Category Archives: Recaps

How Was…The Artifacts Mini-Concert at the Tang?

Last night there was a spoken word event at the Tang; sadly, I couldn’t stay for the main event, but I caught the opening act: The Artifacts, one of Skidmore’s most talented student bands.  The Artifacts are Jonathan Wan ’12, Zoë Brecher ’12 and Leo Cancelmo ’12, three seniors with mad skills on their respective instruments (Jon on keyboards and vocals, Zoë on drums and vocals, Leo on guitar) and a sharp ear for catchy power pop tunes.  What a treat to hear their set!  I decided to forego the Tang’s ground level and watch the show from the balcony.

Here’s their opening number:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IsyM4_LkGWw

And here are some pics!  If you want more of the Artifacts, here’s their lovely new single, “Be Someone,” on Bandcamp!

Hello, Tang!

A view from the top.

Leo shreds, others bob their heads.

How Was…UJIMA Fashion Show and Chowderfest?

Wow…what a weekend.  Friday night kicked off with a great SEC show at Falstaff’s (an on-campus venue) featuring Brooklyn bands Total Slacker and Widowspeak.  I bowed out before Total Slacker hit the stage but Widowspeak was totally charming.  The Skidmore crowd swayed to the sweet vocals and surf rock-meets-doo-wop guitars, and in terms of wardrobe, it looked like we had all gotten in a time machine and traveled from 2012 to 1992.  Floral dresses and plaid shirts: totally rad, man.  Here’s a little sampling of Widowspeak doing a cover of Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game.”

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3_l8bp5M6kA

Saturday morning was all about Chowderfest, which is Saratoga’s annual day to appreciate various kinds of milk-based soups.  More than 70 restaurants participated, each one selling their own special chowder variety for $1 apiece.  Anyone deeply affected by Seasonal Affective Disorder would be wise to partake in Chowderfest — it is just that uplifting.  I sampled delicious sausage-and-shrimp chowder at Bailey’s, then moseyed down to Hattie’s (a fried chicken legend of a restaurant — Hattie’s beat Bobby Flay in a fried chicken Throwdown!) and snagged some bourbon chicken chowder.  Mmm.  The long lines (see below) didn’t discourage me, or any of the zillion people who came to Saratoga for the chowder goodness.

Then Saturday night, fully satisfied chowder-wise, I caught the second half of the UJIMA Fashion Show (co-directed by fellow SS2S blogger Alta!!), which was amazing as usual.  I’ve gone to the fashion show every year and always leave feeling incredibly positive.  UJIMA, the African/African-American/Caribbean-American cultural awareness group, puts on a fashion show every February to coincide with Black History Month; this year the theme was “Black Couture,” which focused on the Black community’s countless contributions to the fashion world.  Needless to say, this event was awesome, and everyone looked INCREDIBLE.

Wendy Wilson, Skidmore alum and News Editor at Essence magazine, gave a great speech.

A seriously stylish couple.

Her jacket was SO sparkly...I want it.

America's Next Top Model?

The models were all incredible — it’s pretty much impossible to not look confident when you’re sauntering down the runway to Rihanna’s “Rock Star” — and the performing groups were great too.  Here’s the Bandersnatchers singing “Baby I Need Your Lovin'” by the Four Tops:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EnKnlwsUZCQ

And here’s Lift Every Voice, Skidmore’s wonderful gospel choir, singing Bruno Mars’ “Just The Way You Are”:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FdbJ5U-dBaE

And what happened on Sunday, the titular day of rest?  Why, I stuffed my face at a Super Bowl party and deconstructed Madonna’s halftime show with my fellow viewers.  (That’s a blog post for another day).  A typically crazy, seriously enjoyable Skidmore weekend.

How Was…Senior Capstone Show at Case Gallery?

Last Monday senior Jasmine Yamazaki debuted her senior capstone show in Case Gallery; it was a combination of English and studio art disciplines, part art installation and part illustrated story.  A bunch of Skid kids wandered into the gallery in Case Center, checking out the dozens of handmade flowers, wax mushrooms and interwoven paper spheres hanging from the ceiling.  Jasmine transformed the small gallery space into a colorful simulated garden.  She hand-wrote her story (about a girl who visits a forest and becomes a tree) and set it up so it spanned three walls with horizontal panels.  So cool! Congrats Jasmine!

