Archive for the ‘internet’ Category
Patrick Street’s production of Bat Boy: The Musical is in trouble from the first line of Act One, which is rendered in a condescendingly fake Southern drawl. As is the second line, and the third, and the fourth.
Alas, since the original Weekly World News story has Bat Boy being found in a cave in West Virginia, this show’s creators scuttled a potentially brilliant show by making the most unimaginative decision possible: stuff the show with cheap and easy laughs at the expense of redneck Southerners. And the result is an unholy monster of a production that claims to be about the tragedy of prejudice, yet comes off stinking of prejudice itself.
The writers give far, far too much stage time to the antics of this gaggle of obnoxious, one-dimensional hillbillies we didn’t pay to see. They’re stupid! They’re ignorant! They’re afraid of people who are different! And they’re so crass they even hold a town council meeting in the local slaughterhouse. None of this is inspired—it’s nothing more than ugly stereotyping.
Meanwhile, the veterinarian’s wife saves Bat Boy from her euthanasia-crazed husband by… wait for it… promising to have sex with him. Because, ha ha, she hasn’t had sex with hubby in years! Ah, stale mid-20th Century marital clichés—what would this show be without them?
A lot better, that’s what.
Thanks to the writers’ preoccupation with pitchfork-waving rednecks and frigid wives, Bat Boy isn’t even a proper character in his own show until 45 minutes into Act One, when he finally starts learning English. If only Bat Boy had been allowed to make meaningful contact with his discoverers in the first scene, he could have started talking right there in the cave and emerged from his underground lair as a character we could care about.
Buying the stage rights to the Bat Boy character was the most inspired decision this show’s creators made—because in their hands, this Bat Boy barely gets to second base. The book should be shredded and rewritten from scratch; instead of being a recycled witch-hunt story, this show would be so much more fun as a musical revue—an elderly Bat Boy sits in his rocking chair and is interviewed by a wide-eyed rookie journalist, recounting various adventures from his incredible life as reported in the Weekly World News. It would be funnier, more entertaining and truer to the original tabloid stories, without making us sit through scene after scene of intolerable hillbilly burlesque.
I’m not sure if this qualifies as a silver lining or not, but this production does a reasonably good job with the source material. Scott Perrie and Bree Greig shine as Bat Boy and his love interest Shelley, and thanks to them, and a handful of laugh-out-loud lines, this show is worth perhaps $20 of its $44 ticket price.
Its unusual subject matter may bring in the crowds, but those who take a bite of Bat Boy: The Musical will find this show isn’t nearly as bloody good as it ought to be.
At the Normal Rothstein Theatre (950 West 41st Avenue at Oak) until April 18. Tickets at TicketsTonight.com
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by Johnny K
So the other day I purchased a ticket to an upcoming concert (Infected Mushroom, if you’re just dying to know) for $30. Of course, as usual, I knew there’d be other charges on top of it and some of these, like the $1.50 “facility charge”, I really have no qualms about paying. What does get me spitting venom, however, is the $9.75 “convenience charge” that is so bluntly – and bravely – tacked on. I mean, that’s 33% of my ticket price right there! So where exactly lies the convenience that could warrant such a major appendage? A quick research of convenience charges became a pretty enlightening experience: it seems that these entities were originally added on to tickets when one was to receive them in some manner other than the venue’s box office – snail mail, email, ticket outlet, etc. However, if you actually got off your lazy ass and drove to the venue to pay in cash this fee was waived, as there was clearly no “convenience” provided.
I hope you’ve noted that I’m writing in the past tense here and for good reason: these days, it simply doesn’t matter whether you walk 14 km on your hands to get the tickets directly from the drummer’s grandma – the fee still applies. So why is this? Well, the simple answer is because the omnipotent deity of ticket creation that is Ticketmaster wills it so – and who are we, the minions, to argue with them? After all, since they exclusively sell tickets to the majority of shows, we simply have no alternatives – no matter how much we moan and cry. Unless everyone protests simultaneously (which, having done the math, I found to be about as likely as finding a camel in Alaska), and forces them to lower their costs, this is something we’re just going to have to somehow continue digesting – and likely witness getting more and more expensive. But how much longer before we reach a breaking point?
