Tag Archives: recaps

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!


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.