Tag Archives: performance

The rain did not stop fans in seeing Cold Cave and front man Wesley Eisold at Slim’s last Friday.Photo by Nichole Rosanova/Foghorn

Cold Cave Chills

East coast band carries on the rainstorm into SF

     I remember the first time I heard Cold Cave like I remember the first time every one of my beloved music idols touched my heart. Struggling with a self-portrait alongside my friend, in the otherwise empty art room of our high school, “Love Comes Close” exited the small speaker of his iPod, and the room suddenly began to fill with the hazy fog that was my lust.  Since that moment, founder Wesley Eisold has been on my mind.

The darkwave synth-pop sounds of Cold Cave have always been a guilty pleasure of mine.  With lyrics that exude teenage angst, it is not for the tame of heart.  Eisold sounds like what would be the deadly combination if Joy Division and Depeche Mode were to meet and have a musical love child.  My dad has snidely described Cold Cave as being very “alternative.”  This only feeds my desire for his sound.  Eisold is like rich, dark chocolate.  It hits the spot, it’s exactly what you were looking for, and despite the calories, you can’t seem to stop yourself from reaching for more.

I listen to Cold Cave when it’s raining and when I am consumed by overwhelming feelings. So when I heard that he would be performing at Slim’s last Friday, in addition to the news of a possible heavy rainstorm, I just couldn’t help myself.

A white projector screen, serving as a makeshift curtain, temporarily blocked the view of the stage as Cold Cave set up and sound checked.  Audience members became dazed by the displaying psychedelic images. Finally, the screen slowly rose, revealing the man of the night. Eisold stood before us, with his hand—garnished with heavy silver rings—defiantly placed on his hip.  A long, oversized black raincoat hung over his shoulders.  Loose fitting leather pants creased to the stomping of his feet as the bass of “Burning Sage” boomed over the speakers.  This song is by far the darkest track on his album “Cherish the Light Years,” and most of the audience members stood stupefied by his opening song, while others chanted hypnotically to his lyrics.  “I’ve been breathing with my lung. Black lung. I’ve been staring at the sun.  Black Sun.”

My friend, who seemed as equally confused, looked over at me and simply said “So twee,” (Slang term to describe English pop music, nauseatingly precious) ironically describing the essence of Cold Cave that appeared before us. Despite the fact that I was counting down the seconds until the next song, I washed the distaste out of my mouth with the conclusion that since I’ve moved to San Francisco, I’ve become happier, and thus could not connect with his opening.  I still had hope that my love would not disappoint.

Following his dark anthem, he quickly transitioned into songs like “Confetti,” and “Icons of Summer.” Regardless of his punk spirit, Cold Cave had the power to connect with every person in the room.  With one hand on his hip, and the other clenched in a fist reaching out towards the crowd, he had the audience in the palm of his hand.  All eyes were on him.

Like all idols, Cold Cave is untouchable and all-powerful.  The first time he spoke to the audience, with the simple statement of “I hope you’re enjoying your Noise Pop experience,” the crowd erupted with cheers and began to dance even harder.  Kneeling at the end of the stage while he belted out “Underworld USA,” he was close enough to smell.  Screaming girls and boys reached for him.  They could’ve pulled out a lock of his hair.  But no one dared touch him.  It was quite a bizarre display.

My night at Slim’s only fueled my continuing love for Cold Cave.  If it’s raining, and you see me walking around campus plugged in—obviously entranced—just know that I’m having a moment with my musical lover that is Wesley Eisold.

Beyonce to Bluegrass: USF’s Got Talent

Freshman Kaciah Hopper belts out a Beyonce ballad at the USF’s Got Talent Competition on Wednesday, March 31. Her performance won her the $300 grand prize. Photo by Valeri Aragon/Foghorn

Hula dancing, mandolin-playing, stand-up comedy and harmonica beatboxing were among the talents showcased at USF’s Got Talent this past Wednesday. The event, hosted by the Campus Activities Board, took place in the Presentation Theatre from 8 to 10 p.m., running a little long – not that the audience minded.

