Archive for the ‘FP Cadenza’ Category

Internet welcomes newcomers to Hollywood

Monday, August 27th, 2007 | Nadia Sobehart

Blinding spotlights; hot, sweaty fans; a six-digit record label contract and your voice broadcasting across radio stations everywhere.

As surreal as it may seem, the possibility of finding fame is not impossible this day thanks to our dear friend, the Internet. Back in the day when casting calls and auditions were a result of pure networking, it was virtually impossible for a regular, yet talented, person to be discovered. With the rise of several networking Web sites and online competitions, the world of rocker fame is slowly opening up to newcomer local artists and hopeful singer-songwriters.

Success stories on Web sites and infomercials are often questionable, but these are the real deal. On February 25, 2007, Billboard Magazine featured a cover piece on Esmee Denters, closet singer and Internet phenomenon. Beginning in August of 2006, Esmee posted several videos of herself singing popular songs on her sister’s webcam. Although she posted these in the spirit of fun and boredom, her page soon accumulated thousands of hits. The amount of subscribers awaiting new videos increased drastically within the next few months. Esmee received many offers from producers and managers, but shrugged them off as insubstantial jokes. After realizing these offers were, in fact, quite real, Esmee was recruited by Billy Mann, the mastermind behind pop sensations such as Teddy Geiger, Jessica Simpson, The Backstreet Boys and Pink. Within weeks she posted more videos and released a much awaited secret, her new contract with Tennman (Interscope Records), the brainchild of Justin Timberlake.

According to an online source, this made Esmee Denters, “the first amateur singer in history to go directly from a personal YouTube posting to commercially performing on a major stage.” Esmee opened for Timberlake’s tour this summer across Europe. Success story or not, you decide.

A better known group also has a lesser known story. Panic! At the Disco was discovered after posting a PureVolume link to their first two songs on Pete Wentz’s (Fall Out Boy) LiveJournal page; they had never played a show prior to being signed. The quirky band, comprised of four boys all under 21, immediately gained fans worldwide through Myspace, online sources and incredible shows. Their story shows how merely posting your talent on the Internet can attract some worthy audiences.

You may wonder how this all affects you, the starving musician on the verge of genius compositions. Well, my dear, nowadays we can all use the Internet to (try to) become famous. The discovery of Esmee has led to a flock of musicians, amateur filmmakers and actors posting their talents on the Web in hopes of being discovered.

From online competitions to free publicity, the Internet is now a goldmine of potential fans, managers and collaborators. Yahoo, Sony’s Crackle, Myspace, XM Radio and Famecast have all sponsored an online competition, whether a battle of the bands or a hip-hop showdown. On the publicity front, PureVolume, Myspace, YouTube, and offer various free-publicity pages and forums.

Of course, the chances of being discovered are slim, but with enough perseverance and networking (online, of course) you may as well pack your bags for Hollywood. Oh, and, don’t forget talent. Go get ’em, tiger!

Earn your indie cred

Monday, August 27th, 2007 | Chiara Andriole

A bevy of fresh faces have just arrived on campus eager to embark on their journeys towards degrees. I invite all Wash. U. students to add a different (yet, also impressive) credential to their resumes. My indie-music education began several years ago with days spent perusing local CD shops, evenings spent in small, smoky underground venues and nights spent pouring over MySpace and Now, I’m ready to play professor. Pay attention, study hard and research thoroughly, my students, because indie music is part of the college repertoire. Earning an indie cred is hard work so I’ve prepared a study guide to ease the load. Here’s five little-known bands with which any budding indie-ologist should be familiar:


Dungen’s sound is the brainchild of Gustav Ejste. The group performs as a five-piece, but Ejste is responsible for playing most of the instruments and vocals on recordings. Dungen evokes a psychedelic, classic rock sound. Although the classic rock genre usually calls to mind British and American greats, Dungen is Swedish. Never mind that the lyrics aren’t in English; the music is incredibly melodic, complicated and captivating. The foreign lyrics make for a fantastical sensation and listening to Dungen is a trip.

Dungen’s most recent albums are “Ta Det Lugnt” (2004) and “Tio Bitar” (2007).

Tracks to download: “Panda,” “Mon Amour,” “Du e f”r fin f”r mig,” and “Gor Det Nu”
If You Like: The Flaming Lips, TV on the Radio

Grizzly Bear

Grizzly Bear’s experimental, folksy sound is evocative of Iron and Wine with slightly more backbeat. There are winding journeys of lengthy guitar strums, piano keys and even clarinet. The band masterfully combines electronic instruments with traditional. The sound of Grizzly Bear can be incredibly calming; they are a great artist to listen to while lounging in bed, reading a book or studying.

