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Friday, June 21, 2024
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ARTS

The Fall of Troy earns a sensational sendoff

In February, The Fall of Troy announced that their spring tour would end the band's eight year run. In response, music lovers of all shapes, genders, sizes and fashions flocked to Mohawk Place in Buffalo on Wednesday to give the group a truly memorable send off.


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Better times

Even on a bad day, Bryce Avary of The Rocket Summer still lives up to his reputation as the good guy of rock.


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Pondering the way we are

The UB Theater Department's production of Thornton Wilder's Our Town last Wednesday was a glimpse into American life at the turn of the 20th century. There was one particular aspect that caught on-lookers' attention – questioning life.


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The Lord of Eberron reaches out to fans

Crafting a world of myth and magic is a hefty job. Take it from renowned Dungeons & Dragons writer Keith Baker. Artfully weaving a story that's as complex as it is compelling, famed game writer Keith Baker attended this year's UBCon. Greeted by a crowd of gaming enthusiasts, Baker helped bring this year's event to new heights. Baker first earned recognition when he won the Wizards of the Coasts' Fantasy Setting Search in 2002 with his self-generated campaign for Dungeons & Dragons. The award granted him an unprecedented $100,000 grand prize for his stylized, battle hardened world known as Eberron. He described his highly acclaimed campaign as, "the logical evolution of society and magic as humanity enters a time [just] after a long period of warfare." A few lucky gamers were given the opportunity this past weekend to experience the D&D campaign like never before: through the eyes of its creator. Baker gave 12 Dungeons and Dragons fans a game of epic proportions, or at least what could fit into the four-hour block allotted for the event. Baker, himself, played the role of the dungeon master. A dungeon master, or DM for short, is one who controls the story and flow of the game by controlling the monsters and non-player characters who inhabit the world. "For the first game of Dungeons and Dragons I've ever played, it was nothing like what I expected it to be. It was a lot of fun," said Michael Doohaluk, a freshman computer science major. Dungeons and Dragons has existed in one form or another for 35 years. Since the game's introduction, its popularity has grown to astounding numbers, with estimates of about 20 million people who have wielded the infamous d20 dice. When asked for some tips on becoming a better DM, Baker stated a few basic strategies to help players feel more connected to their setting and have a better overall experience. Going against the ideas of version 3.5, Baker's first bit of wisdom warns participants not to "make a dice roll you don't want to succeed, nor make one that you want to fail. Everything doesn't need to be a dice roll, and every dice roll doesn't necessarily need to count. That's what the DM screen is for." This advice leads into his next point of trying to work with the players to build a game that everyone is able to enjoy. "Too often are the DMs working against the player when they should be working together to make a collaborative fun experience," Baker said. Baker's last piece of advice for gamers was one that should be carried into all aspects of life. "The only way you can fail, is if you don't have fun," he said. Those words embody the spirit of the game. In an era where stories are too often told through the big screen or over the dull hum of a CPU fan, gamers need a realm where creativity just flows naturally and players of all ages can be storytellers with a unique tale to tell. Baker has spent the past few months traveling internationally, staying with fans of the game and writing articles for Dungeons and Dragons Insider. Baker said that freelancing gave him more freedom than a desk job at Wizards would. His Eberron campaign book is filled with signatures and stories from past players and those who partook in this past weekend's events are now archived in that book for another generation of D&D fans to admire years from now. Baker has also been working on a table-top card game called Gloom, in which players attempt to make their character as miserable as possible through a series of unfortunate events, while attempting to make their neighbors happier through event cards. Though nothing is explicitly planned for this year, Baker is hard at work developing scenarios for D&D Insider while still creating his own campaign. In the meantime, he will be traveling around the country, allowing others the chance to attempt to decipher the cryptic plot-points of this traveling storyteller. E-mail: arts@ubspectrum.com


