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November 04, 1986 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 1986-11-04

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ARTS

t
9;

The Michigan Daily

Tuesday, November 4, 1986

Sonic Youth, Firehose

By Mike Rubin
Sunday night at the Blind Pig,
SST label-mates Firehose and
Sonic Youth combined (literally) to
burn the crusty old bar to the
ground, kick down the smoldering
remains, and send several hundred
pleased patrons scurrying through
the streets of Ann Arbor with wide
smiles on their faces and scars on
their ears.
The dynamic performance of the
Sonics should come as no surprise
(despite the Pig's thumbnail-sized
stage) to anyone who saw the New
York band on their most recent
tour. Ripping through nine songs
(five of which are on the new
E V O L album, plus the new
scorcher "White Cross," and
chestnuts "Brother James" and "I
Love Her All the Time") in a one-
hour performance, the band used
weapons as varied as a dozen guitars
(all tuned to different tonalities) and
a monster ghetto blaster (kicking
out Janet Jackson's "Nasty Boys"
between songs) to inflect hearing
damage and simultaneous pleasure
upon the sardine-packed audience.
More surprising was the Sonics'
encore and the first area performance

of Firehose. Just a year and. three
days ago, George Hurley and Mike
Watt were on the same stage with
D. Boon as he bounced like a
hydraulic jello mold in the
Minutemen's last Detroit perfor -
mance. Today, Boon lies buried in
San Pedro, California across the
street from where he and Watt grew
up together, after a tragic auto
wreck took his life last December.
Sunday night, Hurley and Watt
shared the stage with Ed Crawford,
a 22 year old Toronto, Ohio native,
who six months ago was a busboy
in Colombus.
Wearing more denim than John
Cougar Mellencamp's ancestral
line, the new guitarist found
himself on stage along with the
other two members of Firehose and
Sonic Youth for an encore, tearing
through versions of Sonic Youth's
"Star Power" and Blue Oyster
Cult's "The Red and the Black."
How did thisR mildmannered guy
(who claims as his influences The
Rolling Stones, The Who, The
Police, and U2) go from wiping
grease from dishes in Ohio to
wiping sweat from his brow on
stages nationwide?

"After D. Boon died, I heard that
the Minuetmen were auditioning
guitar players from the guitar player
of Camper Van Beethoven when
they were in Columbus," said
Crawford after Sunday's show, "I
basically just called Mike out in
California, not realizing that he
wasn't really looking to keep the
Minutemen going. He was nice,
but he just wanted me to send him
a tape. I told him that I'd be in
L.A. in a week and that I'd give
him a call. I figured that if there
was any chance to try out for the
band, I had to go for it."
The next week in L.A., through
a combination of multiple
answering machine messages and
curiosity, Watt gave Crawford a
tryout. "There was chemistry right
from the start," says Crawford,"I
had never been in a band before, but
somehow it clicked. Mike gave me
a tape of four demos from a project
called 'Dog' that he'd been working
on, asked me to try adapting them
and to write some stuff of my own.
That worked out, and we started
gigging around L.A. for four
months. There was some
apprehension at first, since no one

igmte
knew how I was, but people. re
very receptive and very glad -0See
Mike and George still playing
Live, Firehose square-danced
with Boon's ghost, stopping,
starting, parrying, and thrnaRng
through 17 songs, includingkir
Minutemen tunes. "We'll al S4
some Minutement songs 1I* ,"
explains Crawford, "It's only ┬░to
the Minutemen fans, and th srio
reason not to. Most of our rr ial
will be our own, Firehose' md
not the Minutemen's. We;:re
different bands. We have oir own
record coming out on SST. in
December, and we'll be totUing
again in these parts next ear
around March."
Crawford says he has fit in com -
fortably with the more experienced
Hurley and Watt:
"We all share the spi f ,f
adventure. We all ovepfty
terribly- we're not a three.1 e
jazz trio. What we're doing=?- a
natural kind of growth froU the
Minutemen. The guy.s are r1y
great to me; I sleep under Mike's
desk in his home. There's ju' a
real chemistry. We're having some
fun now."

Daily Photo by DEAN RANDAZZO
Guitarist Thurston Moore and the rest of Sonic Youth gave an energetic
lesson in innovation Sunday night. They were joined by the new band
Firehose.

Glass displays brilliant diversity
By Rebecca Chung driving, primeval, rhythmic mas - and the resulting mellowness very sphere..."), which will be called
terpiece, "The Funeral" from the noticeable. something that's "a Hopi word that
.. . mt - _i_ __I A _ m -In -.h n n P.f rm of l e

d
it

Philip Glass is a genius, and his
music is very enjoyable. Really.
Anyone who went to last Saturday
night's concert of the Philip Glass
Ensemble at the Michigan Theatre
knows this.
What was most astonishing was
the incredible range the ensemble
covered. Musically, they went
everywhere: an awe-inspiring, Arm -
ageddon-like prelude from the
CIVIL wars: a tree is best measured
when it is down; a carnival
burlesque complete with "bassoon"
(played on Glass' synthesizer) in
the Dance No. 9 from a piece
composed for the Twyla Tharp;
two"jazz"' pieces (the labels are all
generalizations and cannot hope to
be completely accurate), one "The
Building" from the opera Einstein
on the beach, and the other
"Facades" from Glassworks ; and a

