Archive: July, 2012
Water ice in abundance. Breeze floating through the plaza. Full families in attendance. An optimal spot for an outdoor groove-along/sing-along. Global Fusion felt like a community day for lovers of hip-hop, Latin and R&B music — emphasis on R&B.
When up-and-comer Elle Varner performed her days-old new single, “I Don’t Care,” the crowd was speckled with fans accompanying her word for word. When Kenny Lattimore covered “You Are My Starship,” the R&B appreciation only deepened. By the time Brandy came out, the crowd was ever ready for her classics. She delivered. Who could keep still as she sang “I Wanna Be Down”? It was a festival that knew its audience and didn't disappoint. Global Fusion, we’ll see you next year.
Sleigh Bells may not be punk, but their fans know how to throw down. Making Time, the Philly-based concert-bookin’, record-releasin’, party-throwin’ entity, invited them to perform at their 12-year anniversary “Hyperrager” (yeah, no hyphen) this past Saturday at Festival Pier. Performing after Twin Shadow and Phantogram, the Brooklyn-based duo didn’t just take the stage — they commandeered it and tore it to shreds.
For all their noise, Sleigh Bells is still pop, pretty and polished. But singer Alexis Krauss exuded angst and sass in her trademark studded denim jacket and bangled wrists. Derek Miller, lead guitar, fooled us with his menacing countenance. And the band’s backdrop — 12 roaring Marshall amps, literally a wall of sound — made their two albums (Treats and Reign of Terror) come to life. Maybe they should have played with a full band (most songs consisted of a studio-recorded back beat with Strauss and Derek providing live vocals and electric guitar riffs), but the set was otherwise a riot. Behind an impenetrable (figurative) wall of front-row fans, we were going nuts.
A continual (albeit, non-injurious) mosh pit persisted from the opening song to the final chords. A few brave souls threaded their way in and out of the pit with professional cameras to capture the chaos. There was an air of camaraderie, a sense that our thrashing unified us. We sang all the words to “Rill Rill” and absolutely no one kept their cool when “True Shred Guitar” came on. Hope no limbs were broken.
The mother of Philadelphia intergalactic noise-psych acts, Bardo Pond, joins with Alabaster Museum and the Rotunda for a Laserium-like happening (Eyegate II handles the acid visuals) that doubles as a benefit for Tom Carter. Bardo’s gentle psychedelic brother got hit with acute pneumonia while touring Europe and needs assistance with medical costs. Joining B-Pond on July 20 is Kohoutek, Rhyton and NYC’s Guardian Alien.
After previewing The Industry for Meal Ticket, I finally made my way there. Try the panko crusted testa. Italians call it “Head in a box.” Mwhahaha. Owners Dave Garry, Heather Gleason and chef Pat Szoke just started serving “the city’s only public staff meal,” Sundays, 10 p.m.-1 a.m. guests get an ever-changing plate of what they serve to the staff after the evening’s service, for $6 per plate. Mwhahaha.
If you see Sigourney Weaver or the cast of the filming-in-Philly USA Network’s Political Animals, say something nice. July 15’s premiere brought in just 2.6 million viewers during the extended broadcast at 10 p.m. (only 675,000 of adults 18-49, and 834,000 viewers in the adults 25-54 range: important demographics for advertisers). Animals’ numbers weren’t bad but they weren’t great.
For the 10th anniversary of its Diamond G String Awards on July 25, Delilah’s Gentlemen’s Club and Steakhouse (I still don’t know anyone who has eaten a steak there after a full decade) will bring in retired porn star Jenna Jameson to host the strip-dance competition with $10,000 prize.
Lose a wiener, gain a rib rub: Jose Garces has given up the ghost of Abe Frohman. Or at least Abe’s Wursthaus, as the 13th Street brat boite is back on the buying block. Stephen Starr on the other hand has co-opted Brooklyn’s Fette Sau rub-centric BBQ for his next-to-Frankford Hall location, ending the long (well, three weeks) speculation as to what he’d open along Johnny Brenda Row. By the way, the Fette Sau concept, eat by weight, is something I believe that Philly’s BBQ Nick’s Charcoal Pit does.
"Arte Bendito/Arte Filantrópico" (Blessed Art/ Philanthropic Art) is an example of one artist, Marta Sanchez, and how her many civic efforts mix with art for art's sake.
Large, ornate banners, the kind seen in old photos of parades with fraternal-organization marchers, line the walls of the front room of Taller Puertorriqueño gallery (2721 N. Fifth St.). They are tributes Marta Sanchez has made to recall 20 years of making Cascarones por la vida. Artists as well as community groups have created the confetti-filled eggs that are a part of fiestas. The whole center of the floor is carpeted with brilliant flats of these eggs, sold to fund art lessons for kids affected by HIV.
An offrenda (altar) of small crosses and other typical religious images raises money for the sisters of the Most Blessed Trinity who are working with newly arrived families trying to master English as a second language.
Sanchez loves trains. Look for their images snaking throughout the exhibition. The major work is one that recalls the tiles often seen in the Southwest, a larger image of a romantic scene or the Virgin of Guadalupe is painted over a series of rectangles. In this case one wall is covered with images that may be purchased separately, but working together they represent "Un Pedazo de mi/A Part of Me" — Sanchez sharing an intimate image of her studio for the benefit of Taller Puertorriqueño.
