Music, theater and more.
George Borge Smorgasboard
A DJ, an English professor and two or three other academic types walk into the Kelly Writers House. In a good joke, one of them would also need to be a rabbi. In real life, they’d get together to discuss, celebrate and explore the work of the late, great Jorge Luis Borges, the Argentine writer, essayist, and poet (who you probably confuse with the living Colombian writer Gabriel García Márquez), through a variety of lenses—including “the labyrinthine, the Babelian and the intertextual”— in an attempt to figure out where ol’ Gorgeous Jorge stands in the global literary canon. In a Jorge Luis Borges story, the Writers House would be filled with every 410-page text in the world and the speakers would, instead of talking about Borges, solve murders with the assistance of Funes the Memorious and An Animal Imagined by Kafka. Matt Soniak
Wed., Feb. 18, 6pm. Free. Kelly Writers House, 3805 Locust Walk. 215.746.7636. writing.upenn.edu/wh
Black Sexuality and Gender in the Era of Blaxploitation
Picture it: Hot mamas in skintight pants sauntering across the screen in pursuit of The Man, jive-talking studs with blowouts and big guns kicking ass, taking names and screwing broads along the way. Most people are familiar with these images made popular by the Blaxploitation films of the 1960s, but what did these movies convey about black sexuality? Did they leave behind powerful messages of independence and strength or did they work to support deep-rooted stereotypes? A panel of scholars will discuss these and other questions during the second week of the Oscar Micheaux Film Festival. Hosted by Malika Kambe Umfazi Sorority Inc., the four-month film festival is held in honor of Oscar Micheaux. Regarded as the first African American filmmaker Micheaux began making films about black life in 1919, decades before the onset of Blaxpoitation. Jazmyn Burton
7pm. Free. Temple University Student Activities Center, 13th St. and Montgomery Ave. For more information on the festival, visit omfilmfestival.com.
Fucked Up + Kurt Vile
There hasn’t been a bill we’ve been this excited about since, well, the last time Toronto’s Fucked Up came to town and played with Pissed Jeans (who also perform this week—see Friday). Their new album Couple Tracks features 25 (!) of them, actually, and each is a fuzzy, blistering, break-neck burst of punk-injected Fuck Yeah. “I Hate Summer” will find you singing along, even if you love the season, and “Fixed Race” is the fiercest two minutes of badass guitar bliss and bleeding vocals you’ll likely hear all year. Opener Kurt Vile is a local favorite here at PW, of course, and his epic ‘09 effort Childish Prodigy has stayed in constant rotation since its October release. Prodigy’s reverb-kissed phychedelia sounds better as the weather gets colder, we’ve noticed. Cutting Vile’s mellow vibes with Fucked Up’s aural cocaine is going to make for quite a trip. Brian McManus
7pm. $12. Barbary, 951 Frankford Ave. 215.634.7400. r5productions.com
53 Stations + The Scriptors
Jazz has its titanic Ellingtons and Coltranes, but delving into material by such under-the-surface geniuses as Steve Lacy and Herbie Nichols can be just as all-consuming. The Wilmington quartet 53 Stations—saxophonist Jason Shapiro, trumpeter Bob Meashey, bassist Dylan Taylor and drummer Skip Rohrich—came together in 2004 to explore these late masters’ seldom-heard compositions and write new music in a likeminded spirit (hear Live In Wilmington and The Hilltop Sessions). This Avant Ascension installment will also feature the Scriptors, drummer Mike Szekely’s trio project with Shot x Shot members Bryan Rogers (tenor saxophone) and Matt Engle (bass), who share a galvanizing approach to free yet in-the-pocket improv. David R. Adler
9pm-2am. $5. Tritone, 1508 South St. 215.545.0475 tritonebar.com
Philly’s long standing psych-altered techno-ravers Julian Grefe and Justin Geller are nothing if not well connected. They recorded last year’s Endless Bummer at Alex Ounsworth’s studio with Mazarin’s Quentin Stoltzfus at the boards. They’ve remixed everyone from Man Man to Plastic Little and hosted both Mirah and Ghostface Killah as guest vocalists. They’ve filled out the home team, too, with a full band supporting their krautrock into ambient into freaky-deaky sound, anchored by Mike Hammel’s disco bass and Jeremy Gerwetz’s drums. There’s even a move towards new wave-y pop, as Julian Grefe ventures into New Order-style vocals on songs like “Peter Cushing” and “Oh, Monorail.” Jennifer Kelly
9pm. $10. With Grandchildren + Dinowalrus. Johnny Brenda’s, 1201 N. Frankford. 215.739.9684. johnnybrendas.com
