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Human Skull's instantly appealing jangle-punk doesn't "Take a Lifetime" to enjoy

Fri, 07/19/2019 - 11:05am by christopherporter

The band Human Skull

Six songs strong and 12 inches wide, Human Skull's vinyl debut, Take a Lifetime, is a brief but engaging record that documents the latest developments from an Ann Arbor punk rock band that, as its website suggests, is “probably less punk than you think.” Indeed, their velocity and ferocity get applied to songs with genuine Midwestern hearts beating beneath the leathers, expressing yearning rather than rage and avoiding easy classification.

For two albums -- a self-titled, digital-only debut and the cassette release The Penny and the Ball -- Human Skull has honed a unique style rather than wandering, and Take a Lifetime distills that sound into its most potent, clear-eyed state. Melodies are challenged in interesting ways, each traditional choice countered with a harsh chord or sudden, whiplashing tempo change. At times Human Skull’s riffs can recall early REM if they weren’t bashed out at rollercoaster speed with the band in lockstep around every tight corner.

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Starring Ron Asheton: A rundown of The Stooges' ax maniac acting in horror films

Wed, 07/17/2019 - 2:15pm by christopherporter

Ron Asheton

Destroy All Monsters: Rocker Ron Asheton (left) meets horror-movie actor Ron Asheton in Mosquito (top right) and Wendigo (bottom right).

July 17 is Ron Asheton’s birthday. He died in 2009 at the age of 60, but not before he and the band he helped make famous had one last run when The Stooges reformed in 2003.

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Of Skin and Dirt: Ann Arbor Art Center's "Earthbody" explores the human frame's relationship to its habitat

Wed, 07/17/2019 - 11:00am by christopherporter

Eric Wakeland's photo Untitled, 2019

Erin Wakeland, Untitled, 2019

The Ann Arbor Art Center’s Earthbody features works from 11 artists whose works explore, in some aspect, the relationship between the body and the environment. The exhibit focuses on works of current and recent students at the Penny W. Stamps School of Art & Design at the University of Michigan.

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Love and physics commingle in Theatre Nova’s “Stargazers”

Mon, 07/15/2019 - 10:45am by christopherporter

Theatre Nova's Stargazers

Clockwise from top right: Kaitlyn Valor Bourque as Claire, Katelyn Wilson as Elaine, and Eddie Rothermel as Rupert in Stargazers by Reina Hardy at Theatre NOVA. Photography by Golden Record Media Company.

Playwright Reina Hardy has a lot on her mind: the Big Bang Theory, the course of true love, the waxing and waning of sexual passion, personality disruptions caused by social media, the difficulty of making contact at a party when you’re socially awkward, and so much more. 

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Roustabout Theatre Explores the Life and Works of The Bard in "Big Daddy Shakespeare"

Fri, 07/12/2019 - 11:15am by christopherporter

Roustabout Theatre's Big Daddy Shakespeare

Roustabout Theatre's Big Daddy Shakespeare looks at The Bard in a more personal and humanizing lens than is generally studied in school. A one-act play adapted from several of Shakespeare’s works by Anna Simmons and directed by Josie Lapczynski, shows him as a son, husband, and father who he left his young family to be a playwright in London. What was he thinking? Feeling? And how could his plays reflect his state of mind through separations -- and grief?

The Ypsi Experimental Space (YES) is decorated throughout with a specific theme. A popcorn machine greets you at the door, the warm scent of the freshly popped treat filling the air. Posters from past Roustabout Theatre shows are plastered on the walls like old circus playbills. The stage is draped in the unmistakable striped fabric of a circus tent. 

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Sonic Resistance in the Motor City: "Call & Response" at U-M's Penny W. Stamps Gallery

Wed, 07/10/2019 - 1:45pm by christopherporter

Tylonn Sawyer, 3 Graces: Nina, 2015

Tylonn Sawyer, 3 Graces: Nina, 2015

In keeping with recent exhibition themes at the Penny W. Stamps Gallery, its most recent show asks audiences to imagine a better future through the works of innovative and iconic contemporary artists. 

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Unmasking Herstory: Nastassja E. Swift's "she was here, once" at U-M's Lane Hall

Tue, 07/09/2019 - 3:45pm by christopherporter

she-was-here-once-masks.jpg

Nastassja E. Swift wants to know what's behind the mask. 

The Virginia-based artist's exhibit at Lane Hall, the home of the LSA Women’s Studies program at the University of Michigan, is part of a larger performance piece, titled she was here, once. Swift, in her artist statement, expands upon the intent behind her work:

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Painting the Everyday: Sarah Innes' "Around the Table" at Ann Arbor Art Center focuses on the small moments in life

Mon, 07/08/2019 - 11:00am by christopherporter

Sarah Innes' painting Duncan and Arlo

Duncan and Arlo by Sarah Innes, watercolor on paper.

Ann Arbor artist Sarah Innes is a radical.

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Chloe Gray’s Fun Girl dance company blends quirky movement with thoughtful activism in “Girlfriend”

Tue, 07/02/2019 - 5:00pm by christopherporter

Chloe Gray

Chloe Gray photo by Erika Ruch.

On June 22 at Riverside Arts Center, I had the pleasure of attending the first show presented by Fun Girl, a new Ypsilanti-based contemporary dance company created and run by Artistic Director Chloe Gray.  The company offers paid rehearsals and performances to their dancers, as well as apprenticeships, and acts as a platform for technically based dancers to explore quirky movement while applying thoughtful activism.  

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What's Love Got to Do With It: The Purple Rose's comedy "Welcome to Paradise" offers a dreamlike romance -- or is it real at all?

Mon, 07/01/2019 - 5:30pm by christopherporter

The Purple Rose Theatre's Welcome to Paradise

Rory (Ryan Black) and Evelyn (Ruth Crawford) trip the light fandango in The Purple Rose Theatre's production of Julie Marino’s Welcome to Paradise. Photo by Sean Carter Photography.

In Julie Marino’s play Welcome to Paradise, a young man who has been backpacking through Europe helps an elderly woman who is having difficulty at the airport. Rory doesn’t just help Evelyn to her cab. He accompanies her to her beach house on the fictional Caribbean island of St. Sebastian, a beautiful spot in the middle of nowhere. Exhausted, he tries to find an inexpensive place to spend the night, but accommodations are costly in paradise. She invites him for the night.