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A magical gathering

Nations engaged in a bloody war, witches and wizards cursing each other and, to top it all off, brain-craving zombies running amok. Who knew all of this could happen at UB? The 21st annual UBCON kicked off last Friday and ran nonstop until Sunday. With hundreds of fans in attendance, dozens of events taking place and violent battles fought throughout, this year's UBCON was an impressive sight to behold. For those who put so much time and effort into this event, nothing was more important than providing the fans and attendees with the best weekend that they possibly could. "This is a big thing ... [Strategies and Role Players Association] and Anime Club, all together to give all these people here a really fun weekend. There's a reason why people stay here all weekend without getting a single hour of sleep," said Christopher Wood, a first year graduate student. There was no shortage of interests at UBCON over the weekend. The staff went out of its way to arrange enough events to cover a wide and varied range of personal tastes. This way there was plenty to see and do for everyone in attendance. "There's a lot of magic playing, there's LARP [Live Action Role Playing], people play board games, people play video games. It's a fun place," said Wood. Though the card games, board games and costumes were as striking as they were numerous, for many it was the infamous Nerf war that drew them to UBCON. For both Friday and Saturday night, UB's Student Union played host to one of the largest Nerf wars in North America, according to UBCON's Web site. The game lasted over six hours and was comprised of over 100 players. However, there was more to the war than just point and shoot. "They choose ten people to start off as zombies. Literally everyone else, which is almost 100 people, has to kill them. But if you get killed by a zombie once … then you turn into one. There's also a team death match, which is self-explanatory, and capture the flag, which is also self-explanatory," said Ben Fox, 18, Amherst. But even if attendees did not come prepared to play, UBCON had them covered with the Dealer's Room. Inside SU 145, attendees could find a marketplace brimming with everything any anime or gaming fan could ever want or need. One wall had dozens of board games for sale. Another boasted a collection of various jewelry and clothing. Also for sale were cards, drawings, weapons, action figures and assorted candy from across the globe. The Dealer's Room was a conglomeration of everything that brought UBCON fans together. Even more impressive than the amount of items for sale inside the Dealer's Room, however, was the everlasting battle for glory taking place on the field right outside of the Student Union. Dozens of warriors from all over had gathered to battle one another in the full-contact sport of Dagorhir on North Campus. "There are groups of us all over the country that do this," said Ben Jackson, a senior Spanish education major from Buffalo State. "Basically, it's a full-contact combat simulation sport … We try to be as realistic as we can while still being safe." The battlefield was filled with players garbed in multicolored uniforms and armors, brandishing weapons. While the weapons themselves were harmless and created out of foam, the armor was as real as could be. "You're allowed to wear armor, which has to be authentic, meaning that it has to be made out of real materials that historically people made armor out of … If you wear armor, you feel it. It's a lot heavier; its limits your mobility. But it gives you an additional shot in any portion of your body that's wearing it," said Jackson. For fans of cards, board games, anime or just beating up someone else, this year's UBCON had something for just about anyone. UBCON will return next year, but it'll take some magic to make it better than this year's event. E-mail: arts@ubspectrum.com


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Killin' it

Groin thrusts, dancing and outlandish facial hair were abundant as Foxy Shazam nearly tore down the walls at Mohawk Place Tuesday night. Hundreds of bands pop up every day with the same goal: to become the next big thing. Many have attempted this somewhat impossible task with very few actually succeeding. After their visit to WRUB Day, Foxy Shazam got ready to put on a show that Buffalo will not soon forget. Foxy, who is well known for their on-stage antics, headlined one of the best tours to stop in Buffalo in quite some time. The band's five-year experience was evident, as every member of Foxy knew how to dazzle the crowd. From stellar dance moves to amazing balancing acts, the band's show made sure that nobody will be forgetting Foxy Shazam. Leading the on-stage frolics was front man Eric Nally, whose performance knows no bounds. Hanging from the pipes upside down and rolling around on the ground is just the tip of the iceberg for Nally. Right from the opening chords, Foxy had the crowd eating from their hands. The band quickly moved through fan favorites like "Yes! Yes! Yes!" while also getting into new material like "Count Me Out." Although Nally may be one of the most extravagant singers, the supporting cast of Foxy didn't let him steal the spotlight. Every member of Foxy Shazam had their own style for entertaining the crowd. Classically trained pianist Sky White is as eccentric as the beard that rests on his face. White jammed out on the piano while lying down, face underneath the bottom of the keyboard and didn't miss a note. The brass section might not be Foxy's most prominent feature, but Alex Nauth sported some ridiculous dance moves that complimented Nally's antics about as well as anyone could, and added some glass shattering backup vocals. As Foxy stormed through their itinerary, they did a great job mixing the fan favorites with material from their upcoming self-titled album. The crowd erupted as Foxy played "Introducing Foxy" and "The Rocketeer." The pinnacle of the show was when Nally started to smoke four cigarettes at once. He must have decided that he didn't like cowboy killers since a couple of drags in, Nally turned the death sticks around and started eating all four at once. It may have been unconventional, but the crowd ate it up. To end their tenure at Mohawk Place, Foxy Shazam played the cult classic "No, Don't Shoot." The crowd exploded into a massive mosh pit, and as Nally ended the show he pulled out all the tricks. Head banging, dangling from the ceiling, and brutal breakdowns left the crowd begging for more Foxy. Before Foxy Shazam took the stage, Bad Rabbits, hailing from Boston, got the crowd moving with their unique style. Combining rock and funk, the band had the crowd dancing as soon as they took the stage. Their high-energy show is unmatched by many in the music industry. The only people having more fun than the crowd during Bad Rabbits were the actual members of Bad Rabbits. The deeper Bad Rabbits got into their set, the deeper the audience fell in love with the band's sound. There is no way that Bad Rabbits will not blow up. Their unique style and energetic live show puts them a head above the rest. In between the two sets, The Young Veins took the stage. Riding on the fame they garnered from Panic! At The Disco, The Young Veins serenaded their preteen Twilight fans with a bad Beatles knockoff. Opening the evening was the local band Raspberry Infernos. Their trippy grunge rock sound was the perfect way to start the night. When the lights faded to black, the crowd knew that they had just witnessed one of the best shows that will come through Buffalo for a while. E-mail: arts@ubspectrum.com


