What to do around Philly this week.
Girls + Real Estate
As wish lists go, Girls’ “Lust For Life” is a corker. The single and opener of the Bay Area band’s gangly Album rattles off a slew of dreamy requirements, including wine, pizza, a suntan, a father, a boyfriend and a beach house. Christopher Owens’ lazily pleading vocals seal the deal there and on the rest of the record, which pays repeated homage to summer and, yes, girls. By turns barebones and shoegaze-y, it’s a splintered version of the beach-blanket odes of yesterday. Catching a similar wave are New Jersey’s Real Estate, who sing about Atlantic City and beach combing. Time to embrace your inner summer, autumn be damned. Doug Wallen
8pm. $10. Kung Fu Necktie, 1248 N. Front St. 215.291.4919. r5productions.com
Samuel Beckett. The name sends a shiver down the spine of even the most veteran theatergoer. Obscure, inscrutable and depressing, such are the perceptions of audience members unlucky enough to have suffered through a dull production of the playwright’s work. Dull, however, isn’t a word often associated with the work of EgoPo Productions, which continues their season of Beckett’s plays with artistic director Lane Savadove’s staging of Endgame. An unqualified masterpiece from one of the 20th century’s most pioneering playwrights, Endgame is set in a post-apocalyptic world. EgoPo (which regularly re-imagines classic plays) moves Endgame into a 1970s suburban American home that has seen better days. Highlighting the play’s offbeat sense of humor, the four absurdly depressed characters are marooned in a world of tattered shag carpets, scarred vinyl couches and a hideous wood-paneled den where family dysfunction is taken to new heights. Think of it as Beckett meets The Brady Bunch. J. Cooper Robb
Wed., Nov. 4, 8pm. $30. St. Stephens Theater, 10th and Ludlow sts. 800.595.4849. egopo.org
The folkie scene sometimes seems like a gated community where artists find stultifying acceptance dulling their creative edge until they’re unsuitable for anyone else. Clever stories and turns of phrase won’t rescue bland accompaniment—this isn’t a poetry slam. Dar Williams has avoided this pitfall during her 17-year career, plying a sweet cooing croon and smart writing in arrangements mixing rock and pop with strong folk undercurrents. The last three albums have been particularly engaging, showcasing the breadth of Williams talent from chamber warmth to jangly rave-ups. Brad Wood keenly produced the excellent stripped-down rock/pop of last year’s Promised Land, highlighted by the shrewd take on Milgram’s obedience experiment, “Buzzer.” Chris Parker
8pm. $33-$35. With Patrick Fitzsimmons. Sellersville Theater, Main and Temple sts., Sellersville. 215.257.5808. st94.com
Thao Nguyen and the Get Down Stay Down
“Sad people dance, too,” says Thao Nguyen, on the closing track of her latest Know Better Learn Faster. That’s “Easy,” the bass-driven break-out from Know Better, which may just be the year’s most raucous break-up albums. It’s brutally honest, laceratingly self-revealing, earthily sexual and, surprisingly, kind of a good time. Nguyen, on a roll since her 2006 We Brave Bee Stings and All, has honed a vibrant, eccentric sound through constant touring—equal parts pop, country blues and confessional songwriting. Portland Cello Project, whose own repertoire ranges from classical to Justin Timberlake, usually joins her on stage for a couple of songs, too. Jennifer Kelly
8pm. $12. With the Portland Cello Project + David Schultz. First Unitarian Church, 2125 Chestnut St. 866.468.7619. r5productions.com
Attention geeks who fall squarely across the populist cinema and comic book axis: director Kevin “Silent Bob” Smith is stopping in Philadelphia on a rare six-city tour to discuss,presumably, the type of stuff he writes about his (unfortunately hyphenated) blog “My Boring Ass Life.” Comic books! Movies! Guaranteed curse words! Perhaps a gratuitous anecdote about how he used to be able
to touch the tip of his cock with his tongue? We can only hope. There must be other people out there who still harbor a soft spot for Smith. After all, he provided my first brushes with greatness by hiring my old babysitter to cameo in Mallrats (Yo Dawn!) and imbued my hometown, a little place I like to call Stripmall, with can-do artsy flair by hanging out in Red Bank parking lots late at night blasting the Star Wars theme as we all stumbled out of the Dublin House. Also, he taught us all what snowballing was even before Catholic school health texts did. For that, I forgive the rain scene in Chasing Amy. Tara Murtha
8pm. $39-$66.50. Merriam Theater, 250 S. Broad St. 215.732.5446. merriam-theater.com.
