We still have a hard time believing that Lady Gaga played here in September, let alone that she donned the UVA t-shirt the audience threw on stage.
No matter how you slice it, Lady Gaga’s music…pretty much stinks. But even the biggest hater couldn’t have walked out of JPJ feeling unmoved by the Bowiesque spectacle—and surprisingly emotional experience—that was her concert here this September. For a lot of UVA students, seeing Lady Gaga in a glittery Cavaliers tee will be one of their fondest college memories. The rest of us will have to settle for watching Gaga play the power ballad “Speechless” on a flaming piano.
In a recent interview with a noted physicist, the New York Times Magazine’s Deborah Solomon offered a universal rule to compete with Einstein’s unified field theory: “Everything in the world will get worse.” To WTJU’s small and feverishly dedicated group of listeners, it sounded like the universe was operating on that rule when UVA announced plans that would change programming at the eclectic station. But amid massive public outcry those plans were, for the most part, put on hold. Meanwhile, with two recent fund drives surpassing their goals (the Classical Marathon this month beat its $40,000 goal by $6,000 in pledges) it looks like all it took to motivate 91.1FM’s listeners was to threaten to change it.
Any room that hosts music around here gets a de facto seal of approval—thanks for doing everything you do!—but sometimes taking the music out of the venue has a way of freshening one’s perspective on things. That was the case when the Vermont vocal trio Mountain Man (one of whose members lives in Charlottesville) played at the gorgeous Christ Episcopal Church on First Street early last month. Who would have figured that a group could learn to be so musical without first learning to plug in a guitar? The three ladies of Mountain Man have some growing up to do. But let’s hope that in growing up they don’t lose their charm.
Walking into a gallery can feel like a lot of things, but rarely does the experience of walking into an empty room with art tacked to its walls feel like walking into a whole new world. But that was exactly the experience that greeted gallerygoers at “Leaf and Signal,” curated by the local artist Warren Craghead, a bright array of art zines that were chaotically wheatpasted to the walls at The Bridge/PAI. The art itself was hit or miss—some of it done by kids—but culled from a network of lo-fi zinemakers from San Francisco to the U.K., “Leaf and Signal” made Charlottesville feel like a stop on the circuit of world-wise, handmade, eclectic, cheap, beautiful art.
Except for the fact that it’s a play, Hank Williams: Lost Highway is much like any biopic about the pitfalls of fame—Ray, Walk the Line, The Doors, The Temptations, the list goes on. But at Live Arts’ production of the play this year, Lynchburg-based songwriter Dallas Wesley didn’t merely act, or impersonate Williams; he was possessed by the two-dimensional version of Williams we wish we knew, who loved his mamma, burped when he drank liquor, and existed exclusively to please an audience. Backed by a crack squad of local musicians (who after the play have come together to perform elsewhere as the Lost Highway) the concerts-within-a-play were, when fictional Hank wasn’t stumbling drunk, among the best of the year.
Kink in the road
The best song on Invisible Hand’s self-titled album is the first: “Two Chords” is songwriter Adam Smith’s fond farewell—or is it a fuck you?—to the I-IV progression, the melodic building block for much of pop music. The rest of the Hand’s album avoids any basic structure as the band attempts to rewrite a shrieking rock ‘n’ roll that almost makes you wish it’d been the Kinks, and not the Beatles, that were the biggest British thing to ever hit America.