Having thought all this before even proceeding to the last stage of checkout, imagine my surprise when I found out that at that point they added yet another fee – a $4.35 “order processing fee”! You’ve gotta be $#@&ing kidding me! Just slap me in the face and then spit in it, why don’t ya? What’s more, although we are given a number of ticket delivery options, the easiest and most convenient one would be an e-ticket that we can print ourselves. You’d think that this would be free of charge since it actually involves no paper, printing or even manual labor but no, this one will actually run you another $2.50! The best part of this is that they actually have the audacity to write beneath it that this is the method they “recommend”. You don’t say? The most expensive option that puts even more coin in your bulging pockets is the one you would prefer us to use? How thoughtful – thanks for the tip, TM!
So let’s do a roundup here of the extraneous numbers: $1.50 + $9.75 + $4.35 = $15.60, or 52% of my original ticket price. Add the $2.50 e-ticket delivery and that shoots up to 60%! Is it just me, or is there something seriously and horribly wrong with this picture?
by Laura Melvin
Deep in the underbelly of the Vogue Theatre, down a long corridor lined with countless doors, I met up with Vancouver band The Zolas before their December 18th show with Current Swell and Hey Ocean!. Founding duo Zach and Tom sat with drummer Aaron and bassist Henry in a small dressing room with beer and ibuprofen, cracking jokes about “pill-poppin’” before going on stage to perform tracks from their album, Tic Toc Tic. Luckily, the band had some time to sit and chat before being rushed on stage by a frantic organizer trying to get the show rolling.
What’s a ‘Zola’?
Zach: It’s the name of a French writer named Emile Zola. He’s the father of naturalism, which was writing about regular people for the first time. He sold like hundreds of thousands of copies to rich people… books about hookers and mining towns and regular people. They were stories about underclass people being devoured by the upper class.
Why ‘Zola’? What’s the significance of this particular author?
Zach: It’s about just being a nerd, really… He also wrote a lot of interesting essays to the young people of France about not being so damn racist and being less apathetic about life in general.
Why is Vancouver making a name for itself now in the Canadian music scene when traditionally it’s been Toronto and Montreal?
Tom: There’s just enough going on… What’s going on now is that there are just a lot of good bands.
Zach: And they’re good in they’re own way. The reason we’re doing so well is, ten years ago, people listened to very regimented types of music. Some people listened to rock; some people listened to pop; some people listened to rap. That was it. There was very little bleed [between genres]. And now it’s almost a stupid question to ask ‘What kind of music do you listen to?’ because everyone says they listen to everything… except country.
Aaron: Part of it, too, is there’s a lot of feel good music coming out of Vancouver and it doesn’t stick to a certain genre. It just feels good.
The Zolas don’t necessarily think of themselves as a feel-good-Vancouver-band, but, as bassist Henry puts it, “the bands we’re talking about don’t necessarily sound the same, but you can play them all on the same radio station.” They are part of a growing list of Vancouver bands, including names like Said The Whale, We Are The City and Hey Ocean! that demonstrate a great deal of diversity in their sound. If The Zolas combined playlists of the latest Grizzly Bear album, jazz musician Avishai Cohen, MGMT, and classical composer Gustav Mahler represents the wide-ranging musical tastes of local bands, it’s no wonder Vancouver has so much to offer.
Young indie types can be a dour, hard-to-impress bunch, and they were out in force to see electro-rocker John Vanderslice at the Media Club on September 16. Resplendent in their thick-rimmed glasses, alabaster, never-went-to-the-beach-all-summer complexions, and heavy cloaks of social awkwardness, it took 40 minutes of Vanderslice’s 70-minute set for those stiffs to finally warm up. But warm up they did, reenergizing the band as their pouts turned to smiles and they thrilled to that strange and unfamiliar emotion we humans call happiness.
