REVIEW: Cedar Bend, VUP & The Ruckus

The Blind Pig was accompanied by a lively and excited audience yesterday, January 14th. The Pig hosted three University of Michigan bands on their stage: VUP, Cedarbend, and The Ruckus. These bands feature many students from U-M’s School of Music, Theater, and Dance, as well as LSA along with some distinguished alumni. The turnout was solid for a chilling January evening, with approximately 75-100 people in the venue.

The sound at The Blind Pig is very hot, a shockingly loud and overwhelming space. (I would recommend earplugs.) The lustrous lighting on stage makes for great band promos and an eclectic visual scene. Sharp greens, merciless reds, and chilling purples make for an almost nostalgic college atmosphere.  

 

Cedar Bend opened the show at 8:30. Their sound is unique, existing in an alt-folk area with an electric

guitar and violin/trumpet combo. I loved the selection of songs and the mediation of energy. Annabella Paolucci presented a beautiful violin sound throughout the set,

playing sensitively to the band’s style while staying true to the integrity of her sound. (She also makes solo music. Spoiler: it rocks). I could see this band performing in many different venues: some more intimate for their touching writing along with larger houses with support from their lead horns and violin.

 

 

VUP played second with memorable covers of catchy pop songs with groovy horn arrangements. Pianist Rowan Tucker-Meyer took pop songs beyond the limit of their confines and into a realm of creativity and complexity through improvisation. This band contains mostly jazz majors, and their feel together is unmatched. Ariana Kertsman captured the room with her powerful voice, and her interpretations of even the most difficult song selections (Stevie Wonder!!) were wholly agreeable to the audience.

The Ruckus (formerly Joe and The Ruckus—what happened to Joe???) sent the last set out with a bang. This ensemble is bright, energetic, and campy. Singer Kiran Mangrulkar is a joyful Ann Arbor spirit who joined the Ruckus for this concert. His killer voice seized the room, all along with his charming stage presence. Drummer Stephen Oduro was responsible for the infectious energy on this set—he wouldn’t let it cease for a second. The band’s ensemble was the most clear and exciting. They often play in NYC as well as Ann Arbor, so check them out on Instagram to see where they’ll be!

I highly recommend checking out these awesome local bands. Each group brings an unforgettable unique sound to the Ann Arbor music scene that will (hopefully) never be taken for granted by their close community.

 

Instagram handles for the bands:

@vup.band

@cedarbend.band (Also on Spotify as Cedar Bend)

@theruckuslive

 

 

Photos thanks to vup.band and cedarbend.band on Instagram. 

REVIEW: FestiFools

Festifools has established its place in Ann Arbor’s Art scene.

Minnie mouse dressed in fancy orange!

Even before the official starting time of the festival, the east side of UMMA was filled with Trucks, student artists, puppets, and fascinatingly dressed volunteers. There was a call for volunteers to gather 1 hour early before the start of the festival, and many had risen to the call. It looked almost like Halloween, but a more jolly version-I saw at least a handful of red queens, Alice, clowns, and people dressed in colorful gowns, sashes, and laces. People should definitely have more change to dress in those cool clothes. What a waste that they were stuck in the drawers throughout the whole year! I was also one of the people who volunteered to help carry the puppets. Student artists and Mark Tucker, the founder of the Festival and the instructor of the Michigan Learning Community(MLC) course at U of M where students create the puppets throughout the semester for this festival, were busy bringing the puppets to life with cable ties, bamboo poles, and iron bars. Student artists explained how they wanted the puppets to move, and some volunteers embraced themselves for the big march with drums in hand. Then the game was on!

The festival took place starting in front of State street in front of Angell Hall until the diag. The crowd was lined up on either side of the street. I was honestly surprised at how many people had shown up – there were triple lines of people on either side of the street from the starting point of the march to the end. Toddlers, children, adolescents, grown-ups, and elders all gathered to have fun, laugh at the jolly movements of puppets, and especially the youngsters had the privileges of occasional high-fives with the puppets. Although the puppets were certainly a grandeur, they were not the only thing to see at the Festival. Student organizations and local communities have come to join the fun! There were people marching while playing percussion(Groove-y!), an actual marching band, people dressed up as clowns that played tricks in the march, a cool belly-dance club dressed in red and black, and other amazing people. The march went on for about an hour. I and the person behind me who were helping the carry different parts of the puppet came to a consensus-it was a workout, but definitely a fun one.

Puppets loaded off the truck, ready to come into life!

I really enjoyed how the whole community, whether they took the role of the audience, artists from the university, or performers outside the university, came together to have a festive afternoon. The festival was truly a community event in the sense that it could not have been as festive without any of the groups. Also, I really appreciated the atmosphere of the day where a father and daughter can casually wear jocker hats, matching rainbow ties, and banana Hawaiian shirts together and take part in a festival in a local area. It’s not a scene that can be found everywhere, but something that a lot of people can benefit from having in their lives at some point. So thank you, Mark Tucker, for founding this lovely community event!