USF’s Got Talent was emceed by perky sophomore Evelyn Obamos, with her brand of cheesy-though-cute humor. It was judged by a panel of four, including students Jenny Dinh and Halimah Najieb-Locke, CAB adviser Darren Pierre, and music professor Francesca Rivera.

The show opened with a piano cover of Lady Gaga’s “Speechless” by Kayleigh Mack, at first miscast as an original piece by the student. Trivial slips like these–missed lyrics, misplaced microphones, were the only minor hitches in an otherwise smooth and successful performance.

Even the unexpected glitches were taken well; junior Scarlett Caldwell found herself performing a capella after, as she put it, “the pianist bailed on me,” but was supported by a loud and appreciative audience that cheered and whooped, calling out performers’ names and participating in the intermission activity where they snapped fingers, slapped thighs and stomped feet to create a thunderstorm in the Presentation Theatre.

The “thunderstorm” was dwarfed, however, by the applause for the three winning acts: Kaciah Hopper in first place with a Beyonce cover and a grand prize of $300, with Mike McDonnell and Todd Andersen’s guitar improvisations taking second with $150, and Karim Iliya coming in third and receiving $75 for his harmonica beatboxing.

Most of the entertainment on stage, but not all, was musical in nature, but all the performances were fairly diverse. Acts included student rock band Moonlight Orchestra, singing original tunes with psychedelic guitar and soulful violin; duo Southern Comfort with a playful R&B song; singer/songwriter Caroline Calderon, who also performed at Barrio Fiesta on March 26 and 27; and acoustic musician and boy-next-door Chris Hansen with his song “Thanks.”

There was a variety of covers, such as Paramore’s “Misery Business,” performed by In All Seriousness, a band made up of freshmen Kevin Yeung and Samuel Rusu and sophomores Adam Unger and Chloe Nakano; and a cover of the Goo Goo Dolls’ “Iris” that launched cheering audience members down memory lane. Kyle O’Brien, freshman, offered a fresh breath of bluegrass amid pop and alternative, demonstrating his skill at the fiddle and mandolin, aided by guest and fellow Earl Brothers band member Tom Lucas on banjo.

The members of USF’s Hawaiian Ensemble entertain the audience with a hula dance, dressed in full Tahitian regalia. Photo by Valeri Aragon/Foghorn

Not all of the performances involved singing or playing instruments. Junior Matthew Montenegro, a self-described “passionate dancer,” performed a complicated hip hop routine. Super senior Anthony Rivera also broke out his dance moves before rolling out the good-naturedly self-deprecatory Asian stereotypes for his stand-up comedy act.

Aside from independent student bands or solo artists, campus groups also made an appearance. Jazz Voices, a 12-person vocal ensemble, jumped on the “Glee” bandwagon with an encore performance of “Don’t Stop Believing,” and the USF Hawaiian Ensemble concluded the show with a three-part performance including Tahitian dance and Hawaiian ukulele reggae.

For the most part, the audience enjoyed the experience, taking two hours out of a Wednesday night to relax. The experience was quite different behind the heavy red curtains of the stage.

“This was my first substantial performance, having only previously played in front of some family and friends, so this was an experience indeed,” said Andersen, who has been playing guitar since 7th grade, and whose decision to participate in USF’s Got Talent was a spur-of-the-moment choice.

Despite this inexperience and lack of practice, “when the time rolled around to get nerves, I didn’t, and thus my subsequent performance was very relaxed and natural,” Andersen said. “The thrill of performing in front of an audience, and in my estimation, performing quite well, is unlike anything I’ve previously encountered. I’d love to be up there playing for much longer.”

With his share of the prize money, Andersen plans to buy a trumpet and explore his other untapped musical talents.