Her installation is just one example of the many options Skidmore students have for their senior projects, otherwise known as capstones.  You can write a traditional thesis, take a senior seminar in your major, plan and carry out a lab experiment or psychological study, write a short story collection, create an art show, do a translation of a foreign language text, direct a theater performance, film a documentary…Anything goes as long as it shows a mastery of your subject matter.  Jasmine did a fabulous job of combining her major and minor.  Senior year of college might be a long way in the future, but it sneaks up fast!  Here’s a few more pics:

CTM: Beatlemore Skidmania and Atlas Sound at Zankel

What’s up folks?  It’s a beautiful day in Saratoga Springs and I’m gonna tell you all about a few rad musical happenings on campus.  First up is Beatlemore Skidmania, which happened last weekend.  Beatlemania is probably one of the most popular events of the year; my first two years here we had it in Filene, the semi-crappy old music building, but since 2010 it’s been in the gorgeously lit, higher-capacity Zankel Music Center.  This year was a doozy: nineteen musical acts playing over two hours worth of intense, energetic Beatles tunes.  All Beatlemore photos were plundered from Facebook.

This guy's version of "A Day in the Life" was insane.

This year the theme was “Beatles And Beyond” so anything from “Love Me Do” all the way to Wings and the Plastic Ono Band was fair game for the musicians.  Of the many talented acts onstage, I had a few favorites.  The Bandersnatchers, Skidmore’s only all-male a capella group, did a pleasant barbershop quartet-style rendition of “I Wanna Hold Your Hand.”

The Skidmore Sonneteers, singing John Lennon's "Real Love."

A few of my neighbors from last year pulled a crazy jazz version of “Blue Jay Way,” complete with saxophone harmonizer and a didgeridoo.  (Yes, a didgeridoo.  That’s what happens when you go abroad to Australia.)  A trio of first-year students played “Can’t Buy Me Love” with a reggae twist, and two lovely ladies, MaryLeigh Roohan and Carolyn Bottelier, performed “Eight Days A Week” with only a guitar and vocal harmonies and still had the audience hanging on their every note.

Carolyn and MaryLeigh, absolutely killing it.

The concert concluded with a sing-a-long “All You Need Is Love” and everyone went off humming Beatles tunes and babbling away about which band they liked the most.  Another successful Beatlemore Skidmania and — eek! — the last one for me as a Skid student.  Talk about bittersweet.

Then last night Zankel and SEC hosted Bradford Cox, the leader of Deerhunter, who did a solo show as Atlas Sound.  Atlas Sound is sort of the bedroom, laptop composer, introverted, introspective, ideally-heard-on-headphones version of Deerhunter (who came to Skidmore back in 2009).  A slew of bespectacled, plaid-clad Skid kids wriggled in their seats, waiting for the 7-foot-tall maestro to come onstage.  First up, though, were openers Laura Stevenson and the Cans.  I caught the tail end of their set and was very intrigued by Stevenson, who had impressive vocal cords.

Then came Cox, who filled the auditorium with ragged, mumbled vocals, layers and layers of looped sounds, weird bleeps and bloops, and guitar that sounded like violins and harpsichords and also sometimes just like a normal guitar.

His live versions of “Mona Lisa” and “Walkabout” almost trumped the studio versions.  Of course, Atlas Sound music is mostly beatless and atmospheric, so it definitely had a sopoforic effect on the audience.  One of my friends said the girl sitting in front of her was in a deep slumber halfway through the show.  I myself closed my eyes a few times.  But calling the Atlas Sound show “boring” is not quite right; it was relaxing to the point of hypnotizing, and sometimes, especially after the week before Thanksgiving, a relaxing show is exactly what you need.

Freaky, man.

I’m not sure if I’m breaking thousands of copyright laws by posting this, but here’s a sampler of the evening: it’s Cox opening his show by playing “Recent Bedroom.” Enjoy!

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lm1jQUUww7w

How Was…Skidmore Halloween?

Yesterday around lunchtime I was getting my daily dose of Food Network in between work and classes; housemate Caroline entered the house and bewilderedly proclaimed, “It feels like we’ve been on vacation.”  Such are the effects of Halloween weekend at Skidmore, a multi-night bacchanal of face paint, glitter and I-made-it-myself-so-it-might-fall-apart-at-any-minute costumes.

 

Pure, unadulterated patriotism: Taylor Swift and Betsy Ross.

