On Monday morning, another big announcement happened with a Michael Nutter photo op: Philadelphia Live Arts and Philly Fringe are combining efforts, solidifying a headquarters, expanding their scope, renovating a new space, and as Emily Guendelsberger put it, thankfully, shortening their combined names into FringeArts. This is big news. Not only is the nature of Philly Fringe and Live Arts morphing before our eyes into something bigger and better, they’re carving out a space for themselves across from the beautiful new Race Street Pier underneath the Ben Franklin Bridge. It’s going to be a massive space with multi-functioning spaces and a BAR. Oh, and public restrooms that’ll be open to the public all-year-round.
Take it from the horse’s mouth via their press release:
“Our future home is located across the street from Race Street Pier at the corner of Race Street and Columbus Boulevard. The 1903 historic former pumping station will be transformed into a year-round center for contemporary performing and visual arts; the 10,000-square-foot building will feature:
+ 240-seat Theater
+ Restaurant and Bar
+ Outdoor Plaza
+ Permanent Festival Hub
Programming under the new FringeArts banner will expand to include not only the annual 16-day Festival but also a year-round series of high-quality contemporary dance, theater and music performances both local and international; commissioned public art installations; and a residency program that continues to expand and grow as a state-of-the-art incubator for artists.”
As noted in Emily’s post, there might be a teeny, tiny problem – train and car traffic and the resulting noise. She said that even with a mic, when a NJ Transit train passed by, it’s all you could hear. But that’s outside. Even though an outdoor performance space sounds cool, you’ve gotta be crafty about what you do and when you do it. The theater sounds totally rad, though. We won’t say no to these kinds of things filling up our city.
With Morgan’s Pier, that damned beautiful Pier and Sugar House and all that, it looks like the city’s actually trying really hard to make that waterfront a thing. And while there’s plenty of room for improvement, they’re getting there. Like, can we do something with that monstrous Dave and Busters? Can we connect Old City more seamlessly with these new waterfront attractions? We gotta try.
With Third Ward and the looming reno and reuse of The Dolphin, it really feels like this city’s on the cusp of an explosion of art. With Union Transfer, we’re becoming a city with a world-class diversity of spaces. It’s happening, you guys!
There’s one other thing. Does Philly have enough actual art and artists to keep these enterprises humming? Maybe all this means that talent, voices, thoughts and art’ll be looking at our city with a keener eye; Philly has the resources and the spaces to facilitate every kind of show that can be dreamed up.
One of Philadelphia’s indie juggernauts, keeping Dr. Dog and Kurt Vile company over on Pitchfork, plays a hometown show this week that’s sure to be a sickening moment in time for Union Transfer. See, something that people tend to say about the band, other than that they’re “wacky,” is that their records don’t really do their performances justice. They’re vicious live. And with their most recent, 2011’s Life Fantastic, they brought in Saddle Creek’s Mike Mogus, and he does a great job of cramming the tons of emotion that Honus Honus (Ryan Kattner) has clearly got bottled up inside him into calm, slightly disturbing, dark piano rock. Sure, there’s a few of those elements in the mix that Man Man audiences have come to know and love: marimbas, saxophones, xylophones, flutes, moogs, pots and pans. None of it is unwelcome on a Man Man stage.
They’re now a proud member of a strong Anti- label’s roster, but four records and eight years ago, they were friends in a band in Philly. With tour opening duties fulfilled for Modest Mouse and Yeasayer, they’ve grown and spread—even done Coachella and Primavera Sound. Their weirdo circus noise rock sound’s also been getting more sophisticated and serious over time. Life Fantastic’s got some stunning lyrics and turns of phrases, but also captures the charm and worldliness of Fools Gold, the Dodos, Beirut, Calexico and Tom Waits. So yeah, there’s a little bit of the macabre spaghetti western in them, but it’s not a boot-stomping, 10-gallon-hat kind of night. More like a battles-in-Mr. Bungle’s-clothes kind of night.
