Wednesday, December 15
Dock Street Homebrew Swap
Homebrewing is a tradition that predates the Gutenberg press, the 12-month calendar and even the kid in a manger whose merry birthday approaches. The craft’s popularity shows no signs of flagging in the Information Age—there are more than three-quarters of a million homebrewers in the U.S., and it seems that in Philly everyone has friends with a nanobrewery rigged in the basement. Half the fun of brewing your own is sharing the end result with appreciative quaffers, and Dock Street Brewery gets into this spirit with the Holiday Homebrew Swap. Homebrewers are encouraged to bring their finest samples to exchange with fellow crafters, and swap participants receive a free pint of one of Dock Street’s signature beers. Micaela Hester
7pm. Free Dock Street Brewing Co., 701 S. 50th St. 215.726.2337. dockstreetbeer.com
Guignol + Gringo Motel
Starting with their first event last month, the objective of the Diaspora Series is to present a diverse assortment of contemporary world and folk musics that sonically articulate the movement of peoples and cultures in our hyper-globalized age. Presented with free admission at West Philly venue The Rotunda, the highlight of the series thus far was an explosive, standing-room-only double-bill with Sun Ra Arkestra and the West Philadelphia Orchestra. The celebration of musical cosmopolitanism continues tonight with border-blurring performances by Brooklyn-based gypsy klezmer outfit Guignol and Philadelphia-based cinematic Mexican quintet Gringo Motel. Head’s up: All concerts in the series are available for gratis streaming and mp3 purchase at Diaspora’s bandcamp website. Elliott Sharp
8pm. Free. The Rotunda, 4014 Walnut St. 215.573.3234. therotunda.org
Thursday, December 16
Cabaret Red Light Nutcracker
Vaudeville performers will be turning their red light on old holiday warhorse The Nutcracker, but don’t expect to hear any Tchaikovsky. Drawing inspiration from the macabre original story (The Nutcracker and the Mouse King by unconventional German romantic E.T.A. Hoffman) more than from the more neutered storyline of the famous ballet, our protagonist Maria has grown up into a twentysomething on the eve of her wedding who is revisited by the creatures and fairies from her childhood. The story’s gothically interpreted with both burlesque and puppet theater to a score composed almost entirely by Dr. Rolf Lakaemper, a robotics professor at Temple, whose sound was described by Red Light founder Peter Gaffney as like “a music box from hell.” Like Hoffman’s unsettling original, this Nutcracker is more of a fairy tale for adults, so best leave the kids home. Rachel Stumpo
Through Dec. 19. 8pm. $20-$25. Painted Bride, 230 Vine St. 215.925.9914. cabaretredlight.com
If you’re not familiar with Swiss troupe Mummenschanz, it may be best to think of them as the artsy bits of Cirque du Soleil in distillation, or Blue Man Group with the frenetic monochrome replaced with a dash of quiet reflection, or a puppet show where people’s bodies serve as multifunctional marionettes. The only way to really get them, though, is to see them in action. This week they’ll be performing 3 x 11, a sort of retrospective showcasing some of their most beloved vignettes and characters from the past several years, as well as introducing new material. Using the language of movement and employing supporting tools of light, shadow, mime, maskwork, puppetry, toilet paper and building materials (the giant slinky dancer at the 76ers games ripped them off, btw), the five-person troupe is expert at transporting their audience to a place that looks inhuman but feels personal. Charlie Gill
Through Dec.18. 7:30pm. $28-$48. Annenberg Center, 3680 Walnut St. mummenschanz.com
