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November 19, 2004 - Image 8

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 2004-11-19

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Frilday
November 19, 2004
arts. michigandaily. com
artspage@michigandaily.com

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couresy f t1

Maybe, if we don't smile, people will think we are bad asses.
Sparta looks to move
past their history

By Amos Barshad
Daily Arts Writer

CONCERT PREVIEw
One day, we'll all have flying cars and
mechanical sidewalks will do our walk-
ing for us. One day, we'll find a reliable
alternative energy source. One day, the
Cubs will win the World Series. And
one day, someone will talk about Sparta
without talking about its members' for-
mer band, At The Drive In, or the other
band to come out of At The Drive In's
demise, The Mars
Volta. But today is
not that day. Sparta
Sparta, who Sunday at 7 p.m.
will be playing at At Clutch Cargo's
Clutch Cargo's on
Sunday, eschews
the theatrical sensibilities that former
bandmates Cedric Bixler and Omar
Rodriguez carried over into The Mars
Volta and focus instead on a more
straightforward screamo sound, albeit
a sound that they pull of better than
the majority of bands attempting the
same feat. For frontman Jim Ward,
who says he "grew up playing in a mil-
lion punk rock bands," the only stated
goal for Sparta is "to write songs and
make albums. For me, it's the best
part of what I do. If I can keep making
records, then I'm happy."
The band recorded its latest record,
Porcelain, amid some major-label
drama. "Dreamworks got sold. We got
the call when we were in the studio,
in the middle of making the record. I

remember sitting on the couch, finding
out that the label's been sold to Inter-
scope. We're safe, but 40 out of 60 bands
were dropped. Still, there's a moment
where you almost get excited that you
might get dropped so you can go and do
something else," explained Ward.
The song writing process for the
record was done under one roof. Ward
commented, "We decided that we
wanted to move somewhere and get
away from everything and write, just
the four of us, so we all wentto Joshua
Tree and lived in two houses, one of
which had a studio in it. It was kind
of like going back to the way things
were done a long time ago. It was all
about four guys hanging out and play-
ing music together."
While Sparta has managed to
establish itself in the music industry
over the course of two full lengths
albums and consistent touring, the
band is still hounded with questions
about At The Drive In's breakup and
the activities of former bandmates
which, understandably, irks Ward.
"I'm not going to keep doing inter-
views if it's all going to be about the
past," he said. "There's no point in
that. I did interviews for that band for
a long time. When people don't want
to hang out anymore, they break up.
Not very much drama for the world
to hear." As far as the Mars Volta
is concerned, "I can't sit around all
day and answer questions about their
band, I'm not in their band. I don't
hate them. I don't really give a shit.
There's no reason to talk about it."

University students rehearse for the "Tribal Dance."

0

'TIMES CHANGE'
IASA SHOW BLENDS OLD AND NEW TRADITIONS

By Shreya Sengupta
Daily Arts Writer

Hill Auditorium will once again be filled with
the sounds of Indian music and dancing tonight.
After two years at the Michigan Theater, the

annual Indian American Stu-
dent Association Cultural
Show returns to the recently
renovated auditorium.
This year, the show is titled
"Avinaashi: Times Change,
Essence Remains." Avinaashi
is a Sanskrit word meaning
"everlasting." According to
IASA vice-chair Sophia Rah-
man, the subtitle is meant to
explain India's unique moder-
nity, which encompasses both

Avinaashi:
Times
Change,
Essence
Remains
Today at 7 p.m.
Tickets: $12-$20
At Hill Auditorium
old and new tra-

