The Michigan Daily
Friday, March 2, 1990
The one and only
Laurie Anderson is raconteur of the mundane
by Greg Baise
T HE sun of our spring break is
coming up. Like a big bald head.
And as that spring break sun goes
down for the last time (as most
surely it will in just over a week)
it'll be Ann Arbor's night for Laurie
Anderson's one-person peformance,
as she brings it to the Michigan
Theater a week from Saturday.
Courtesy of her big-time record-
ing contract with Warner Brothers,
Anderson is one of the best-known
performance artists in America. An-
derson first established her profes-
sional artistic identity in the mid-
'70s, when she presented her medita-
tions on the realtionship between art
and reality at such places as the
Whitney Museum and the Kitchen.
Even early performances contained
songs and music, which would come
to dominate Anderson's work. Her
* magnum opus, United States, an
eight-hour musical and visual col-
lage of Anderson's earlier sound/vi-
sion/performance pieces, was pre-
'sented at the Brooklyn Academy of
Music in 1980.
It was from these performances
that Anderson culled the material for
her first Warner Brothers album, Big
Science. It was here that she calmly
informed us that our plane was about
to crash, like it was some kind of
everyday occurrence or something.
She also talked about letting x equal
x, and referred to the sky-blue sky,
and made us ponder the difference
:between the time and the record of
Four albums later (not including
the live-album recording of United
States released in 1984 by Warner
Brothers), Anderson came out with
her recent release, Strange Angels.
Strange angels that roam the lonely
streets and empty places of
"Coolsville," a place "So perfect So
nice," where people strive for the
sense of perfection of those
Olympian bodies you see in beer
commercials and the other ideals for
existence with which we are con-
stantly bombarded. These strange an-
gels are kin to those of Anderson's
friend Wim Wenders, whose 1988
movie Wings of Desire pursued the
plight of a Thomistic angel, deviod
of sensation, who desires to feel the
earthly sensations of people, and
share his experiences with a French
trapeze artist. Of angels, Anderson
wrote in the Village Voice, "Why
were they invented? As some kind of
Strange Angels isn't just popu-
lated by those handsome, deceased
Germans in their sharp overcoats,
however. There's also the "original
party animal," aka the title star of
"The Day the Devil," Anderson's
grapple with original sin and its
overwhelming shadow over the lives
of certain Southern stereotypes, like
Jesse Helms and gospel choirs.
Hansel and Gretel make an appear-
ance, too, in "The Dream Before," a
song dedicated to the German aes-
thetician Walter Benjamin. Anderson
gives us an update of their lives,
with Gretel as a has-been cocktail
waitress, and Hansel having had a
part in a Fassbinder film and both of
them having a domestic argument
concerning history and progress.
Bear in mind, this is argument in the
etymological sense, meaning "to
shed light upon."
Then there are the non-fictitious
characters that dwell within the mu-
sic itself, ultra-cool musicians like
ex-DNA man Arto Lindsay and
former Wire producer Mike Thorne.
Also among the all-star denizens on
the album are Bobby McFerrin and
the Roches, adding their names to
the painfully impressive list of mu-
sicians with whom Anderson has
previously worked, like Bill
Laswell, Peter Gabriel, Anton Fier
and master vocalist William S. Bur-
Anderson's live performance has
an all-star cast, too: a cast of one
bright star, Laurie Anderson, per-
forming Empty Places, a piece she
worked on in conjunction with the
creation of Strange Angels.
I think somebody once described
Garrison Keillor as a raconteur of the
mundane. I hope I'm not incriminat-
ing anybody by declaring all of us
raconteurs of the mundane, at least
See ANDERSON, page 7
More fun than a barrel of monkeys
Ann Arbor's mega-bass monsters Laughing Hyenas roll into town next week with Columbus, Ohioan sirens
Scrawl for a double-whammy of growling, screaming and skirts at Club Heidelberg. The Hyenas' angst-filled,
post-Birthday Party madness, paired with Scrawl's lighter, midwestern sound are sure to make for a strong
punch with which these maestros will be ready to smack Ann Arbor.
The underground success of the Hyenas two Touch and Go pressed slabs have earned them a strong
following across the United States, and an even larger one in Europe, where their Nick Cave-esque, groveling
fury is more readily appreciated. Unfortunately, the records lose some of the musically translated anger; the
vinyl seemingly has toned down much of the aggression with which their live shows have always been laden.
Singer John Brannon's (ex-Negative Approach) beastial growling and animositic stage presence forefronts the
Hyenas' needling guitar and smacking, power-rhythm section. The show's on March 10th at 10:30 pm at Club
Heidelberg, 215 N. Main. God knows who'll be playing first. Cover is a paltry $5.
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