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12B - The Michigan Daily - Weekend Magazine - Thursday, March 25, 2004

Roadside Zoo energizes crowds

The Michigan Daily - Weekend lagazi
The Bang! livens up A2 night life

By Ua Izenberg
Daily Arts Writer

On a Thursday night, the Heidel-
berg's Club Above was crammed full
with an excited crowd that rivaled the
energy of the band on stage. A local
band by the name of Roadside Zoo
was playing. People were dancing all
over the place, moving their legs and
arms to a catchy beat that could only
be described as "funk rock." Everyone
in the crowd at least bobbed their
heads and swung their hips. It was the
epitome of what local music is all
about: good, plain, old-fashioned fun.
Three of Roadside Zoo's four mem-
bers attend the University of Michi-
gan, and the fourth is a student at
Eastern Michigan University. The
band members were already in col-
lege when they met, and the late start
makes their sound a little more
mature than most, seeing as the mem-
bers of the band are more seasoned at
their instruments and have had more
time to sort out their style.

"We just started as an improv
thing," says lead vocalist and gui-
tarist Darryl Prudich, when explain-
ing the band's beginning. "We
weren't really in it to set up the band
at first, but we just started jamming
and stuff," he said.
Given the lack of fast-fame ambi-
tion, it's surprising that the four guys
who eventually became Roadside Zoo
experienced such rapid local success.
After playing at some campus house
parties, their first venue was at Touch-
downs Cafe on South University
Avenue, about a month and a half after
their start-up.
That might seem pretty quick, but
Cole DeVilbiss, the group's key-
boardist, says that the band simply
"made some rough demos, thinking
that's something we would need."
"Our first time playing (at Touch-
down's) was actually fun, because it
was new to us, and there was a
good crowd there," DeVilbiss says.
After that, the band's inclination
steered them away from Touch-

Photo courtesy of Roadside Zoo
Roadside Zoo, an Ann Arbor band, has a sizeable following around the city.


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down's and on to some different
venues around town.
So what kind of crowd does a local
band prefer? "Like the Heidelberg's
last Thursday," they said, almost in uni-
son. They like an energetic and excited
group, and having numbers on the
higher side doesn't hurt either. The
band also appreciates that the Heidel-
berg encourages original music. Local
bands, at least when starting out, have
to play some cover songs to draw
crowds. But if you want to play origi-
nal music, like Roadside Zoo prefers,
venues such as the Heidelberg or the
Blind Pig are at the top of the list.
"They really promote original
music, and so they are probably the
best few places to do that," DeVilbiss
says. Fortunately, Roadside Zoo is
now at a stage in their career when
they usually have no trouble landing
a spot in the gig schedule at local
venues. Still, there are tons of groups
on the scene, and no band has a per-
fect situation.
"Even now we have to wait our
turn," bassist Chris Ramos says. Cer-
tain venues such as the Blind Pig, have
long waitlists, with hundreds of groups
coming through consistently. Even so,
drummer Dave Malozzi says that all it
takes is a phone call and an inquiry
about the next available spot.
The band agrees that the particular
local music scene in Ann Arbor was
especially helpful to their aspirations.
"I think it's pretty easy to get in places,
to put together a demo, tell a bar you
can bring a bunch of people and then
you can play," Malozzi says.
Still, compared to other cities in
which the band has played, Ann
Arbor ranks high in terms of atmos-
phere. As far as playing other cities,
it's all about the basics: the crowd
that the other bands draw. This
proved successful when Roadside
Zoo recently played in Detroit for the
first time, where the other band play-
ing had drawn a local following.
This,hof course, made the crowd larg-
er, the energy higher and the experi-
ence a good one. A band that plays in
an unfamiliar city simply has to rely
on its co-performers for a crowd. In
other places, such as Kalamazoo, this
hasn't worked out so well for Road-
side Zoo, who says that their crowd
there was less than satisfactory. It
was too big to just goof around, and
to small to feel like a real audience.
Size of the audience aside, new ven-
ues can always be nerve-wracking,
even for the seasoned pros. Playing in
new places is like "going out and prov-
ing yourself again," Prudich says. "You
are so much more receptive to what the
crowd's reactions are." The band has
played across the country in places like
Richmond, Va., where they went on a
Spring Break.
Of course, Ann Arbor is home, and
Roadside Zoo loves to play here. The
Ann Arbor local music scene has been a
great help to them getting their feet wet,
and it only goes up from here as the
band expands and tries new things in
true "local artist" form. To see Roadside
Zoo play at one of their favorite local
venues, hit up the Blind Pig on April 13.
For more information, check out their
website at wwwroadsidezoomusic.com.

Many people consider Ann
Arbor's best dance party to be at
The Bang!, where hipsters are
decked out in crazy outfits and
everyone dances with energy. The
party, which takes place at the
Blind Pig almost every month, was
conceived by Jeremy Wheeler and
Jason Gibner, two art school gradu-
ates from Grand Rapids.
Bored by the stagnant atmosphere
of Grand Rapids, Wheeler, Gibner
and some friends moved to Ann
Arbor. Here they found a host of
house parties in town, especially at
a place called the Pirate House.
When the police closed it down,
Wheeler and Gibner decided to cre-
ate their own dance party, which
they held in November 2001 at the
East Quad Halfway Inn. Thus The
Bang! was born.
Playing an eclectic mix of songs,
The Bang! instantly became a hit.
Wheeler named the Kinks, James
Brown and The Pixies as examples
of music artists that go on the mix
tapes played at their parties. "You
always gotta play a little punk,
some '60s rock, some sort of crazy
disco-punk, a little bit of '80s but
not too much to get to an ironic
point. There's far too much good
stuff to just do that," said Wheeler.
Gibner said they also enjoy sur-
prising people by "playing things
that would normally never go side-
by-side, like Andrew W. K. and Puff
Aside from its unique mix tapes,
The Bang! also stands out because
of its attention to style. Wheeler
and Gibner create posters with retro
themes such as " '60s go-go girls or
really sexual men from the '70s,"

