Music, theater, events and more.
Battle of the ’Burbs
High school music talent shows can sometimes be a variation on the old “three chords and the truth” trope, with the “truth” being that even those three chords don’t sound very good. Still, we have much higher hopes for the Milkboy Coffee-sponsored first-annual “Battle of the ’Burbs,” a month-long event searching for the best music being made by Philly high school kids which kicks off American Idol-style with auditions held in front of a panel of judges. (To the best of our knowledge, Simon Cowell is not involved, thankfully.) Every Wednesday in January, you can watch bands and solo artists of all genres take to the Milkboy stage to play their tunes—possibly original compositions, probably cover songs—and vie for a slot in the “Battle of the ’Burbs” final competition on Saturday, January 30. The winner receives studio recording time, other prizes and the glory of being crowned the best of the best in Philly, so with all of that on the line, the truth is that these auditions really might be worth checking out. Michael Alan Goldberg
8pm. Free. Milkboy Coffee, 2 E. Lancaster Ave. 610.645.5269. milkboycoffee.com
The Dutchess and the Duke
No, they’re not a couple in the romantic sense, but Seattle singer-guitarists Kimberly Morrison and Jesse Lortz—who together form the psychedelic-folk duo the Dutchess and the Duke—have something quite magical and intimate goin’ on when they get together and make music. Dusky and unpolished, propelled by tremendous vocal harmonies and the occasional organ hum or tambourine shake, the duo’s semi-acoustic tunes seem to come from the same fuzzy corner of the ’60s that produced the Stones, the Animals, and Love—melodically bright, but often lyrically dark and troubled. Championed by fellow Seattle-ites Fleet Foxes, the Dutchess and the Duke come to town behind their new Sunset/Sunrise, and they’ll likely have you feelin’ the love. Michael Alan Goldberg
9pm. $10. With Medication + Peasant. Johnny Brenda’s, 1201 Frankford Ave. 215.739.9684. johnnybrendas.com
Rural Alberta Advantage
The three-piece Rural Alberta Advantage make up for their lack of manpower with a bottomless supply of energy. The Canadian indie-rock outfit’s dynamic performances feature feverish acoustic playing, intricate, dance/pop-inspired drumming and melodic keyboard swells. The dissonance between impassioned lead vocalist Nils Edenloff and the backing vocals of keyboardist Amy Cole creates a harmony that is as beautiful as it is quaint. All this meshes into something minimalistic but also powerful and organic. After their acclaimed independent 2005 debut Hometowns was re-released by Saddle Creek last summer, the RAA finally garnered some well-deserved respect. The Kung Fu Necktie will be an ideally intimate venue to breathe in the band’s hypnotic sounds. Kevin Brosky
8pm. $10. With the Minor White + Nick (from Spinto Band). Kung Fu Necktie, 1250 N. Front St. 215.291.4919. kungfunecktie.com
Have A Nice Life
This week one of the area’s most promising companies Nice People Theatre Company is offering audience’s a post-holiday treat with a remounting of their acclaimed production of Have a Nice Life for three performances. First staged by NPTC in March of 2008 and later a runaway hit at the 2008 Philly Fringe and 2009 Edinburgh Fringe Festival (where it garnered gushing reviews from the British press), the real-time show takes place during a 90-minute group therapy session. The attendees are a diverse group with the usual concerns—sex, childhood, relationships, self-esteem—with the exception of newcomer Amy, who is suspiciously well-adjusted. They’re blindly led by a therapist with no shortage of his own issues. Red-hot composer Conor Mitchell (whose score suggests a young Sondheim) employs a variety of styles to give each character a unique musical voice in a show that addresses all of life’s big issues in a brief period of time. J. Cooper Robb
7:30pm. $25. L’Etage, 624 S. Sixth St. 267.909.3309. nicepeopletheatre.org
One would think it’d be difficult to be truly frightened by a dude nicknamed “Nergal.” But put the vocalist-guitarist otherwise known as Adam Darski together with his colleagues in the long-running and highly influential Polish black-metal band Behemoth and they might be the most terrifying and ferocious musical entity on the planet. Massive riffs, skull-boring solos, whale-sized demon vocals, brutal rhythms, occult imagery, creepy stage makeup, and even creepier doom-orchestral flourishes combine in vivid nightmares for your eyes and ears. Honestly, we wouldn’t wanna run into Nergal in a dark alley—he might try to sacrifice us in some pagan ritual—but in a dark club you’ll probably be okay. M.A.G.
