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September 29, 2000 - Image 9

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2000-09-29

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A RT'S_ _The Michigan Daily - Friday, September 29, 2000 - 9
Lights, camera, zany action:Pish goes silver screen

By Chris Kula
Daily Arts Editor
"Bittersweet Motel," the first full-
length feature film about Phish, Ameri-
ca's favorite not-so-underground band,
successfully captures everything that
makes the band's
- live show so
addictive: Spirit-
ed jamming, a
Bittersweet crazy light show,
Motel a shaggy, red-
Grade: B+ haired guitarist
+ who can't stop
At Michigan Theater grinning and an
eager audience
hanging on every
But the real
fun or, perhaps I
should say, phun
starts when the
band walks off-stage.
And that's because the four members
of Phish - guitarist Trey Anastasio,
keyboardist Page McConnell, bassist
Mike Gordon and drummer Jon Fish-
*rpan - are pretty much the most pleas-
ant, vanilla-flavored non-rock stars in
popular music. Sex, drugs, hotel
destruction -- sorry, but the only thing
in excess in this rockumentary is hearty
The film, which follows the quartet
from the final concert of their '97 sum-
mer tour through a run of European

shoes in July of '98, finds the band's
tradetark sense of humor on full dis-
playor devoted fans who have ever
woncred what goes on backstage dur-
ing s: break, seeing a tipsy Anastasio
singan impromptu song about
McCnnell's spiffy new shirt is like
sneaklg a peek into a secret world.
Fisman's story of the band's first
paid ;g, Anastasio posing for fans'
pictur; on a beach in Spain -- basical-
ly anycene that has the band members
interasing with each other is worth
some pod giggles (and you don't even
need thnitrous).
In prhaps the film's funniest
sequere, Anastasio and Gordon go
into a arcelona gun shop and haggle
over thiprice of a Magnum .357, with
Anastan eventually settling on a bull-
whip ittead. Its a bizarre, surreal,
hilariou:moment, and even those who
are comletely unfamiliar with Phish
will be hrd-pressed to stifle a laugh.
Whici brings up a valid question:
Can a nn-phan enjoy "Bittersweet
Motel"?:')ue t aPhish's long history of
inside jots ansd far mythology (not to
mention s left-ofmainstream musical
tendenciei, :s fair amount of casual lis-
teners bus don't "get it" when they
attend tlisdirst live show - it's simply
too much Ir them to absorb in only
one night.
But w t'iBittersweet Motel," nev-
bies won't ave to worry about being
left on themutside, because director

Todd Phillips chose not to focus on the
aspects of the band that only would
appeal to a diehard fan who's been sell-
ing veggie burritos on Phish tour since
Phillips, who was a total newcomer
to Phish's music when he took on the
project, instead tells a straightforward
story of life with four very normal, very
likeable friends who have a lot of fun
on the job - it's just that their "job"
happens to be rocking out in front of
thousands of people every night (which
is good for film-goers, because a docu-
mentary on four very normal, very like-
able accountants just doesn't have that
same appeal, you know?).
Not surprisingly, much of the film's
cornmentary comes from Anastasio,
who has been the groups de facto
spokesman since its 1983 inception at
the University of Vermont. Many Phish
fans will gripe about the band meri-
ber's unequal screen time, but the bot-
tom line is that Anastasio's on-screen
presence is much like his guitar play-
ing: Engaging, demanding of attention
and, when you get down to it, the heart
of the band.
Of course, a rockumentary without
the rock would just be a nonsense word
like umentary, so Phillips loads up "Bit-
tersweet Motel" with a healthy amount
of live concert footage. In addition to
concert standouts like "Down with Dis-
ease,""Wilson" and "Tweezer,"the film
also features neat rehearsal run-

throughs of "Birds of a Feather," "Brian
and Robert" and the Ween cover
"Roses are Free."
The musical showstoppers, though,
are the several montages that Phillips
and his crack editing team pieced
together. An awesome "Frankenstein"
segment is the highpoint of the Euro-
pean tour, while the best moments of
the Great Went, Phish's 1997 end-of-
summer festival that drew 70,000 peo-
ple to northern Maine, are set nicely to
the funked-out theme from "2001: A
Space Odyssey."
"Bittersweet Motel "Premieres in
Ann Arborat 9:30 p.m. Frida' night at
the Michigan Theatr: Bringryorrglotr-

