What to do in Philly this week.
Wednesday, March 17
We have major mixed feelings about tonight’s show. On one hand, we couldn’t possibly recommend seeing the soulless abomination that is Train—they’re worse than a thousand Fergies or being slowly digested by a man-eating snake. On the other hand, opener Butch Walker, who used to front Marvelous 3, is dynamite. With a smart pop style that’s alternately rootsy and baroque, and a voice that’s equal parts honey and grit, the veteran singer-songwriter croons of loss and tragedy in the brightest, most addictive way possible. At the moment, he’s turning out tremendous melodies with backing band the Black Widows. Though it’s a somewhat pricey prospect, we suggest going early, catching Butch and then bolting immediately after. -Michael Alan Goldberg
Thursday, March 18
The French duo from Versailles have perfected what they do: vocoder and moog-laden easy listening space jams. Sounds kind of boring, but it’s sexy times of the past, present and future wrapped in metallics with lasers shooting out of the seams. Their latest, Love, is no revelation. But they’ll no doubt dump their bag of tricks on stage, rework them live and deliver gems from Moon Safari and Talkie Walkie in ways you’d never believe. They’re famous for taking crowd favorites and creating entirely different versions live. Don’t think their ambient trip-hop is something they just push a button to play; synthesizers and wurlitzers will be made love to on stage the way only a Frenchman can manage. -Bill Chenevert
Striving for Equality: LGBT Activism in Greater Philadelphia
While you weren’t invited to the table when the powers that be decided to bring back shoulder pads and auto-tune, this is your opportunity to bear witness to the re-emergence of the latest icon left for dead in the ’80s—the encyclopedia. In an age when Wikipedia is used as a primary source, The Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia—a civic project edited by humanities professors from Villanova, St. Joseph’s and Rutgers-Camden, and partially funded by the Pennsylvania Humanities Council—is bringing legitimate learning back. In the interest of relevance, the Encyclopedia will cover not only the usual suspects like the Art Museum and the American Revolution, but also modern issues, including the city’s LGBT rights movement—the focus of its first Greater Philadelphia Roundtable. The public dialogue between scholars and community leaders on topics ranging from the historic Dewey Lunch Counter sit-in of 1965 to the issues gay activists face in 2010 will inform the content of the Encyclopedia. Finally, a throwback to get excited about. -Gerald Johnson
6pm. Free. William Way Community Center, 1315 Spruce St. 215.732.6200.
If you're looking for something unexpected and unpredictable, check out Miro Dance Theatre’s new Miro Mash-Ups. The inaugural mash-up (there are three planned) is a collaboration between Miro, the indie rock band Toy Soldiers and music producer Craig Van Hise. Over four days, the artists will create and rehearse a new multi-disciplinary piece that will then be performed live by a four-member troupe at Girard College. According to Miro choreographer and artistic director Amanda Miller, the Mash-up acknowledges the contemporary dance company’s desire to try something new. “We usually take a long time to develop the choreography and visual elements to create a unified vision” explains Miller. “The Mash-ups are a kind of reaction against that process.” Or as Miro producing artistic director Tobin Rothlein puts it, “We are going to put a bunch of weird things together in a room and see what happens.” -J. Cooper Robb
Friday, March 19
Pianist Danilo Perez has blazed a trail from his native Panama to the U.S. and beyond, amassing a lofty body of work with Wayne Shorter’s quartet, Jack DeJohnette, Roy Haynes and many others, to say nothing of his myriad achievements as a leader. Broadening his global focus, Perez hits the Kimmel Center stage with a new band that includes Iraqi-American trumpeter Amir ElSaffar, Indian-American altoist Rudresh Mahanthappa, Puerto Rican tenorist David Sanchez and Lebanese-American percussionist Jamey Haddad, all of whom could turn in compelling sets by themselves. The unifying theme? Music by Perez’s mentor Dizzy Gillespie, a creator of bebop and Latin jazz, the godfather of jazz internationalism. -David R. Adler
8pm. $26-$64. Kimmel Center, 300 S. Broad St. 215.731.3333.
Party With a Purpose
Playing dress-up shouldn’t be limited to drunken Halloween mischief where no one remembers your outfit anyway. Instead, don your most elaborate gown or tux, throw on some opera gloves if you have ’em, and head straight to Studio 34, where local nonprofit Party With a Purpose hosts their second annual Masquerade Ball. Your $25 ticket includes an open wine bar, hors d’oeuvres, and professional shots of your get-up by Studio Nine Photography. DJ Phil Drummin will spin an appropriate mix of Top 40 and Motown to get your skirt in a twist, but take a break to learn the slow waltz from the ballroom teacher who is there to show you how it’s done. Last year’s fundraiser earned $2,500 for the eight participatory non-profits, and this year they’re hoping to go even bigger. Should you forget the Venetian mask you undoubtedly have sitting on your dresser, some will be available for purchase. -Emily Freisher
9pm-1am. $25. Studio 34, 4522 Baltimore Ave. 215.387.3434.
