14 Things to Do in Theater, Comedy, Movies, Art and More

Nick Thune plays Punchline this weekend. (cc.com)

JusticeFest LIVE! @ Eastern State Penitentiary | Wednesday, September 27
District Attorney candidate Larry Krasner hosts a party to “end mass incarceration and reform our justice system.” Music by Lauren Hart, DJ Cosmo Baker, the Long Hots and Songs from the Inside (music composed at Graterford prison). Food by Revolution Taco and Foolish Waffle, beer by Yards. Bernard Hopkins will be there.

Music Video Book Club @ PhilaMOCA | Wednesday, September 27
A panel of comedians and music experts watch (possibly terrible) music videos and share their opinions. Hosted by Chris Cummins (Nerd Nite, Den of Geek). Ooh, there’s a trailer: Read more »

Music: 7 Shows to See in the Next 7 Days

Torres’ new record Three Futures will be released the day after she plays Boot & Saddle. She’s holding a severed hand. (Ashley Connor)

Torres @ Boot & Saddle | Thursday, September 28
Mackenzie Scott is an alluringly idiosyncratic songwriter; intense, moody, unpredictable. Built around puzzling lyrical images and creepy-crawly guitars, Torres songs demand multiple listens. Her latest record, Three Futures drops the day after this show.

 

Jaguar Wright “I Got Life: The Music of Nina Simone” @ South Jazz Parlor | Thursday, September 28
One of the most passionate voices to emerge from this city’s neo-soul explosion in the late ’90s and early 2000s, Jaguar Wright has been popping up at local clubs to take on the music of jazz legend Nina Simone in recent years. She’s got the chops: Read more »

Pulitzer/Oprah-Approved Writer Colson Whitehead Speaks for Free at UPenn

After years as toiling away as a “beloved but kinda underappreciated” Genius-granted author, Colson Whitehead reached superstar status last year with the best-selling The Underground Railroad. The novel uses elements of the fantastical (as in, a literal train running underground) to tell a harrowing story of escape through the American South in the early 1800s. It was spellbinding and terrifying, and my favorite book of 2016. Oprah liked it, too. So did the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award people. It’ll be adapted for TV at some point.

This Wednesday, Whitehead — who spoke to a packed Free Library crowd soon after The Underground Railroad was released — returns to Philly for a discussion entitled “Ghosts, Zombies, and the Afterlives of Slavery,” a conversation with Salamishah Tillet, associate professor of English and Africana Studies at UPenn. Tillet is the author of Sites of Slavery: Citizenship and Racial Democracy in the Post-Civil Rights Imagination, published in 2012.

Wednesday, September 27, 5-6:30 p.m. @ Harrison Auditorium, Penn Museum

The 10 Best Shows in Philly in October

Marilyn Manson headlines the Rock Allegiance fest. Photograph courtesy of BIZ3

1. Destiny Estimate
Ask random Philly theater talents what show they’re most excited about this month, and chances are they’ll tell you this long-awaited work from local playwright MJ Kauffman about, among other things, destiny. The cast includes such daring Philly actors as Melissa Krodman, Mary Tuomanen and Jenna Horton. October 19th through 29th at Christ Church Neighborhood House  Read more »

I Was There: War On Drugs at The Dell Last Night

The War on Drugs plays the Make the World Better Foundation benefit at the Dell last night. (Stacey Salter Moore of SSM Photography)

Like a good Philadelphian, I was there for War On Drugs’ homecoming show at The Dell last night.

I was also there in 2013 when the group — a vessel for Adam Granduciel’s hazy, blues-rock songwriting — played a sold-out New Year’s Eve show that closed out their final year as a Johnny Brenda’s band.

Everything changed a few years ago. The War on Drugs went from a somewhat scrappy Philly rock band full of guys who fixed hot water heaters and worked at travel agencies, to one that’s signed to Atlantic Records and doesn’t have to do that stuff anymore. They went from a rough rock band to a crystal clear machine. Put their 2008 debut, Wagonwheel Blues, against 2014’s Lost in the Dream; they sound huge now in comparison.