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Guy gives his all

A diverse crowd of blues fans filled the Center For the Arts on Wednesday to see blues guitar legend Buddy Guy. To start the evening off, Buffalo native Tom Hambridge warmed up the crowd. Less was more with Hambridge's performance, as the only instruments used during the performance were a keyboard, played by Guy's pianist Marty Sammon, and Hambridge's single drum, with improvised percussion on microphone stands. The singer/songwriter/producer began with a song that he wrote for George Thorogood, "The Fixer." A few songs in, Hambridge slowed things down with "Shoebox," a song the audience requested. One of Hambridge's last songs, before he gave the stage to the headlining guitar virtuoso, was "I Got Your Country Right Here" – a song Hambridge wrote, but has gotten Gretchen Wilson some radio airtime. Guy's band gave him a booming introduction, and the crowd's welcome was just as loud. Not a second was wasted; Guy began playing the lightening-quick licks he is known for as soon as he hit the stage. Once Guy began to play, two things became evident: why he is a legend and the impact he's had on artists like Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughn. The band rocked out to fan favorite "Nobody Understands Me But My Guitar," before giving a great performance of the blues standard "Hoochie Coochie Man," which had Guy and backup guitarist Ric Hall trading licks. In honor of the less than pleasant weather, the band played the beautiful blues ballad "It Feels Like Rain." The weathered musician let the audience know how much he loves the city of Buffalo, and that he has been coming here since 1968. Guy told fans to be on the lookout for his next album, but he was unsure when it would be out because of the way his genre is treated. "You don't hear blues on the radio anymore, but if you call me I'll come play it for you," Guy said. Guy then graced the audience with a little history and blues lesson, saying that bluesmen had been playing songs that people loved for years after the British invasion. He also said that blues musicians used the same type of provocative lyrics as hip-hop long before the latter genre was around. Continuing the lesson, Guy played samples of different blues styles, ranging from John Lee Hooker's "Boom Boom" to Eric Clapton's "Strange Brew" to a number by B.B. King, which he travelled into the audience for. Before ending the night on a high note, Guy thanked the audience. "I love every one of you; you couldn't make me dislike you no matter what you do," said Guy. Rounding out the end of the night, Guy played the blues/rock classic "Voodoo Child" into "Sunshine of Your Love." Although the musician has had 73 laps around the block, he sounds just as good as ever. His guitar playing is better than ever and his voice has the same powerful, smoky sound that his fans love. Guy gave an amazing performance and shows no sign of stopping anytime soon. E-mail: arts@ubspectrum.com


