MUSIC | The Wombats at the Varsity Theater with The Static Jacks: Dancing, singing, and small talking

At the merch table in the front room of The Varsity Theater, while coolly perusing the (ironically?) Misfits-inspired t-shirts, I casually waited for a chance to strike up conversation with Ian Devaney—lead singer of The Static Jacks, the opening act for headliners The Wombats—at Monday night’s full-throttle show. By observation, Devaney’s off-stage demeanor caught me off guard; he was reserved, even delicate, face to face. But like any good front man, when the lights are on and the stage is open, he used every bit of available space to crouch, hover, flail, bounce, and wring his hands passionately above his stock of Jerry Lee Lewis-like curls.

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MUSIC | The Drums at the 7th St. Entry: A hand-clapping good time

The Entry was jam-packed with giddy hipsters on an unseasonably warm fall night on Wednesday, all waiting for the jangly and darkly effervescent tunes of the Brooklyn-based New Wave outfit The Drums. It was refreshing to see that the band—made up of guys who look like they would wear ironic letterman jackets and ask for the William Reid when they get their hair cut—were seemingly able to float above all the initial hype that surrounded their 2010 album The Drums, and took the stage with a likeable “we’re a working band” kind of attitude. They proceeded to whip out a fast-paced 45-minute set of facile and winsome renditions of songs taken from their debut album as well as their very recent release Portamento, which manages to be a weaker album overall as compared to their first but still features some of the band’s very best work.

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MUSIC | The Stepkids open for the Horrors at the Triple Rock Social Club: A show for the eyes and ears

Draped from floor to ceiling in white sheets, the stage at the Triple Rock looked more like a room being prepped for a fresh coat of paint than the scene of a heavy-hitting post-punk revival. But the spirited, age-diverse crowd at Saturday’s show got just that, with a feast for the eyes from psychedelic pop openers, The Stepkids, and for the ears from dark and distinctive headliners, The Horrors.

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MUSIC | Yuck don’t suck: Londoners deliver a scorching performance at a sticky Varsity Theater

Perhaps it was the record-breaking levels of humidity on July 19 that kept fans and bands alike practically stark still throughout Yuck’s first headlining show at the Varsity Theater, but there appeared to be discord between the London-based band’s sound and their physical presence (imagine the scene where the Smashing Pumpkins are playing in the “Homerpalooza” episode of The Simpsons)—something that was also true of the supporting acts. Still, what Yuck lacked in onstage energy and physical movement, they more than made up for in shoegazey nostalgic rock during their short, rousing set.

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THEATER | Classic “West Side Story” at the Orpheum has something for everyone

In the world of musical theater, most shows can be divided into one of two groups. Those groups, usually based on the collective strength of the creators and directors of that particular show, are: “singers who dance” (Les Miserables, Sound of Music) and the other, as you might have guessed, is “dancers who sing” (Chicago, Oklahoma!). The June 12th performance of Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim’s classic West Side Story at the Orpheum Theater succeeded in transcending those categories, showcasing a strong and diversely talented cast chock full of triple threats.

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MOVIES | “Cedar Rapids”: More enjoyable than a trip to the actual Cedar Rapids

As we rode the 6E bus to the ol’ AMC Southdale Center 16 last night to see a screening of Cedar Rapids—the new comedy directed by Miguel Arteta (The Good Girl, Youth in Revolt)—my friend Jessie and I had a conversation that made us sound less like in-the-know twentysomethings and more like our mothers.”So now…is this the one with Topher Grace in it or Jason Sudekis?””No, you are thinking of Hall Pass, which is the one where people from The Office get a week off of marriage or something.””Oh right! Yes, I am thinking of the one with Ed Helms from The Office.””No, Ed Helms is in Cedar Rapids. That’s the one we are seeing tonight.””Okay, and that is set in the 80s, where they have some sort of hijinks-filled night? Oh, where they play that Eddie Money song?””Uhhh…maybe? But I think it is set in present day Cedar Rapids, Iowa.””But it’s actually Ann Arbor.””Right.”Even though we had seen a trailer once or twice, there’s a reason we had a hard time identifying this movie based on its plot. Continue Reading