Lupe Rocks Sold Out Homecoming Concert

Lupe Fiasco performs 1

Lupe Fiasco, DJ Simon Says and drummer Baby Bam performed several of Fiasco’s songs and one of Kanye West’s songs at the crowded homecoming concert on Friday night. Over 2,000 students came to the sold out show in War Memorial Gym. (Chelsea Sterling|Foghorn)

Apathy was at a low Friday night at War Memorial Gym as students eagerly anticipated the arrival of hip-hop artist and performer Lupe Fiasco, at this year’s homecoming concert. Although Lupe Fiasco only performed for about an hour, approximately 500 students, alumni and staff crowded the basketball court to hear him perform. Even USF President Rev. Stephen Privett, S.J, made an appearance at the beginning of the concert.

President of the Campus Activities Board Courtney Ball said that there were 2,500 tickets available and that the concert was sold out. During the pep rally ASUSF directed students to the ticket booth, which may have contributed to the boost in sales. Attendance at the concert, however, ranged from 400-500 people. The doors opened at 7:30, but Fiasco did not come on stage until 9:15. Alex Platt, an event staff worker, said of the concert, “I thought it went pretty smoothly.” After working with Wyclef Jean, last year’s homecoming performer, on his music video “If I Was President,” Platt was disappointed that Fiasco did not have much interaction with students. While Jean let event staff and some students listen to his sound check before the concert, Fiasco made students leave and did not sign autographs or meet with students before the concert. Platt said, “He wanted to do his own thing. He didn’t really want to interact with students.” On the other hand, Platt said of Jean, “He was very into talking to his fans.” Platt pointed out that the way that both artists came on to campus was significant. Jean entered near Fromm Hall and walked through campus, shaking hands and greeting students as he made his way to the gym. Fiasco entered the gym through a side door, limiting his face time with student fans.

Lupe Fiasco performs 2

Although most students enjoyed Lupe Fiasco’s performance at the homecoming concert, some wished he had played longer than his scheduled one hour show. (Chelsea Sterling|Foghorn)

Platt was in charge of the pep rally this year. When the band canceled and miscommunications occurred with the dance team, student turnout suffered. Next year, Platt proposes to hold the pep rally before the concert because students will already be gathered and waiting for the performer. If the basketball team was brought on stage before the performer, the audience’s excitement might transform into school spirit.The music seemed to resonate with students. Even students who don’t identify as hip-hop fans enjoyed Fiasco’s performance at the concert. Chet Bentley, a sophomore media studies major, said the music was not his style, but “it was energetic and appealed to the masses.”

Bentley liked the concert because Fiasco was cool and young. Fiasco played many of his popular songs like “Superstar,” “Daydreamin’,” “Go Go Gadget Flow” and one of Kanye West’s songs, “Touch the Sky.” Fiasco’s backup performers included DJ Simon Says and drummer Baby Bam. 2007 alumnus Ilya Fishman said, “I was really excited to see him. He is a real rap artist with great music. I was already a huge fan so seeing him live was awesome.”Ball said that some students were disappointed Fiasco didn’t perform longer, but Platt said that the concert time was previously established for one hour. Sophomore Katrina Valdez said that although the concert was shorter than Wyclef Jean’s, it was better. She said, “He [Fiasco] brought a good atmosphere.”

Vagina Monologues Panel Pinpoints Controversial Scene as Cause of Debate

Monologues panel discussion

USF Profs. Nikki Raeburn, Peter Novak and Dean of Students Mary Wardell discussed the controversy surrounding the performance of “The Vagina Monologues” in Presentation Theater. Religious colleges get lots of flack for hosting the performance. (Melissa Stihl|Foghorn)

With colorful paintings depicting various parts of the female body displayed on stage in the Presentation Theater, several key members from the production team of “The Vagina Monologues” hosted a panel discussion that focused on the criticism that the provocative series of speeches prompts. Producer and alumna Julie Henderson introduced guest panelists Peter Novak, associate dean for the arts and humanities and a performing arts professor, Mary J. Wardell, associate vice president and dean of students and Nikki Raeburn, a sociology professor and breast cancer survivor. Each guest brought a unique perspective- that of a gay person, a single mother and a former student at a Jesuit seminary program. Along with these members of the USF faculty, director Meg O’Connor and cast member Megan Pohlman, a sophomore psychology major, tackled the topic of why some groups object to the performance that Novak described as a community ritual.