Mission of Burma
Any band considering doing the reunion thing and doing it right should absolutely look no further than Mission of Burma for proper guidance. In 2002, nearly two decades after their initial four-year run—cut short mainly by guitarist Roger Miller’s severe tinnitus—the inventive and influential Boston post-punks surprisingly re-emerged for a tour. And somehow, they returned not as a mere shadow of their former selves, but as a better band (no small feat). Since 2004 they’ve released three vital, completely satisfying albums—the most recent being October’s dynamic The Sound the Speed the Light—that have far exceeded expectations. And MOB 2.0’s live shows remain as scorching and inspiring as you could hope for. Michael Alan Goldberg
8pm. $16. With Sleeper Agent. First Unitarian Church, 2125 Chestnut St. 866.468.7619. r5productions.com
So tonight we’re gonna party like it’s 1989 (but in a good way), with a line-up that harkens back to the days when “indie” actually meant something, as opposed to being a facile, anemic all-encompassing lifestyle brand. Here’s a triumvirate of bands designed to get your inner D.I.Y. post-punk agitator all fired up. You all know about the headliners, local heroes Pony Pants, by now (and if not, why not?), God bless their collective cotton socks. But it’s D.C.-by-way-of-Baltimore outfit the Andalusians who just might steal the show. We’re talking a trio who excel in cerebral-yet-slinky, lithe, loose-limbed post-punk with hooks a plenty, drawing upon the likes of Throwing Muses, Belly, the Slits and a dash of Talking Heads to boot. Oh, and they come with the blessing of the sainted Ian MacKay. Neil Ferguson
Fri., Feb. 19, 9pm. $5. With Pony Pants + Amateur Party. Danger Danger Gallery, 5013 Baltimore Ave. myspace.com/dangerdangergallery
Grapes on a Vine
Philly-based production company Reelblack has a simple mission: creating and promoting “good movies ’bout black folks.” Part of their Soul Food Cinema series, Reelblack will host a Friday screening of Grapes on a Vine to celebrate its DVD release. A museum director hires men to kill his infertile wife and make it look like a racist crime so that he can start a new life with insurance cash and his best friend’s girl. It doesn’t quite go as planned. The film stars seasoned character actor GregAlan Williams (The Sopranos, Be Cool, Remember the Titans), and a talented ensemble of supporting cast members. It’s a happy return to Philly for director Al Robbins, who, in his student days, helped St. Joe’s to the Elite Eight in 1981. So bring your Hawks sweatshirt and an appetite. Admission to the screening comes free with your plate of soul food. Tom Cowell
7-9:30pm. Free with the price of a Soul Food Friday Meal. Point Of Destination Cafe, 6460 Greene St. 215.849.7771. reelblack.com
You’d be pretty hard pressed to find a song better written than Pissed Jeans’ “Dream Smotherer” in the last decade. It’s a sweat-drenched, grizzly, mangled, manic mess; the crowning jewel off last year’s excellent King of Jeans. It’s as clear and perfect a portrait of the daily doldrums that bind us as anything Cheever ever penned or, for that matter, any of the dozens of other songs this Philly-by-way-of-Allentown foursome have written in homage to ennui. And while we’re quick to admit a fondness for the pig fucker movement of the 90s—forged by PJ mentors like Jesus Lizard, Killdozer, Big Black, etc.—and a Pissed Jeans bias by extension, we’re not just employing hyperole here. Or here: The group’s distorted, hard-edged testostertunes are the best thing happening in the city right now. B.Mc.
8pm. $8. With Battle for Los Angeles + M Ax Noi Mach. Khyber, 56 S. Second St. 215.238.5888. thekhyber.com
We live in a divided society, but we can agree on this: There aren’t enough Victorian salons happening. The kind of salon where opium-addled intellectuals lounge on red velvet banquettes and compose lyric poems, manifestos to Poland and theories of erotic spanking. Thank goodness the B. Someday Theatre Company are reviving this most civilized means of discourse. Friday’s salon will be a fundraiser for their planned production of plays by Mark Borkowski, a Philly native. Performers will read scenes from his work, live harp music will be played and tarot cards will be read by a seasoned mystic. The ticket price includes hors d’oeuvres from local Chestnut Hill eateries, beer from Palm Imports and wine. Even better, your comp ère for the evening will be Monsieur Thujone of Philadelphia’s superb “lit-pop” band the Absinthe Drinkers so there’s no excuse for lingering on your fainting couch. T.C.
