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November 11, 2005 - Image 8

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2005-11-11

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November 11, 2005
arts. michigandaily. com

cilR TSligtt tilg



Andrew Bird performed at The Ark on Wednesday night.
Bird recreates 'Eggs'
at Ark performance

By Alex Dziadosz
Daily Arts Writer

Morgan Spurlock relates an anecdote to the audience at Eastern Michigan University's Pease Auditorium.

By Mary Kate Varnau
Daily Arts Writer

Morgan Spurlock, the star, writer and director
of 'last year's hit documentary "Super Size Me,"
loves Thanksgiving, especial-
ly the trimmings: "Stuffing. I
Isn't that a great word? Kind Morgan
of says it all." On Wednesday Spurlock
evening, he spoke at Eastern Pease Auditorium
Michigan University's Pease
Auditorium, beginning with
the story of a fateful Thanks-
giving dinner a couple of years ago. Appropriately
enough, the day that all of America celebrates its
culture of overeating was when he came up with
the idea for the low-budget documentary that
shook the foundation of international fast-food
powerhouse McDonald's.
"That's a really great bad idea," a friend and col-
league of Spurlock's said after he first pitched the
premise: the film would document the deteriora-
tion of Spurlock's own health during a 30-day all-
McDonald's diet. He went on to reenact his mother's
reaction in a high-pitched voice: "There's a fine line
between bravery and stupidity."

Despite objections from friends and family, Spur-
lock threw himself into the project. Three weeks
into shooting, his cholesterol was up 65 points, he
was gaining weight rapidly and his liver was bloat-
ed with fat. Doctors advised him to drop the project
- to stop before his heart did.
His mother and fiancee (who is, ironically, a
vegan chef) pleaded with him, but the most influ-
ential piece of advice came from Spurlock's older
brother, whom he described as the "Yeah-man-
jump-off-the-roof-it'll-be-funny" kind of sibling,
and encouraged him to finish. Spurlock finished out
the month of McMeals, then went on an eight-week,
all-organic, all-veggie detox program.
Spurlock's fiancee nursed him back to health
just in time for the London premiere of the film.
"Super Size Me" opened to a wide range of reac-
tions. The chain's profits in London went down 75
percent after the opening. Word of this new docu-
mentary was spreading like grease on a fast-food
napkin, but with the popularity came criticism
- mostly from representatives within the fast-
food industry.
Spurlock was at his most animated Wednesday
when making fun of the spokespeople from what
he called "McCrackshack" (because of the "crack-

like french fries - you eat one and you just want 75
more"). He imitated the chain's nutritional special-
ists - a title he called "an oxymoron" - whining,
flailing his arms around, mocking the so-called
healthy choices on the menu.
"Who goes to McDonald's for an apple? If you
jam a stick on it and deep-fry it, I'd go to McDon-
ald's for an apple."
But Spurlock didn't just make fun of the fast-
food conglomerate's nutritional options. He'd done
his research, too. According to Spurlock, less than
one percent of the 46 million people McDonald's
serves every day chooses from the salad menu.
"One out of every hundred people who goes in
there makes a healthy choice. Less than one! The
guy who goes there to get a salad has no arms and
one leg," he joked.
Spurlock ended the almost two-hour speech,
which came off more like a stand-up routine than a
lecture, with a plea to the mostly college-age audi-
ence. "Find something you want to change. You
guys are going to be the ones who write the books
I want to read and make the films I want to see."
His last few words were a call to action. "Vote with
your fork," he said. But most of all, he stressed,
"Stay healthy."