Maybe you don’t know Joe Boruchow by name, but you certainly know his work. Boruchow is the self-taught artist behind the black-and-white paper cut-out posters you see slapped to trees, telephone poles and community message boards all over the city. Though his political works are often the most engaging, Boruchow also uses his artwork to tell stories. Read the tale of a young boy who ponders, “Is manhood more than a mustache?” in Boruchow’s debut book Stuffed Animals, which launches tonight in conjunction with an ambitious project by Boruchow’s band, the Nite Lites. The Northern Liberties-based rock band have been composing music since November to accompany a silent movie-style screening of pages from Stuffed Animals. Stop by for the early show or come later for the late-night encore and get to know Joe. -Erica Palan
Saturday, March 20
Black Lips + Box Elders
The Black Lips have a reputation for tearing things up live, breaking amps and instruments and spraying piss, vomit and sweat everywhere. Still, no one splices melodic hooks to blistering riffs quite like Atlanta’s flower punks do, and this time, on a break from recording at their home rock 'n’ roll studio, they’re sure to be breaking in some new material. (NME says they’re recording with an echoplex this time, reportedly rigged through a human skull.) The Box Elders, from Texas, were one of the late Jay Reatard’s favorite bands. Part pop, part fuzzy freak-out, they wreak a gleeful, giddy kind of vengeance on sing-along-worthy tunes. -Jennifer Kelly
9pm. $15. Johnny Brenda’s, 1201 N. Frankford Ave. 215.739.9684. johnnybrendas.com
First Annual Philadelphia Beard and Mustache Competition
If there’s one thing that Philadelphia does exceptionally well, it’s beards. Between the massive chin curtains on Muslim men, the free-range lumberjack whiskers on hipster kids and the badass handlebars on little old Italian guys, it’s only a matter of time before some inconsequential pop culture blog names us “Beard City, USA.” The “nongendered, nonjudgmental,” (read: bearded ladies, bring it!) First Annual Philadelphia Beard and Mustache Competition is a clear sign of our fuzzy glory. Hairy guys and gals (and fake beard owners) can compete in nine categories for the chance to win awesome prizes (like a Hierarchy of Beards poster or a bearded chess set). Bearded and non-bearded alike can partake in glasses of Russian Imperial (Moustache) Stout, Fu Manchu wheat beer and other beardy brews from local homebrewers and mingle with members of the Western Pennsylvania Beard Alliance, the Gotham City Beard Club and beardo weirdoes from all around Philly. -Matt Soniak
Sat., March 20, 8pm. $5. Studio 34,4522 Baltimore Ave. 215.387.3434.
Sunday, March 21
Leonard Bernstein: The Political Life of an American Musician
People in the classical music world have a lot to complain about these days—aging patrons, money drying up, orchestras closing, lack of job security and more. Earlier decades tend to be romanticized as better times for the music, but that’s not necessarily true. Case in point: Leonard Bernstein. Sure, he was the genre’s greatest, er, rock star, but that title came at a price. Author Barry Seldes tackles that in Leonard Bernstein: The Political Life of an American Musician, which examines the way politics played into the life of America’s greatest ambassador for classical music, including being blacklisted by both the State Department and the New York Philharmonic. Seldes, who teaches at Rider University and blogs about politics and culture, will discuss the book and sign copies. -Aaron Passman
11am. $22 -$25. Gershman Y, 401 S. Broad St. 215.545.4400.
Fruit Bats’ Eric Johnson took some time off between Echolocation and last year’s Ruminant Band, playing guitar in the Shins and Vetiver. You can hear the results in the band’s fourth full-length, which weaves lush pop melodies through folky Americana arrangements. There’s also an affection for 1970s country pop embedded in these easy-going songs. The title track has the laid-back grace of a Flying Burrito Brothers cut, while “Singing Joy to the World” gives a nod to the Three Dog Night chestnut. The band’s show is just like its albums—sunny, breezy, guitar-driven and easy to love—though some songs open up into freewheeling jams and others strip to acoustic austerity. -J.K.
Calendar: December 17-24
Calendar: Dec. 10-17
PW's Holiday Guide 2014