Unofficially the most popular play in America, boom opens the season at Flashpoint Theatre Company. Ranked first in American Theatre’s annual list of the nation’s most produced plays this season, playwright Peter Sinn Nachtrieb’s script focuses on an awkward marine biologist named Jules (Derick Loafmann). Certain that all life is on the verge of extinction—based on a study he conducted on fish—Jules places an online ad in search of a mate to help him repopulate the world. Anxious to do her part to resuscitate humanity, a young journalism student named Jo (Melissa Lynch) replies and the pair meet in a subterranean lab. A mind-bending look at our need for myths, Flashpoint’s production features the reliable Susan Giddings as a mysterious woman who wields a strange power over the mismatched pair. JCR
8pm. $18. Second Stage at The Adrienne, 2030 Sansom St. 215.563.4330. flashpointtheatre.org
Submissive or Slave
First things first: Let’s get it straight. Just because a person is into bondage and discipline or S&M, doesn’t mean they’re raunchy pervs. There are classy ways to express your sexual appetite. Amour Partage is an upscale style of domination and submission which originated in Europe in the 1950s. Generally spread only by word of mouth, Amour Partage is a very private sexual journey shared only among small groups. Get the deets from Trinity, a master trainer for 16 years and involved in the D/s lifestyle for more than two decades. Nicole Finkbiner
7pm. $20-$30. Aphrodite Gallery at Passional Toys, 704 S. Fifth St. 215.923.1398. passionaltoys.com
Steven Bernstein’s Millennial Territory Orchestra
The term is archaic, but “territory bands” used to tour circumscribed areas of the U.S., covering popular hits and riling up dance crowds. Trumpeter Steven Bernstein (of Sex Mob fame) nods to that storied past with his Millennial Territory Orchestra while adding a heavy whiff of the modern, jumbling together vintage jazz, Prince and the Dead in a spirit of avant-garde delinquency. Stacked with such unorthodox pros as Curtis Fowlkes, Charlie Burnham and Matt Munisteri, the MTO is just the ensemble to revisit “Relativity Suite,” a 1973 opus by the late Don Cherry, who’s being remembered by Ars Nova Workshop with a Composer Portrait series that runs well into 2010. David R. Adler
8pm. $12. With DJ hi-res. Johnny Brenda’s, 1201 N. Frankford Ave. 215.739.9684. arsnovaworkshop.org
Philadelphia quartet the Swimmers celebrate the release of their tremendous new album People Are Soft—the band’s second on Drexel’s MAD Dragon Records—which you’ll get for free if you picked up advance tickets for this gig. Pretty sweet deal, because People Are Soft is an irresistible indie-pop/nü-wave platter, with synthesizers both buzzy and billowy joining up with sturdy beats, the occasional bite of guitar, and charismatic guy-girl vocals in a manner that occasionally feels like Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark for a new generation of romantic misfits that like to dance once in a while. Michael Alan Goldberg
7pm, $10. With the Capitol Years. Kung Fu Necktie, 1248 N. Front St. 215.291.4919. kungfunecktie.com
Born in Queens in 1950, pianist Armen Donelian is one of today’s unassuming jazz masters, boasting early sideman credits with the likes of Mongo Santamaria, Sonny Rollins and Billy Harper. His latest output includes Grand Ideas, a three-volume solo-piano series; All or Nothing at All, a tightly focused duo album with Dutch saxophonist Marc Mommaas; Quartet Language, unearthed from 1992, with the late altoist Thomas Chapin; and Oasis, featuring bassist David Clark and drummer George Schuller, the longtime trio cohorts who join him this week at the Museum. Donelian’s got a pensive, lyrical streak a mile wide, but don’t underestimate his ability to swing hard and throw punches. D.R.A.
5pm. $12-$16. Philadelphia Museum of Art, 26th St. and the Benjamin Franklin Pkwy. 215.763.8100 philamuseum.org
Dead of the Living Night
Artists Jonathan Cammisa and Jonah Birns journeyed under the racecar-shaped beds of their youth, took aim at the things that went bump in the night, then hauled back the pelts. The result is Dead of the Living Night, a furry, flickering celebration of childhood wonder and paranoia. The exhibit begins with the claustrophobic recreation of an ’80s video shop replete with forgotten zombie flicks and vintage posters. Turn a corner and take a ride on a cousin of Falkor from Neverending Story, a big burly beast who’ll take you to the stars and back with the help of a video installation. The gallery includes sculpture, collage and multiple volumes of an ongoing collaborative scrapbook, in which Cammisa and Birns wax horrific on the late night frights that left them sneaking down to the TV and pissing in their Underoos. Paul F. Montgomery
Fri., Nov. 6, 7pm. Free. Space 1026, 1026 Arch St., second fl. 215.574.7630. space1026.com
Philadelphia Sketch Club 150th Anniversary