If you sing a cappella, they will come: Phish's '97 summer festival drew 71

I. U

University of Michigan students are
invited to attend our presentation:

Continued from Page 8
This night, however, belonged to Grandmaster lash.
His set lasted for about an hour and featured a r'xture
of break beats, "new" school, "old" school ancom-
mentary on hip-hop. Most of the tracks were sindard
crowd pleasers like "Jump Around" and "Scenari' cou-
pled with older joints like "White Lines" and "Rpper's
Though the music selected wasn't out of the (dinary

for anyone who's attended their share of hip-hop shows,
Flash's mixing and cutting ability proved to take prece-
dence. He added his own commentary about what he
thought when he first heard certain artists and briefly
expressed his grief about the Notorious BIG's death.
This all kept the crowd's attention and caused the show-
goers to keep bouncing to the rhythms. More important-
ly, due to the racial and ethnic makeup of those in
attendance, it proved what Flash meant when he said,
"Hip-hop belongs to all of us," regardless of our back-

Monday, October 2, 2000
5:30 PM
Payton Room P1016
Office Hours:10am-4pm D2235
Opportunities available for
Evanston " Menlo Park " Princeton " Frankfurt . London Paris

Works hits
With flash
By Shannon O'Sullivan
Daily Arts Writer
It was a Wednesday and the audi-
ence for the Ann Arbor Dance Works
Fall season seemed glazed over, tired
om a long day of classes and work.
Suddenly the performance began,
the audience sat up a little straighter
in their chairs as J.S. Bach's familiar,
Italian Concerto in F Major drew
everyone's eyes to the backdrop,
where off to the side was the piano
and at center stage a trio of women
splendidly performed Gay Delanghe's
newly choreographed piece.
The trio captured the audiences'
full attention with their eneretic,
rely moves. Much to everyone's sur-
prise, a dancer even danced under te
Although each of the six perfor-
rances were magnificent, the high-
Eght of the night must be given to
Annabel Weiner, the youngest, most
lorable dancer in the show. Weiner
is choreographer Jessica Fogel's four
ynar old daughter, and performed in
: dance Set of Eight: Routines anc
'veries. Adding variety to th
evtning, this set presented prints ir
Jaanese-style" personal monsents in
itheevery day lives of 19th Centuruy
wonen. Along with the traditiona
shaluchahi music, simple props suet
as alamp, a bath, and a letter lef
roon for the imagination to wander
backto 19th Century Japan.
Nc only did the performers dance
they ramatized and acted out scenes.
romthe calm quietude that goes
ith rading a letter to swaying bac<
and farth on a bus, the dynamics oh
the misic accompanied the perform.
ers' moves. This dance, austere yet
gracefl, was divided into eight sec-
An olslent and dynamic group ol
dancers hen took over the stage, per
formin'a powrful intrpretation o
yynnsest Boch's Bal Shem. This vigr
sly choreographed dance told
story offeminine archetypes wit
. pecial guest violinist Marl Thomp-
son yieldng an equally impressive
The nigit came to a close with a
moving dace inspired by a biograph
about the cvil-rights activist Septim'
Clark. Thisdance was rejoicing in ths1
human sprit and the power o
One woud never know that An
bor Danea Works consisted of only
of seven chireographers, a lighting
designer andtwo musical directors.
Area prohfssionals, student per-
formers, cheeographers and musi-
cians all conbined to kick off AA
Dance Works nto a moving season.

First United
at the
603 E. Liberty, Ann Arbor
During our renovation, please join us at the Michigan for
worship, 9:30 a.m. each Sunday in October.
First United Methodist Church of Ann Arbor 734-662-4536


mlj J
w j a K At WMAW JIF W KI

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