The Michigan Daily
Tuesday, September 19,1989
Srhese guys look pretty harmless, don't they. But don't let appearances deceive you. Band of Susans are guitar
monsters who can kill an eardrum at 100 feet. Just be warned.
Susa s not lazy
BY MARK SWARTZ
IF Thomas McGuane, the first
guest of this season's stellar Vis-
iting Writers Series at the Univer-
sity, appears nervous at the
podium of Rackham Hall this
evening, maybe it's because of the
place. McGuane briefly attended
these hallowed halls in his under-
graduate days, and rumor has it his
GPA came to a whopping 0.6. He
was, as the Washington Post tells
it, "a rebellious flop" in Ann Ar-
Looking at the extraordinary
career that followed that debacle,
one can safely say that McGuane
has substantially overcome it.
Since he published his first novel,
The Sporting Club, 20 years ago,
he's been among the most cele-
brated - as well as the most
loathed - American writers on
Called "a sort of language star"
by Nobel Laureate Saul Bellow
and "one of the most perceptive
writers of our times," by Details
magazine, he's also been accused
of peddling "solipsistic maunder-
ings" as emotional depth.
The adjective most often at-
tached to him is
"Hemingwayesque," but it's also
one that unfortunately ignores the
playfulness of his prose. Sex and
love - and their counterparts vio-
lence and hate - mix it up in an
unresolvable ongoing feud that
ranges across Michigan, New
York, Florida, California, and
McGaune's current home, Mon-
tana. McGaune's heroes tend to be
at once archetypal American
Western types and sensitive
artistes with a longing to be un-
derstood. They come across as
brave but ridiculous, pitiful but
honest victims of their own good
A graduate of the Yale School
of Drama, McGuane has also writ-
ten several movies, including The
Missouri Breaks (starring Jack
Nicholson and Marlon Brando) and
Tom Horn (starring Steve Mc-
Queen). Cold Feet, with Keith
Carradine and Tom Waits, is the
BY FORREST GREE
THE sun rose at about 5:4
past 15 hours anyway, so ti
ing. I got up from the cor
wall, where I'd been sittin
My limbs felt stiff and d
since the spasms began. GE
ror, I noticed that the band
cned. I wondered if the he
the extent where I could re
and chew gum at the same
the white noise had destroy
cheery thought. Why, then
hours... and for the remain
screaming bunch of banshe
the Band of Susans.
I thought I knew what I
sure. I asked Hagar what h
He said, "Yeah, well, they
sort of like an artsy Sonic
"Sonic Youth? Really?"
I'd take the assignment.
That evening, I found n
trified pipe cleaner - in t
Cosmic winds whirled abo
follow. Strange shapes shif
Maelstrom. I shivered, tra
overwhelming and comp
plateau were four guitarists
*one bassist. A drummer cot
by the power that vibrated
three guitarists wielded th
gods, swinging them ab
counter-gyrations. The bass
threatening bursts of static.
I left, staggering like a d
Miss Crabtree was waiting
with her long wooden cane
word on the chalkboard, v
"Grunge," I said.
She grinned harder, then
"Hardcore," I said, bec
did these have to do with Ba
guitars to be served up in Pig
"There's only one Susan, you know," she said, read-
V III ing my mind like an open book.
"Well, what about Sonic Youth?" I said.
9 - I'd been awake for the "Forget 'em. This crew delivers the goods. Spare me
ime had lost all of its mean- the mumbo jumbo. Now - continue," she ordered me,
ner of my door and dresser pointing to a new word -"Garage Rock."
ig, drooling, all night long. "Enough!" I yelled, sending a mental blast of pure
isjointed, as they had ever angst at her. She screamed, then fell to the floor,
etting up to look in the mir- twitching spastically.
ages over my ears had loos- "You don't understand, damn it!" I screamed.
morrhaging had lessened to "NONE of this has anything to do with The Band of
move them - or even walk Susans, just like the fact that there's only ONE Susan!
time. I wondered if perhaps Next year, there may be none! The point is: there's
yed my sleep center. What a nothing to learn here - nothing to GAIN! Distortion,
I could study straight for 12 conflict - CHAOS! SCREAMING LIFE!!" Flecks
der of the day, thrash to the of spittle trailed from my mouth.
es who'd done this to me - "Meaning...?" Ms. Crabtree asked, gasping for air.
"LIVE FOR THE MOMENT!" I yelled, smashing
her down again, with a final blast of mental buzz.
was doing, that much is for She'd never understand. She'd never understand any-
ie thought about the Susans. thing again.
think they're loud. They're I dusted myself off, running back down the hill, so I
Youth." could watch the rest of the show.
Band of Susans is a group of five rock-rollers; three
guitarists, one drummer, with lone Susan Stenger on
nyself writhing like an clec- bass. Their new album, Love Agenda, is the mental
he eye of a sonic hurricane. equivalent of a Rorschach test. Whatever you see there
ut me, quicker than I could might as well be true, depending on your reaction to
fted about, deeper within the the surface of imagery and conception. But the lyrics
insfixed by something both are secondary here. More importantly, they rock.
elling. At the base of the Drummer Ron Spitzer bangs a beat good enough for
- well, three guitarists and any B-boy this side of Public Enemy, while Karen Ha-
uld be seen, barely, obscured glof, Page Hamilton, and Robert Poss create a wailing,
our atmospheric setting. The undulating, organic riff-fest that defies real description.
eir instruments like thunder It's more dramatic than your favorite movie, more
bout in mighty arcs, and complicated than a thousand discussion sections. It's
sist fingered smaller, equally like a slow trip that's so much more fun than the des-
tination, you hope it'll last forever. Their show at the
Blind Pig is the first of a series called Wah Wah Night,
Trunk. At the top of the hill, a cooperative effort between Prism productions, the
eagerly, pointing out a desk Blind Pig and WCBN. Upcoming events include
. I sat down. She pointed to Laughing Hyenas and the Flaming Lips. So do your-
with that simpering smile on. self a favor.
Live for the moment.
A new, academically
returns to Ann Arbor
Ann Arbor, home of
McGuane's inauspicious begin-
nings, is the first stop on his tour
to promote the new novel Keep
the Change (see review on page
9). Catch him tonight and* get a
scoop on Thursday's Today Show.
THOMAS MCGUANE will read
from his works tonight at Rack-
ham Auditorium at 8 p.m.
pointed to another.
oming confused now. What
and of Susans?
BAND OF SUSANS will be performing tonight at the
Blind Pig, 208 S. First Street. Doors open at 9 p.m. and
the band will probably take the stage at 10 p.m. Cover
Let Them Know
How You Feel/I
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