First, I must say I am extremely proud of this school because just about everyone assembles their own Hallo-outfits themselves, culling bits together to make extremely unique costumes.  This is not a place where you can get away with buying a French maid costume out of a bag from the Halloween store at the mall — find your own feather dusters, y’all.  Some of the amazing, über-CTM costumes I saw over Thursday-Friday-Saturday include: Patrick Bateman from American Psycho, a frumpy ’90s Mom and Dad duo, the Black Swan, a Toddler in Tiara, a bumblebee (with hair in corresponding beehive), a Campus Safety officer, a Freudian slip, the cast of Hey Arnold!, a “motivational speaker,” two astronauts, two adult film stars, and an insouciant Frenchman.  Skidmore goes all out for this weekend.  Fun-haters and/or those who think they’re too cool for Halloween need not apply.

A coupla sock monkeys, clownin' around

The first night I was Betsy Ross, the second night I was a Beanie Baby (the Princess Diana Beanie bear, for anyone who was alive/conscious during that short-lived toy trend), the third night I had to think of  a last-minute costume and went as Mean Girls’ Regina George after a certain prank involving scissors and a white tank top.  I will spare you those pictures, but enjoy the rest of the Halloween evidence.

I had to choose from one of about 8,763 group pics. Oh, college.

Moorebid is the big Skidmore Halloween dance, called so because it used to be held in Moore Hall on the old downtown Saratoga Springs campus; my freshman and sophomore years it was a barrel of monkeys — I guess that meant “really fun” in the olden days.  The past two years it’s been more like a cage of wild lemurs.  Was this year’s Moorebid a victim of bad planning, overindulging youth, poor crowd control, lack of true Halloween spirit?  Not sure.  Either way, I guess the metaphorical Great Pumpkin didn’t show up, but if anything the fact that the dance was a bust only made me appreciate the pre-Moorebid festivities with friends even more.  Them’s the memories you’ll actually keep!

Moorebids come and Moorebids go, but the photobooth evidence lasts forever.

 

How Was…Caroline Busta’s ‘Choosing Criticism’ Lecture?

Before I post about the numerous Halloween festivities of the weekend, here’s a recap of yet another fascinating event at the Tang.  This past Thursday a small group of students gathered in the Somers classroom to listen to the next Alfred Z. Solomon Residency lecture, this one given by Caroline Busta ’01, a Skidmore alum and assistant editor of Artforum.

The first part of her presentation was a history of Artforum, which was founded in 1962 at a time when art was transitioning into something somewhat less accessible to the average viewer.  Art, according to Busta, “needed a community” once the recognizable figures and landscapes of yore started giving way to abstract expressionism – hence, Artforum was born not because art critics needed another realm to criticize, but because the world needed a genuine forum for discussion.

The magazine isn’t immune to controversy, as evidenced by a mini-scandal in 1974s when artist Lynda Benglis wanted a photograph of her (posing nude with a certain kind of phallic sex toy) included in the magazine.  On one hand, Artforum was concerned they’d face flack from anti-pornography groups, plus they’d have to deal with the hassle of putting the issues in plastic bags; on the other hand, it was a time at which the women’s lib movement was “kind of a huge deal” (in Busta’s words) and the magazine knew the photograph was important.  In the end, they used the photograph but positioned it as an ad – the Paula Cooper Gallery, who represented Benglis, paid for it – and solved the editorial problem.

Busta, a bubbly and bespectacled blonde who talked as fast as Usain Bolt runs, also clued us in to the daily grind of working at Artforum: long hours, going to as many gallery shows as possible, staying on top of both the microcosms and macrocosms of the art world.  Busta acknowledged her precarious position – “If I’m not willing to do the work, a thousand other people are there to take my place” – and told us that part of the reason she got the job had less to do with snagging great internships or having a bulletproof resume than it did with her simply being immersed in the New York art scene.  This is heartening news for anyone interested in working in a creative field – immersion in what you love can lead to good things.

 

How Was…Whiting Tennis’ Talk at the Tang?

Let’s talk Tang.  The Tang is a “teaching museum” on campus and one of the coolest, well-designed buildings in Saratoga Springs.  Every year they have new installations, plus they have a permanent collection (once I took an class on 18th-century novels and we got to look at Hogarth etchings for an hour and a half with magnifying glasses).  The Tang looks like a 3D version of one of those tangram puzzles you do in elementary school.

