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Monster Magnet

How do you want it? Lean and mean and greasy and drug-addled? Or big and brash and muscular and celebratory? Or dark and gloomy and overblown and psychedelic? OK, you’ve got it: Monster Magnet, who play Northern Lights—with special guests Adarma, the Used and Pleasure Crush—on Saturday (May 4), bring all of that in one easy-to-swallow capsule.

The brainchild of front man Dave Wyndorf, Monster Magnet combine the desert-and-drug-fried slab o’sound of Kyuss with the hedonistic energy of Andrew W.K. and the atmospheric aggression of Nine Inch Nails, running the gamut from stoner-extrovert metal to stoner-introvert metal. In fact, critics have credited Wyndorf with—almost single-handedly—advancing the cause of ’70s-style hard rock when radio and TV had abandoned it for rap and alternative rock. His dedication to the sludgy, trippy, heavily distorted racket of bands like Blue Cheer and Black Sabbath, and the affected and entertaining theatricality of Blue Öyster Cult and Alice Cooper, has earned him the moniker “the Godfather of stoner rock,” and the respect of bands like Metallica, Aerosmith and Megadeth, with whom Monster Magnet have toured.

Wyndorf, who has been slugging it out in the trenches since the late ’70s (the nearly unknown punk act Shrapnel were his first band), formed Monster Magnet in 1989. Though their first full-length recording, Spine of God, caught the ears of the discriminating folks at Caroline Records, and the extended space-rock jams of the follow-up, Tab, attracted A&M, Monster Magnet would suffer in the post-Nirvana explosion of grunge. It wasn’t until 1998’s Powertrip that the band’s bombastic hard rock would catch with mass audiences. The single “Space Lord,” with its weird blend of country-blues verse and heavy-metal freakout refrain, blew up and propelled the album to gold status.

The band are currently touring to promote their newest, God Says No, which Rolling Stone says “could be their most over-the-top yet.” Critic Greg Kott praises the surprisingly inclusive instrumentation, which features everything from Casios to sitars, but points out that Monster Magnet have not strayed too far from their roots: “ . . . more than anything, on God Says No Wyndorf brings the rawk: sexy, dark, melodic, celebratory and, above all, huge.”

Monster Magnet will play Northern Lights (Route 146, Clifton Park) on Saturday (May 4). Also on the bill: Adarma, the Used and Pleasure Crush. Tickets for the 7:30 PM show are $17. For more information, call 371-0012.

Community Moves

The latest endeavor from Isabelle J. DiGiovanni and Deb Rutledge (pictured), Community Moves will be presented this weekend at the Arts Center in Troy. The title Community Moves comes from DiGiovanni’s love of collaboration. “I really hesitate to present things like Isabelle DiGiovanni’s Dance Concert or something like that because it’s not me, it’s the people involved in it,” says DiGiovanni. “It’s more of a collective or collaborative effort because it takes everyone to make it happen. Initially I started out with something like The Celebration of a Moving Community, and then I thought, ‘Well that’s just way too long and convoluted so I’m just going to make it short and sweet, Community Moves. People in the community, doing their moves and here they are. Short and sweet, straight to the point.’ ”

The DiGiovanni-Rutledge partnership began here in Albany when they ended up at the same dance company. Both hailed from upstate New York and both attended Ohio University-Athens (albeit six years apart), and DiGiovanni says, “When I knew I wanted to start presenting my own work here, I knew I would be renting theaters, knew I would be presenting shows, and I said to her, ‘Would you like to choreograph a piece in my concert?’ and of course she said, ‘Yes.’ Then I said, ‘Well, would you like to be in my piece as well?’ and she said, ‘Yes,’ and then I said, ‘Hey, do you want to be my partner?’ and she said, ‘Of course!’ I feel real strongly about sharing and giving and taking.”

The show includes eight pieces (appropriate for the entire family), all but two of which involve collaboration. The first piece is a duet choreographed by Emily Crews, DiGiovanni’s former partner from Washington, D. C., and is performed by Crews and DiGiovanni. The second is choreographed by Elizabeth Hallmark from Rochester, and is being included as part of an exchange in which DiGiovanni and Rutledge went to Rochester and performed a piece in one of Hallmark’s concerts. Another piece is choreographed by Rutledge for a trio of ballerinas who wanted to do a modern-dance piece; Rutledge created it with input from the dancers. A Wonderful World, choreographed by DiGiovanni, is about the relationship between parent and child and is danced by three moms and three 3-year old children.

Images of Being Female, DiGiovanni says, is a “piece just honoring the female experience. I’ve collaborated with local photographer Linda S. Conley, who has taken photographs of various female body parts and different things that you associate with being female, and we’re projecting those images onto a screen while we’re performing.” The piece also will include sound bites from interviews conducted by DiGiovanni on being female. “I asked them questions like, ‘What is your favorite body part on you?’ ‘What is your favorite body part on another woman?’ ‘What’s your least favorite body part?’ ‘What are some memories that you have of coming of age as a woman?’ It was about a two-hour interview session, and I edited it down to 15 minutes.”

The final piece, Critical Mass, choreographed by DiGiovanni after living in San Francisco for a year, features 14 nonprofessional dancers who had expressed interest in performing. The dance is about bike messengers in San Francisco, and the fact that “the first Friday of every month they did a thing called Critical Mass where they literally took over the streets,” says DiGiovanni. “There were just hundreds of bike messengers at 5 PM on a Friday evening, and it was really amazing to see all these bikes just travelling through the city in humongous packs that just went for blocks and blocks and blocks. Afterwards there would be a huge party. It was quite an experience and a wonderful community event for those people. So that’s what I created the piece about. It’s this critical mass of dancers in the area that wanted to perform and wanted to take the stage, so I wanted to give them an opportunity to do so.”

“Dance is for everyone and there is a place for everyone in dance,” is DiGiovanni’s mantra. “Being an artist is hard enough out here in the year 2002, and to be able to surround yourself and be part of a group or community that has similar thoughts and feelings about art and dance and community spirit, I think is really important. I feel like, in the dance field anyway, there are a lot of separate entities working toward the same goal, but they’re still separate. I feel like if we all combine our efforts, then we could all reach the goal we are all trying to achieve, which is making dance spread out and reach as many people as we can.”

Community Moves will be presented on Saturday and Sunday (May 4-5) in the Black Box Theater of the Arts Center of the Capital Region (265 River St., Troy). Tickets are $10. For more information, call 433-9166.

—Rebecca A. Morgan

 

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