H.R. (of Bad Brains)
Back in 1977, seminal hardcore punk band Bad Brains first fired up its engines in Washington D.C., leaving a deeply-embedded skidmark on a generation with its fiery music. Political and social commentary threaded their way through the Brains’ song lyrics, decrying injustice while promoting positive mental attitudes. With ahead-of-the-curve soundscapes, an overall passion for fairness and progressive concern for their fellow man, Bad Brains was far from your average band. They’ve inspired and influenced dozens of other groups like Cro-Mags, Living Colour and Fishbone, plus hellraisers like Henry Rollins of Black Flag, a former protégé.
BB’s major mouthpiece, Paul D. Hudson, better known as H.R. (for “human rights”), crafted powerful and insightful lyrics with a unique dual-genred voice, ranging from shrill, piercing nasal screeching to a rich, crooning baritone. His spiritual connection with Rastafari ideals heavily influenced BB’s social responsibility-espousing lyrical content, their reggae-tinged musical tones giving a smooth edge to its signature punk raucousness. Even with their starts, stops and near-rotation of line-up changes, Bad Brains’ unique brand of punkfunk has been virtually impossible to emulate. And rumor has it the fam’s back together, the once-homeless H.R. included.
BB members have long had side projects, like the White Mandingos, bassist Darryl Jenifer’s recent mesh with Ego Trip-founding journalist Sacha Jenkins, featuring Murs. H.R. is certainly no different, boasting his own discography outside the BB milieu since the ‘80s. Coupled with his crew Dubb Agents, he’s once again using his exemplary voice to rock heads, hearts and hemispheres. // KENNEDY ALLEN
7pm, $15-$18. With Bong Hits for Jesus + MCRAD featuring Chuck Treece. The Legendary Dobbs, 304 South St. 215.501.7288. dobbsphilly.com
Philadelphia Dance Projects
Choreographer Niki Cousineau and designer Jorge Cousineau are the husband-and-wife duo that make up Subcircle, a collaboration placing emphasis on the performance environment. Their latest project, All this happened, more or less, explores themes related to rebuilding and casts the dancers, set and music as protagonists. 7:30pm. $15-$20. Performance Garage, 1515 Brandywine St. 215.546.2552. philadanceprojects.org
Philly-based artist/writer and sometimes PW scribe Natalie Hope McDonald celebrates her debut solo show at Bluestone Fine Art Gallery with a series of paintings that utilize mixed media and drawing styles inspired by music, the written word and street art. 5pm. Free. Bluestone Fine Art Gallery, 142 N. Second St. 856.979.7588. bluestone-gallery.com
20th Annual Philadelphia Invitational Furniture Show
The PIFS gives artisans the chance to display and sell their wares, homemade furniture and furnishings to the public at a variety of prices. Find everything from handmade wooden kitchenware to ornate living room lamps. 6pm. $12-$40. 23rd St. Armory, 22 S. 23rd St. 215.387.8590. philaifs.com
First Friday! The Wide World of Art
Enjoy live music, cocktails and special performances at the Barnes Foundation this First Friday. The night will begin with a talk on European and American modernism, followed by a performance from Intercultural Journeys. 6pm. $25. The Barnes Foundation, 2025 Ben Franklin Pkwy. barnesfoundation.org
Hackfit challenges those dedicated to a healthy lifestyle to combine fitness, healthy eating and entrepreneurship into a three-day Hackathon formula. The formula utilizes camaraderie-building activities that intend to push you and your team to the next level and create the future of health, fitness and sport technology. 5pm. $49-$69. Impact HUB Philly, 1227 N. Fourth St. hackfit.com/philadelphia-2014
PAFA in Bloom
Schaffer Designs has collaborated with 15 garden clubs and 45 national floral designers to produce a three-day showcase of more than 60 fabulous floral designs. A series of feature floral presentations and workshops will be presented by internationally acclaimed floral designers Neil Whittaker and Wendy Andrade. 5:30pm. $5-$20. Hotel Monaco Philadelphia, 433 Chestnut St. pafa.org/pafainbloom
Tamagawa Taiko Drum & Dance Troupe
“The taiko drum was originally used in shrines and temples as part of chants, to invite God to come down to Earth,” says Isaburoh Hanayagi, Tamagawa Taiko Drum & Dance Troupe’s lead choreographer and a professor at Tamagawa University in Tokyo. Hanayagi is a guru of this well-preserved art form, and he’s employed hundreds of Japanese drummers, dancers, performers and percussionists to keep it alive. “My students have all different backgrounds, some in ballet, modern dance, and others in jazz or hip-hop,” he explains in a PBS video mash of interviews and performances culled from one the outfit’s annual tours around America. “They learn the choreography in one day, and then train for about two months to get to the next level, where they can inflect their performance with expression and soul.”
There are nearly 30 performers in the Tamagawa Taiko Drum & Dance Troupe, on average, and they combine pristine choreographed movement with rhythmic drum-pounding and—sometimes most excitingly—ecstatic yelps. It’s like Drumline meets Kabuki theatre, infused with jazz and ballet; think Enter the Dragon meets Blue Man Group. As cherry blossom petals float over them, women in traditional Japanese finery shuffle to their drums and, slowly but surely, accumulate such momentum and energy until they they’re banging and bellowing. Are they calling out to God? To the audience? It doesn’t matter. You’ll find yourself in either stunned awe or simply clapping along to the beat. Their execution is flawless. In one segment, they work with percussive sticks and toss them in cycles a dozen feet in the air to each other and to a line of dancers 10 feet behind them. Each throw is exactly alike—in height, arc and distance.