Boy/girl fuzz pop has been flavor of the month for a while now, but very few of these dreamy, slouchy, soft-focus romantics are as good as Philly’s Reading Rainbow. This married duo—drummer and singer Sarah Everton and guitarist/keyboard player Rob Garcia—layers choral unisons and counterpoints over spattery, jittery rock melodies in a mix that feels like plainsong amped on a caffeine buzz. In performance, Everton and Garcia radiate geeky likability, imbuing rackets of guitar, flights of schoolgirl harmonies and rudimentary flurries of drums with a radiant sweetness. They’re celebrating the release of their second full-length, the giddily pretty Prism Eyes, out now on Hozac Records. Jennifer Kelly
8pm. $5-$10. With Coasting + Moon Moon. Danger Danger Gallery, 5013 Baltimore Ave. 903.345.5790. dangerdangergallery.com
Friday, December 17
Manmoth the Eighth
In March 2009, local fiction writers Sam Allingham and Sarah Szymanski organized the Manmoth reading series to unite an eclectic group of writers for a literary event that would appeal to common readers with diverse sensibilities. Previously held at Cha-Cha’razzi in South Philadelphia, Manmoth the Eighth will call Brickbat Books home. To avoid the academic stuffiness of traditional readings, the five writers who are reading will be limited to 8 minutes each, and every reading will be followed by palate-cleansing musical improvisations by Tristan Dahn. With two writers from Brooklyn and three from Philadelphia, tonight’s line-up is a no-holds-barred, geographico-literati brawl. Katie Assef, of lit mag A Public Space, and Thug Lit/Pedestal Magazine-published Ben Nadler will represent Brooklyn. Social worker and writer Ben Goldstein, Boston Review/DIAGRAM/Conjunctions-published Michael Agresta, and One Story/Epoch/AnOther Mag-published, Mothman founder Allingham will throw blows for the home team. There will be blood. E.S.
8pm. Free. Brickbat Books, 709 S. Fourth St. 215.592.1207. brickbatbooks.blogspot.com
Good Old War
It’s been a fantastic year for the folky Philly indie-rock trio Good Old War. Their eponymous second album, issued in June, won raves across the nation for its warm acoustic instrumentation, sharp songwriting and heavenly vocal harmonies that recall Simon and Garfunkel and Crosby, Stills and Nash and give folks like Fleet Foxes a run for their money. GOW spent most of the year on the road playing their own shows and opening for the likes of Dr. Dog and Dashboard Confessional, and the band is poised to break even bigger in 2011 (a tour with Guster is lined up). Tonight they play a homecoming headlining show with support from East Hundred and the Great Unknown—two other fine local bands you should get there early to hear. Michael Alan Goldberg
9pm. $23. With East Hundred + the Great Unknown. Theater of Living Arts, 334 South St. 215.922.1011. livenation.com
Saturday, December 18
Zappa Plays Zappa
A few years back, singer-guitarist Dweezil Zappa stopped making obscure rock albums and dating Lisa Loeb and began fulfilling his destiny—keeping the music of his late, legendary father Frank Zappa alive. First, he holed up for a while to learn much of Frank’s celebrated (and sprawling, complex) compositions, then he assembled a crack backing band to bring those tunes to life once again. Anyone who’s seen a Zappa Plays Zappa show knows that Dweezil and gang truly do the works justice. On the occasion of what would have been Frank’s 70th birthday (Dec. 21), this evening’s show offers the elder Zappa’s 1974 album Apostrophe (’)—featuring the semi-hit “Don’t Eat the Yellow Snow”—in its entirety, plus a handful of other classic tracks, all of it accompanied by previously unreleased video footage. M.A.G.