This Brooklyn quartet has released three albums on Kanine Records: “Horn of Plenty” (2004), “Horn of Plenty (The Remixes)” (2005) and “Sorry for the Delay” (2006). They have also released “Yellow House” (2006) on Warp Records.

Tracks to download: “Don’t Ask,” “Fix It,” “A Good Place,” “A Sure Thing,” “Little Brother,” “Knife”
If You Like: Iron and Wine, Now It’s Overhead

Man Man

Crazy, brilliant and playful all at the same time-Man Man is nearly indescribable. They are a three-ring circus captivated in sound. This band incorporates a myriad of instruments into their funky sound. Nonsense lyrics and lively beats overlapped by xylophones, guitars and synth makes for something ridiculously original. Man Man is highly regarded for their outrageous live shows. They decorate their instruments with knick-knacks and feathers and the whole lot dresses in a matching monochromatic scheme with face-paint.

Man Man has released two albums: “The Man in a Blue Turban with a Face” (2004) and “Six Demon Bag” (2006).

Tracks to download: “Engrish Bwudd,” “Black Mission Goggles,” “Van Helsing Boombox”
If You Like: bands that sound like nothing else (like Animal Collective)


For an entirely instrumental band, Mono’s post-rock sound is remarkably captivating. Their music is mellow and haunting. This Tokyo-based band features layers of guitar work accompanied by drums and the occasional piano key. Their songs are very long, somewhat like a modern-day orchestra. It’s a perfect lullaby for adult ears.

Mono has released four albums: “Under the Pipal Tree” (2001), “One Step More and You Die” (2003), “Walking Cloud and Deep Red Sky, Flag Fluttered and the Sun Shined” (2004) and “You Are There” (2006).

Songs to Download: “The Flames Beyond Cold Mountain,” “Com(?),” “A Thousand Paper Cranes”
If You Like: Explosions in the Sky


Voxtrot’s infectious pop-rock beats are uplifting, captivating and soothing all at once. Vocalist Ramesh Srivastava’s sweet voice speed-sings yet articulates every lyric perfectly, demanding attention for the words. Layers of guitar and bass compliment the drum-driven music.

The Austin band only has one full length album, “Voxtrot” (2007) and three self-released EPs. Every one is worth owning.

Songs to Download: “Loan Shark,” “Brother in Conflict,” “Kid Gloves,” “Raised by Wolves”
If You Like: Of Montreal, Band of Horses, Matt Pond PA

Zac Efron: Disturbed or just doing his job?

Monday, August 27th, 2007 | Jackie Wagner
MCT Campus

What happens when you take a Broadway musical, a star-studded cast and a screenplay missing a few plot points from the original score? A highly entertaining, though slightly creepy, feature film.

“Hairspray,” which came out in July 2007, recreates the 2002 Broadway hit that won eight Tony Awards. It’s a feel-good film that leaves you smiling long after the credits have rolled. It is a cute, fun movie that addresses the issue of segregation in 1960s Baltimore.

It seems, however, that the film’s writers reached some interesting conclusions about how to make up for one plot change. I admit I was more than a little disturbed when Link [Zac Efron] danced and sang to a picture of Tracy [Nikki Blonsky] during “Without Love.” In the musical, Link visits Tracy in jail and they’re singing to each other between the bars of the cell. In the movie version, Link is alone in Tracy’s room singing to her picture, lying on her bed and eating her half-eaten candy bar; incidentally, the picture sings back. It all seems very strange to me, although very entertaining. The moment when he lies down on her bed and hugs her picture into her pillow is most suggestive; it’s clear that his intentions with her are not pure.

I maintain that Zac Efron is the only actor alive who could have done that scene without laughing and without asking the director what the hell he was thinking. Let me make myself clear: this is not a compliment to his acting ability.

Personally, I prefer the vocals from the original Broadway cast. In general, the Hollywood stars seem unable to cope with the more demanding passages. I really felt that sometimes they were just speaking their musical lines, but I guess we can’t expect film actors all to be great singers. It all sounded fine; computers can take care of that. But I would hardly expect many of these performers to be able to really fill a Broadway theatre with genuine sound night after night. Some of the harder passages of singing were changed into something that was easier or in a different range. A little disappointing to someone who’s used to listening to the original soundtrack, which features Marissa Jaret Winokur as Tracy and Mary Bond Davis as Motormouth Maybelle.

