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March 14, 1991 - Image 5

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1991-03-14

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ARTS

The Michigan Daily

' . Friday, March 15, 1991

Babes fuel music with anger

Page 5
Sex and dancing
isn't just lambada

Oy Greg Baise

F or at least a handful of artists,
creating art is a cathartic experience
that channels the artist's potentially
anti-social energies into a more cre-
ative and more acceptable medium
than hoodlumhood or murdering
sprees. For Kat Bjelland, the singer
and guitarist for the Minneapolis trio
Babes in Toyland, this , artistic
catharsis is a way of life. "I'd proba-
bly be more pissed off if I didn't
play in a band," she admits.
Just because Bjelland plays in the
best of the so-called "foxcore" bands
doesn't mean she has any relief from
the anger which inspires the best of
the Babes' songs. She explained that
she usually writes when extreme
emotions compel her to: "I have to
be either really pissed off or in some
kind of jubilant mood to write any-
thing worth a shit." The Babes' de-
but record, Spanking Machine, re-
lies heavily on the situation de-
scribed in the former part of Bjel-
* land's statement.
Spanking Machine, released last
year on Twin/Tone, comes on like a
series of hate letters to former
boyfriends and other intruders on
Bjelland's emotional well-being.
While Bjelland mangles her guitar
and screeches like some kind of
Thurston Moore/Lydia Lunch love
child, Michelle Leon subdues some
great bass rhythms and, Lori Bar-
bero's tom-heavy beat vigorously
pounds nails into the coffins of past
relationships.
Like other great current indie
bands, Babes in Toyland bear at least
a slight imprint of '80s indie deities
Sonic Youth, who took the Babes
with them to Europe to open some
shows for them. All of their records

name like "foxcore." Ruminating on
the origin of such a term (pop-
ularized by an article in arecent
Spin), she theorized, "I almost think
that Thurston (Moore, Sonic Youth
member and walking rock encyclo-
pedia) said it one time. It just seems
like something he would say, like
that word 'fox.' "
The Babes in Toyland show to-
morrow night is one of a handful
they are playing right now, before
they release their next EP, To
Mother, in the next month or so.
After that, they will embark on a
full-blown tour. Tomorrow's per-
formance will include"songs from
the upcoming release, as well as
some material they plan to release as
a single in Australia.
Judging from the music, Bjelland
should still have enough extreme
emotion to fuel the next half-decade
or so of Babes in Toyland records.
"It's almost like if you don't have
the blues, you can't write for shit.
Someday, maybe I'll be peaceful,
but probably not right now," she
said, explaining that while recently
the jubilant has played a much more
significant role in her existence, the
past several weeks she has not been
in the best of spirits. "Sometimes
you do this self-destructive thing,
just to get your edge back," she said.
With such a grating, tortuous
edge, Babes in Toyland cut into the
anger, malice and betrayal that your
hardened heart used to call love.
BABES IN TOYLAND play with ZU
ZU' S PETALS and chainsaw-rock
losers TAD at Club Heidelberg
tomorrow. Cover is $11.
CLASSIFIEDS
Get Results!

by Justine Unatin
Fogel/Sparling: Dance Works
follows the "greatest hits" tradi-
tion of the music industry. The
performance combines unforget-
table pieces from past shows with
new additions to the choreogra-
phers' diverse repertories. But un-
like "Best Of" albums, which
usually lack a unified theme, the
conception of Dance Works is
guided by a single, universal
topic - sexuality. The choreog-
raphers jumped at the opportunity
to work with the Institute of
Humanities' '90-'91 research pro-
ject, communicating through
dance their interpretations of its
subject, "The History of Sexual-
ity."
Peter Sparling and Jessica Fo-
gel attack the topic of sexuality
from various thematic angles, us-
ing personal experiences along
with universal issues as their ma-
terials.
Sparling shares the story of
his childhood and his personal
problems during adult relation-
ships as he dances "The Boy Who
Played with Dolls." A taped ver-
sion of Sparling reading his auto-
biography should add extra emo-
tive force to his expressive chore-
ography.
As the spotlight turns onto
Ms. Fogel, the audience will be

exposed to a taste of feminist is-
sues. For all those who were in-
trigued by the stories of flying
shovels during last month's
Power Center performance, now's
your chance to see Fogel's "Dig,
A Dance In 21 Parts." The piece
portrays the subjugation of
women by society, as well as the
ability to overcome sexually-ori-
ented obstacles.
The topic of feminism can
hardly be approached without ad-
hering to the wisdom of author
Margaret Atwood. Fogel, Gay
DeLanghe and Lynn Slaughter
will dance to a recitation of At-
wood's "The Female Body," an
article which appeared in the re-
cent issue of the Michigan Quar-
terly Review.
Sparling carries the theme of
sexuality to perhaps the most
tragic sense with "Witness," a
prize piece from the 1990 Power
Center performance. "Witness"
consists of 13 men, including
School of Dance students, gradu-
ates, local dancers and Sparling
himself. The dancers harmonize
with heightened emotions, honor-
ing all individuals affected by the
trauma of AIDS.
Shifting from the large arena
of the Power Center, Dance
See SEX, Page 8