Last week the artist Whiting Tennis (FABULOUS NAME) was here for the Dunkerley Dialogue to talk about his Opener 22 show — it’s the 22nd installation in the Tang’s Opener series.  People got to the Tang early for coffee and art chats.

Curator Ian Berry joined him and they discussed the creepy and cool photographs, sculptures and paintings in the installation.  WT was a little shy, but when he got into whatever he was talking about, he started making hand gestures, smiling and otherwise grooving into the art talk.  It was very charming.

One theme of his work is the relationship between manmade structures and nature: the way people can’t ever seem to keep their houses tidy, the way trees and branches overtake buildings, the way architecture can mimic natural forms.  One of the first photographs he showed was one he had taken in Seattle of a white house with a washer and dryer sitting next to it; it all looked pretty banal until he explained that it looked like a “mother bear with her two cubs” and explained how fascinating it was when inanimate objects take on personalities.  From that point on, it was easy to see the human (and animal) qualities in his work.  One sculpture looked like a “rhinoceros hut”; a tar-covered wooden sculpture resembled a pet dog.

 

Photo courtesy of the Tang website.

The Whiting Tennis installation is absolutely worth seeing if you come up to check Skidmore out — if you don’t recognize the Tang for its odd shape, you’ll see one of the artist’s sculptures right outside.  If you can’t make it, here’s a virtual panorama of the show.

How Was…SEC Big Show w/ TV On The Radio?

SEC is Skidmore’s Student Entertainment Company, and they’re responsible for pulling in all the big acts we see, including the revered Big Show of the semester.  Past Big Shows have included Grizzly Bear, Talib Kweli, JFK from MSTRKRFT (a show heavy on consonants), Janelle Monáe, Dan Deacon, Dead Prez and Girl Talk.  This year SEC really outdid themselves and snagged TV On The Radio.  The show was bananas.

The show was in the big gym in our athletic center; these dudes blasted the huge room with so much sound that I thought my eyes were going to pop out of their sockets.  Everyone freaked out when TVOTR played “Staring at the Sun” and “Wolf Like Me,” but people were generally excited as it was.  Fridays are when you let the stress go, and what better stress-relief than semi-moshing in a large crowd of fellow Skiddies?

Because I am a sneaky person, I gradually weaseled my way closer and closer to the stage, trying to get a better view of all the trombone-blowing, tambourine-shaking and guitar-shredding that was going on.  Only caveat of the night: tall guys!  Why you gotta stand in the front?! (said in a Marlon-Brando-in-the-Godfather-style accent). You’re at least six feet tall, can’t you see over all our heads anyway?

But at last I made it to the second row.  They launched into a Fugazi cover and I was smooshed in a very energetic and sweaty mosh pit.  Elbows flew but no injuries were sustained.  Pretty sweet.

So thanks TV On The Radio for including Skidmore in your massive jams.  ‘Twas another successful Big Show.  And what do people do after Big Show and before heading downtown?  They get fried, cheesy sustenance at the Spa.  I never saw so many giddy people mowing grilled cheeses and cherry-picking french fries from each other’s plates.

How Was…Late Night with UCB and Ad-Libs?

A mysterious entity at Skidmore known as “Late Night” lurks in the shadows, hiding in dark corners and emerging only to bring us awesome performers so we can all laugh and be amused at certain times of the weekend.  It’s not so bad.  Late Night exists solely for our entertainment!  No complaints!  Last Saturday the Late Night show included our own Ad-Libs, an improv comedy group sort of like Whose Line is it Anyway? but way less cheesy and without Wayne Brady.  Ad-Libs brought the chuckles.

Improv comedy is precarious and somewhat terrifying to watch — one fudged joke and it all goes to hell.  The fun part is being implicated in the terror, because that just amplifies the funny jokes.  You can feel the audience rooting for the comedians, too.

Next up were a few members of the Upright Citizens Brigade, a NYC bastion of Chicago-style longform improv.  They talked about their most embarrassing moments, and many of those moments involved youthful foibles with gross-out endings.  We were the perfect audience: adults in age, adolescents at heart.

That guy plays one of the TGS staff writers on 30 Rock!  He was kind of disgusting and really hilarious.  Enjoyable stuff, made all the more enjoyable because the comedy show was in the Spa, a mere 20 feet away from all kinds of late-night snax like chicken fingers and mozzarella sticks.  Nothing goes with belly laughs like a belly full of fried meats and cheeses, am I right?