March 24, 2006
arts. michigandaily. com
RTSe Micigan Bailg
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'B.I.K.E. doc plays at
Anni Arbor Film Fest
SILVER JEWS HIT A2
ON FIRST TOUR
By Alexandra Jones
Daily Arts Writer
You can feel it in the air: No, it's not a premature
surge in campus pheromonal activity on this frigid first
week of spring. It's the electric
hum of rising anticipation for the Silver Jews
arrival of David Berman, icono-
clastic ringleader of alt-country To morrow at
lit-rock band Silver Jews. 9:0 p.m.
But who, exactly, is a typical At the Blind Pig
Silver Jews fan?
"Well, I've never been to a SJ show, so I'm not sure,"
said the typically enigmatic Berman via e-mail, "but I
think we'll be seeing our portion of disillusioned jug-
galos." Um, whatever that means. But you can bet that
devoted fans from bespectacled grad students to Chuck
Taylor-clad high schoolers will be at the Blind Pig this
Saturday to welcome Berman and his crew.
The long-sold-out Ann Arbor leg of the band's unex-
pected but giddily received debut tour comes after the
release of their long-awaited fifth full-length, Tangle-
wood Numbers - and a few shakeups to the band's
lineup. Occasional Silver Jew and former Pavement
frontman Stephen Malkmus is out of the picture, but
Numbers features a backing band of musicians like
Will Oldham and the Jews' Drag City labelmate Azita.
On their first-ever tour, Berman on guitar and
his wife Cassie on bass serve as the band's core.
Rounding out the lineup are a slew of musicians
who've made appearances on various Silver Jews
Courtsy"of Dragi y
The Silver Jews will perform tomorrow at 9:30 p.m. at the Blind Pig.
albums: Guitarists Peyton Pinkerton and William
Tyler played on sophomore effort The Natural
Bridge and fourth album Bright Flight, respec-
tively, and drummer Brian Kotzur and keyboardist
Tony Crow helped to construct the shambling, soul-
ful rock sound on Tanglewood Numbers.
Whereas most bands play shows locally or tour to
support fledgling debut discs and garner exposure,
Berman never got around to taking one of the various
incarnations of his project on the road.
"I'm really just getting around to it," he said. "There
were a few things I had on my list of things to do before
I could concentrate on touring, and it took 15 years to
cross them all off."
That to-do list included releasing five albums of
sprawling, introspective, twangy-yet-poetic musical
explorations as well as 1999's "Actual Air," a book of
poetry that digs deeper into the wry wordplay and sur-
real-as-everyday narratives of Berman's lyrics.
As Silver Jews fans know, Berman's luck hasn't
always been as fortuitous as it is now. In the recent
past, he has struggled with drug addiction and a sui-
cide attempt. Musically, Tanglewood Numbers marks
his return to a state of mind that's more secure and
more stable, but no less acute. And whether you prefer
the subtle shift in tone from wandering meditations to
cleaner, more direct tracks like "K-Hole" and "There Is
a Place," the change has served Berman well.
"(Numbers) was the first album since the first album
(1994's Starlite Walker) that did not seem like the final
Silver Jews album," he said.
Preparing for the landmark tour involved facing
high expectations from fans. It's not often that a band
waits for more than 10 years to hit the road for the first
time, but Berman is optimistic.'
"I've been less nervous since we had our first prac-
tice and it sounded good," he said. "I'm somewhat
worried about how I'll do being around people all the
time, (but) I'm most excited about making a lot of
work for my friends."
And after the tour? "I can't see past July. There's too
much in the way"
By Blake Goble
Daily Arts Writer
Questioning authority has always
Maybe it's the notion that anti-
establishment behavior makes audi-
ences feel empowered, or perhaps
it's the spirit of going against the
mainstream. Whatever the rea-
son, audiences are fascinated with
insurgency. With the premiere of
"B.I.K.E." - one of the most antici-
pated films at the Ann Arbor Film
Festival - tomorrow at 3:30 p.m.,
the tradition continues in a surpris-
ing form: the bicycle.
The film chronicles the exploits
of the Black Label Bicycle Club as
well as co-director Anthony How-
ard's grueling attempts to join the
elusive group. The film, which cre-
atively mixes documentary footage
and elements of narrative storytell-
ing, is intended to give an insider's
perspective into the underground
For the record, Black Label Bicy-
cle Club is an anti-consumerist group
dedicated to avoiding all manner of
Characterized by their environ-
mentally friendly lifestyle, love of
chaos and rejection of the automo-
bile, the group became a kind of
impenetrable fortress for Howard.