A few songs were cut out entirely, including “Mama, I’m a Big Girl Now” and “The Big Dollhouse.” An instrumental version of “Cooties” was played in the background during a dance competition at the end of the movie, but Amber Von Tussle [Brittany Snow] did not sing the number.

I find it very interesting that the two songs in which Amber has significant singing parts are both cut and she doesn’t even sing for the entire picture. This leads me to wonder if her singing voice was just too horrible to even consider putting it on the movie’s soundtrack. Is it just coincidence that her songs were cut,or was it strategic?

Don’t get me wrong. I enjoyed the movie experience. It was entertaining, fun and enjoyable. I recommend seeing it if you haven’t already.

All I have to say is beware of its quirks and be prepared to laugh a lot. No seriously, a lot.

Student-run theatre: how to get involved as a freshman

Monday, August 27th, 2007 | Jackie Wagner
Scott Bressler

With so many ways to get involved in theatre on campus, freshmen have many opportunities to participate. In addition to the Performing Arts Department’s annual performances, there are also many student-run dramatic groups that everyone is welcome to audition for.

For example, consider three of Washington University’s phenomenal improv groups: Suspicious of Whistlers, Mama’s Pot Roast and KARL. Each of these groups focuses on comedy and improvisation and put on performances for the campus community.

Suspicious of Whistlers is the only long-form comedy group on campus, performing an improvised play of 30 minutes from an audience suggestion. This group performs in national festivals all over the country and recently hosted an improv festival on campus. Members of this group meet three times a week for two hours. If you’re worried about the time commitment, think about this: members enjoy what they’re doing so it just seems like a good time to them.

“During improv, you’re not really thinking,” said the group’s leader, Rick Andrews.

Suspicious of Whistlers does three or four big shows per semester and some smaller ones for Ursa’s, Alumni or even the University’s Board of Trustees. Suspicious of Whistlers also plans to perform at the Touhill Center at the University of Missouri-Saint Louis and Kirkwood High School this year. They are looking into attending a festival in Chicago, as well.

Mama’s Pot Roast is a short-form and sketch comedy group that meets for about five hours per week and has one big show, “Knighta Comedy,” as well as several smaller shows and Dinner Theatre. Group leader Julia Martin believes that Mama’s Pot Roast is a good group for people who just want to have a good time and meet people on campus.

KARL also performs short-form and sketch comedy; group leader Ben Walsh says the group is still forming its identity and personality. Therefore, by joining this group freshmen can help to mold and shape it. Walsh also believes that KARL is “less mainstream” than the other two improv groups on campus and that they have the “kookiest” characters, as well. The attitude of the group is much more laid-back with only two 2-hour practices per week. The group is also willing to work around people’s schedules.

Anyone who is planning on joining an improv group while also performing in PAD productions does not need to worry about conflicts because each group claims it’s sympathetic to its performers’ other theatre obligations.

Mama’s Pot Roast is especially understanding as most of its performers perform in PAD productions and musical groups, as well. This group actually builds its schedule around its members’ PAD productions. As the leaders say, it’s manageable but takes some planning and time management. So, if any freshmen are interested in doing both, they should go for it but be willing to plan ahead.

Anyone wishing to audition for an improv group should attend auditions on September 5 at 7:30 p.m. in the Mudd Multipurpose Room. By attending this audition, potential members try out for all three groups. The audition consists of playing improv games with other prospective performers as well as current members.

Andrews, of Suspicious of Whistlers, suggests that if freshmen have any interest at all, they should audition because they really have nothing to lose.

“Just come and play,” he said.

All three groups are looking for energetic, intelligent people who are good actors. Leaders also cited personality and how well a person meshes with the group as important factors.

Experience is not necessary; Martin, Walsh and Andrews agree that improv is a very natural skill that someone can be good at without experience. One or more groups may invite freshmen to callbacks, during which more focus is put on the personality side of the audition. When they’re done with the audition process, students can specify which group they would like to be a part of and hopefully that group wants them back. Those who join KARL will learn what this mysterious acronym stands for.

One of the other many student-run theatre opportunities on campus is All Student Theatre (AST), in which students direct, act and build sets. This group puts on one big show every spring at Beaumont Pavilion in the Quad. Past shows include Manhattan Theatre’s “Alice in Wonderland” (2007), “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead” and “Cabaret.”

The group puts on either plays or musicals, but is always looking for something on a big scale with a large cast. Freshmen are more likely to land leading roles in an AST production than in a PAD one and can expect to impress the theatre department and acting faculty.