Alright, enough making fun of the indie kids. Vanderslice opened his 70-minute set with “Too Much Time”…
…the strongest cut from his new album Romanian Names and one of the most beautiful songs he’s ever recorded. This gave way to a solid set of old and new favourites. Vanderslice’s carefully-produced recordings have a delicate quality that never seems to come through onstage, but this tour’s live arrangements did not disappoint, the familiar electronic elements effectively complimented by low-register acoustic instruments such as a stand-up bass, bass clarinet and baritone sax. Clearly delighted with the results, at one point he had his keyboardist and clarinetist replay part of a song unaccompanied by the rest of the band, simply because he thought their parts were so lovely they should be appreciated without the distractions of drums, guitar and vocals.
After an hour onstage the ever-cheerful Vanderslice wrapped the show with his signature unplugged encore, where the band came off stage with their instruments and played two acoustic songs in the middle of the club floor with the audience crowded around—a charming coda that brought the band and audience together like friends singing songs together at the beach. And since, as mentioned above, most of his audience never made it to the beach this summer, this warm and affectionate send-off only reconfirmed Vanderslice’s status as an essential indie artist.
During Artistic Director Christopher Gaze’s introductory speech at the opening night of Richard II last Thursday, he articulated that this is the first time the play has ever been produced in British Columbia. Hmmmm… perhaps there’s an underlying reason for that.
As the first in a series of Shakespeare’s history plays, that will be produced over the next two to three seasons at Bard on the Beach, Richard II is by far the most difficult, performance-wise, with respect to the density of the text and the scope of the story. Unlike the types of stories we are used to seeing grace the stage, there is no romance, no “bloody battles” and certainly “no pageantry”, as Director Christopher Weddell states in his program notes.
It is the story of an “unpopular King”, who is resented for his vanity and propensity towards making unfavourable decisions. Mainly, it is a story of politics and war, and an unusual choice for a lovely summer evening at the beach.
It began with an almost ritualistic flair: with a penetrating soundtrack that lent a profound air of intrigue, and as the sun went down over this solemn performance, I was grateful that Weddell was given such a talented cast with which to work.
With a steady pace, and an impressive grasp of the language, this cast stood strong and stoic within the structure of this incredibly wordy piece; particularly the very talented and long-time veteran of the Vancouver stage, David Marr, as the Duke of York, who surprisingly infused his lines with even hints of humour.
This is a tale of transformation and of examination. It asks you to question the humanity of people and politics, which, in turn, is not entirely irrelevant in our world today.
The History Series is certainly an important and intelligent departure in the land of Shakespeare study—but is not for the faint of heart, nor the light-hearted theatre-goer. Know what you’re getting into. It is a “History Play” after all.
Richard II will be followed next season by Falstaff, which is a condensation of Henry IV, Parts I and II, along with Henry V; And Lastly, The War of the Roses (a blend of Henry VI, Parts I, II and III, with (my favourite) Richard III, in the 2011 Season.
In the words of the Director:
“I ask you to watch closely, and decide for yourselves.”
Richard II runs at Bard on the Beach until September 18, 2009.
by Nick Black
I remember the first time I ever heard The Kills: it was about four years ago when I watched a French film called The Beat that My Heart Skipped. The main character was driving down a quiet street in Paris in the middle of the night. It is silent as he begins driving, until the song “Monkey 23” by The Kills begins. The haunting guitar work matched with a deserted Paris street makes the scene incredibly striking. I knew I had to listen to more of this band.
What separates The Kills from any other band is a uniqueness that is difficult to put into words. They are a two-piece band: one hailing from London, and the other from New York. The London half, Jamie Hince, thrashes out the rock on his guitar while the New York half, Alison Mosshart, reflects his violent guitar work with her both beautiful and often ferocious voice. This combination began with rough—although not in production—sounding garage bluesy rock that jolted its listener with its edgy guitar work and in-your-face lyrics. Take the song “Black Rooster”: “you wanna fuck and fight in the basement”. But their latest effort, Midnight Boom, has mixed an almost dancey vibe in with their gritty rock, and it works terrifically; check out the single “U.R.A. Fever” posted below.