Set the Way-Back Machine to a time before Tweeting, before Facebook—even pre-Friendster!—when there were things called “clubs”: places where people of similar interests would hang out and talk. The Philadelphia Sketch Club is the nation’s oldest artist society, still going strong after 150 years. This is the common denominator connecting Thomas Eakins to A.B. Frost (of Br’er Rabbit fame) to the granddaddy of all things Wyeth, N.C. Wyeth. Next year 15 prominent museums and galleries in Philadelphia and New York will put up exhibits to celebrate the club’s sesquicentennial (from the James Michener Museum up in Doylestown, the Philadelphia Museum of Art on the Parkway, down to the Brandywine Museum in Chadd’s Ford) but it all kicks off this Saturday with a gala affair on Camac Street, where the clubhouse will exhibit 120 works from its collection. And it ain’t over yet—after the party the room will be cleared to be ready for live models to come in at least four times a week, every week, so the new wave of artists can hone their skills. Peter Crimmins
7pm. $50-$125. Philadelphia Sketch Club, 235 S. Camac St. 215.545.9298
Snuggie Pub Crawl
Whether you love it or hate it, the Snuggie has warmed its way into the cultural vernacular of 2009. After successful events in cities such as New York, Chicago, Pittsburgh and Scranton, the pub crawl inspired by the “blanket with sleeves” is coming to Philadelphia. Organizers Megan Bruce and Jennifer Shipman created a five-pub fest with stops at Paddy Whack’s Pub, Fadó, Field House, Tir na nÓg and Public House. Participating bars will donate a portion of their earnings to Project H.O.M.E, a local nonprofit dedicated to fighting homelessness and poverty in the city. Sherri Hospedales
2pm. Starts at Paddy Whack’s Pub, 150 South St. 215.464.7544. phillysnuggiecrawl.com
Who doesn’t love a contra-alto clarinet? Saxophonist Dan Peterson breaks out the giant horn to play with his Bottom Feeders, and the floor-rattling low notes are all the more disquieting when combined with baritone sax (Elliott Levin) and trombone (Larry Toft). They shouldn’t need a bassist, but Peterson often adds one anyway. This week, however, it’ll be guitarist Travis Woodson, with drummer Tony Catastrophe locking down rhythm. Peterson, who recently gave us the evocative suite Five Simple Worlds ... And Ways of Getting There, looks to the BF’s to channel something wilder in his psyche. After this gig they play Tritone on the 18th, then hope to hit the studio. D.R.A.
6pm. $12. J.C. Dobbs, 304 South St. 215.925.4053
Light years away from the clubs, cafes and queens of Philly’s Gayborhood, a love that dares not speak its name flourishes alongside chitlins, cornfields and conservative religious values. Many vilify the South’s red state repression, while others celebrate its old-fashioned charm. Virtually no one, however, writes about its queer black culture. Except Northwestern University scholar E. Patrick Johnson. “I interviewed gay black men in every state of the Confederacy,” Johnson says of the research he did for his book Sweet Tea, which records the accounts of men who juggle their blackness, Southernness and homosexuality. In his performance at the First Person Arts Festival, he restages select interviews. When pressed to pick a favorite, Johnson is at a loss, but he fondly remembers his oldest interviewee, the fabulous Countess Vivian, who came of age in 1930s New Orleans. “We lost touch after Katrina,” Johnson says. “But I had a reunion with him last month. Not only did he survive, but he never left. He‘ll be 98 years old.” Gerald Johnson
6pm. $12-$20. Painted Bride Art Center, 230 Vine St. 267.402.2055. firstpersonarts.org.
Fashion Faux Paws
Let’s face it, Project Runway has gone downhill since moving to L.A. What ever happened to the good-old days when a group of emotionally unstable designers had to make outfits out of garbage, plants and edible food? The young MacGyvers of fashion at Moore College are giving the current contestants a run for their money. For this year’s Jumpstart Fashion Show, 55 junior and senior students created faux fur garments using such miscellaneous household items as cotton balls, toothpicks, nails, mops and Brillo pads. The most innovative creations will be on display including garments made entirely of bobby pins, spray painted rubber bands and pieces of bath mat and fake silk flowers. N.F.
Through Dec. 12. Free. Wilson Gallery at Moore College, 20th St. and the Benjamin Franklin Pkwy. 215.965.4027. thegalleriesatmoore.org
The Bacon Show
Local boy Mike Geno’s been playing with his food for a long time. The Tyler grad and professor at Moore College of Art & Design has gained cult-like Philly fame for his still life paintings of disposable comestibles ranging from rump roasts and lamb legs to French baguettes and jelly donuts. Peep his latest this month at Mew Gallery when he joins Highwire Gallery’s Ken B. Miller, fellow Meat Artists’ member John Wolfer and others in celebrating the trendiest of breakfast meats. Featuring photography, fine art painting and quirky crafts, “The Bacon Show” officially opened on Halloween and true cured protein lovers can meet the meat makers at this Saturday’s reception. However, we recommend making a morning of it and hitting up Sabrina’s for weekday (read: no wait!) brunch, ordering up a side of bacon with your French toast and then wandering in for some one-on-one drooling. Erica Palan
Through Dec. 17. Free. Mew Gallery, 906 Christian St. 215.625.2424. mewgallery.org
PW's Music Issue 2014