opera Aknathen.
But the diversity went far beyond
mood. Glass' ensemble, made up
of four synthesizists (one of whom
was Glass and another of whom
also sang soprano), three saxo -
phonists (two of which doubled on
flute and piccolo), and a sound
engineer (who was listed with the
other musicians on the program and
sat onstage), also created new limits
in color.
Glass seems to favor bright
sounds: soprano sax, piccolo, high
voice, the upper end of the
synthesizer. But even these, often
played loudly and at high pitch, had
range. One could hear "sparkle,"
"tinkle," and even "glitter." He also
likes pungent, edgy sounds, like
super-oboes; in "Facades," which
was refreshingly less complex than
his other works, the edge was gone

The only real drawback to the
concert was the sound level, which
was always pushing excessive, and
became exceedingly so in "The
Building," an elusive work because
of its less obvious tonality (major
vs. minor). But beyond this, there
was no reason for complaint, and
the threestanding ovations and
encores were well-deserved.
After the stage crew began
tearing down: the set, Glass came
out and sat on the edge of the stage.
Friendly and accomodating, he
answered questions and signed
programs. He also dropped some
exciting news: he is working on a
sequel to the film Koyaanisqatsi
("It's the same kind of frame -
work...but the film is different...It's
about the impact of the industrial
world on the Southern Hemi -

means whe IUIII LLL
consumes another." There will be a
live Koyaanisqatsi concert tour
beginning next fall (which may
come to Ann Arbor), a recording of
Akhnaten will be recorded within a
year, and Northstar will be released
on compact disc.
More general questions included
two which must come to the mind
of anyone who has ever listened to
his music. "Why arpeggios?" asked
a certain naive reviewer for a major
student newspaper. "...it's a way to
articulate rhythmic and harmonic
ideas at the same time."~ "What do
you think of the criticisms you get
from composition professors?"
asked a music major, probably
worrying about his own career. He
replied "I never meet them."
Hmmmm....

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Records.

Howard Jones
One to One
Elektra
When. Howard Jones first came
into the world of popular music a
few years back, he was hailed as
one of a handful of newly emerging
N technological wizards. On his
" previous albums he managed to
'-push techno-pop to its limits,
delighting critics and winning over
many new fans. Unfortunately, on
his latest album, Jones has gone
overboard with the synthesized
sound and as a result he has
drowned himself in a sea of
electronically produced waves.
There are a few good songs on
'w One to One, but unfortunately,
there are too few. "Give Me
Strength" is a catchy, pseudo-reggae
number that is quite good despite
the fact that Jones can't resist
adding on some tacky novelty
sound effects toward the end of the
song. "Little Bit of Snow" is
another fine song that may be the
best one on the album, even though
it is devoid of any of Jones'
trademark synthesizers. Jones just
uses a plain ol' piano and some
strings to create a simple, haunting
piece.
One to One is not a particularly
bad album, just a little boring.
Jones has unquestionably managed
to find his own style over the years,
but now he won't let that style go,
or even compromise it a little bit.
There are several good songs on

ready to hear some serious music,
again, not an album of cutesy
sound effects. Jones may have
gotten a little riskier with his- fancy
electronic dabbling, but he has done
absolutely nothing to progress his
style, and as a result he sounds as
though he is stuck in a musical
time warp. Michael Race
John McLaughlin
and Mahavishnu
Adventures in Radioland
Relativity
What sort of place is Radioland?
It is an unsettling sonic funhouse, a
false asylum where the frightening
constantly lurks just around the
corner from the beautiful. As
musical powerholders there, John
McLaughlin and Mahavishnu have
strictly outlawed passive listening,
through instrumental arrangements
that blend electronic and acoustic
elements into a thrillingly
innovative sound.
Along with Weather Report,
Mahavishnu in the seventies
virtually defined electric jazz fusion.
It is therefore not surprising to find
the band's current five-man lineup
giving the genre a much-needed
kick in the pants. The playing here
is intensely creative, and at no
point does one member sound
subordinate to another. This results
from a skillful upsetting of typical
instrumental roles. heard most

i T

A

"Understanding and Masten
the MCA T"

John McLaughlin creates an unsettling sonic funhouse on his new album
'Adventures in Radioland' with the help of Mahavishnu.

Featui

A Seminar on the MCAT's Design and the
Successful Student's Battle Plan
fred Topics Include:;
" Overview of the MCAT and its Purpose
" The Most Difficult Section of the MCAT -
* Strategies for Concentrating Your
Resources for Maximum Performance
" How to Make Your 1O's-12's, 11's-13's
+ FREE Administration & Discussion of a
IU M E B .. A . 'ma

effect leaves one with the
excitement of never quite knowing
what next to expect.
In contrast, McLaughlin himself

Will Fall," a six-minute storm
where the guitarist trades racing
solo lines with Forman and saxman
Bill Evans.

I

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