By Emily Liu
Daily Arts Writer

Wheeler noted.
The dance parties often incorpo-
rate holiday themes as well, such as
Christmas, Valentine's Day and
New Year's Eve. In fact, the New
Year's Eve 2003 Bang! broke the
attendance record, as news of the
frenetic dance party kept spreading.
Gibner said of the experience, "We
were getting ready to start up the
music, and it was just weird. You
looked out at the crowd, and the
people were just like a pull toy that
you wind back and you just let go.
People were just so ready to dance."
People who go to The Bang! also
dress up for the occasion; Star Wars
characters, sailors and Girl Scouts
are only some of the costumes that
attendees have worn. Gibner said,
"More and more people come in
outrageous outfits. We want to see
more of that, actually."
Wheeler agreed, adding, "I think
people like to just go all out for The
Bang! 'cause they know other peo-
ple are doing it also, so it's just
like, 'Why not?'"
After the Halfway Inn temporari-
ly closed because of problems with
people smuggling alcohol to vari-
ous shows, The Bang! moved to the
Blind Pig. The venue's bar was a
welcome addition to the Bang!
crowd, which was typically older.
Wheeler explained, "It was a
younger crowd at the Half-Ass. We
were actually getting a bunch of
high school kids, which was start-
ing to get kind of weird. And when
we did move to the Blind Pig, I read
on Internet message boards a bunch
of angry kids saying that The Bang!
sold out and I was like, 'What are
you talking about?'"
Wheeler and Gibner have also tried
to bring the dance party to Detroit
without much success. They felt that


Courtesy Jeremy Wheeler and Jason Gibner
The Bang! advertise their parties at the Blind Pig with vibrant posters.

crowds in Detroit were not as recep-
tive, making The Bang! unique to
Ann Arbor. When asked to compare
Ann Arbor hipsters versus those in
Detroit, Wheeler said, "What's the
difference between our hipsters and
their hipsters? Well, our hipsters
kno'w how to party and want to party
and they don't give a fuck."

According to Wheeler and Gibn-
er, people drive out to Ann Arbor
from the Detroit suburbs just for
The Bang! One person even signed
their online guestbook, "Thank you
for giving me a reason to go to a
bar in Ann Arbor."
The next Bang! will be April 17
at the Blind Pig.

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Dance Mix offers eclectic roster energetic show

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By Sravya Chirumamilla
Daily Weekend Editor

Late-night visitors to the Posting
Wall in Haven Hall are often treated
to a performance by one of the many
dance groups on campus. Around
midnight, the hall is used to hold
practices, and the groups usually
welcome onlookers to watch the
dance routines. Funktion and Dance
2xs frequently occupy the area and

provide passers-
by with energetic
and invigorating
They are usu-
ally practicing
for the many

Dance Mixi
Today at 8 p.m.
$8 Students
At the Power Center

Rhythm, Element 1, Climax,
PureDanceXtreme, Groove and the
Bhangra team, these two dance
groups complete a diverse ticket for
an eclectic show. Dance Mix will also
showcase 2xs from the University of
Illinois at Urbana-Champagne.
Dance 2xs co-manager Tracee
Chin notes, "This show is unique
because it showcases several of the
performance dance groups on cam-
pus. So many different types of
dancing are represented, and each
group has its own style."
Dance Mix is organized by a
board that consists of a couple of
people from each performance
group. This board arranges for the
venue, funding and publicity for the
show. They decide the length of
each performance and what groups
will receive invitations to join in
the show.
"It's somewhat unique in the sense
that it is a self-sufficient production,
put on by the performers them-
selves," says Business School senior
and Dance 2xs performer Sujeet

Rao. "For this reason, there's always
tremendous energy and mutual
respect among the groups."
This show is unusual in that so
many student performance groups
take part in it. "You are exposed to
every student group from all
across the board," says LSA senior
Jigar Astik, who attended the previ-
ous Dance Mix shows. "Instead of
going to nine different shows, you
get to see them all in one show."
Audience members will be treated
to an even more impressive show
this year because of a more distinct
roster. "This year's show includes
some groups who haven't previously
performed in Dance Mix, and it's the
most diverse as it's ever been," noted
Chin. "This year's program includes
hip-hop, jazz, tap, breaking, Bhangra
and percussion."
First-time Dance Mix performer
and Business School senior Amish
Shah is is a member of a new percus-
sion group called Groove. "I've
known about the show for the last
few years and it is a high profile

show," Shah notes. "For Groove to be
a part of that in our first year is an
exciting opportunity for us as a new
Since the performances vary so
much, they are in no way competing
with one another. Each group brings
a particular quality to the show, unit-
ing the dance community in one cel-
ebratory culmination of a long year
of performances.
"It's nice to see all of these differ-
ent groups support each other so
much. On top of that, the audience is
always so amazing and so support-
ive," Chin says. "All of this makes
being a part of Dance Mix an incred-
ible and fun experience."
Rao echoes those sentiments, not-
ing that the dancers push themselves
to impress one another. "Even when
other groups are performing, you can
hear other performers cheering and
yelling out people's names on stage
it's surreal," he said.
Rao notes in awe, "That's what the
whole show is about though: one
love, one passion - dance."

For more information, feel free to
call us at 734-764-0557 or email
us at classified@michigandaily.com

shows they headline. Be it Dance
Marathon or one of the many cultur-
al shows, these groups are sought for
their spirited and innovative per-
formances. Tonight, they are able to
star in their own show - Dance Mix
Along with Impact, Indigo,

I r

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