Wednesday, Feb. 9
ICA Free For All
Wallets are empty. The unemployed aimlessly wander the streets. It’s uncertain how long our way of life can continue. Hope is the opium of the people. However. Admission to the Institute of Contemporary Art is free every day of the year. Thrown by the Student Board, the semi-annual “Free For All” celebrates the unending freeness. Examining and blurring the limits of an increasingly outmoded distinction, Senior Curator Ingrid Schaffner kicks off with a lecture titled “The Artist as Curator.” A DIY Valentine’s project will provide the tools and guidance needed to create cards for all your lovers. Then the museum walls will rumble from the trance-inducing war zone created by Blues Control, the Philadelphia-founded avant-duo of Russ Waterhouse and Lea Cho. If you consume enough cheap beer and pierogi, your return to a world in a decline might be smoother. -Elliott Sharp
6:30pm. Free. Institute of Contemporary Art, 118 S. 36th St. 215.898.7108. icaphila.org
Thursday, Feb. 10
It’s no coicidence that we use the word “chemistry” in conjunction with “sexual.” In 1956, a team of German researchers removed a certain gland from a female silkworm moth and waved it in front of male moths, who would promptly freak out, bouncing around and fluttering their wings in that eternal dance called “Where the ladies at?” That was the discovery of pheremones, and they’re not just for moths, either—if you’ve ever wondered why your partner seems to just smell right, even though you couldn’t really put that smell into words, you might be interested in this talk by Dr. Johan Lundström. He heads up the Cognitive Neuroimaging Lab at the Monell Chemical Sense Center, which has been looking into how pheremones affect human behavior, and how that “right” smell actually comes from a complex set of olfactory data about genetics. Because on Valentine’s Day, nothing’s more romantic than “Your B.O. suggests that we’d have great babies.” -Emily Guendelsberger
4pm. Free. Wagner Free Institute of Science, 1700 W. Montgomery Ave. 215.763.6529. wagnerfreeinstitute.org
Ignite Philly 7
So you’d like to learn something new, hear about other people’s projects and passions, or simply be entertained, but you have the attention span of a gnat. Solution: Ignite Philly. The local seventh edition of this popular global phenomenon—similar events are happening in 100 cities this weekend, all of them streaming live online—brings entrepreneurs, dreamers, tech geeks, self-help gurus, academics, comedians and more to the stage. The catch is that each presenter has just five minutes to hit it and quit it, aided by 20 slides that run 15 seconds each—meaning you’ll have a chance to hear dozens of folks talk about every topic under the sun (past events have featured everything from car-buying advice to the history of Internet bulletin boards to building a multi-person pogo stick to sneaky ways to win at Scrabble). As Ignite puts it: “Enlighten us, but make it quick.” Hopefully some of it will stick. All proceeds from tonight’s event go to former Ignite Philly presenters South Philly Food Co-op. -Michael Alan Goldberg
7pm. $5. Johnny Brenda’s, 1201 N. Frankford Ave. 215.739.9684. johnnybrendas.com
Friday, Feb. 11
Abe Vigoda + Grandchildren
Abe Vigoda the actor is so damn old, we’re pretty sure his grandchildren are well into their 60s by now. But Abe Vigoda and Grandchildren the bands are veritable babies. Around since 2003, L.A.’s Abe Vigoda started out as a chaotic art-punk outfit sorta like fellow Angelenos No Age, but evolved first to a sort of tropicalia-punk/Afropop thing (like a much better Vampire Weekend) with 2008’s Skeleton, and then to a dark Cure/New Order vibe on their new album, Crush. West Philly sextet Grandchildren, meanwhile, have become one of the city’s most vibrant music entities with their recently issued debut, Everlasting, which shoehorns experimental guitars, synths and polyrhythmic beats into symphonic arrangements that never fail to impress. -M.A.G.
