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October 5th, 2012

Go See It This Weekend: Elle Varner and Ryan Leslie, City Bisco, The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, And Shifting Energy


Fri., Oct. 5

Elle Varner and Ryan Leslie
The big-haired, big-voiced Elle Varner emerged onto the music scene last year with her debut single with J. Cole, “Only Wanna Give It to You,” but it was with this year’s “Refill” that the talented singer/songwriter really made an impression. It’s nothing she wasn’t prepared for, given that she was literally born into the business. Her parents, Jimmy Varner and Mikelyn Roderick, are veteran songwriters, and from early on, Varner thought of the studio as a second home, getting her musical education from hands-on experience. Her debut CD, Perfectly Imperfect, out now, certainly deserves high marks. Ryan Leslie also began his career as a songwriter and producer, working with Beyonce, Carl Thomas, New Edition and former model Cassie Ventura, who hit with “Me & U” in 2006, a song Leslie wrote and produced. A Harvard graduate at 19 with a perfect SAT score behind him, Leslie instead chose music full-time and has since released two CDs. His third, Les Is More, is out Oct. 22. -Tonya Pendleton

8pm. $29-$52. Theater of the Living Arts, 334 South Street. 215.922.1011.

City Bisco
For more than a decade, Philly’s own Disco Biscuits has effectively bridged the gap between improvisatory jams and electronic raves at the annual Camp Bisco in upstate New York, a festival that routinely draws tens of thousands to the largest dance party on the East Coast. This year, the band is curating a two-day urban counterpart in their home city, on the lush, sprawling grounds of the Mann Center. Day One showcases the M.I.A. mastermind, Major Lazer collaborator and producer of the moment known as Diplo, and Def Jux mainstay RJD2. Day Two brings in turntablist and DJ A-Trak. The Disco Biscuits will be, as usual, playing everywhere and with everyone, finding unexpected jointures between disparate genres of music. And you can fully expect that they’ll turn this bisco out. -Jennifer Kelly

4pm. $47.50-$75. Also on Sat., Oct. 6. With Disco Biscuits, Diplo, A-Trak, RJD2, Paper Diamond and Aeroplane. Mann Center for the Performing Arts. 5201 Parkside Ave. 215.878.0400.
Sat., Oct. 6

The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion
Near-violent rock ‘n’ roll sets and tween/teen-oriented programming go together like peanut butter and vinegar, which is exactly why you must check out the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion’s appearance on Recovery. At some point in 1998, the New York City trio show up on the now-defunct Australian kids series. After playing “2 Kindsa Love” with no bumps, Jon Spencer began a rampage for “Flavor.” He ran around the stage, pushed a cameraman, hugged a stagehand, climbed into the half-amazed/half-creeped-out audience of kids and tore apart pieces of the set. All the while, he howled and shouted, and the two-piece left behind slammed away on their instruments. The reverb-heavy garage rock was fun and crunchy enough, yeah, but the real magic came from anxiety, subversion and gigajoules of energy the band foisted on their audience. Philly can only hope to be left in such exhilarating ruin. -Reyan Ali

8pm. $15. With the Krass Brothers. Underground Arts, 1200 Callowhill St.

Shifting Energy
Focusing on the human experience and encouraging self-reflection, 180 Dance Company aims to offer emotional performances that resonate with audiences. Today, they’ll present two original performances, starting with a piece titled “Momentum.” Choreographed for three women and set to the score of prolific Austrian composer Franz Schubert’s Opus 54, the abstract ballet explores the ever-shifting nature of energy. Next, New York choreographer Chip Klose shakes things up with “All Things Change in Time,” a 16-minute ballet featuring eight female dancers set to the rock song/symphony, “The Lightening Strike” by the popular Irish/Scottish alt rock band, Snow Patrol. The choreography incorporates modern and jazz influences to create a conceptual piece highlighting that transition we all make from carefree children to self-aware and critical adults. N.F.
4pm and 7:30pm. $15-$20. -Jeanne Ruddy

Performance Garage, 1515 Brandywine St. 215.569.4060.

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