguing musical inspirations and will blend really well with the headliner. With a packed lineup, this show is definitely a great way to spend a Friday night in Ann Arbor.

REVIEW: Enter the Haggis at the Ark

I love the Ark. I love its hallway lined with black-and-white frames of the performers that have graced its stage in years past. I love that it’s run by volunteers who will always help you find the best seat. I love how the stage isn’t roped off or even that tall – if you’re sitting close enough you can kick back and rest your feet on the edge, feeling the vibrations of the band’s sound.

I also love the Toronto band Enter the Haggis. I found them by accident when I was in the 6th grade. I had been going through a strange Irish/Celtic rock music phase and was jamming along to my The Corrs radio station on Pandora when I first heard their song “To the Quick”. There’s something about the Highland bagpipe that is so gorgeous to me. Each note rings clear, louder than anything else surrounding it, and without any vibrato or chance to cover up what the note is. You can’t lie on the bagpipe! And the combination with fiddle and rock guitar is so interesting.

My favorite Haggis songs are “Musicbox” and “To the Quick” — two tracks off of their oldest album from 2005, and two of the few that have no lyrics. Coming to hear them live was a pretty magical way to experience those songs, but was also a great introduction to their more recent work. I could notice a few changes. I love it when bands experiment with their sound – I don’t think any creator deserves to be put in a box where they can’t change.

At the show everyone played a little bit of everything, it seemed. There were vocals and keys and guitar and drums and sometimes, spontaneous battles between the fiddle and harmonica! I sat up close to Craig Downie, who seemed to know how to play basically every music-producing thing on this planet. I do not kid when I say that Craig had his own little *table* with a spread of instruments that he would swap between at will. It was marvelous to watch him go from swinging around a giant set of bagpipes to a tiny little harmonica or piccolo to a moon-shaped tambourine. The band joked that they needed to set up a special “Craig Cam” just to follow his movements.

Craig Downie playing the Great Highland Bagpipe


Just before starting the last song on their set, the frontman turned toward my part of the room and said “This song is dedicated to this pair right here. They’re a mother and daughter, this is their 5th concert of ours in a row that they’ve come to – and they were late to our show tonight because they were getting MATCHING Haggis Head tattoos.” At that the pair both rolled up their sleeves to show the audience proof. It was wild. Someone to their right yelled “That there is COMMITMENT” and we rolled into the final song. Everyone in the audience was clearly there to support the band and to share that excitement with each other, and by the end nobody was standing still.

I hope that more artists find ways to play their music in smaller venues again. Big stadiums have their own kind of magic, but they can’t replicate that feeling of intimacy that comes with being so up close and personal.

REVIEW: The Short and Suite Nutcracker

While watching this show I kept thinking of what words to use to describe how awesome this is.
The Short and Suite Nutcracker by the Randazzo Dance company was a dance show featuring different dance styles. It had ballet, jazz, tap dancing, and more. For the tap-dancing, and some jazz performances there was live music which added a cherry on top. The kaleidoscope of genres kept the show refreshing and fun. I am not exaggerating when I say there were no dull moments.

All the dancers performed extremely well. There were dancers as young as, I might say, 5 years old to the oldest being seniors in high school. It was such a joy and privilege to watch all these young performers. It was wonderful to see them flaunt their skills and months of hard work. Despite the sheer number of performers, dance genres, set changes, etc. the show went smoothly. Thereby showing how well organized it was and how much practice the performers had done.

No part of this show was left unpolished. The costumes were simply gorgeous. They had been designed to really shine on stage and make every child look like a professional. The choice of music was tasteful and never boring. The lighting was well done as well as all the fun props and backgrounds.

In the second half of the show, the dances became more festive. There was a plot following the dances and it was a lot of fun. The dancers performed acrobatics, played with giant soft toys, did costume changes, and much more. It was a lively time. Their holiday energy was infectious and the pacing of the dances made the ending really extravagant and over the top in the best way possible.

I am glad I got to see all these extremely talented performers. No praises are enough for them. I know I will be on the lookout for any showcases from the Randazzo dance company!

REVIEW: Jader & Hilary Hahn with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra

Home to the fourth oldest orchestra in the United States, Orchestra Hall is truly a magnificent venue. December turned out to be the perfect time to visit, as the holiday-themed pine garlands and twinkling string lights in the lobbies paired beautifully with the red carpets and warm lighting to evoke the Christmas spirit. As a testament to Hilary Hahn’s influence and outreach work, I noticed that the audience had a notably larger proportion of younger attendees than what one would typically find at a symphony concert—including me and my four friends, of course. I found it funny when one friendly usher asked which one of us was “the violin player of the group,” and we all raised our hands. 

The DSO opened the concert with Bedrich Smetana’s Overture to The Bartered Bride, a bright, vivacious piece full of moving notes and striking dynamic changes. Still groggy from the trip from Ann Arbor, I found the piece was a great opener to sit back, build excitement, and appreciate the crisp acoustics of the hall.

Next, Hilary Hahn took to the stage to perform the Dvorak Violin Concerto in A minor. Distinctly contrasting with the previous piece, the concerto featured a dramatic introduction that showcased Hahn’s virtuosity—namely some pitch-perfect runs climbing up the fingerboard and ending with her insanely powerful fourth finger vibrato. I was amazed by how clearly her sound projected over the orchestra to our seats in the balcony. The second movement took on a more somber tone, with a dark-yet-sweet melody echoed by the flutes. Meanwhile, the final movement was clean and bright, playing with a delicate, bell-like motif introduced by the soloist at its beginning. Cue the standing ovation. 

Going off the program, Hahn took some time to say a few heartfelt words about the recent tragedy at Oxford High School and dedicated a solo piece she often plays alone when thinking through things. In this new context, the unaccompanied Bach Sonata for Violin Solo No. 2 in A minor, Andante adopted a whole new depth of emotion. In that hushed room packed with hundreds of people, the longing, sustained melodic line sung over an underlying current of pulses, like a heartbeat. 

After intermission, the DSO performed what is probably Smetana’s well-known piece, The Moldau No. 2 from Má vlast. The piece took the audience on a journey along a great river of the same name running through Czechoslovakia, featuring flowing lines to illustrate the intermingling of hot and cold water over the natural landscape. 

To conclude the concert, the orchestra played Symphony No. 3 in C minor composed by Florence Price, the first African-American woman to be recognized as a symphonic composer. Jader Bignamini, the conductor, noted the importance of playing such underrepresented works that deserve to stand amongst iconic orchestral repertoire. An exhilarating mixture of warm melodies, jazzy-ragtime rhythms, and big brassy sections, the piece was truly refreshing to listen to.  

As expected, Hilary Hahn and the DSO delivered an excellent performance. I look forward to future visits to Orchestra Hall while I’m at UMich!