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WHAT A WEEK!

To start things off for this blog, I have two words for you guys.

 

GRIZZLY. BEAR.

 

I imagine that I may have confused many of you at this point. What on EARTH am I exactly talking about? Allow me show you.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XcQAOfa__ro

 

Currently, Grizzly Bear is one of my favorite bands, especially after the release of their third album “Veckatimest” late this spring. They have been on my “Listening to Obsessively” list for quite some time and on October 15th, just my luck, they came to Portland to perform at the Crystal Ballroom. As much of a music freak that I am, I haven’t really been to many big concerts. Sure I’ve been to many classical concerts and I’ve seen one or two well known artists live, but none of them were very, how shall I put this…loud. Essentially, what I am trying to convey to you all is that this was my first real rock concert; and what a concert it was! I went downtown on the RAZ (the LC student shuttle) with my friends Will, Ethan and Nate, and the whole time they filled me in on their rules of proper rock concert etiquette based on personal experience. Rule #1: keep to your own space (not that you have a lot, I soon discovered), rule #2:  don’t nudge your way to the front if you come late, rule #3: no yelling the lyrics of the song in the ears of strangers and rule #4: under NO CIRCUMSTANCES are you to spin around frantically like a crazed helicopter impersonator (you know there has to be a story behind that rule…). Amidst this barrage of information, I think that I passed for concert etiquette. Having never been inside of the Crystal Ballroom before, I was creating theories about what it would look like. Several of my friends had been to concerts there, and the thing about the venue that was talked most about was the floor. Yes, the floor. You see, there are springs that support the entirety of the wooden floor of the venue, so when enough people are walking and dancing on it, you ever so slightly begin to bounce, and when we finally arrived, lo and behold when I walked inside there was a slight spring in my step (haha…ehhh). Something that surprised me when I walked in was all of the murals on the walls. Many Romantic images were painted around the whole perimeter and at the center of the ceiling was a beautiful crystal chandelier. For me, however, what was even more interesting than the scenery was the stage itself. It was littered with instruments and microphones that kept me thinking, “how can they possibly use all of these things in just one show?” Above the instruments were about four stands that were about eight feet tall, and hanging from them were Mason jars with little lantern lights inside of them. When Grizzly Bear finally came on stage, there was thunderous applause and I was completely captivated. Over the course of the show they played all of my favorite songs and surprised me with incredible performances of songs that I had somewhat overlooked. The vocals were absolutely amazing live, especially those of the lead singer named Ed Droste. The effects he had placed on his microphone gave his extremely clear voice a lovely booming quality, causing it to fill and recede from the room, almost like an ocean tide.  The bassist was also an interesting character to watch on stage. Whenever he wasn’t rocking out on his bass or singing, he would retreat behind an amp and retrieve such a variety of instruments that I began to wonder what the man COULDN’T play. He pulled out a bass clarinet, a regular clarinet, a flute and at one time he even took out a strange device that appeared to be a tape player which he promptly shoved into the range of the microphone. The lights were also quite a sight. They were constantly changing in color and position and intensity. Whenever there would be a dramatic build or a sudden re-entry of sound, they would flash and change accordingly, making the environment completely strange and otherworldly. The prettiest light show, however, was for a piece called “Foreground”; a gentle piece with piano, choral elements and Ed Droste on vocals. The lights shifted to a beautiful cerulean blue, eerily illuminating the silhouettes of all four musicians. By the end of the piece, the lights had faded into darkness leaving only the timid firefly lights inside of the Mason jars. Absolutely surreal. It was one of the best musical nights of my life to date.

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Another amazing musical experience I had this week was our a cappella group retreat that we have every single semester. This year we ventured up to one of our soprano’s house (Carmelle) in Tacoma, WA. The main goal of our retreats are to learn a lot of new music and get to know each other better and bond as a group. On the music front, we worked hard on learning four new pieces and reviving an old but difficult piece. We made some serious progress with them and I can’t wait for us to put some finishing touches on them and perform them. After rehearsals, we were treated to AMAZING food provided by Carmelle’s family, including delicious macaroni and cheese, TRANSCENDENT bread pudding, some of the most addictive roasted potatoes I’ve ever had, bread pudding, a wonderful salad, green beans, and a lot of bread pudding. Did I mention the bread pudding? I think I did… Anyway, we came up with a lot of “get to know each other” games to play on the retreat to…well, get to know each other better. It was really fun, especially since we have so many new members this year. One of my favorite ones that we did was where everyone puts their shoes in a circle except for one person. Everyone stands behind their own pair of shoes and the person whose shoes are not in the circle must stand in the middle. That person must then say something about themselves, perhaps where they have been or what they have done in their lives, and then if anyone else has done the same thing as them, they must leave their shoes behind to find a new pair. It is usually a mad scramble to find someone else’s shoes and the one that is left over must return the middle of the circle and tell the group something about themselves, then the cycle repeats. We played this game until about 2 in the morning on Saturday, so I’d say we know each other pretty well at this point. Overall, I’d say it was a pretty exciting retreat and we are prepared for our next concert this weekend! More on that next week.

 

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                School won’t be letting up anytime soon, and this last week has been no exception. I have read A LOT of articles and plays, turned in final paper proposals and started to study for the dreaded “M” word. Midterms. They are approaching. Next week in fact. I have my Social Theory test due next week and my Theatre and Society test to study for, not to mention the group creative projects due in that class as well. My particular group has decided to take a scene from the Oresteia by Aeschylus and turn it into a radio play with original music. Also, auditions for my final project in Directing were this week! EEEEK! I have never conducted an audition before, so it was very stressful to go through about twenty people with countless pairing combinations to see who would work best in my scene. I will be doing the first scene from a play called “Rabbit Hole” and I will be looking to cast two girls for it. It is a fairly recent play and it deals with how people live through grief. As serious as the play’s subject matter is, it is actually a very funny play. The balance of the script and the caliber of its writing really drew me in and I am very excited to work on it. I think I might have narrowed down my choices, but I need to see who other people want to and work around that, but seeing as we had so many good choices I’m not sure it will be possible to have a bad cast. We’ll see what happens.

               

Well, time to get back to work, rehearsals and studying for midterms!

 

Until next week,

Jon

 

Musical present of the week: One of my favorites.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=doc1eqstMQQ

21 October 2009