On first impression, it's difficult to
imagine how a man who has described
himself as a violinist, xylophonist,
vocalist, guitarist and "professional
whistler" could perform an effective
set with nothing
but the assistance Andrew Bird
of one drum- The Ark i
mer. Despite neo-
Americana artist
Andrew Bird's fairly traditional sound,
the multilayered instrumentation of his
work would have made Wednesday's
solo performance at The Ark a physi-
cal impossibility a number of years ago.
The gradual inclusion of sampling ped-
als, once purely the domain of techno
and hip-hop performers, into a broader
range of genres in recent years has made
it feasible for artists like Bird to effec-
tively simulate their recordings without
compromising the layered elements of
their work.
Utilizing this tool to its utmost, Bird
wandered onstage in the dreamlike haze
listeners have come to expect from the
writer of such peculiarly quirky songs
as "Measuring Cups" and "Lull," and
gave a characteristically amusing per-
formance for the locals and students
who packed The Ark.
In reference to his recorded material,
critics often make comparisons between
Bird's voice and that of fellow college
radio artist Rufus Wainwright. But the
similarities really end at the fact that both
maintain a nearly operatic quality in their
live performances. Where the latter tends

to closely emulate the intonation and tim-
ing of his own recordings, Bird makes a
point of varying his vocal cadences, often
creating a challenging, slightly disorient-
ing effect for the audience.
This is not to say Bird was inconsistent.
For the most part he clung fairly closely
to a framework: awkward but charm-
ing banter, a violin arpeggio just long
enough to be looped, and then with the
help of drummer Martin Dosh, a number
of multi-instrumental layers thrown into
the mix. This led to a strikingly accurate
recreation of Bird's studio instrumenta-
tion, if not his recorded sound as a whole.
Dosh was an interesting addition to the
show: While his contribution to Bird's set
was minimal, a lively one-man techno
performance in the tradition of Aphex
Twin woke up the crowd after a soggy,
yet listenable, Robbie Robertson-meets-
Wayne Coyne impression from openers,
Head of Femur.
For all the sonic diversity attributed to
Bird throughout his career, Wednesday
night's show was surprisingly homoge-
nous. Much to the delight of the intimate
but sizeable crowd, Bird drew primarily
from his most recent release, The Mys-
terious Production of Eggs, dispensing
favorites "Sovay," "My Skin, Is" and
the eccentric "Fake Palindromes," shy-
ing away from his earlier work with
the campy swing-era throwback group,
Squirrel Nut Zippers.
While the initial magic of Bird's music
tended to dissipate once his formula was
revealed (a layer of violin plucking, a bit
of whistling), the show was tight enough
to keep the lack of variety from becoming
tiresome. His performance showcased a
unique and innovative interpretation of
Bird's most recent recordings.




Political rock band
no sound and all fury

By Andrew Bielak
For the Daily

The members of The (International)

Noise Conspira-
cy itch to appear
dangerous. You
can see it in
their politically
inspired liner
notes - name-
dropping South
American gue-
rillas and vague
references to

Warner Bros.

be inspired by left-wing revolutionary
spirit (don't you know that red means
revolution?). Unfortunately, the Swed-
ish garage-rock quartet's new album,
Armed Love, lacks the musical origi-
nality necessary to fulfill such heavy-
handed ambitions.
Taking their cues from the recently
fashionable gaggle of garage-rock
bands, the Noise Conspiracy churn
out punchy, mid-tempo rock that ref-
erence both early punk and late-'60s
blues rock. The band's mimicry of
classic traditions immediately call
their own creativity into question;
one wonders if they're stealing, rather
than borrowing, from their musical
forefathers. Opener "Black Mask"
sets the album's tone quickly with a

Courtesy of Warner Bros.

creating some new social order -
hell, even the album cover appears to

Where's Waldo?
bluesy guitar riff, throaty vocals and,
eventually, an oppressively bad organ
solo. Things don't really get any better
from there. The band seems to hope
that by continuously beating listeners
over the head with four chords and
heavy distortion, we will eventually
start to rock out with them.
Apart from dazzling listeners with
their repetitive guitar licks, the Noise

Conspiracy hope to inform their audi-
ence about something far more impor-
tant: the oncoming revolution. With
deeply philosophical lines like "Let's
all share our dreams tonight under a
Communist moon," it seems like only-
a matter of time before these hip,
European 20-somethings put down
their instruments to incite the prole-
tariat rebellion.

-Kenneth uran, LOS ANGELES TIMES

-Karen Durbin, ELLE
-David Germain,

IAvw p -USUPni"D i AAUiUT1WV A


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