9pm. $17. With Septicflesh, Lightning Swords of Death + Woe. Theater of the Living Arts, 334 South St. 215.922.1011. livenation.com
Aquatically inclined queers mourning the seasonal freezing over of Hurricane Harbor and Rehoboth Beach don‘t have to put their Speedos and string bikinis away just yet. Hydrate is sure to makes waves at Sam’s Sahara Oasis, a $23 million indoor water park that for one night turns itself over to the cabin fever-afflicted LGBT community. Partygoers have 58,000 square feet to play—try getting cozy in the Jacuzzi, speeding down the water slides, surfing and boogie boarding on the FlowRider, braving the vortexes on the lazy river, or staying drunk and dry at the bar. It’s not always sunny in Philadelphia, but it is always 84 degrees in Sahara‘s, and with DJ Rhino Starr on the ones and twos, it‘s bound to feel even hotter. The party is powered by local promoter Kris Gage, who says that the nation’s only gay fete of this kind is indeed on Route 73. With hundreds expected to come out, thanks in advance for not pissing in the pool. Gerald Johnson
10pm-2am. $45-$55. Sahara Sam’s Oasis, 535 N. Rte. 73, West Berlin, NJ. 215.222.1400. twistedlife.com
Starting from the Bottom: Introduction to Anal Play
After some highly unscientific research, we’ve learned the three most controversial topics of discussion here in town are the Congressional health care overhaul, Michael Vick playing for the Eagles and whether or not you want your significant other messin’ with your ass. Yes, we mean that in the most sexual way possible. Some people aren’t really down with anal spelunking. Take, for example, the fairly recent hand-sex craze (especially on college campuses) known as “the shocker”—not every lady likes “two for the pumper, one for the dumper” without a little advance warning, if at all. And even for those gals and guys who are curious about exploring their partner’s tailpipe, you can’t just go sticking limbs, appendages and household appliances up there all willy-nilly. You’ve gotta work up to it. Which is where sex educators J.D. Ackerman and Kira Manser come in. Their entertaining and informative “Anal 101” workshop is designed to show you newbie rectum rockers various tricks and techniques, allay your fears and answer your most burning questions. Afterwards, who knows? You just might find yourself with an all-new appreciation for the devil’s onion ring. M.A.G.
7pm. $20-$30. Passional, 620 S. Fifth St. 215.923.1398. passionaltoys.com
Adam Franklin may have once had My Bloody Valentine open for him (in a pre-Swervedriver band called Shake Appeal), but he’d appreciate if you didn’t use the “shoegaze” moniker to describe what he does. That’s because his music, even with Swervedriver, has always been more songlike and less atmospheric than the typical sheets-of-sound outfit. Franklin’s Bolts of Melody is the same band that hit Philadelphia last year with the Church—Locksley Taylor on guitar, Josh Stoddard on bass and Mikey Jones. They’ve honed a dreamy yet substantial sound, full of eerie guitar effects and sweet curves of melody. His third and latest Bolts album, I Could Sleep for a Thousand Years, is on the way in 2010. Jennifer Kelly
9pm. $10. With the Three 4 Tens, the Sky Drops + Rarebird. Khyber. 56 S. Second St. 215.238.5888. thekhyber.com
Ben O’Neill & Tony Miceli
The Lucky Old Souls concert series strides into 2010 with a promising duo set by guitarist Ben O’Neill and vibraphonist Tony Miceli, plus small-band jazz as only pianist Orrin Evans can deliver it. Miceli is Philly’s best-kept secret on vibraphone, very arguably a world contender, with a command of the bop-to-modern continuum and a strong presence in such local groups as Monkadelphia and the Philly 5. O’Neill, nicknamed “Bananas,” is a recent UArts graduate with a busy career in gospel (Tye Tribbett), R&B (Musiq, Bilal) and rock (the MLMs), but he’s jazz enough to join Miceli in breaking down the formidable Duke Ellington/Billy Strayhorn song catalog. David R. Adler
9pm. $8-$10. With Orrin Evans and friends. Moonstone Arts Center, 110 S. 13th St. 215.735.9600 moonstoneartscenter.org
I’m not usually much of a “joiner,” but the other day I joined the Facebook group called “I Say Dude Right Before I Say Something Moderately Important” (because, alas, sometimes I just do). Anyway, lemme get a little practice in: Dude, avant-metal band Jucifer is coming back to Philly. Dude, Jucifer might be the single loudest band of all time. Dude, I know Jucifer is only a guitar and drums duo, but they are so goddamn loud it’s scary, like the loudness could probably actually kill you if you’re standing in the wrong spot. Dude, frontwoman Amber Valentine is pretty hot. Dude, Jucifer. M.A.G.
