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November 11, 1996 - Image 11

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1996-11-11

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The Michigan Daily - Monday, November 11, 1996 -11A

13ig Head
By Stephanie Jo Klein
Daily Arts Writer
Tapping your foot at a concert is usu-
ally a good thing. But when your foot
goes numb from lack of musical variety
it's a bad sign.
.Although Friday's Big Head Todd
and the Monsters show had a few
,'*deeming moments of clarity and
nventive musicality, the majority of the
show was just boring, droning noise.
,With the crowd warmed up from
boogieing down on stage with openers
the Ugly Americans, Big Head Todd
quickly surprised the audience by hav-
ing a stage presence quite similar to
large pieces of lumber. Although the
band opened straight out with an
ressive "Sister Sweetly," off the
bum of the same name, it wasn't until
they finished their third song that they
loeked up from their feet and singer /
gwitarist Todd Park Mohr acknowl-
edged the audience.
-With his long black hair slicked back
ira ponytail, Mohr's well-over six-foot
frame remained
,fixed at the mic
stand except when RE
he moved a few
eps back for gui- Bl
solos. Bassist Mi
Rob Squires made
a ,sharp contrast
next to him, his
blond hair shining in the lights at a much
lower height, even dwarfed by the large
metal drum set in the middle of the stage.
-n an interview after the show, drum-
mer Brian Nevin said the group's less
than energetic performance could be
'Nobody's bored. Ever,' Nevin said
cmphatically. "In fact, usually more
tees when you'd think we'd be bored,
Ot:if the show is kinda slower, we're
iicentrating even more on how to
ive the energy and make it happen.
I actually don't even pay much
antion to the audience. I mean, I do in
ta sense of energy, but it's never a
tIkught of what are we gonna do to
e the audience great. My job is to
Lcus on making the music and playing
fJly well as a group," he added, his
Mgple shirt still sweaty from the show.

Continued from Page 10A
Gibson stomps around as the rampag-
ing lunatic who ultimately risks his
son's life to save a buck, Russo is
reduced to a whimpering, slobbering
heap (she vomits very convincingly
when she fears her son dead).
Russo's unacceptable role is one of
the main casting missteps in "Ransom."
She may be the only actress in the world
who has consistently shown that she can
star with Clint Eastwood or John
Travolta or Kevin
Costner and
always keep the
man in his sub-
missive place.
Here, her beau- 1
tiful persona goes
Russo is nothing
more than an'
object, just anoth-
er near-perfect
trinket that gazil-'
lionaire Gibson
picked up at some
exotic locale and
brought back to Gary Sinise stars ir
his lofty New
York penthouse. Without the slightest
implication of sexual tension or roman-
tic attraction between the two stars (one
of the qualities that makes them so lov-
able in "Lethal Weapon 3"), there is no
reason to think they care about each
other. Their spastic fights and united fits
of despair come off as absurd presenta-
tions of emotion simply because the
film's supposed formula called for emo-
tion to be there. Are they upset about the
potential loss of their son? Perhaps. But
considering the movie's shallow emo-
tional state they might as well be crying
over a spilled bottle of Dom Perignon.
And the thematic miscalculations
continue. Gibson seems like a nice guy
whose skeletons fly out of the closet
when his son is kidnapped. He has
some inner demons, indeed. That's why
he risks his son's life to mess with the

mind of the villain who he so wisely
calls "motherfucker" numerous times.
So why should we want thisschmuck
to get Sean back? He shoidget exact-
ly what he deserves: his poorson in a
body bag.
"Ransom" is based on a littleknown
1956 film that never succeeded i the
box office, never gained any fame
whatsoever and never made it to the
local video store. It is a movie that
never needed to be resurrected - a trial
that audiences did not need to suffer
through all over again.
But let's take a moment to try to digest
the updated story-
line - albeit shal-
low - that direc-
tor Ron Howard
forces upon us.
Perhaps Sinise (at
his creepy best) is
.:..' some sort of evil
doppelganger for
the renegade
Gibson. Perhaps
FBI agent Delroy
Lindo is a tough-
as-nails cowboy
who spends more
time corralling
"Ransom. Gibson's sinister
personalities than
he does returning the boy. Perhaps this
whole experience will teach the rich guy
that family and devotion are more impor-
tant than money (Sinise's implied reason
for committing the crime is that societal
underlings like he must teach elitists like
Gibson a lesson).
I don't buy it. And "Ransom" con-
tains nothing that tells me I should.
Howard and screenwriters Richard
Price (who plummets after last year's
outstanding "Clockers," which he also
penned) and Alexander Ignon spend
too much time stretching out a weak
plot, trying in vain to turn "Ransom"
into a film that means something - a
movie with a purpose. Yet while they
give Gibson a good reason to cough up
$2 million in the movie, I wish audi-
ences could have an equally persuasive
reason to see it.