8pm. $20-$22. With Murder by Death + Northern Arms. Union Transfer, 1026 Spring Garden St. 215.232.2100. utphilly.com
If you’re thinking that the world’s most celebrated indoor flower show is just about stunning floral displays, think again. It turns out, the folks of the PA Horticultural Society really know how to party. Before the 2013 Philadelphia Flower Show kicks off next Saturday, March 2, here are four bashes you may want to mark down on your calendar.
**Note: tickets to each Theme Night must be purchased in advance and include admission to the show itself.
Preview Party After Party: Once again, locals will have the opportunity to see the show before it officially opens to the rest of the public while knocking back cocktails and delicious desserts. Even better, you’ll get to dance the night away among acres of pretty flowers and interpretations of Britain’s amazing landscapes and cultural icons. If you’re already attending the Preview Party, you’re invited to the After Party free of charge. If not, sign up to become a member of the PHS Young Friends and you’ll receive free admission along with free drink vouchers. Otherwise, tickets are $60 dollars in advance. (Fri/1, 10pm-1am)
LGBT Party: Before basking in all the sights and scents of the Flower Show, PHS and G Philly are inviting members and friends of the city’s LGBT community to an afternoon of festive cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, all capped off with a live performance from Martha Graham Cracker. Meanwhile, the party will also serve as a benefit for Dining Out For Life, which helps raise funds for AIDS Service Organizations throughout the U.S. Guests can make a contribution by purchasing a t-shirt designed exclusively for the show by Project Runway winner, Mondo Guerra. The tee will be on sale during the event during the event for $25 dollars and online at SubaruGear.com throughout April. Sun/3, 4-6pm.
Wedding Wednesday: Planning a wedding is one of the most stressful things a gal may ever have to do, so to make it a little easier, the Flower Show is once again giving local brides-to-be and their respective bridal parties VIP access to more than 50 of the region’s most celebrated and knowledgeable industry experts. Whether you’re in search of the perfect dress, venue, photographer, DJ, caterer or honeymoon, they’ve got you covered. The long list of vendors include Nicole Miller Bridal, AME Salon & Spa, Casa Papel, Bistro St. Tropez, Eventricity, Unveiled Philadelphia, Papertree Studio, Waterworks Restaurant and ShutterBooth. Besides much-needed advice, a crap-ton of giveaways and British-inspired cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, attendees will go home with an exclusive “Bride-To-Be” tote bag full of goodies from the featured vendors. Also, if you’re looking for ideas as far as your floral arrangements, it seems safe to say that the actual show is likely to yield a lot of inspiration. (Wed/6, 6-8pm)
Girls Night Out: What do you get when you put a thousand women and over 30 beauty, fashion and health vendors together in the same room at the world’s largest indoor flower show? You get one helluva girls night out, that’s what. Due to soaring demand, this year, the ladies-only event will be moved to a larger space with twice as many tickets now up for grabs. While enjoying the sounds of DJ Eddie Tully, guests will receive the royal treatment with exclusive samplings, consultations, product demos, DIY craft stations and sales from both local and national retailers/brands such as Burberry, Giovanni & Pileggi, Saks Fifth Avenue, Hope Chest Fine Lingerie and Baby Be Hip. Meanwhile, Stephan STARR Events will create two tasting stations serving up the catering division’s most popular dishes along with that of Buddakan AC and Continental AC. Last but not least, throughout the evening, Macy’s will present a salon-style fashion presentation featuring the retailer’s trendiest Royal Family-inspired fashions, all available for purchase during the event at their pop-up shop area. The $50 dollar ticket is quite a deal when you consider that not only does it include admission to the Show, but a premium gift and complimentary cocktail immediately upon arrival. Oh, and since you’re going to need something to carry all that free swag in, PHS is also going to be giving guests a special re-useable tote bag. Thurs/7, 6-8pm. $50.
Sounds like: His latest LP is a funky-as-hell batch of his one-man-band antics with some retro rhythms and jumpy, danceable beats to match his soul.
Free association: Anything a la Jimmy Jam/Terry Lewis for Janet Jackson is bomb.com.
For fans of: Raphael Saadiq x Beck + Mark Ronson, British soul, beatboxers.
