The Michigan Daily
Wednesday, January 22, 1992
Nevermind Nirvana, try Helmet
by Greg Baise
Shirley Perich and Marty Smith exchange soulful witticisms in Neil
Simon's family play, Brighton Beach Memoirs.
Sei SimonS good
old. dys come to li*fe
by Sue Uselmann
Neil Simon usually inspires a wry grin. His comic wit pervades the stage
and entertains even the staunchest stoics. Less obvious is his ability to pro-
duce straight-faced works. But this weekend, the Ann Arbor Civic Theater
will offer its own version of an odd couple in Brighton Beach Memoirs.
The play combines a serious topic with Simon's overt humor to produce
a "complete entertainment package," says director Wendy Wright. "I am
sure the audience will laugh in the first half, and most likely cry in the sec-
"I was very much interested in the period of the play," says Wright.
"The play is one of time and place, but it is also one of the universal quali-
ties of families: their tights, and their laughs."
Memoirs takes place in Brooklyn in 1937. It is the story of seven people
in a small house trying to make ends meet during the depression. Although
it takes place in the pre-dawning of World War II, Simon's humor lurks in
every corner of the play.
Eugene (Brendan McMahon) is an autobiographical portrait of the
young Neil Simon. Through him, the audience becomes a part of the rela-
tionships between a hapless family and various spectators.
Wright, as part of the committee that chose to perform Brighton Beach
Memoirs, selected it for the characters. "They are wonderful and sympa-
thetic. You feel for them right away."
Wright adds that, although the play is very well written, it is the actors
who make it memorable. "Each actor has brought (his/her) own enthusiasm
and interpretation to the characters. The chemistry between the actors," she
says, "was amazing from the beginning. They create a feeling of family re-
lationships which is very real." Wright wants the audience to feel as
though being "invited into this family was a worthwhile experience."
BRIGHTON BEACH MEMOIRS will be performed at the Lydia Men-
delssohn Theatre tonight through Saturday at 8 p.m. with a Saturday
matinee at 2 p.m. Tickets are $13-$15 and can be purchased at the Lydia
Mendelssohn box office. Call 763-1085 for more information.
Even my little siblings know that
post-indie grunge metal bands will
be excreting their yells, six-string
blasts, and regurgitated rock history
from radio speakers and other ori-
fices of popular culture until the
next Nirvana single flops.
For now, while Nirvana surveys
the recession from a miraculously-
created tiber-pop platinum throne
atop the Billboard boneheap, the
post-indie guitar has an advantage.
The majors are scrambling and
fighting over many a "next
Nirvana" who deserve to give up
their day jobs. Helmet, New York's
indie-metallicoids who stand on the
Cusp of Bigness, recently signed
with a WEA subsidiary, Interscope.
Two members of the band still
have their day jobs - for now. But
soon Henry Bogdan, bassist, and
Pete Mengede, guitarist, ought to be
following John Stanier, drummer,
and Page Hamilton, guitarist/
vocalist, in finding financial release
solely through being Helmet.
Hamilton, the mastermind of
Helmet with the master's degree in
music, explained by phone earlier
this week, "As far as majors snatch-
ing up all of these bands, I think it's
financially so tough right now for
independent labels to exist. If good
music gets out there, it doesn't mat-
ter how it gets out there."
Hamilton knows about "finan-
cially tough." The collapse of
Rough Trade hurt the band's income
from their debut album Strap It On,
and Hamilton explained that it's
just as easy for money to get lost in
the maze of financial connections in
Smells like the next big thing ... Helmet's just been signed by a major label, and with Big Black legend Steve
Albini producing their next album, they'll no doubt be more popular than Jesus.
the independent world as it might
be to get lost among the superstars
of a major label.
Tomorrow's Ann Arbor show is
the first of merely three dates on
this brief Helmet jaunt to the Win-
dy City, where they will record
some demos with Steve Albini, the
influence of whom can be picked up
on the twin slicing/dicing guitars in
Fuse those guitars to Bogdan's
maniacal bass-playing camouflaged
by a nice-guy exterior and Stanier's
precision obliteration of bloated
classic metal drummers, and you've
got some great music to pump full
blast as you cruise through the
burnt-out shell of a once-great city,
looking to crack some trouble and
fun out of the same nutshell.
Helmet already recorded some
demos with Wharton Tiers, who
recorded their first album, and after
Albini finishes his production job,
the band will decide who they want
to produce their major label debut,
which, if everything goes along
with Hamilton's plans, should be
released sometime in April.
"The majority of the set will
consist of material that hasn't been
released yet," Hamilton said, adding
that the recent "Unsung" single and
Strap It On would by no means be
ignored. "Unsung," with its clearer
vocal stylings and more melodious
melodies departs from the rough
rock-on-a-cheese-grater vocals that
Hamilton grafted onto Strap It On's
Black, Purple, and Zeppelin musical
Hamilton realizes that some
fans might not enjoy Helmet's rush
See HELMET, Page 8
Indies SuperChunk ignore the machine
By Scott Sterling
North Carolina's SuperChunk is
the current darling of the indie rock
scene. The band's infectious, buzz-
saw rock has garnered the members
fans from Michael Stipe to Spin.
Spin has bestowed SuperChunk
with the dubious honor of a "band
to watch" in 1992. But such
widespread adulation hasn't had
much effect on singer/guitarist Mac.
"You can't really react to some-
thing like that," Mac says on the
telephone, two days before heading
out on tour. "People have pretty
much been into us since the begin-
ning, so we probably shouldn't do
anything too different than what
we've been doing." And as far as be-
ing compared to other "bands to
watch," like Teenage Fanclub, it's
all taken in stride.
"I sort of feel like those bands
are all on our level, so it's nothing
to be intimidated by," Mac says.
This is SuperChunk's second
cross-country tour, this one being in
support of their new album, N o
Pocky For Kitty. The inevitable
"Pocky is a Japanese candy, and
we had these cats that would always
try to eat them. Of all the titles we
were sifting through, it was one of
the dumber ones. It was the only one
that at least one person didn't hate,"
he recalls with a laugh.
It seems impossible to hear Su-
perChunk's sound described with-
out them being compared to indie
rock's most revered deities, Husker
Du and Dinosaur Jr.
"Yeah, it gets annoying, but we
just ignore it. Unfortunately, any-
time you're making loud, guitar-
based rock with a melody, you get
compared to those two bands."
When he's not writing or per-
forming loud, guitar rock with a
melody, Mac, along bassist Laura,
run their own record label, Merge.
"We've put out a wide variety of
stuff, a lot of seven-inch singles.
They're mostly bands from around
North Carolina and Virginia, like
Bread Winner and Coral."
So, despite the current barrage of
hype, SuperChunk's members just
continue to do what they do best -
writing great, three-minute pop an-
thems that would make even the
See CHUNK, Page 8
......,..uae .a". +....... ..
University Activities Center
University Activities Center is
looking for people to head the
Ann Arbor Civic Theatre
by Neil Simon
)irected by Wendy Wright
an. 22-25, 1992-8 p.m.
Sat. Matinee-2 p.m.
or Ticket Information:
after Jan. 20-763-1085
* SPECIAL EVENTS
Applications are available at UAC, 2105 Mich. Union
and are due by 5pm-January 24, 1992.
For more information, call UAC @ 763-1107
! ! i t.
WINTER JAZZ SERIES
North Campus Commons
r Featuring Jazz Ensembles 30
from the Jazz Studies Feb.
Progr, Ed Sarath
12:00- 6:00 PM
MONDAY, JANUARY 27-