U.S. audiences are usually the most expressive and open with their enthusiasm, according to Tamagawa members—meaning we probably all jump out of our seats and shout with joy after every number’s conclusive drum strike. Experience one of the ensemble’s performances to understand why, plus you’ll see and hear notes of classic ESG, color guards, Little Dragon and O-Ren Ishii—all of which add up to awesome. // BILL CHENEVERT
4pm and 8pm. $10-$30. The Painted Bride Art Center, 230 Vine St. 215.925.9914. paintedbride.org
15th Annual Black-Tie GayBINGO!
The glow on this crown jewel of the AIDS Fund’s fantabulous GayBINGO tiara has only deepened over 15 years. It takes something they do every month and kicks it up a notch and a half. Tickets for this one are admittedly a little bit of an investment (in your community) due to the black-tie dress code, and the soiree features dinner, six bingo games—highlighted, of course, by the dragtastic Bingo Verifying Divas—a silent auction and dancing. The night’s extra-special, too, because it honors some really important team players in the Philly community’s fight against HIV and AIDS: Ronda B. Goldfein, Esq., Al Vernacchio and Kevin and Keisha Diggs. Goldfein currently functions as the executive director of AIDS Law Project of Pennsylvania, while Vernacchio’s dedication to issues of sexuality goes way back to the Friends Central sex educator’s leadership within ActionAIDS in 1994. The Diggs kids, healthy children born to an HIV-positive mother, have been marching and volunteering to raise funds and awareness to combat the virus since the age of three. How amazing is that?
Aside from all of the great entertainment and wonderful people in attendance making giant strides towards stigma-erasing tonight, your hard-earned dollars go to an amazing organization. And it’s events like these—and next month’s Spring Break GayBINGO at the Gershman Y—that’ll bring us closer to living HIV and AIDS-free in the future. // B.C.
6:30pm. $150. Crystal Tea Room, Wanamaker Building, 100 Penn Square East. 215.731.9255. aidsfundphilly.org
Arcade @ the Oval
Philly Tech Week kicks off with a game of Tetris played on the Circa Centre building, also known as the Guinness-certified “Largest Architectural Video Game Display.” Visitors will also have the chance to play games from more than a dozen developers, including Cipher Prime and Ninja Warfare. 7pm. Free. Benjamin Franklin Parkway. phillytechweek.com
Philly Spring Cleanup
It’s time for the annual spring cleaning of our lovely city, and you can do your part to rid the town of litter and trash. Cleanup stations will be positioned all across the city, and volunteers are needed. Last year’s event hauled in more than 1 million pounds of trash! 9am. Various locations. philadelphiastreets.com
Los Angeles-based dance troupe BODYTRAFFIC brings their critically acclaimed contemporary dance routine to Philly. The high-energy performance features interpretations of Ella Fitzgerald’s classic jazz scores, as well as a new piece by acclaimed choreographer Kyle Abraham. 2pm and 8pm. $20-$55. Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, 3680 Walnut St. 215.898.3900. annenbergcenter.org
Tangle Movement Arts
Stunning acrobatics and swinging trapeze artists highlight Timelines, the newest work from Tangle Movement Arts. The all-female company blends traditional circus arts with modern dance, theater and spoken word. 3pm and 8pm. $15-$20. Christ Church Neighborhood House, 20 N. American St. tangle-arts.com
GET LUCID! The Activist Dance Party
Are you an activist who also enjoys dancing, art and poetry? Well GET LUCID! is back to satisfy all your subversive needs. The party will feature a bevy of local talent, live music and DJs, and all proceeds will benefit HollabackPhilly, a local group fighting to end street harassment. 8pm. $5-$8. Underground Arts, 1200 Callowhill St. getlucid.org
Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
In playwright Christopher Durang’s acclaimed comedy, movie star Masha returns home for an impromptu family reunion. Much to the surprise of her family, she brings her new boy-toy companion along, making for an unforgettable weekend. 8pm. $46-$59. Suzanne Roberts Theatre, 480 S. Broad St. philadelphiatheatrecompany.org
Mt. Airy Brunch Sessions
Spring is in the air, and the wonderful restaurants of Mt. Airy are celebrating with a seasonal prix-fixe menu special. For just $16, guests can enjoy a choice of starter, entree, side and coffee or tea at participating restaurants. 11am. $16. For participating restaurants, visit gomtairy.com
BRAT AID: Hail to the Thief
Brat Productions looks to aid their burgeoning theatre group with a special live performance of Radiohead’s 2003 album Hail to the Thief in its entirety. The performance will feature modern dance performances by the Birds on a Wire Dance Theatre. 7:30pm. $15-$30. Underground Arts, 1200 Callowhill St. bratproductions.org
Fairmount Arts Crawl
Rain or shine, the 10th Annual Fairmount Arts Crawl kicks off this afternoon, featuring more than 50 local artists. The neighborhood will be transformed into a walking art gallery of all mediums, both indoors and out. 2pm. Free. Fairmount neighborhood. fairmountartscrawl.com
MM2 Modern Dance Company opens its spring season with Breath, from choreographers Jessica Bryan, Jennifer Laucella, Alison Liney and Brianne Scott. The new piece focuses on how breathing connects us to nature and allows us to enjoy life’s nuances. 2pm. $10. The Performance Garage, 1515 Brandywine St. 484.469.0288. mm2dance.org
Calendar: March 25-April 1
PW's 2015 Philly Spring Guide