“The Vagina Monologues” is a series of speeches that is based on hundreds of interviews of women conducted by feminist activist and advocate Eve Ensler in 1996. Ensler asked these women about their sexual experiences and received spirited answers to her odd questions, like “If your vagina could talk, what would it say?” and “If your vagina could wear clothes, what would it wear?” The monologues surround not only topics concerning female sexuality- masturbation, orgasms, and the body- but also social concerns such as how we define gender and historic sexual abuses like Japanese “comfort women” during World War II.

One critique that the panel addressed is that “The Vagina Monologues” is too exclusive. The title itself appears to be marketed to women only. Novak, the only male panelist, said that women’s voices need to be heard, and that this takes priority over men’s feelings of exclusion. He said, “The show becomes a worldwide phenomenon that is vital and important.”

Wardell said, “Each woman has multiple narratives to be told.” She went on to say that the performance allows students to further expand the dialogue about violence against women. Raeburn was concerned about whether the performance could adequately represent all women’s views. The performance attempts to display a wide variety of women; for example, the monologues include single, married, straight and lesbian women. It also integrates the role of women as mothers, spouses, partners and providers. Raeburn pointed out that gender is socially constructed and that modern society determines what is masculine and what is feminine. Pohlman posed a question that illustrated this idea: “What does it mean to be a strong, powerful woman?”
The question of how women interpret gender is not what many conservative groups are concerned with.

Novak, who once attended a Jesuit seminary program, thinks that these groups oppose the “Vagina Monologues” performance because people are affronted by the idea of the body, as it appears provocative and threatening. More specifically, Novak points to the monologue in which a woman who was raped experiences “salvation” after a sexual encounter with an older woman. Some Catholics and other religious groups vehemently oppose the use of religious language and terms like salvation and baptism to describe an act which some churches would consider sinful. Novak said of those who criticize the show on moral grounds without having seen the performance, “They’re missing the point.” He spoke of the deeper message of human connection and its power to heal.

According to Novak, USF receives hundreds of e-mails each year saying that a Catholic university should not perform the play. However, “The Vagina Monologues” is performed on the USF campus every year. Samantha Schwartz, executive producer of the College Players, acknowledged that USF president Fr. Stephen Privett, S.J. responds to these critics and allows it to be performed. Novak said the administration is very supportive and “very open to the presentation.”

The profits from the Vagina Monologues performance go to Ensler’s nonprofit V-Day organization that supports women’s groups that tackle the issue of violence against women. Henderson said that this year’s production profits totaled $6,052. In recent years, Ensler has been focusing on preventing female genital mutilation with young girls in Africa.

A Privilege to Pee: “Urinetown” Spoofs Musical Genre

The year doesn’t matter, only the time. It’s early in the morning and everyone has to use the loo. In the dystopian world of Urinetown, however, a water shortage has caused the power-grubbing corporations to tax the public toilets. Any attempts to dodge taxes by finding the nearest bush result in a police beatdown and exile to the mythical, all-feared Urinetown. As one character sings, “It’s a privilege to pee.”

Our hero in this tale of injustice is the resolute everyman, Bobby Strong (Austin Ferris). As every hero needs a ladylove, Bobby’s heart belongs to the effervescent Hope (Deidre Doyle), the daughter of greasy Caldwell B. Cladwell (Isaac Samuelson), the businessman who instigated the toilet tax. When Hope convinces Bobby to follow his heart, he starts a revolution. Will we hear the people sing?

Parodies are fickle creatures that are rarely entertaining when not handled by the firmest of hands. Luckily, the College Players’ production of “Urinetown” is solid. More so, each element, strong on its own, comes together with the rest to create a great sardonic satire.