8pm. $29.50-$89.50. Keswick Theatre, 291 N. Keswick Ave. 215.572.7650. keswicktheatre.com
The rise of the personal computer in the late 1970s may have rendered typewriters obsolete, but the all-consuming presence of the Internet has given them an enduring appeal. “If you are sitting at one, and there is a clacking noise--you are writing,” says Michael McGettigan, owner of Trophy Bike Garage in NoLibs and the brains behind the event. “You’re not checking your schedule, or fighting aliens, or watching a lo-res video of a kitten falling off a desk.” Not to mention they also make you feel like cooler, more serious writer. Attendees can marvel at a display of vintage writing machines, type up a holiday letter (stamps and envelopes provided) and compete in a typing contest. If you own a typewriter, bring it along as there will be an opportunity to swap/sell with other local typewriter enthusiasts. An experienced technician on will be hand for consultations. Nicole Finkbiner
1pm. Free. Bridgewater’s Pub, 2951 Market St. 215.387.4787. phillytyper.com
Sunday, December 19
Bilenky Junkyard Cyclo-Cross
Do you envision a post-apocalyptic world in which you and your trusty cyclo-steed weave among rusted, unmoving cars? Do you worry that your clothes aren’t sufficiently splattered with petroleum byproducts and antifreeze? Prepare to have your prayers answered at Bilenky Cycle Works’ Urban Junkyard Cyclo-Cross, where you and other racers can book it all over an automotive graveyard fraught with enough obstacles to put Double Dare to shame (though nobody ever got tetanus from green slime, as far as we know). Bilenky has provided this yearly opportunity for adrenaline-starved bikers to get their Mad Max on at the junkyard next door to their Olney location since 2006. Registration starts at 10 a.m.; stick around for the free party after the spectacle to commiserate over beer and tacos. If you’re racing, maybe make sure all your vaccinations are up to date—just in case you lose a fight with some rusty metal. Alexandra Jones
Noon. $5. Bilenky Cycle Works, 5319 N. Second St. 215.329.4744. bilenky.com
Tony Danza’s A&E reality series about teaching in the Philly public school system is hardly a realistic portrait of Northeast High School; Danza’s students are almost disturbingly cavalier about the cameras documenting their English classes, leading to many conversations about these kids today, babies with facebook accounts, etc. But the first time cameras documented student life in these hallways was way back when, even before Friendster—in 1968, filmmaker Frederick Wiseman used Northeast as the setting of his documentary High School. Without voiceovers or talking heads, the film offers an honest, fly-on-the-wall look at the school during a tumultuous time in American history. While there’s a very different set of challenges facing the students and teachers at Northeast as portrayed by Danza and co., it’s interesting to see how much has changed—for better and worse. N.F.
7:30pm. Free. Wooden Shoe Books, 704 South St. 215.413.0999. woodenshoebooks.com
While we’re still hopeful that Ian MacKaye will one day reactivate the on-hiatus Fugazi, we have no doubt that the world truly saw the last of Minor Threat when MacKaye’s pioneering D.C. hardcore outfit disbanded in 1983. The music still endures, and so tonight, TV Casualty—the mutable Philly punk-rock tribute band featuring members of Ted Leo/Pharmacists, Paint It Black, and others, who’ve previous donned the look and sound of the Misfits and the Ramones—will offer their take on Minor Threat, fronted by Philly hardcore vet Mike McKee (of Kill the Man Who Questions fame). Think of it as all the fun, volume, and moshing minus that stupid straight-edge crap. All proceeds from the show will benefit Attic Youth Center, which supports Philly’s LGBT young adults. M.A.G.
2:30pm. $8. Kung Fu Necktie, 1250 N. Front St. kungfunecktie.com
Monday, December 20
Most recognizable as George McFly in Back To The Future, Crispin Hellion Glover’s got quite a bit more going on. Donning a fur coat, Glover perches atop a throne. A youth with Down’s Syndrome tells a snail “I love you,” then pours salt on it. “Good, he’s dead, now we can have a good time,” Glover says while another Down’s youth swings an axe. A nude woman wearing a monkey mask slithers into a hole. These are scenes from What Is It?, the first part in Glover’s It trilogy. Screening tonight, It Is Fine! Everything is Fine! is the director’s second voyage into madness, telling the story of a man with cerebral palsy who has a fetish for long-haired women. Glover will begin with a dramatic narration inspired by books he’s published containing 19th century illustrations, and then he’ll stay at the end for questions, which you’re surely already formulating. E.S.
6:30pm. $20. International House, 3701 Chestnut St. 215.922.3855. ihousephilly.org
Calendar: Sept. 30-Oct. 7