On the final day of the show, Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m., meet Sanchez and hear her speak about art and philanthropy and how artists underwrite social causes with their work.
QFest closes with the mild growl that is BearCity 2: The Proposal. This episodic comedy, about a group of mostly hairy, heavy gay men, works better when it is dramatic. Anchored by a solid performance by Gerald McCullouch as the thoughtful Roger, the film opens with his character proposing to his 23-year-old bear-loving boyfriend, Tyler (Joe Conti). Tyler has his doubts about marriage, but he agrees to get hitched. So, Roger, Tyler and their friends — commitment phobic Fred (Brian Keane) and his goofy partner Brent (Stephen Guarino), and plus-sized Mike (Gregory Gunter) and his hot partner Carlos (James Martinez) — head to Provincetown for a wedding during Bear Week.
Dumb subplots abound about Fred wanting to make a documentary on bears, and Mike and Carlos being too busy on the phone to be with each other. And, of course, the expected trust and jealousy issues arise when Roger reunites with his ex and Tyler confides in Big Dan (T. Doyle Leverett). The humor is mostly at the expense of physical schtick — a whale-watching trip that gets naughty before it goes awry, or a foam party that devolves into a slapstick fight. This does a disservice to these characters, who all appear to be very comfortable in their own skin. The relaxed cast members actually make the sensitive moments about Roger and Tyler’s wedding jitters, or the relationship issues between Fred and Brent moving. Unfortunately, there is no subtlety when Kathy Najimy (as Brent’s mother) bulldozes her way through this film trying far too hard to be funny. (She’s not). BearCity 2 features plenty of fur and skin, and more daddy jokes and bad — unbearable — puns than necessary, but when the film charms its ingratiating.
City Paper Grade: C+
By now, hopefully, you've checked out this week's cover package wherein we sent our writers to some of the city's smallest, weirdest most secret museums. Well, we also had them take photos. Let's start off with the bucket of teeth...
If you need a pick-me-up, put your faith in Gold Motel. The five-piece is based in Chicago, but they might as well be California born and raised. Their self-titled latest album (Good As Gold) carries an air of spontaneity with its sun-tinged choruses and sweltering hooks. Greta Morgan’s pained but dreamy vocals add an element of adolescent intensity, making Gold Motel sound as if it’s suspended in a very specific time and place. But even the band’s moodier tracks like “Brand New Kind of Blue” eschew nostalgia — this is a definitively forward-gazing album. It’s music that’s made with roadtrips and adventures in mind. Most importantly, it’s music that’s made with guitars: good, old-fashioned indie pop, no gimmicks. Put on your dancing shoes and forget about your ex.
7 p.m., $10, with Talain Rayne, Lucy Stone and Dark Black, North Star Bar, 2639 Poplar St., 215-787-0488.
This Thursday marks the first Baltimore Avenue Dollar Stroll of the summer, at which 42nd to 50th streets along Baltimore erupt into a bounty of $1 deals from a range of University City businesses. It all goes down at 5:30 p.m.
Lentil wraps from Dahlak, patch kits from Firehouse Bikes, craft beer from Dock Street Brewery, vegan cupcakes from Green Line Cafe and yoga coupons from Studio 34 are just a few of the options offered along the West Philly promedade — all for a single Washington each. Walkers can also purchase one dollar memberships to the University City Historical Society and Cedar Park Community Association as well as various raffle tickets and coupons. The streets will be filled with live music, a farmers market and various other rogue vendors looking to cash in on the festivities.
In addition to July 19, there will also be Dollar Strolls held on Aug. 19 and Sept. 20, from 5:30-8:30 p.m.
From Jane Cassaday's "Dear Philadelphia"—
“…But you know what, I surrender,
your openhearted narrow streets,
trolley-tracked arterials form one room
of lighting-crack hearts to the next…”
For the Comfort of Automated Phrases is local poet (and CP horoscopist) Jane Cassady's first book, comprising poems written in the last eight years. She explains it as a series of love letters to all types of things — from Zumba to Beyoncé — and a souvenir that “helps me keep my emotional bond to the people and places I’ve visited." She began writing poetry in 2000, when living among other creatives in Laguna Beach. “I felt like I’d finally found someplace I belonged,” she says; she counts the poets of that scene — people like Daniel McGinn and Rachel McKibbens — among her biggest influences.
The collection is playful and light, best suited for sunny days. Cassady's words of affection for Philadelphia, for example, impart a warm feeling of solidarity. If your bus came an hour late, though, it might not be the right time to give this a read.
The collection's release party is 6 p.m. on Sat., July 21 at Cake and the Beanstalk (1112 Locust St.); aspiring poets are invited to join her and read their own work.
Every Monday, Brittany Thomas rounds up the week's sure-bet live shows. This week: Here We Go Magic, Lundi, Rainbow Danger Club and more.
Monday: This fresh-out-of-college group of Southeast, PA natives sing beautifully orchestrated, harmonized melodies about the Delaware River and Pocono Mountains over carefully composed instrumentation. Get them while you can, this will be Lundi's last show before half the band moves off to Boulder, Colo. 8 p.m., $5, Flying Carpet Café, 1841-43 Poplar St., 215)-35-2525.
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