The actors do a fine job of keeping their characters, virtually caricatures, from becoming dull. Austin Ferris adds wryness to the heroic Bobby, while Isaac Samuelson practically leaves a trail of slime as an evil capitalist. Most impressive, however, is the depth of the ensemble. There are no nameless voices in the ensemble-each cast member stands out, from Cladwell’s bunny-hopping lackeys to Bobby’s “West Side Story”-channeling revolutionaries.

A common pitfall in musical theater, especially comedy, is the tendency to rely too much on dialogue. Not so in “Urinetown”. Choreographer and director Sheena McIntyre and Joey Price have taken every humorous line and given it a nonverbal counterpart. And of course, it’s a musical, so expect plenty of song-and-dance numbers. As “Urinetown” is also a satire, it takes elements from many popular musicals, such as the bottle dance scene from “Fiddler on the Roof.” These different forms of homage are skillfully done and sure to make any musical theater geek squeal.

Often in musical parodies, the script relies on its wit in lieu of strong music. Urinetown does not fall into this trap. Though the score playfully hints at “Les Miserables” and “Evita,” it nevertheless contains plenty of its own catchy tunes. Combined with inventive choreography and skilled acting, many of the numbers are supremely catchy, such as the obligatory villain song “Don’t Be the Bunny” and the “West Side Story” riff “Snuff the Girl.” Sometimes, the acoustics suffer hiccups where it is difficult to understand some of the singers, but these lapses are few and far between.

Though the show addresses issues such as environmental policy, freedom, and capitalism, it is best to view it as a comedy. Otherwise, it might start sounding too full of itself. There is a fine line between being snarky and being smug, and “Urinetown” sometimes sashays a bit too close towards becoming the latter, but the lively cast and solid direction keep the emphasis on the humor, right where it should be.

Sometimes it is easier to make an audience cry than laugh. Comedy is a difficult medium and parody the hardest of all. Luckily, the College Players are up to the challenge. “Urinetown” is a strong, entertaining show that is not to be missed.

“Urinetown” begins the second weekend of its run tonight at Presentation Theater in the Education Building. The show plays Thursday through Saturday at 8 p.m. Tickets can be bought at the door or by calling 415-422-6133. $10 for students, $15 general admission, $5 for members of College Players.

British Boys Get Schooled on More than History

A play that includes education, British accents, love triangles, and sexual tension, playwright Alan Bennett’s “The History Boys” makes for a controversial, yet romantic evening at the theater. 

Based in England, “The History Boys” follows the lives of eight college-bound male students. The play starts out as banter between the students and their three teachers, a slow beginning that is as interesting as sitting in on a history lecture. The plot quickly picks up when scandal breaks loose. Without giving too much away, one of the well-respected teachers, Hector (Richard Ryan) turns out to be a subdued child molester of sorts. 

Judging from the nonchalant attitudes of everyone in the play, Hector’s actions are nothing to make a fuss about. 

Tensions continue to rise when the most attractive of the eight students, Dakin (James Breedlove), becomes sexually attracted to his male teacher Irwin (Jeff Cohlman), but at the same time student Posner (Ryan Foster) is madly in love with Dakin. Meanwhile, student Scripps (Jonathan Shue) has become obsessed with religion, much to his parents dismay.

The scandal, the romance, the make-out scenes: this play is an intellectual soap opera that also poses its audience many questions, making them feel as though they have just attended a lecture at Oxford. 

By the end of the play, the audience has many catchy tunes stuck in their heads, but they are also left pondering the meaning of the education system and the nature of history. 

The actors put on a noteworthy performance of this beautifully deep play. Although some of them had trouble mastering the British accent, the dialogue kept one interested throughout the play with its intellectual and insightful content. The relationships between the characters were heartfelt and sincere, and the play leaves one with a warm fuzzy feeling about life, education and, above all, love. 

“The History Boys” will be at the New
Conservatory Theatre Center until Oct. 26. For tickets call the box office at 
415 – 861 – 8972, or buy them 
online at www.nctcsf.org.