As group secretary and senior Lisa Sullivan advises that AST is a good way to get a “foot in the door” in the University theatre community. AST is less pressure than PAD and is much easier to get involved in its productions, especially as a freshmen. Sullivan believes that the group is more fun-oriented than PAD and is a “good way to find a community at Wash. U.”

It is hard to be involved in both PAD and AST, but it can be done. Many of the group’s performers are also involved in improv groups on campus. In order to stay informed about this opportunity, those interested should sign up at the activities fair and expect e-mails later. The play and director will be determined later in the fall and auditions will be announced in early Spring. A prepared monologue of less than five minutes is required for auditions; if you do not have one of your own, though, one will be provided for you. Callbacks will follow, and the production will be cast. Rehearsals are four or five times per week with many more during tech week. Experience is not necessary and many non-theatre majors participate. It is open to anyone who wishes to audition.

Another student theatre group is Thyrus, which puts on many experimental plays in innovative locations, such as dorm rooms. This group is also involved in the “Day of Shame,” which takes place in early fall. Part of this event is the 24-hour theatre program, in which five or six writers draw names from a group of 20 actors and receive a first line. They must write a play with this first line, find props and costumes, stage it and direct it, using the actors they have been assigned, all within 24 hours.

Sullivan reported that her participation in this group was probably the “most fun I’ve ever had on stage”.

At Wash. U. it’s pretty easy to get involved in theatre even if you don’t think you want to participate in a PAD production. More importantly it’s easy to get involved in all types of theatre. With improv groups, All Student Theatre, Thyrus and more, there’s something for every type of performer.

Nor is acting the only way students can participate; backstage crew, directors, set and lighting designers and sound technicians are all needed and encouraged to get involved. Anyone who’s interested should get out there and discover their niche in the Wash. U. theatre community.

Feast on local music and bring your own dishes to share

Monday, August 27th, 2007 | Nadia Sobehart

Local bands have always been a thing of wonder: a close fan base, raw sound and mild theatrics, all located within a claustrophobic, dingy setting.

Apart from the rare exception, most of these bands never leave the local stage, regardless of the expanse of their fan base.

Being a mecca of different cultures and ideas, college is the ideal place for students to share “local” music from all over the country. From burning mixed CDs to hosting listening parties to requesting bands to play in local venues, we have the ability to help gain support for our hometown musicians.

To get the inside scoop on how local bands publicize their music and appeal to their fans, I interviewed Black Sails, a northern New Jersey band signed to Conformity Records, a Belgium (New Jersey) based hardcore/punk label.

Black Sails has been playing together for two years and performing for one. Inspired by local hardcore bands and larger touring acts, the group has been playing local shows to, “get their music out there;” most shows take place in local venues and basements. Their typical show protocol involves playing, supporting other bands and hanging out with the crowd. According to bandmember John, “We’re pretty friendly. We’re down to earth.”

When asked about autographs, the answer blatantly emphasized the band’s feelings toward staying down to earth: “Autograph signing is a little lame nowadays. Especially to independent hardcore and punk bands. No rock star junk.”

Oftentimes we assume that musicians are trying to break out in the industry to achieve fame, money, etc. Black Sails, however, suggests otherwise.

Does Black Sails prefer local shows to upscale venues? “Hell yeah,” stated John, “Way more fun and intimate. Less pressure. We liked being up close to our fans.. The stage tends to separate. Making some sort of false distinction, as if we’re better than the people we’re performing for. The only good thing about the bigger venues is that we get to play with the more popular bands we listen to and play to bigger audiences.”

There are dozens of ways to publicize; Black Sails kindly shared their most effective methods.

“Every little thing helps: handing out demos, selling EPs, records, shirts, etc. Touring is really good for up and coming bands, although it is difficult to fund and organize on your own,” they said.

Also, unlike more recognizable bands, Black Sails does not bash music sharing.

“Yeah whatever, burn a copy for your best friend. As long as he enjoys it, learns the words, and sings along at a show, why the hell not?”

As for relationships with fans, John will readily state, “We sure are closer to our fan base than very well-known artists. We keep in contact with some; Myspace is good like that.”

A supportive band, loyal to its fans, weary of “selling-out,” Black Sails is a great example of the spirit of musicians who love what they do-and wouldn’t mind if you loved it too.

So whether you enjoy listening to new music or supporting your local music scene, make sure to browse the Web to find delicious new ingredients for the communal college stew.