6-9pm. $20. 35 Rex Ave. 215.427.WALK. walkingfishtheatre.com
Chinese New Year
Regardless of the recent exploits of a certain golfer, 2010 is, in fact, the Year of the Tiger, and Philly’s Chinatown is roaring as usual for the Chinese New Year, which began on February 14th and is celebrated for 15 days. Wander past the China Gate at 10th and Arch during this two-week period and within minutes you’ll likely be face-to-face with noise and vibrant color and joyful screams as teams of dragon and lion dancers prowl the streets—with banners flying and drummers pounding away and firecrackers exploding all around them—to bless the local businesses and people. Many of Chinatown’s restaurants will be serving special holiday feasts, and Philly celebrity chef Joseph Poon will lead his famous “Wok ’n’ Walk” Chinatown walking tour, which includes a full meal, a Tai Chi demonstration, stops at an herbal medicine shop and fortune cookie factory and plenty more. It all wraps up with the lovely nighttime Lantern Festival on February 28, to which you’ll definitely want to bring your camera. M.A.G.
For more information, visit phillychinatown.com and josephpoon.com.
Mr. Gay Woody's
Hey dudes, think you’ve got what it takes to be crowned “Mr. Gay Philadelphia”? Well, first you have to win one of the preliminary contests being held at several local LGBT-friendly establishments. One is happening Saturday at Woody’s, where you’re urged to dress your sexiest to have any chance at coming out on top. If you claim victory and are named “Mr. Gay Woody’s,” you’ll compete against “Mr Gay Q Lounge,” “Mr. Gay Stir,” “Mr. Gay Shampoo” and others at the Mr. Gay Philadelphia competition on April 17 at Voyeur. The champion of that will get to represent Philly in the Mr. Gay U.S. competition in the fall. Make sure you bring a winning attitude, because as they say, if you ain’t first, you’re last. But even if you are last, well, there’ll still be drink specials to help you drown your sorrows.M.A.G.
11pm. Woody’s, 202 S. 13th St. 215.545.1893. woodysbar.com
Celebration of African Cultures
The Penn Museum hosts its annual Celebration of African Cultures on Saturday, promising the most fun per minute of any family event in the city this weekend. Teenagers will struggle to maintain bored exteriors through a Vai Capoeira demonstration and a performance by hip-hop dancers the Chosen Dance Company (with members recently featured on MTV’s America’s Best Dance Crew). Younger children can enjoy African animals visiting from the Philadelphia Zoo, a mask-making workshop and drumming and story-telling circles. There’s also an extensive Egyptian mummy exhibit and the chance to be wrapped in traditional African pageant headwear and skirts. Flagging spirits can be revived with the Museum Café’s annual homerun: its African peanut chicken soup. At five hours of music, dance and performance for less than the price of a movie ticket, this is a celebration everyone can share. T.C.
6-9pm. $6-$10. Penn Museum, 3260 South St. 215.898.4000. penn.museum
The Taliban would have us believe they’re waging war to defend Pashtun culture. In fact, they’re destroying it by targeting musicians like Haroon Bacha, one of Pakistan’s great Pashto-language vocalists, who had to flee his native Northwest Frontier province in 2008 for safe harbor in New York. Bacha’s American welcome involved a bittersweet New York Times profile, which, among other things, told of a Pashtun-organized benefit at the Forest Hills Jewish Center in Queens. (That, Alanis, is ironic.) Now Crossroads Music and Penn have joined forces to bring Bacha to West Philly, where he’ll offer his mesmerizing take on classical sung poetry, rural folk tradition and modern variations. D.R.A.
7:30pm. $10-$30. Calvary United Methodist Church, 48th St. and Baltimore Ave. 215.729.1028. crossroadsconcerts.org
Calendar: December 17-24
Calendar: Dec. 10-17
PW's Holiday Guide 2014