ARTS

Foxy and flamboyant

With its loud licks and extravagant style, there is no doubt that Foxy Shazam is one of the best up-and-coming bands out there. The band brings an unmatchable energy to its performances, but the group is rather reserved and incredibly polite off of the stage. From joking about hoping to find Bigfoot, to analyzing the movie The Goonies, to the bassist, Daisy, explaining that all good keyboardists have weird fetishes, they are a very laidback bunch. Foxy Shazam isn't too afraid to touch on the most obscure conversation topics. The group has already put out two full-length albums, and the third is on the way, hitting the shelves and iTunes on April 13. Foxy's sound has evolved with each song, and it keeps getting better. "We never want to make the same record twice, so this is just the next Foxy Shazam record. It is just the next step, we always take it step by step, we never go backwards and we never stay still," said lead singer Eric Nally. A self-titled big label debut is the next step for the band. "We just got better, as musicians and writers," said guitarist Loren Turner. "When you are playing with the same group of people for five years, you just feed off of one another and you know what they are going to do and they know what you are going to do." Drawing on influences ranging from Michael Jordan and Marty McFly, to Miles Davis and Pantera's Dimebag Darrell, Foxy has an interesting sound. However, the group doesn't like to be placed in one category. According to Nally, listeners just need "an open mind," adding, "it is just about sitting back and watching or listening to it." And although Nally's slender figure, finely trimmed moustache and impeccable dance moves may be reminiscent of the late and great Freddy Mercury, Nally was never impacted by the Queen front man. "I think me and Freddy Mercury were inspired by the same things. I don't think we really inspired each other or whatever you want to say," Nally said. "We were inspired by the same things. He liked theater a lot and they were a very theatrical band and all that stuff. We probably have similar influences, which is why you can draw comparisons. Plus, I have a moustache." Sound and incredible live performances are not the only things that make Foxy stand apart from other bands. Both keyboardist Sky White and Alex Nauth, who plays the horns, are classically trained. Many classically trained musicians choose to stay in that genre or play jazz, but growing up, White knew his only choice was rock n' roll. The same did not go for Nauth, though. "I grew up classically trained and when I got to a certain age, probably the middle of high school, I just knew that I didn't want to do classical work," Nauth said. "I just didn't know what I wanted to do. I didn't think that being in a band was an option, but as I got older it became the choice." The group members are also unique in their ability to mix their families with their music. Nally is only 24 years old but is the father of two young boys, which he believes inspires him differently than other musicians. "My kids play a big part in just being inspired to write certain lyrics or whatever, it is interesting living two opposite ends of the spectrum. You don't normally combine the two," Nally said. "Every person I have ever met that has kids and is in a band normally just has to do the whole kid thing the whole time, but my family is really supportive of my career, so it makes it [possible] for me to keep pursuing it … It really helps with inspiration." White has the same high hopes of success for the group. "I want us to do something big, important and beautiful. Something that when we are old, we can look back [on] and be proud of what we did with our lives," White said. Fans can also catch the band playing on the ground this summer; they will even be playing Lollapalooza. And seeing as their hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio is not too far away, there is a good chance that Daisy, Nally, Nauth, Mcveigh, Turner and White will be back in Buffalo soon. E-mail: arts@ubspectrum.com


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Family matters

The Japanese Student Association held its annual Japan Night, which depicted the rich cultural heritage and traditions of their country, last Saturday. An integral part of the UB community since its foundation in 1996, the JSA put on a play to demonstrate one of the most important components of Japanese culture: family. The play was written and directed by Masato Uenishi, a physical therapy graduate student from Damian College. Uenishi has been a part of JSA since 2003 and has been directing Japan Night since 2008. "My primary objective is to have fun with the audience," Uenishi said. "I [prefer comedy] because the actors are enjoying themselves as much as the audience." Using comedy as a medium, the play portrayed the importance of family ties. The play centered on an extended family getting together for a family reunion. But just like any family reunion, there is tension, and this tension soon leads to conflict between the family members. The grandfather watches helplessly as his family fights around him. In order to instill an understanding of the importance of family in his relatives, he prepares an elaborate scheme with his clever butler, Sebastian. The grandfather suddenly dies of a heart attack as he tries to stop the feud, and Sebastian, the butler, announces that he will read the will. The grandfather made a series of questions that his relatives must answer in order to retrieve the will. The relatives work together throughout the process. They each use their individuality to help the collective effort. Upon finding the will, they realize the importance of family bonds. As they recognize this, the grandfather returns, revealing his grand scheme. The audience was very pleased with the show. Samantha Melendez, a senior management major, loved the drama involved. "I liked the dramatics…it was very funny," Melendez said. "I'm not part of JSA, but I can definitely relate to their family aspect." According to Chris Streb, a senior health human services and psychology major, the show was a success. "I loved how they [brought] different cultures and the conflict between different cultures [into the show]," Streb said. " It's a bigger message here on the college campus because there is a lot of diversity." According to David Cobb, a sophomore linguistics major and a participant, the family theme is essential in the present times. "A lot of families these days are separated…if not nonexistent….our play shows that family membership [is necessary and important]," Cobb said. Fellow participant Emmanuell Mcbryde, a junior theater major, agreed. "It makes you think about the deeper aspects of your own family," Mcbryde said. "It's a life lesson…and hopefully people don't have to go to the extreme of their grandfather having to play a trick on them for them to realize this." After the show, JSA held its annual Japan Night Festival, called Matsuri, in the Student Union, which included several booths of traditional Japanese food as well as games and other activities. The coordinators of Japan Night began organizing the event well over a year ago. The dedication and the enthusiasm really did show during the event. "We began planning around September," said Kosuke Benny Higo, JSA vice-president. "They had the idea [for the play] about a year ago…It takes a lot of time…the last two months were very hectic." According to Cobb, it took sincere dedication. "It has to be something you love…it has to be willing," Cobb said. "You have to want to be in it…to learn about the culture." JSA encourages and welcomes all cultures into their association. "JSA is open not only to UB students but the community as well," said Jessica Senaga, JSA president. "[JSA] spreads Japanese culture not just throughout UB but throughout the [entire] Buffalo community." Senaga, who graduates this May, hopes the club will continue to develop. "I hope that it keeps growing," Senaga said. "I hope they gain recognition within UB." E-mail: arts@ubspectrum.com