I have waited a long time to see The Kills live; although they have played here three times in the last year, I was never able to secure tickets. My opportunity finally came last Saturday, and The Kills did not disappoint. In fact, they blew me away. The sexual ferocity of their studio albums was captured perfectly in their live performance, and their on-stage energy infected the crowd on the dance floor as they barely stopped jumping throughout the entire show. All in all, The Kills put on an unmitigated live show that should not be missed.
by Bob Pember
Over the last year about a half dozen of my friends have thought that I would love Kings of Leon. I’ve definitely heard them in the background before but I’ve never found myself compelled to give them a personal listen. After learning that they added a second show at GM place in August as the original date was selling out, I thought I’d listen to what thousands of people in Vancouver were filing in to see.
I listened to their 2007 release Because of the Times and their most recent Only by the Night released in September 2008. The music on the albums is competent but nothing earth-tilting—they can all play their instruments well and proper but they don’t take the guitar, bass, and drums anywhere exceeding FM predictability. The vocals are impressive on the right songs, but singer Caleb Followill falters when he tries to get creative outside his peak range. However, the Followill brothers Nathan, Caleb and Jared, along with their cousin Matthew, definitely have an ear for melody and song structure that can guarantee years of writing widely acceptable music for reasonably devoted fans—GM Place headlining music.
The fuzz-driven ‘Crawl’ is catchy, straightforward rock and roll at first listen, however the repetition of the chorus and the well-emphasized guitar parts force the lyrics of the verses to the forefront. These lyrics in turn spiked my interest in the subject matter these guys choose to sing about. This rock number packaged with heavy distortion and groove inciting drum beats has lyrics that seem derived from the book of revelations. The song seems to be in a violent setting wherein the singer has had their mouth broken and is currently suffering from “the bloody bits spitting out.” Followill continues to lament on the “crucified USA” and that “as every prophecy unfolds / hell is surely on its way.” A little apocalyptic I thought for such accessible music.
Following some internet investigation I found out that the three Followill brothers (Nathan, Caleb and Jared) spent a significant portion of their childhood with their father Ivan, a United Pentecostal preacher, who found time to home-school the boys while spreading the message of southern Protestantism around Tennessee (also how Caleb got that lovely singing voice of his: the boys were all in the same gospel choir). The Pentecostal upbringing seems to explain the fire and brimstone felt from the deceivingly benign rock style of ‘Crawl’—following a preacher could easily instill a fiery and grunge-influenced appreciation for doomsday wrath. Still, their weighty lyrics don’t seem to be scaring off anyone.
The way their music is constructed is accessible enough that they don’t scare off many listeners with complex riffs or baselines, and the vocals appeal to a tried-and-true alternative sound. Though their work doesn’t rattle any of the scaffolding around rock and roll, it’s not hard to imagine why thousands of people in our city like them enough to pay the $55 ticket price and fill up GM Place.
We know this has nothing to do with Vancouver events, but this clip is just too funny to not share:
Do you have a few hours to spare? Looking for something uniquely rewarding to fill your time? Afraid of commitment? No, we’re not covering an online dating site this week—we’re talking about volunteering! Often people are afraid to volunteer because many organizations require a “one year commitment” or “at least 4 hours per week” of your valuable time.
Urbantastic, a site co-founded by business graduates Benjamin Johnson and Heath Johns, is trying to challenge these long-held perceptions about lending your spare time. Launched in Vancouver and Victoria in January 2009, Urbantastic is dedicated to the philosophyphy of “micro-volunteering”: a non-profit organization posts a small job that they need help with—something that requires a one-time commitment of anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours—and if you have the time to help them out, you offer. If not, no worries, no commitments. No pressure to contribute any time that you don’t have.
If volunteering is something you’ve thought about, join the list of Urbantastic supporters to access a directory of do-good organizations that can use your help and get out there one hour at a time. And, if you come across an organization working in an area that you feel especially drawn to, you can join their posse to be kept aware of any requests they have for volunteers. Now that the fear of commitment has been taken out of the equation, there’s nothing to stop you from getting out there and lending a hand.