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September 08, 1999 - Image 37

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The Michigan Daily, 1999-09-08

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Wednesday, September 8, 1999 - The Michigan Daily - New Student Edition -5C

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MAKING,

A

SCENE

Diversi
of soun s
melodfOUs
to Aears
By Chris Kula
Daily Arts Writer
If you simply stroll down State St. and
listen to the music of passing cars, you'll
quickly learn that Ann Arbor is truly a
place of musical
diversity.
Unlike in East MUSIC
Lansing, where Commentary
seemingly every
bass-kickin' Jeep
Cherokee is blasting the same Master P
song, residents of Ann Arbor are as like-
ly to catch the strains of an Indian sitar
piece as they are to hear the mellow
groove of a Grateful Dead jam. And
because of this disparity in musical pref-
erences, essentially every genre is repre-
sented in Ann
Arbor's local band scene.
There's something for everybody.
The prime venue in which to check
out live music in Ann Arbor (of both a
local and national variety) is the Blind
Pig. Located on Ist St., this intimate bar
isjust a short walk from Central Campus
and an even shorter distance from the
24-hour leetwood Diner, which is a
great place to stop for a quick bite before
a show. Furnished with a soothing wood-
en dance floor, mirrored walls and a tip-
notch sound system, the Pig is one of the
nicer club settings you'll find in
Michigan.
If jazz is quenches your musical thirst,
the Bird of Paradise should be your top
destination. The epitome of the smoky
jazz club of lore, the Bird hosts every-
thing from avant-garde rants to big band
stomps. Also a big purveyor of tradition-
al jazz is the Ark, Ann Arbor's classiest
sit-down venue. Located directly in the
Main Street central strip, the Ark also
hosts a variety of acoustic-based folk
and roots-rock acts.
And with a capacity of just a couple
hundred, there's not a bad seat in the
house.
Punk aficionados will be appreciative
of the Halfway Inn, which can be found
in the basement of East Quad.
Affectionately known as the Halfass, this
after-hours snack bar frequently features
a good deal of hard-edged rock, power
pop and indie shows. A perfect setting
for the folks who loved NOFX but can't
stand Rancid.
Any number of area coffee shops host
acoustic music on the weekends.
Espresso Royale Caffe, Cafe Zola and
the Gypsy Cafe consistently present tal-
ented performers who provide the per-
fect aural backdrop for nursing a warm
caramel latte.
Knowledge of Ann Arbor's live music
spots is of little use, though, if you're not
aware of the bands that are performing.
And since there's never a shortage of
groups playing around town, read on for
a breakdown of some of the more popu-
lar and interesting of the area's local
bands.
In a college town as liberal and free-
thinking as Ann Arbor, you should
almost expect to find a band as innova-
tive as Poignant Plecostomus (or at least
someone intelligent enough to decipher
the meaning of their name). The instru-
mental band has a sound that can hon-

CHRIS CAMPERNEL/Daily
Mose Allison .helps create part of Ann Arbor's music scene by playing at the Bird of Paradise. Just a few blocks away from
the Bird, an entirely different type of atmosphere can be found at the Blind Pig.

estly be described as original, as they
blend drums, bass, guitar, Fender
Rhodes and electric violin over complex,
odd-time compositions that morph into
extended, free jazz jams. With their
heavy Middle Eastern influence,
Plecostamus sounds something like
Frank Zappa sitting in with the
Mahavishnu Orchestra in an Israeli con-
cert hall - and then Bootsy Collins
shows up with enough funk to keep the
kids grooving.
And rest assured: the funk is well rep-
resented in Ann Arbor. Bambu, a ten-
piece band comprised largely of School
of Music students, lays down some
wicked grooves, covering tunes by such
funk masters as Stevie Wonder, Tower of
Power and Prince. From nearby Ypsilanti
is Funktelligence, a great live band that
blends smooth hip-hop grooves with a
psychedelic soul-rock dimension, while
the Astro Pimps is a funk-rock trio that is
equally influenced by Busta Rhymes as
it is by Parliament Funkadelic.
There's a good deal of pop/rock out-
fits in the Ann Arbor area as well.
Leading the way is a student group