Last night’s benefit for Make the World Better Foundation (hosted in absentia by ex-Eagles linebacker Connor Barwin) was proof that things had changed. Granduciel has added a second guitarist and keyboardist/saxophonist to build his band out to six members. His pedals bloom around him in an arc of at least 15. To play the Grateful Dead tribute, “Touch of Grey,” he kept his guitar close, but held his sampler even closer and plugged the mic right into it. He mostly used this mad scientist setup for songs off of the new album, A Deeper Understanding, which came out this August. Read more »

42 Things to Do This Weekend

Matt Pond says he’s going to retire the Matt Pond PA project. He plays Johnny Brenda’s on Sunday. (Sean Hansen)

FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 22

Philly Music and Arts Fest Day 1 @ World Café Live
A two-day celebration of beer and music from Philadelphia. Friday’s lineup includes: Slomo Sapiens, Kississippi, Chris Kasper, Harmony Woods, Eric Slick, Abi Reimold, Ceramic Animal, Skull Eclipses, Work Drugs, West Philly Orchestra and Cayetana.

X @ Underground Arts
Exene Cervenka, John Doe and friends will never stop touring, new album or not. Right on. The revered punk veterans will soon be the subject of an exhibition at the Grammy Museum in their hometown called “X: 40 Years of Punk in Los Angeles.” Read more »

Seven Last Chances to Fringe

Close Music For Bodies runs through September 24 at Christ Church Neighborhood House.

Close Music For Bodies @ Christ Church Neighborhood House | Through September 24
Michael Kiley sang with the catchy rock band Cordalene in the early 2000s, but he’s gotten a lot more experimental since then. In recent years, he worked on a series of sound installation/apps that layered and changed what listeners heard as they wandered through Rittenhouse Square and Race Street Pier with their earbuds in. Now Kiley brings us Close Music For Bodies, a decidedly non-technological audio experience in which audience members find themselves surrounded and infiltrated by singers on the move. Get ready to kick off your shoes. Not kidding.

Interior @ Our Lady of Mt Carmel Parish | Through September 23
Dance choreographer Leah Stein — a perennial favorite in Philly Fringe, not to mention the arts scene at large — teams up with violinist/composer Diane Monroe for an “intimate and expansive” audio-visual experience. Read more »

11 Things to Do in Comedy, Movies, Theater, Books and more

Jen Kirkman plays the Trocadero on Saturday.
(Robyn Von Swank)

Rock and Roll Man: The Alan Freed Story @ Bucks County Playhouse | Through October 1
George Wendt (Norm!) and Alan Campbell star in the world premiere of Gary Kupper’s musical about one of the fathers of rock ’n’ roll.

Ma’ Rosa @ Prince Theater Black Box | Wednesday, September 20
Philadelphia Film Society presents a screening of Brillante Mendoza’s 2016 film as part of their Passport to World Cinema series. Jaclyn Jose won Best Actress at Cannes for her portrayal of a meth-dealing convenience store owner in the Philippines. Read more »

O Festival Diary—Day V: The Wake World Is O17’s Glamorous Swan Song

Maeve Höglund in The Wake World at the O Festival. (Photo by Dominic M. Mercier)

Between September 14th and 25th, Opera Philadelphia will boldly go where few, if any, companies have gone before—a festival that brings seven events covering the broad spectrum of opera, and in some cases pushing it into the future. There are traditional works (Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte at the Academy), new voices (We Shall Not Be Moved, which adds hip hop and spoken-word to the mix), big stars (reigning Met diva Sondra Radvanovsky in concert), and unusual venues (including the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Barnes). I’ll do my best to cover as many of these events as I can. You can also find more information about the O Festival on their website.

A tragic realization hit me as I waited for the start of David Hertzberg’s dense, maddening, but also sometimes breathtakingly lovely opera, The Wake World: I am neither as fabulous nor as intelligent as I like to think I am. Read more »

O Festival Diary—Day IV, Part II: War Stories

War Stories at the O Festival. (Photo by Dominic M. Mercier)

Between September 14th and 25th, Opera Philadelphia will boldly go where few, if any, companies have gone before—a festival that brings seven events covering the broad spectrum of opera, and in some cases pushing it into the future. There are traditional works (Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte at the Academy), new voices (We Shall Not Be Moved, which adds hip hop and spoken-word to the mix), big stars (reigning Met diva Sondra Radvanovsky in concert), and unusual venues (including the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Barnes). I’ll do my best to cover as many of these events as I can. You can also find more information about the O Festival on their website.

At the core of War Stories, a provocative pairing of two works (one Baroque, one contemporary), is a haunting new opera by Lembit Beecher, which receives its world premiere here in O17.  The title is ironic—I Have No More Stories to Tell You is, in fact, full of disquieting story fragments, drawn from lived experience as well as terrified reliving. Set in the present, war dominates the lives of three character, most of all Sorrell, a female soldier now back at home and suffering from PTSD. At night, she lies in bed—though her husband tries to help her, she is largely beyond comfort.  Read more »

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