7pm, $10. With Salome + Deathbeds. Kung Fu Necktie, 1250 N. Front St. kungfunecktie.com
Ben Perowsky Quartet
Drummer Ben Perowsky has made a career of being resolutely nomadic, giving his all to the electric fusion of Mike Stern, the piano trio jazz of Uri Caine and Misha Mengelberg, the postmodern insurgencies of John Zorn and the arty singer-songwriter musings of Elysian Fields and Joan as Police Woman. Perowsky also heads up the ambient-groovy Moodswing Orchestra and boasts such quality solo discs as Camp Songs. His latest, Esopus Opus, combines originals with items by Hendrix, the Beatles and Brazilian icons Hermeto Pascoal and Jacob do Bandolim, voiced adeptly for reeds (Chris Speed), accordion (Ted Reichman), bass (Drew Gress) and drums. Trevor Dunn subs for Gress this week. D.R.A.
8pm. $10. Philadelphia Art Alliance, 251 S. 18th St. 215.545.4302 arsnovaworkshop.com
Smoke, Lillies and Jade Dance and Discussion: Black Men’s Health
Approach difficult questions through the art of dance at the Smoke Lilies and Jade Dance and Discussion 2010: Black Men’s Health. This symposium features an hour-long discussion of health issues concerning everything from AIDS and HIV to homelessness and sexual health. There will then be breakout sessions led by moderator and trained HIV counselor Troy Love. In between the sessions, peep spoken word performances and dramatic readings and, following the discussion, the Smoke Lilies and Jade dance troupe will perform works created by in-studio choreographers as well as pieces from local dance groups, including Koresh, Xhale and Alley Studios. There will also be free HIV-testing on site and free condom distribution. Emily Freisher
6:30pm. Free. Gershman Y, 401 S. Broad St., 215.828.6453. liliesandjade.org
Alice in Pictureland
A curious seven-year old falls down a rabbit hole, ingests magical substances that cause her to shift in size, stumbles across a caterpillar smoking a hookah and experiences philosophical debates about detached cat heads. Sounds like a fanciful children’s story—or the crazed chronicles of a naughty girl coming down from an LSD bender, depending on who interprets. This timeless malleability of Lewis Carroll’s most famous tales, 1865’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and its sequel Through the Looking Glass, has kept them in the popular imagination and the latest exhibit by the Brandywine River Museum. View images ranging from the book’s legendary first illustrations by John Tenniel, to the psychedelic ’70s renderings of Ralph Steadman, to Barry Moser’s darker interpretations of what Alice had seen. This is the last day to catch 40-plus works that travel across time to show the different sides of Alice and her creepy, anthropomorphic friends. G.J.
Through Jan. 10. $6-$10. Brandywine River Museum, 1 Hoffman Mills Road, Chadds Ford. 610.388.2700. brandywinemuseum.org
At century’s turn the Strokes’ Julian Casablancas was the “Rock Is Back” poster boy, slurring disconsolate choruses through a filter and against fuzzy masses of distorted guitar. His Is This It? (he wrote most of the songs) looks likely to become the Z generation’s Nevermind, the ubiquitous background that morphs through time into the essence of lost youth. Now, a decade later, Casablancas has matured, finishing with VU’s drones and turning instead to gleaming, surface-y, synthy dance pop. Phrazes for the Young, his first solo album, is a bittersweet upgrade, like trading in scruffy leather for your first sharp suit. J.K.
