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Logs sing with excellence, but with no surprises

Logarhythms Spring Concert

MIT Logarhythms with the Wellesley Tupelos and Smith Notables.

Saturday, March 12.

Room 10-250.

By Adam Lindsay
Staff Reporter

The a cappella concert hosted by the MIT Logarhythms Friday night was up to their usual standards of excellence. The two guest groups were equally good despite very different approaches. The Logarhythms themselves were as tight as ever, and more importantly, occasionally loose.

A very full 10-250 was first treated to the enthusiastic Smith College Notables. Their set was full of percussive, imaginative, and active arrangements that took full advantage of the group's energy. Although there was an intonation slip or two, the performance was very good. The group provided the evening's lowest moment of humor, a mind-blowing progression involving Crest toothpaste, a toothbrush, and a rinse bottle. The Notables closed their set with the all-too-common "Lion Sleeps Tonight." The group steered it away from clich with their characteristic imagination and energy.

The Wellesley Tupelos followed with a very professional, polished set. The contrasts with the Notables were immediately apparent. Where the Smith group was kinetic and loose, the Wellesley group was very dignified, almost stuffy in comparison. They were not humorless however: they offered a very clever George Michael/Ralston-Purina parody in "I want your Chex." The Tupelos also loosened up by the end in offering some jabs at MIT boys, er, men, in "Boogie Nights" and a very well-done "I Need a Man" blues. The highlight was found in a modern, soulful arrangement of Lennon/McCartney's "Yesterday." The Tupelos' entire program was solid musically, with professional, tight arrangements and similar performances.

The Logarhythms then took the floor and presented their own brand of a cappella entertainment. Their program got off to a promising, exciting start with a boisterous but focused theme from "Speed Racer." From there, the Logs went into a barbershop tune, "I Love my Baby." In past a cappella concerts, barbershop arrangements have been a problem due to their unfamiliarity and limited appeal. The performance suffered none of those problems because of the lively blocking that brought the lyrical double-entendres home to the audience. The first two songs displayed a refreshing amount of energy from the Logs, relating much more to the Smith group's approach.

The first comic interlude was the presentation of the "Top Ten Headlines Least Likely to be Seen in The Tech," a collection of such impossibilities as number five: "MIT Student Pays Tuition with Coop Rebate." The number one item was, "LCA & GAMIT Host Homophobia Conference." A very nice, well-arranged lullaby followed.

The next, the Proclaimers' "500 Miles" saw the first slip. The straightforward arrangement provided a background for a duet between Karl Mankowitz '95 and Damon McCormick '93. The song appeared underrehearsed because of the lyric slips and lack of confidence from the duo. Charm, good humor, and the strength of the original songwriting were enough to overcome any small gaffes, however, and made it a satisfying number.

The skit that followed, "SIPB, 2 a.m.," poked fun at the Student Center's fifth floor inhabitants with references to War Games and 2001. It ended with computer nerds devolving into apes, smashing ohmmeters, and worshipping a computer monitor to the title, "Athena Becomes Self-Aware."

The potential highlight of the evening that followed fell short of expectations. Queen's epic "Bohemian Rhapsody" was treated in a comprehensive arrangement. The disappointments were when the Logarhythms strayed from the original. McCormick again had the spotlight and let people down with a very square performance. Freddie Mercury is an imposing act to follow, but McCormick's choice of precision over passion was poor. The transposition of the mock opera section down into the range of normal male voices was also disorienting.

Manuel Cadena '95 showed some intonation problems in "How Could You Want Him." Fortunately, his energy never followed his pitch flat, and the spirited, animated performance pleased the audience. The raucous medley heard at Bad Taste, "Butt Seriously," melded Mozart, Sir Mix-a-Lot, Spinal Tap and others. The ragged performance did little to distract from the point of such rearward fixations. It was funny, tasteless, clever, and perhaps a bit excessive.

After closing with the traditional "Arise all Ye of MIT/Take me Back to Tech," the Logs returned to rowdy requests for encores. What they gave was a very nice duet from Will Lee '95 and Howard Rhee '97 on the Indigo Girls' "Gallileo." They returned with "Somebody," by Depeche Mode. Ben Jordan '95 delivered the evening's best solo, despite a questionable presentation, wearing a pained expression for most of the song. Both arrangements were of the usual high quality expected from the Logs, but they were too usual, which may be a complaint of the whole Logs' set. The Logarhythms acquitted themselves with their usual professionalism, but there were no surprises and very few twists.

The last encore was a great closer in the form of a loose "Steamroller Blues," with director Tyler Schubert '95 likening himself to a steamroller, a cement mixer, and a napalm bomb. The show was excellent, as expected, but there is more to pleasing audiences than continually living up to expectations.