8pm. $10-$12. With Wild Nothing. First Unitarian Church, 2125 Chestnut St. 866.468.7619. r5productions.com
Romeo + Juliet
Gounoud’s Romeo and Juliet gets an update in the Philadelphia Opera Company’s new production, with the two houses in fair Verona reimagined as rival 21st-century fashion houses, Juliet on billboards as the face of the House of Capulet (sort of a la Jennifer Missoni), and Paris as publisher of the dominant fashion magazine. Everyone knows the story already, so let’s focus on details: In addition to getting costumes from Fendi, Monique Lhuillier and Dolce and Gabbana, veteran costume director Richard St. Clair partnered with the fashion departments of Moore, Drexel and Philadelphia University, with direction that the students could design costumes as avant-garde as they wanna be, with a hint of Renaissance. The resulting visuals are an excellent backdrop to director Manfred Schweigkofler’s conception of the story as “the failure of a sincere, intimate relationship within a pretentious, limelight-seeking community.” -E.G.
Through Feb. 20. 8pm. $10-$210. Academy of Music, 1420 Locust St. 215.893.1940. operaphila.org
Saturday, Feb. 12
John DeBlase Quartet
Philadelphia guitarist Nick Millevoi (Many Arms, Make A Rising) curates the music this month at Highwire Gallery. Tonight’s triple bill showcases our local experimental-music scene’s diversity and vibrancy. Alban Bailly, a member of emerging local quartet Inzinzac who has also worked with avant-garde heavyweights Alvin Curran and Tony Buck, begins with a solo performance for guitar. An aleatoric dialogue between percussionist/electronicist Julius Masri and Buchla Music Easel specialist Charles Cohen follows. For the finale, Many Arms bassist John DeBlase teams up with Millevoi, trumpeter Joe Moffett, and drummer Dave Flaherty for an improvised encounter expressing the young composer’s wide-ranging sonic palette, from Schoenberg’s serialism to Ornette Coleman’s century-changing jazz. -E.S.
8pm. $6. With Julius Masri/Charles Cohen & Alban Bailly. Highwire Gallery, 2040 Frankford Ave. museumfire.com/events
69 Love Songs Live Karaoke
The Magnetic Fields’ epic three-disc 69 Love Songs has some titles that don’t scream candy hearts and teddy bears: “No One Will Ever Love You.” “I Can’t Touch You Anymore.” “How Fucking Romantic.” And “I Don’t Want to Get Over You,” perhaps the most pathetic audial wallow since Dusty Springfield recorded “You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me.” But, as some dude once said, love is a many-splendored thing, and 69 Love Songs is just a celebration of the full spectrum—from sad to happy, from unrequited to... requited, from “A Chicken with Its Head Cut Off” to “Zebra.” This will be the second live karaoke version of the album put on by South Philly’s artist space Cha-Cha’Razzi, and we’ve rarely seen the Greater Philadelphia Metropolitan Area having a better time than they did last year supplying guest vocals above the musical and gold-sequined stylings of live band the Brill Building Flingers, who somehow managed to make it through the marathon set with fingers intact. If you want to sing, get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org; they’re trying to get 69 different guest stars, but spaces are going fast. -E.G.
Sunday, Feb. 13
Rhys Chatham Brass Trio
Having mined the terrain between post-minimalism and punk from the ’70s onward, composer Rhys Chatham has announced his obsessions via a number of recent titles. He followed Guitar Trio Is My Life! (2008) with a piece from The Bern Project (2010) called “Is There Life After Guitar Trio?” Answer? Yes, and it’s called the Brass Trio—not three brass instruments, but rather Chatham on trumpet and electronics, David Daniell on guitar and Ryan Sawyer on drums. A solo trumpet disc, Outdoor Spell, is coming in April from Northern-Spy Records. Philly’s Ars Nova Workshop has managed to snag one of Chatham’s three U.S. tour dates (he expatriated to France in the ’80s), so here’s the chance to savor his unique bridging of oceanic expanse and nettlesome noise. -David R. Adler
8pm. $12. With Chris Forsyth/Don Bruno Duo. International House, 3701 Chestnut St. 215.387.5125. arsnovaworkshop.org
Calendar: Aug. 26-Sept. 2