called the Bottle Prophets. Featuring
candy-coated riffs and strong female
vocals, the Prophets have been playing
together for more than a year and a half
(nearly the silver anniversary in band
years) and released their first album last
spring. Another local group that has been
testing the modern rock waters is Sugar
Pill, a four-piece Matchbox 20 knockoff.
Somewhat humorously, singer Greg
Epstein inexplicably feels the need to
fully ensconce himself in pink clothing
before uttering a single note.
That's rock and roll for you, apparent-
ly.
There sometimes seems to be a sur-
plus of blues-based hippie-rock bands
touring the frat circuit, playing their
share of Phish covers and jamming long
into the night. The Porch Band, however,
is one of these groups that has potential
to rise above the jam-happy masses,
thanks to the dynamic keyboard style of
LSA sophomore James Sibley IV Other
local bands playing in the hemp-woven,
improv-rock vein are Smokestack and
Ypsilanti's Electric Boogaloo.
Consistently drawing large crowds to

the Blind Pig is Maschina, an experi-
mental avant-rock quartet that features
heavily distorted trumpet as its lead
instrument. Though the group is now
based out of Chicago, Maschina got its
start in the University^"s School of
Music and still comes through town on a
frequent basis. After all, Ann Arbor is
always eager to welcome flamboyant
frontmen who don pink feather boas on-
stage.
And, of course, no local band scene
would be complete without the now
obligatory swing representative. In Ann
Arbor's case, it's the 10-piece Imperial
Swing Orchestra, a boisterous, horn-dri-
ven big band that plays much in the
retro-vintage style of Squirrel Nut
Zippers.
For every band mentioned above,
there are at least a dozen more that are
jamming out in frat basements, dorm
lounges or School of Music practice
rooms, working toward the day in which
they will emerge as players in the Ann
Arbor music scene.
The music is out there. Take a stroll
and have a listen.

Psst! Wanna catch a concert on the cheap

By Jonah Victor
Daily Arts Writer
One of the best-kept live-music secrets in Ann
Arbor is right here on campus. Buried in the East
Quad basement is the Halfway Inn, a snack bar by
day, on Friday and Saturday nights it becomes an
eclectic music club more commonly known as The
Halfass. The Halfass (Halfway Inn is the rarely used
official name) is an intimate and informal venue
with a graffiti decor that has covered its walls longer
than many students have been alive. Inside, thanks
to a group of University students, a variety of bands
from around the nation and around Michigan can be
seen up close for a small fee.
The shows are produced by the East Quad Music
Co-op. The EQMC is open to all students regardless
of class, residence or school, and meets biweekly to
plan concerts. The EQMC rarely needs to search out
musicians - the group is bombarded weekly by
requests from bands from Los Angeles to New York

"We have everything from hip-hop to metal'" said
RC sophomore Adam Arola, a co-director of the
EQMC.
The Co-op also presents experimental, punk and
ska, some of which comes from local and student
bands. On average, about half the concertgoers are
University students. The rest come from Ann Arbor,
Detroit and other colleges. The largest turnout last
year was for the ska-reggac band Aks Mama, but
hip-hop shows tend to attract more University stu-
dents.
Michigan State University student Dave Bordoley
frequently drives down to see his favorite bands
play. He had worked with the Michigan State coun-
terpart of the Halfway Inn, but felt that East Quad
had a better program.
"The shows are better and the venue is infinitely.
cooler," Bordoley said.
Bands like the Halfway Inn because they can do
things that they would not ordinarily do at commer-
1in vfmn,,z t.Tb0 n naf lhmnnnrP Hnflniom tbOC'

A HALFASS EFFORT
Want to see who's coming to the
Halfass? Click your way to
www.umich.edu.-eqmc.
Want to be on that schedule? e-
mail the East Quad Music Co-op at
eqmc@umich.edu.
GYGA, who headlined one of several benefit con-
certs the EQMC sponsors.
GYGA is a novelty satanic-grindcore band whose
members include the singer from the popular ska-
rock band Telegraph as well as the former drummer
of the nationally famous Suicide Machines, who
often spit streams of fake blood while playing.
Thoughts of lonesco is a metal-punk band fea-
tuired at the 1990 Warned Tour

11

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