Big Head Todd and the Monsters w/ Toad the Wet Sprocket Charlottesville Pavilion
Saturday, July 8, 2006
Music has the great gift of conjuring up memories and reminding us of times long past. Well, over the weekend, two big acts from the ‘90s who have somewhat dropped off the musical map traveled to Charlottesville (via time machine, perhaps?) to remind us of who they were, and why they mattered.
Taking the stage first was Toad the Wet Sprocket, who broke through on the alternative rock music scene in 1991 with their reverb-drenched single “All I Want.” Led by front man Glen Phillips, the band played all the songs that made them famous, including “Walk on the Ocean,” as well some newer, equally melodic tunes that, at times, recaptured the band’s famous way with a catchy, harmony-laden hook. Although the Toadsters officially parted ways in 1998, they’ve reunited for this summer tour and, if this performance is any indication, they might just have a chance of capturing a new audience.
Second out of the gate was Big Head Todd and the Monsters, those frat-circuit faves who rose out of Colorado in the ‘90s with their hit album Sister Sweetly. Big Head Todd’s signature R&B sound, coupled with American rock anthems, propelled them to the top of the charts. The Charlottesville crowd definitely hung onto their favorites, including “Bittersweet,” ”It’s Alright,” “Boom Boom” and “Circle.” There was certainly no shortage of energy, and guitarist Todd Park Mohr played his guitar with infectious flair and flavor.
It was a surprisingly memorable evening at the Pavilion, and many listeners seemed delighted to be reminded of those brighter, less complicated days in the mid-‘90s when Big Head Todd and TtWS filled the musical gap between Seattle’s grunge explosion and traditional American pop. There was definitely some nostalgia in their acts, but, like all of us, these acts just keep looking and pushing forward.— Bjorn Turnquist
Heritage Repertory Theatre
Through July 15
Along with my ticket to Heritage Rep’s production of the stage version of Enchanted April, I brought some baggage. I’m a fan of the original 1922 novel by Elizabeth von Arnim—a once famous and now sadly neglected writer, and a fascinating woman whose life was as spirited as the title of her autobiography, All the Dogs of My Life. And I’m also a fan of the 1992 movie version, starring Miranda Richardson, Joan Plowright, Alfred Molina, Michael Kitchen and Jim Broadbent—a virtual who’s who of inimitable British actors.
To all this could I add yet another layer of appreciation? Would I encounter a whole new way to engage with the story of four women—two disenchanted housewives, Lotty Wilton and Rose Arnott (Beth Gervain and Ann Talman), a young socialite, Caroline Bramble (Faith Noelle Hurley), and an elderly dowager, Mrs. Graves (Daria T. Okugawa)—in post- World War I England who muck in together to rent a villa on the Italian Riviera? The answer: Act I left me cold, and not just because it takes place in a drizzly London, while Act II warmed me back up, and not just because the lovely villa and the rest of the set designed by Tom Bloom seems drenched in sunshine.
Veteran Heritage Rep director Douglas Sprigg lacks ideas when it comes to creating tension in Act I. Yes, Lotty and Rose’s husbands, Mellersh and Frederick (John Paul Scheidler and Robert Porter), are just the right shade of irritating, but the wives’ longing to replace a sterile world with a fertile one is more stated than deeply communicated. In fact, the only real tension is between Talman and Okugawa’s subtle and Gervain and Hurley’s overly mannered performances.
Act II clears the playing field. Sprigg suddenly seems right at home. With little brushstrokes he builds a rich atmosphere that pools the resources of all the actors. And with splashes of color he stretches out the elements of classic British farce— stronger than in the novel and the movie— to garner some genuine laughs.
In the end, the charming story charmed me once again.—Doug Nordfors
NFL Head Coach
PlayStation 2, Xbox, PC Rated: Everyone
I now know why Bill Belicheck seems terminally grim (even when his team is winning) and Marty Schottenheimer and Tony Dungy always look like they’ve swallowed several wads of tinfoil on the sideline.
Being an NFL head coach is the world’s most tedious job, you see, and they’re dreading the 100-plus hours of micromanagement tasks they’ll be slogging through when the final gun sounds.
That’s the impression you get, anyway, from playing through a season in NFL Head Coach, Electronic Arts’ debut attempt at a sports-management sim. This is a game that, for better and for worse, puts the minutiae of literally thousands of coaching and management decisions squarely into your twitching hands. Down time? The high life? Not in this league, baby—there are plays to develop and e-mails to read.
Historically, these sorts of games have been little more than menu-based spreadsheet programs masquerading as sports games. In terms of text-based management sims, football’s fallen on especially hard times here in the States; Front Office Football, that old series veteran, has been MIA since 2003. NFL Head Coach takes what was great about those games, adds enough extra busywork to choke even Vince Lombardi and puts a nifty graphical sheen on the whole affair. Setting practice times, massaging depth charts, hiring coaches and free agents—these are just a handful of things you’ll have to do before even calling the first snap.
The Madden engine fuels the actual onfield parts of the game, so the plays you eventually develop and call will look as sharp as they do when you’re the one controlling them in Madden ‘06. Unfortunately, you’re not the one controlling them here— you just pick and hope for the best, a goal the game’s AI botches a little too often. Even when you’ve slathered the positive motivation and maxed out attribute points, a well-prepped quarterback will still cough up some seriously puzzling turnovers. Then again, I imagine this is how Brian Billick feels when he’s watching Kyle Boller heft his third interception of the day, so perhaps EA’s nailed this aspect more closely than I realize.
If you’re the sort who’d rather be the one juking the D for a 70-yard touchdown run in Madden ‘06, run far, far away from Head Coach—you’ll likely be clawing your eyes out before preseason begins. Control freaks, on the other hand, may just have found the foundation for a Super Bowl contender. —Aaron Conklin