South Indian dances. Included are dances from
the different states and cultures found within
India. Dances range from "Bollywood," (the
Indian version of Hollywood based in Bom-
bay) to a North Indian Bhangra. Each dance is
approximately six to eight minutes long, with the
show running close to two and a half hours.
Three dances - South Indian, Tambourine
and Bengali - were added after the start of the
school year to accommodate many people who
were on the waiting list. The IASA board and
the core members of the group had anticipated a
shortage of dances at the end of last school year,
but had kept potential choreographers in mind in
case more dances needed to be added. When the
demand was higher than originally anticipated,
adding three new dances was not a problem.
"The mission of IASA is to allow everyone who
wants to participate in the show to do so, and we
were able to do that this year with the addition of
the new dances," Rahman said.
Though one would expect there to be some
logistical problems in the transition from hold-
ing the show at the Michigan Theater to holding
it at Hill Auditorium, Rahman commented that

the move to Hill actually made the show much
easier. Since dressing rooms are in the Modern
Languages Building, in past years, performers
needed to be transported to the Michigan The-
ater. That logistical nightmare has been elimi-
nated this year, Rahman explained, because the
MLB is now connected to Hill Auditorium via
underground tunnels.
The move to Hill also means the elimination of
the matinee and evening show format that had been
adopted in the past two years because of the smaller
size of the Michigan Theater. According to Rah-
man, most people are excited that the "two show
format"is no longer necessary. Even though being
able to perform the dances twice made the show
much more exciting for performers, a new thrill
exists in performing at Hill Auditorium, which can
seat 4,000 people.
IASA is one of the only student organizations
that has permission to perform in the Auditorium,
and members consider this a great honor. "It is a
privilege and a thrill for IASA members to perform
on the same stage as some of the world's greatest
musicians and entertainers, like Ravi Shankar, who
performed there recently," said Rahman.

ditions. The pieces reflect this by incorporating
modern twists into traditional dances.
The cultural show includes 10 performances,
beginning with Bengali and concluding with

01

I

Stevens and 'Michigan Militia'
show patriotism on stage

'GTA' stumbles on its
way to smaller screen

By Forest Casey
Daily Arts Writer

When Sufjan Stevens's Michigan Militia marched
onto stage at Detroit's Magic Stick on Wednesday
night, the audience knew exactly what to expect. The
Militia was clad in Michigan scout uniforms, com-
plete with American flag bandanas; Sufjan himself
arrived wearing a flag as a cape.
It would have been easy for the
audience to expect a quirky, Sufjan
ironic concert, but no one could Stevens
have expected the concert's and the
perfect fidelity, or the way it Michigan
matched, and even exceeded the Militia
crisp production of Stevens's At the Magic Stick
most recent albums.
The Militia opened with an
"Animaniacs" style exploration of the 50 states,
with Sufjan pledging to write a new record about
all of them for the next 50 years. His most popu-
lar and acclaimed album, however, is about his
home state of Michigan, making Wednesday's
concert more like a victory celebration than just
a stop on the tour.
The crowd seemed to sense this and was very
respectful of Stevens's softer songs, occationally

providing quiet background vocals. The suprise of
the night was that most of the songs were anything
but soft. The Militia thundered through normally
flaccid songs with a sense of urgency that was jux-
taposed with their soft message and Stevens's quiet,
purposeful vocals.
After listening to the two most recent Stevens
records, the idea of a live concert seems dubious.
Many would think that the wooshing desolation
presented on "Michigan" would be impossible to
duplicate live, even with the most respectful of
audiences, yet the Militia suprised the audience
again. No part of either album was sacrificed. And,
the newer songs are of an entirely different style,
all fixated on Stevens's newfound love of America
(a lumbering cover of "The Star Spangled Banner"
was perfectly composed).
Sufjan's trademark spirituality was never pre-
sented haughtily in front of the audience. Before "He
Woke Me Up Again," Stevens whispered, "This is a
song about how my father woke me up in the middle
of the night," without mentioning if the father who
woke him requires a capital "F."
. The only downside of the event was the page of
song lyrics that Stevens read from for most of the
night, but this can be forgiven. After all, for lyrics as
important and poetic as his, it would be the greater
crime to slur a single word. Stevens's homecoming
tour was suprising in its quality, clarity and fervor.

