Friday, September 20
The Soul Rebels
If there’s one thing that can be mined in the wake of New Orleans post-Katrina, it’s that we humans can find sheer will and pure joy, even in the darkest of times, and the Big Easy-based Soul Rebels continue to turn people out, year after year, with their unstoppable spirit. What is essentially now an amorphous and ever-changing collective, there is one ageless tie, and that’s funk. Funk, as we all know, comes in all kinds of shapes and sizes: from jazz to hip-hop to soul and R&B, even rock. The Rebels aren’t afraid to mix, match, blend, oscillate and pounce on these variations, and they do so with such high energy and happiness-spreading instruments. We’re talking about brass. Sure, they’re very much about percussion, singing and guitars, but being such a robust brass ensemble really makes them shine.
The Soul Rebels would be an excellent enough show on their own, but add in Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe—for whom the Rebels are opening—and you’ve got a stellar way to spend your Friday evening and 20-something dollars. The supremely righteous saxophone that Denson wields will undoubtedly be lifted up by the eight (or more)-piece collective tonight. There’s no telling how this show could evolve, what they’ll cover, what they’ll improvise, how late they’ll wail. But what’s absolutely certain is that you will move, sweat and leave feeling 1,000 percent better about life. / B.C.
9pm. $21-$25. With Karl Denson’s Tony Universe. The Blockley, 3801 Chestnut St. 215.222.1234. theblockley.com
This solo performance follows a trans woman as she navigates gender roles and the memories of trauma, all in an apocalyptic fantasy setting. 7pm. $15. Plays and Players, 1714 Delancey Pl. playsandplayers.org
Saturday Night Live writer-turned-playwright Alan Zweibel’s poignant play examines his relationship with former SNL actress Gilda Radner. The play explores their longstanding friendship, and examines the relationship that could have been. 8pm. $30. Walnut Street Theatre, 825 Walnut St. 1812productions.org
Inspired by Shakespeare’s The Tempest, Dream Date follows an evil wizard named Todd as he rules over a remote island in the Gulf of Mexico, 1,000 years after the collapse of the American empire. 5:30pm. $5. Vox Populi Gallery, 319 N. 11th St. voxpopuligallery.org
El Ten Eleven
This L.A.-based post-rock duo have drawn comparisons to Pinback and the Six Parts Seven. The coolest part: They don’t use any laptops or sequencers. It all revolves around some damn fine guitar work. 9:15pm. $12-$14 1201 Frankford Ave. johnnybrendas.com
Mia McCullough’s gripping play follows Lucinda, a woman whose life changed after the monster who lived under her bed decided to introduce himself one night. 8pm. $25. Walnut Street Theatre, 825 Walnut St. brainspunktheater.com
The perfect way to celebrate your Hogwarts fandom and your love of fall: a Harry Potter straw maze. This family-friendly installation lets you walk around the legendary Deathly Hollows. Ability to fly not included. 10am. $6-$20. Woodmere Art Museum, 9201 Germantown Ave. woodmereartmuseum.org
Saturday, September 21
Michael Franti and Spearhead
Headed by Oakland-based musician, poet and activist Michael Franti, the Bay Area-founded outfit Spearhead makes a feel-good musical blend of hip-hop, reggae and folk vibes stemming from the group leader’s numerous projects of varying sounds and mediums. Call their latest LP, July’s All People, one of its most potent.
Beginning his career as the leader of industrial punk band the Beatnigs in the late ‘80s, Franti’s style has honed toward a dancehall version of his previous anti-conformity raves. What ventured into a somewhat softer mix of industrial music and rap via Franti’s early-’90s pairing with Rono Tse, the Disposable Heroes of HipHoprisy, also dabbled into jazz territory, eventually leading to his formation of Spearhead in 1994. Franti and his merry band of cohorts have been creating infectious politically- and world affairs-aware festival rock since.
Speaking of world issues, unlike most of his left-leaning musical peers, Franti has actually planted his feet (bare, of course, as he prefers) in areas of the world where war is prevalent on a day-to-day schedule. His 2005 documentary, I Know I’m Not Alone: A Musician’s Search for the Human Cost of War, ably explored the lives of people living in Iraq, Palestine and Israel and advocates for peace in the Middle East. He’s earned a number of awards for his activism. His music’s just the icing on the cake. / RANDY LOBASSO
8:30pm. $30. With Michael Bernard Fitzgerald. Electric Factory, 421 N. 7th St. 215.627.1332. electricfactory.info
Heartthrobs, Avatars, Playboys and Warriors
Matthew Cox’s exhibition takes the images of cultural icons past and present, be they Minotaur or Snow White, and splices their images with the skeletal projections of an X-ray. 6pm. Pentimenti Gallery, 145 N. Second St. 215.625.9990. pentimenti.com
FirstGlance Film Festival
The FirstGlance Film Festival has come a long way since its humble beginnings in a Center City basement. Now having shown more than 1,500 award-winning films in three cities, the event has become one of the premier destinations for Philly’s indie crowd to show off its cinematic aptitude. Through Sept. 22. $9-$42 Franklin Institute, Franklin Theater, 222 N. 20th St. firstglancefilms.com
Hero Thrill Show
Police and firefighters gather every year to raise money for the children of their fallen comrades by using the skills they have learned at work to entertain the people they could one day save. The proceeds go toward the children’s college tuition. 11:30am. $10-$25. Wells Fargo Center, 3601 S. Broad St. herothrillshow.org
Bitter guitar strumming leads this band forward; an unhappy monotone voice punctuating the ever-lurching beat. These dudes are from a metal-studded late ‘80s alternate past sans Reagan, but damn, they make those good sounds, even if they are essentially aliens here. 8:30pm. $10. Milkboy, 1100 Chestnut St. milkboyphilly.com
A New Global Future: Peace Day Philly
Head to the Friends Center this week to experience workshops and talks designed to show how people can move headlong to a global tranquility. 9:30am. Free. Friends Center, 1515 Cherry St. peacedayphilly2013.eventbrite.com
Manayunk StrEat Festival
Kicking off Manayunk’s Restaurant Week, food courts, farmers markets and more than 20 food trucks will set up along Main Street and offer their assorted delicacies to passersby. Picnic-style seating and live music make this an outdoor celebration worth enduring the approaching fall breeze for. 11am. Free. Manayunk, 4312 Main St. manayunk.com
Fight Fire With Fire
Are you proficient at getting drunk and judging grilled meats? Taste a bunch of BBQ samples while slurping up all of the beer your clumsy paws can manage. Proceeds go toward the Red Cross House and disaster relief. Noon. $25-$35. 39th and Market sts. redcross.org/news/event/pa/philadelphia/Fight-Fire-with-Fire-A-BBQ-Cook-Off-Event
Wendig is an up-and-coming writer unafraid of any four-letter word. His recent foray into the future, Under the Empyrean Sky, will be the centerpiece of the imaginative author’s talk, along with assorted writerly tips. 3pm. Free. Joseph E. Coleman Northwest Regional Library, 68 W. Cheltan Ave. 215.685.2150. freelibrary.org
Calendar: Sept. 2-9