Ska for animal lovers...
Ann Arbor's favorite boy-band Donkey
Punch will slap it across your face
Wednesday at the Blind Pig. 10 p.m. S3.
JULY 24, 2000
Pine Knob pop-rock show overshadowed by theatrics
By Gautam Baksi
Daly Arts Writer
It was a pop-music lover's dream:
Splender, Vertical Horizon and Third Eye
Blind. These three bands dominate mod-
ern pop radio stations with their catchy
riffs, effortless lyrics and fashionable good
looks. Critics have long bemoaned that
these teen sensation "rock" bands are
nothing but over-produced, under-talented
overnight sensations doomed for the mem-
ory hole of bad garage bands. But
Wednesday night the ante was raised at
Pine Knob as the question arose: Do they
have what it takes to play live?
The answer came not from the bands
themselves, but rather from the middle-
American, scantily-clad, bad-boy wannabe
crowd of drunk teenagers filling the seats
of the stadium. It seemed as if they unani-
mously agreed to put up a cardboard sign
to summarize their thoughts: "Will scream
for anything. Talent not required."
The audience paid little attention when
Splender hit the stage for a 30-minute set.
With a half-filled stadium, a few die-hard
After the show, lead singer Waymon
Boone commented, "It's not any different
than anything else we've been doing.
We've been beating our asses doing this so
long that it's just part of it. We know that
going into it."
Splender's longtime friends Vertical
Horizon marched on-stage with little fan-
fare. Sporting shades to block the glare
from the sun low in the sky, the group
rolled through songs off their "Everything
You Want" CD. Again, only a handful in
the crowd even bothered standing up. Bald
and boisterous lead singer Matt Scannell
commendably tried to raise audience par-
ticipation with fiery, fast-fingered solos
and plenty of banter with the audience.
Boone, along with Splender lead gui-
tarist Jonathan Svec, watched the show
backstage. Afterwards, Svec commented
on the audience's ability to transform a
mellow routine into an energetic show.
"We can play well and sound good, but
until they get into it, it doesn't really mat-
ter. When you've got people spread out all
over the place, [only] one or two people
standing up, the sun's still up... it's a little
bit different if there were no seats and
everybody down at the front; you can feel
the energy of the crowd. The fans are the
most important thing!"
Svec's words echoed through Vertical
Horizon's set. As soon as the opening
notes to "Everything You Want" resonated
through the speakers, the entire audience
at Pine Knob rose to their feet and sang
along. The song was not played better than
any others, but it was a recognizable radio
hit. Without it, the audience would have
erroneously ignored the engaging band.
After two under-appreciated artists had
left the stage, Third Eye Blind finally
arrived to thunderous applause. Almost
immediately, the band ripped through
songs off their 1999 release, "Blue," even
playing their current hit, "Never Let You
Go" early in the night. The song marked a
highlight as it was the best played song of
See EB. Poe 10
Third Eye Blind, posing like a boy-band.
fans sang along to the songs off their
recent album "Halfway Down the Sky."
Splender continued with a handful of
solidly performed songs before finishing
with the hit, "Yeah, Whatever" The band
played skillfully with energy. but seemed
disappointed with their restricted time.
Right band, wrong tour. Splender played second-fiddle to the headliners a
MSF takes on the villainy of Richard III
By Jaimie Winkler
Daily Arts Writer
Wrought with emotion, the elaborately
dressed cast of the Michigan Shakespeare
Festival's production of William
Shakespeare's "Richard Ill" rocketed the
audience through emotional highs and
waded through the comedic lows. The
perfect pacing made dead time impossi-
ble on stage.
When King Edward IV, the title char-
acter's brother, dies, the door of opportu-
nity opens to Richard. His desires to
become king overtake him and he soon
racks up a body count that makes
"Scream" look like "Barney" in his cal-
lous pursuit of the throne. One by one,
Richard draws England's most powerful
into his web, eventually coming to mis-
trust and destroy them all.
Richard is a true villain. Even when his
deeds come back to haunt him, they
merely provide another stepping stone on
his rise to power - not a true obstacle.
Director David Alexander Blixt says in
the program notes that Richard Ill is truly
the villain's play (because the "hero" is
absent until the final scenes) and he is
right. The first two hours and more of the
nearly three hour production belong to
Richard, where he mangles bodies and
destroys souls without consequence.
The company puts on a beautifully
simple production. Set back in Jackson's
Ella Sharp park, the fully outdoor festival
is truly a treat. Open to the cool evening
air, the "theater" reminisces a time when
the sun was the only on-stage lighting.
Theater-goers sit on haystacks, on the
grass or in lariehairs munching on pop-
corn or ice cream. The ambitnce is as
comfortable as a drie-in moi te theater.
The set is a large and versatile facsim-
ile of a street outside theF tglish palace.
Free fron cluttering props or set pieces,
one swoop of the drapery can make it the
setting for every reason eaiding the
play's fast pace. I he simple set also
allows the cast to direct the audience's
attention with a quick cross or animated
gesture. And the detailed costumes pro-
vide enough eye candy.
Heading up the strong and wonderfully
articulate cast is Paul Riopelle, who
brings the crippled and evil Richard to
life. His frequent, angry crescendos with
many of the play's women are both fasci-
nating and heart-wrenching. The women,
who are really too imaginative and indi-
vidual to lump together, all deliver
Shakespeare's retorts with bite and speed.
Queen Margaret, played by Wendy Katz
Hiller, successfully portrays a desperate
motherand the only character to truly butt
heads with Richard. Leigh Woods, who
plays Lord Hastings, provides the most
vivid and outward example of what
Richard's love and hate can do to those
closest to him.
The only lowlights in this moonlit
hunk of sunshine are the lack of lautghter
for Richard's comedic asides and the
fight. Perhaps Richard creates such an
apathy in the audience that they cannot
see him as funny. The sword fight at the
end compensates for its lack of realism by
putting several events on stage at once,
msaking it nearly impossible to notice that
everyone is fighting very slowly and cau-
tiously - the most exciting mnoment in
this scene is where Richard runs through
shouting the famous line: "a horse, a
horse, my kingdom for a horse."
A big hats off to director Blixt and all
those involved in this marvelous produc-
"Richarl /1 it" runs in rtepertor t'ith
'A Milsmtmtttter Night's Dream " and 'A
Toahr Show" at the Michigan
Shakespeare Festival, associated with
the Universitr of Michigan Theater
Departtment, at Ella Sham Park in
Jackson. Tickets ate $14. call 517-788-
5032for more ifiritation.
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