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Standing up

From somewhere behind the scenes of The Daily Show With Jon Stewart, Rory Albanese is juggling his role of executive producer and writer, churning out jokes but never standing in the limelight. Things have started to change for the four-time Emmy winner. Albanese recently landed a half-hour special with Comedy Central Presents, due to air Friday at 11 p.m. Coming out from behind the curtain, Albanese is taking on the world of stand up once more. With past tours such as "Red, White and Screwed" in 2006, Bonnaroo in 2009 and UB last year, Albanese isn't a stranger to this role. "I get to write and tell jokes – it's pretty awesome. I cant even believe still that that's a job … I always wanted to do this," Albanese said. "I don't know what I'd do if this wasn't an option … sometimes I'm on my way to work and I see a guy with a jackhammer wrecking the concrete on the street and I'm like, ‘That's pretty cool. He gets to destroy things all day,' but I don't know, I didn't really have a backup plan." Instead of taking on physical destruction, Albanese retaliates with words. Anyone who feels that Americans are unrefined and undeserving, Albanese will give you a different idea. From defending our country in drunken arguments at a London McDonald's to enforcing regional stereotypes, the comedian pays homage to his home country – outsourced Indian phone operators be forewarned. Growing up on Long Island – a place so many make the butt of jokes – Albanese had to develop a defense mechanism. It surfaced in his natural comedic nature. "It was just this impulse where you're in a room full of people and it's quiet, like in school … and the teacher says something and there's that moment where you know if you say something in that moment everyone is going to laugh and you know the consequences … but you would rather get everyone to laugh and suffer the consequences," Albanese said. With impulses like that, it was no surprise that Albanese grew up to write for Jon Stewart, one of the funniest men in America. Yet he reminds us that even The Daily Show isn't just all fun and games: it poses its own problems. They may not look at themselves as a news source, but many college kids do. "It's really about figuring out what are we trying to say and what's the point of saying it because it's not just about playing a sound bite and making a silly face … It's a pretty short amount of news if you break down the amount of time that we're on the show that we're devoting to a headline or a story; you're not necessarily getting the full scope of what's going on in the world," Albanese said. "I always tell people to use it as a launching point to do your own research. I understand the impulse. When I was in college, I got most of my news from Dave Letterman's monologue." However, when Albanese is doing standup, he is on his own. "Standup is bombing. You go out and you tell a joke and people don't like it so you go, ‘Ok, well I'll try another,' and sometimes you know it's a bad joke and sometimes it's a good joke and you told it poorly and sometimes … the crowd doesn't like what you're saying but its usually worth trying a couple of times … you're alone out there and you're coming up with something you think is funny and you don't get to run it past a master comedian like Jon Stewart," Albanese said. Despite the uncertainty that comes with standup, it's a refreshing change and a chance to work on new material. "The special has inspired me/required me to put a little more attention on my jokes and writing some new material because I don't want to go out next year … I want to be able to do another one in the future so I want to be able to have another 30 minutes of stuff that hasn't been taped," Albanese said. Those extra 30 minutes of jokes are going to come in handy. In addition to Comedy Central Presents, Albanese is currently working on a script deal for Paramount with John Oliver as well as heading out on tour this summer and fall. Catch him before he heads back behind the camera again. E-mail: arts@ubspectrum.com



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