Thanks to the controversy and popu-
larity of the franchise, "Grand Theft
Auto: San Andreas" has been getting
a tremendous amount of attention
since its release late in October. Yet
the launch of Rockstar Games's latest
masterpiece for Playstation 2 has over-
shadowed another "Grand Theft Auto"

By Zach Borden
Daily Arts Writer

game released
on the same day.
"Grand Theft Auto
Advance," Rock-
star's newest por-
table incarnation
of the GTA series,
lacks the hype of

Grand Theft
Auto Advance
Game Boy Advance
Rockstar

What makes "Grand Theft Auto
Advance" an interesting gaming expe-
rience is how it integrates elements
from the original three games. GTA's
original overhead perspective is re-vis-
ited, but gamers more familiar with the
Playstation 2 games will probably feel
more at home with the concepts that
GTA III introduced, such as hidden
packages and vigilante missions.
Unfortunately though, the game's
poor controls ruin much of the fun.
While it is easy to move Mike on foot,
taking control of vehicles is another
story. Moving a vehicle around Liberty
City is a very sloppy process, as the con-
trols are way too loose. Making sharp
turns is a frustrating process as well,
and the game's viewing perspective is
way too close making it hard at times to
find the path you need to travel on.
When it comes to the game's presen-
tation, the music and sound effects are
decent, but don't really stand out and
are rather generic. The game's graphics
feature plenty of bold colors, but lack
specific details. Much of the game's
failures should be placed upon Digi-
tal Eclipse, who developed the game.
Rockstar merely published it, which
is a crime in itself since it should have
had the resources to take full creative
control.
Ultimately, "Grand Theft Auto
Advance" is an admirable effort in that
it is able to capture some of the spirit
of the more recent console versions
of the franchise, but overall the game
is not particularly engrossing. Hope-
fully when Sony's portable PSP system
arrives next year, a worthy portable
version of GTA won't be far behind.

0

FOREST kCSE/Daily
Sufjan Stevens looks upward, prays to God for
more cowbell.'

Crass comedian Carlin crosses the line in latest book

"San Andreas" and is certainly riding
the coattails of it. And while "Grand
Theft Auto Advance" marks a vast
improvement over the two disastrous
GTA titles that appeared on Game Boy
Color a few years ago, it simply can't
compete with the benchmarks Rockstar
created on next-generation consoles.
The game's story takes place in Lib-
erty City, the staple location within the
GTA universe. Players take control of a
hood named Mike, who out's to avenge
the death of his friend Vinnie. The
Game Boy Advance lacks the power to
provide real-time cinematic sequences,
so the story is told through comic-esque
character portraits and text bubbles. The
dialogue, while written neatly, lacks the
same zing, humor and grittiness gamers
have come to expect on the console ver-
sions of GTA.

By Bernie Nguyen
Daily Arts Writer

Celebrated comic George Carlin,
has been doing stand-up for more
than 30 years. He was the first host of
"Saturday Night Live" and a popular
stand-up comedian. Besides his well
known sketches, he is the author of

mirrors his style in real life - con-
sists of hard, caustic humor and loud
opinions. He writes "I don't think
it's right that ugly women should be
allowed to get plastic surgery and get
fixed up to look real nice. I think if
you're born ugly you should stay that
way." His humor has an edgy, sarcas-
tic appeal, but there is something a
little uncomfortable about reading a
67-year old man's statement that "...at
any given moment, (his) thoughts are
probably on pussy."

bashing hypocrites. He dedicates
whole sections of the book to dissect-
ing what he calls "Politician Talk."
In this respect, his book is a success,
dissecting the pomposity of society
with humor and intelligence. But
the impact of this is dimmed by the
sometimes overly crude jokes. More
conservative readers may find it dif-
ficult to laugh at Carlin's book, espe-
cially with a section entitled "Tips
for Serial Killers." In this section
he writes, "Because I enjoy follow-

three books. The
newest, though

l .,._ - -- t./-..

PIXIES

through an ambitious 61-date tour,
never showed signs of fatigue, save for

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