Big Head Todd performed at the Michigan Theater on Friday. MARGARET MYERS/Daily

While they are a cohesive unit, allow-
ing both Mohr and bassist Rob Squires
to take center stage for solos, the absence
of emotion in their playing made their
excessive guitar tooling tire quickly.
The fraternity heavy, hippie-laden,
surreptitiously pot-smoking crowd did
respond well to some of the Colorado
trio's older songs, including
"Bittersweet," which had a surprising
energy when performed live; a slow-

g Head Todd
chigan Theater
Nov. 8, 1996
and "Circle," with

g r o o v i n g
"Broken Hearted
Savior," with
such a wild guitar
solo that Mohr
had to shake the
kinks out of his
hands in order to
continue playing,
fun, floor-shaking

release in February, is shocking some
listeners because of the addition of a
keyboard player and a more bluesy feel
than their past college rock anthems.
"Todd wrote the (new songs) on key-
boards," Nevin said. "We needed a
fourth player to do the record and it was
kind of a whim to
go on the road.
This tour has '
been kind of ar
trial period. I.
don't think it's
anything con-
scious. It's just
If they had ~
kept with the
bluesy songs, or
perhaps just sang
fewer than their
20 song set, it
might have kept
listeners from
sinking down
into the plush
seats of the
M i c h i g a n The Ugly Americans
Theater and the Head Todd and the
show might not -
have been quite as, well, monstrous.
But, unfortunately, they kept plugging
away, alternately numbing your
eardrums and your tapping feet.
Even one of their new songs,
"Caroline," was derivative, sounding
more like a Soundgarden or Pearl Jam
rip-off. Nevin said that wasn't inten-
tional. "I think it's more stylistic. It's
very Zeppelin-esque, with a Stone
Temple Pilots type of feel. Besides the

beginning and the bridge, the song is a
lot different," he said.
Even when he brought his guitar to a
screeching high note, Mohr stayed
rigidly at the microphone, towering over
the audience the whole show through.
Nevin said he's never seen them actu-
ally play, since
his drum set is
behind the rest of
the Monsters, but
through the
videos he's
watched, he
thinks Mohr is
passionate about
his music.
"The videos
I've seen, Todd's
expression gen-
erally looked less
bored than more
intense," he said.
"As a person he's
a lot more of an
MARGARET MYERS/Daily internal person.
As Nevin told
opened for Big tales of the
onsters. group's start in
high school,
playing covers of Johnny Cash, Sly and
the Family Stone, and Jimi Hendrix, and
later tours with B.B. King, the Allman
Brothers, and Don Henley, it was appar-
ent that the group enjoys music and each
other. Even the naming of the group,
based on some of the silly monikers of
early blues guitarists, showed their deep-
down enjoyment. Who knows? Next
time they hit Ann Arbor, maybe they'll
even show it on stage.


bass and drum solos. And the nice thing
about the old songs was that Big Head
Todd himself actually raised his seduc-
tive gravelly whisper a bit to make the
smooth lyrics audible.
The Monsters debuted some new
material, which had a few members of
the audience launching into air guitars
and, strangely, air harmonicas. On
"Beautiful World," a funky interchange
of driving beats and rhythms, the
Monsters brought out backup singer
Hazel Miller to share the mic with
Mohr. Although Miller's soulful, Aretha
Franklin style was gorgeous and melod-
ic, it was almost incongruous with the
tunes, making Mohr's sound appear
almost nasal.
Nevin said the band's upcoming
album, "Beautiful World," set for


Read Tipoff "96 Thursday in the Daily.
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