I he band that thinks the guys in Skinny Puppy are all right: Babes in
Toyland (l-r: Kat Bjelland, Michelle Leon, Lori Barbero). The Babes
opened for Skinny Puppy for several weeks last November.

are made up of distinctly Babes in
Toyland material, but songs such as
"Never" and "Pain in My Heart"
paint an aural canvas like Sonic
Youth at their evilest and Evolest.
Barbero's sole (and soulful) vocal
contribution to Spanking Machine,
"Dogg," generates the atmosphere of
Kim Gvrdon's "Beauty Lies in the
Eye," with Bjelland and Leon creat-
ing a taut, dark dirge as Barbero
sings some other-end-of-the-Missis-
sippi blues and steadily, slowly
pounds her floor tom. Also, Babes
in Toyland are following Sonic
Youth into the corporate-rock ma-

trix, as they are on the verge of sign-
ing with Warner Brothers.
Bjelland and Barbero formed
Babes in Toyland four years ago,
amply preceding the current heyday
of indie rock bands whose members
just happen to be women. After their
original bassist and singer left, Bjel-
land added vocals to her duties, and
the Babes added Leon to their ranks.
"I certainly feel that women have
a certain energy that comes out vo-
cally and musically in a different
way than men," explained Bjelland,
although she avoids putting Babes in
Toyland into a category with a goofy

i

': .

I

Okay, the Scorpions and Trixter
(the Palace, April 11) seemed an odd
pairing, as did sticking the trite and
pathetic (and way too pretty) Nelson
with Lynch Mob and Cinderella (the
Palace, May 3), but joining the clas-
sic (and probably:still decent, even if
they have a potentially-lame new
vocalist in Joe Lynn Turner) Deep
Purple with ex-prima ballerina Kip
Winger (who sports chest hair so
thick that it naturally parts down the
middle) and his eponymous band
(Winger, not Kip) at the Palace
April 13. Tickets are $13 (p.e.s.c.)

at TicketMaster, on sale Saturday.
Kip looks a wee-bit too much like
Jon Bon Jovi trying reeeally hard to
be reeeeally sexy, don't you think?
Four scenes from Taming of the
Shrew will be performed by six ac-
tors playing the two lead characters,
Kate and Petruchio, at this week-
end's Basement Arts production. It's
worthwhile seeing Big Bill done on

a small scale rather, especially if
your only exposure to this particular
comedy has been through the
"Atomic Shakespeare" episode of
Moonlighting. If you're still not
convinced, IT'S FREE. It happens
on Friday at 5 p.m. and Saturday at
5 p.m and 8 p.m. in the Frieze'
Building's Arena Theater. (And it's
only a half-hour long, a quick cul-
ture-fix for the weekend.)

SUNDAY, MARCH 17
7:30PM
HILL AUDITORIUM
ANN ARBOR

IWRITE FOR ARTS!!! CALL 763-0379!!!!1

4

The University of Michigan
SCHOOL OF MUSIC

GEORGE
AND THE DESTROYERS

Sun. Mar.

17

Mon. Mar. 18
Thur. Mar. 21

Guest Piano Recital by
Robert Jordan
Brahms: Three Intermezzi
Schubert: Sonata in a-minor, op. 143
Liszt: "Nuages Gris", Valse Oublide, no. 1,
Four Small Piano Pieces, and Rhapsody
no. 11 in a-minor
Music by Hakim, Swanson, and Taylor
School of Music Recital Hall, 4 p.m.
Composers Forum Concert
School of Music Recital Hall, 8 p.m.
Jazz Combos Concert
Small ensembles from the
U-M Jazz Studies Program
North Campus Commons Dining Room, 8 p.m.
Dance MFA Thesis Concert
Tickets: $5 (763-5460)
Studio A, Dance Building, 8 p.m.
Symphony Band Concert
H. Robert Reynolds, Gary Lewis,
Dennis Glocke, conductors
Brian Bowman, euphonium
Schwantner: "...and the mountains rising
nowhere"
Bassett: Sounds, Shapes, and Symbols
and "Lullaby for Kirsten"
Hill Auditorium, 8 p.m.

e~is a nd E

DAUE HOLLAND QUARTET

with

STEVE COLEMAN
KEVIN EUBANKS

MARVIN "SMITTY" SMITH
bass,saxophorie,guitar, and drums...

present

FRI. MARCH

22

Thur.
Mar.

- Sat.
21-23

Fri. Mar. 22

atTHE ARK 8and 10 pm
Tick ts also available at PJ's Used Records
and Schoolkids Records.
I A (

Faculty Recital by Arthur Greene
with guest Hong-Mel Xiao, viola
Hummel: Sonata in E-flat Major for Viola
and Piano
Hindemith: Sonate fur Bratsche allein, op.
25, no. 1
Enesco: Concert Piece

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