7pm. $21.50-$24. Trocadero, 1003 Arch St. 215.922.5483. thetroc.com
Ocote Soul Sound
Martin Perna, the flute and sax wizard from Antibalas and the Dap Kings, hooked up with Grupo Fantasma’s Adrian Quesada several years ago when his car broke down in Austin and the two had a few days to cement their musical partnership. Finding common ground in funk and jazz and Latin styles, they carved out a space somewhere between Perna’s Afrobeat odysseys and Quesada’s smoulder south-of-the-border jams. They named the new project after a fast-burning species of pine, and fair enough, this is an exceedingly combustible outfit. Come hear Perna, Quesada and their roving band of funksters light matches under syncopated reveries and butt-shifting boogaloos—and watch it all go up in flames. J.K.
8pm. $13-$15. World Cafe Live. 3025 Walnut St. 215.222.1400. worldcafelive.com
The Origin and Evolution of Beer
Natural selection favors the strongest, the fastest, the smartest and the fittest. For a time in human history, it also favored the tipsiest. Back in the bad ol’ days when clean drinking water wasn’t easily found, beer was a safer and more nutritious alternative. The village drunk was probably one of the healthiest guys around and if you’re descended from him, then you can partially thank beer (and maybe beer goggles) for your being here today. At this gathering of the monthly science café, Alfred “Ernie” Schuyler, Curator Emeritus of Botany at the Academy of Natural Sciences will guide you through more than eight thousand years of beer history and cover major milestones like the cultivation of barley, introduction of hops and the addition of yeast. You can be a good little research assistant and investigate beer’s current importance by kicking back several specimens at the bar. Matt Soniak
6pm. Free. National Mechanics, 22 S. Third St. 215.701.4883. nationalmechanics.com
Kathleen Sheeder Bonanno
It’s awful when any parent has to bury their child. It’s even more devastating when that child was the victim of a brutal murder. In 2003, 21-year-old Leidy Bonanno, who was about to start a job as a nurse at Reading Hospital, was killed by an ex-boyfriend who strangled her with a telephone cord. Details like that are difficult to process, but Bonanno’s mother, Kathleen Sheeder Bonanno—a Temple grad who’s taught English and creative writing at area schools for the last two decades, including the past 13 at Cheltenham High School—immersed herself in them for her widely lauded, award-winning first book of poetry, Slamming Open the Door, published earlier this year. Always compelling and incisive, often horrifying and sad, and sometimes darkly humored, Bonanno’s poems reveal the author’s wide spectrum of emotions from first learning of her daughter’s death through the trial and eventual life-sentencing of the murderer. Listening to and watching Bonanno read from the book may be one of the most difficult, and yet most rewarding, things you experience all year. M.A.G.
6:30pm. Central Library, 1901 Vine St. 215.686.5402. freelibrary.org
The Fire Within: Jews in the Amazonian Rainforest
From the perspective of an Orthodox Jew in New York, the view of the Jewish world might diminish the further you get from Borough Park, Brooklyn. By the time you get to the rainforests of Peru, it might seem impossible to pull together a minyan. But tucked underneath the tropical canopy there is an indigenous native tribe whose members are named Abramovitz and Cohen. Nineteenth-century European Jews came to Peru to work the rubber plantations. They started families, but left when the rubber boom burst. In their absence, for the next 100 years, isolated from any other Jewish community, their progeny kept shabbat in the jungle. This documentary film tracks them jumping from the Amazonian frying pan into the Middle East fire, as the faithful convert to Conservative Orthodox and immigrate to Israel. A culture shock on all levels. P.C.
7pm. Gershman Y, 401 S. Broad St. 215.545.4400. gershamny.org
Nikon Small World Photomicrography Competition
At a medical research center at Penn, they’re formulating a cure for cancer. In midst of the trial-and-error of research, sometimes they lift their head up from a failed experiment and say, “Holy crap! What an awesome failure!” So it goes at the Nikon Photomicrography contest. That’s photography on the molecular level—people taking pictures of cells, DNA genomes, bacteria and generally just life at its most elemental. The traveling juried exhibit of the best of scientific molecular imaging features cutting-edge science but the pictures have been judged solely on aesthetic criteria. Peter Crimmins
Through March 14. Free. Wistar Institute, University of Pennsylvania, 3601 Spruce St. 215.898.7325. nikonsmallworld.com
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Calendar: January 14-21