Falling into drug and alcohol prob-
lems, Howard's quest to be accepted
by the group becomes a central arc
for the film.
The project developed as a result
of the friendships between the direc-
tors and producers, who all shared
an interest in filmmaking.
"The idea was that we would
make it about Anthony joining this
club," co-director Jacob Septimus
said. "We didn't think it would be
that difficult. It ended up being more
difficult than we imagined and it
ended up being about why Anthony
"Anthony was the subject of the
film while at the same time one of
the filmmakers," he said.
The creators of "B.I.K.E." became
fascinated with the subculture and
praised its icon.
"A bike is an elegant symbol of
resistance to mainstream consumer
Attendees buy tickets for an
engagement at the Ann Arbor Film
Festival Tuesday night. The festival
will run through Sunday.
culture. And even though it is a con-
sumer item made by companies, it
doesn't require any fuel or live off
waste. It's sort of a pure symbol,"
Though some hypocrisy exists
in Black Label's recent behavior
(despite the fact that the club says
they never speak to the press, the
Black Label gave an interview to
The Village Voice this past week),
Septimus asserted that they nonethe-
less maintain a consistently strong
"Their point is that America has
gone down this path of obsessive
consumerism. You can be yourself
and make your own things," he said.
As far as getting the film out to
audiences, the Ann Arbor Film Fes-
tival is only the first step to mass
"The entertainment industry is
like the Wild West. There are no
rules," producer Fredric King said.
Though it may seem ironic to
market and sell the film eventually,
given the film's anti-consumerism
subjects, it was the creators' goal to
get viewers thinking.
"Our experience is that students
like it. And there's a lot to think
about in this movie. There's a lot
of contradictions and it gets people
thinking," Septimus said.
Pop opera plumbs '60s spirit via icon
By Caroline Hartmann
Daily Arts Writer
The '60s generated - along with
rock'n'roll, live news coverage, pop art
and political milestones - a wealth of
new leaders and ideas still pertinent today.
"Jackie O" bridges _ _
the gap between a
past era and the new Jackie 0
millennium in a Tonight at 8 p.m.
multi-media opera. Sunday at 2 p.m.
Composed and 8 p.m.
by Music Prof. Tickets $16-22
Michael Daugherty Students $9 with ID
with the libretto Men At the Ldiheatre
by Wayne Koesten-
baum, "Jackie O" will be performed at the
Lydia Mendelssohn Theatre tonight and
twice again on Sunday. The opera will
run in repertory with two other operas,
"The Dreamy Kid" and "De Organizer,"
which consider the African-American
experience throughout history.
Rather than form a cohesive narrative,
"Jackie O" is a collage of moments from
Jacqueline Kennedy's life, from mourning
the death of husband and former President
John F. Kennedy to her remarriage with
shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis.
The '60s-inspired music sets this opera
apart, providing a nostalgic score that
both conveys excitement and allows the
more serious moments to resonate. The
music also draws on influences from jazz
and blues to create a comprehensive blend
of musical history.
"Just as Jackie moves between dif-
ferent worlds, the music I composed for
'Jackie O' mediates between the worlds
of opera and American musical theater,"
The absence of a linear storyline allows
"Jackie O" to probe issues connecting
today's Americans to the past. Kennedy
advocated many challenges to the nation,
such as establishing the Peace Corps, and
reminding younger generations to strive
for improvement of one's country and
"Jackie herself is inspired by Kennedy's
ideals'" director Nicolette Molnir said.
"She decides to pick up the torch that has
been passed ... and we too need to pick up
that torch and confront our problems."
Highlights of the opera include a rous-
ing tap ensemble portraying the paparazzi
and a moving rendition of Kennedy's inau-
gural address. Quotes from American fig-
ureheads are cleverly sewn into the show's
dialogue, and Jackie serves as an atypical
opera heroine by surviving her past and
accepting a new American optimism.
Daugherty draws inspiration from
images around him, with subjects ranging
from "Superman" comics to Diego Rive-
ra's "Detroit Industry" mural. For "Jackie
O;" Daugherty played off Koestenbaum's
book, "Jackie Under My Skin."
Calling attention to the all these images
and more, "Jackie O" presents a rare view
of an American icon.
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