& the Bad Seeds
Push The Sky Away
(Bad Seed Ltd.)
Sounds like: The 15th from the Aussies via London, and this one takes a calm, dark and literary turn with stream-of-consciousness and riffs on poems.
Free association: There isn’t much here to blast from open windows. Bummer.
For fans of: Leonard Cohen/Patti Smith/Neil Young, Calexico, indulgence.
A Love Surreal
(Entertainment One Music)
Sounds like: A totally thrilling statement from Bilal; breathtakingly engaging and soulful songs that use all kinds of thematic, musical and sonic tricks.
Free association: Another champion! Sickening R&B and soul comes out of Philly.
For fans of: Prince/Funkadelic/Marvin Gaye/Jill Scott/the Roots, sexy sultry times.
Sounds like: The Danish punks aren’t teens anymore on their equally strong sophomore as they pummel drums, rip on guitars and scream with more maturity.
Free association: These guys rule this genre with piss and vinegar. It’s awesome.
For fans of: Lightning Bolt/Abe Vigoda/Fucked Up/Xiu Xiu, evolving punk music.
Sounds like: Brothers Andrew and Daniel Aged deliver a stunning debut that channels essential soul and R&B vibes while reflecting the great artists they’ve been working with.
Free association: Did Frank Ocean open up a weird R&B-catalytic virus? Praise be.
For fans of: Maxwell x How to Dress Well, the Weeknd, soul, baby-makin’ music.
We Will Not Harm You
(Big Dada Recordings)
Sounds like: The U.K. Soul II Soul producer who’s collabed with Björk, Tricky and Massive Attack does solo stuff that’s bright, far-reaching dancey house.
Free association: Samples, congas, drum ‘n’ bass, morse funk, beats—it’s all here.
For fans of: K-os/Daphni + Fatboy Slim, Le1f’s beats x Black Box, ‘90s house music.
If you’ve left your house at all the past week or so, chances are, you’ve notice one or more storefronts decked out in all sorts British-inspired décor. Seriously, you can’t walk down a street in this city right now without falling under the stern gaze of at least one cardboard cutout of Queen Elizabeth.
Needless to say, this is all apart of a promotional campaign and contest, held to fuel hype around the 2013 Philadelphia Flower Show while also giving local businesses a chance to really showcase their creativity. Using Britain’s picturesque landscapes, royal icons, traditions and pop culture as inspiration, a total of 71 participating boutiques, restaurants and other establishments around the Philly region have crafted stunning displays inside their windows or lobbies, all of which will remain on display through March 10.
A panel of judges will be selecting winners in various categories including, “Most Creative,” “Best Interpretation” and the ultimate “2013 Grand Champion.” Meanwhile, it’s up to the public to determine this year’s “Crowd Favorite.” All of the winners will be announced this Thursday, so if there’s any businesses that you think did a particularly stellar job, go ahead and “Like” the Facebook contest page, peruse the gallery of contenders and cast your vote. As an incentive, with every vote you place, you’ll be entered to win two tickets to the Flower Show.
With over a hundred votes each, right now the front-runners appear to be Urban Princess (750 S. Fourth St.), Indigo Schuy (8432 Germantown Ave.) and Worn Yesterday (4228 Main St.). If you want to check out a few of these displays on your lunch break or on walk home, there’s an interactive map online that shows where each of the participating businesses are.
In the meantime, here are a few of my own personal faves…
There’s a YouTube clip of Erykah Badu’s 1997 Unplugged performance (below). In it she opens with “Rimshot,” walking onto stage with a vase of flowers draped in African-flavored fabrics, including a headdress that falls down her back. She’s got on lots of jewelry: bangles, cuffs, rings, armbands. She features the ankh, she’s spiritual and worldly in a decidedly un-Christian manner. And “Rimshot” is an appropriate opener, being the opening track to her stunning debut in the same year, Baduizm, which she’ll perform (seemingly in its entirety) at the Electric Factory Saturday night.
You know what’s exciting, too? The record has some light and tight Philly connections to it. You know Badu and The Roots are thick. Well they had a few hands in the production pot on Baduizm, and bits of it were recorded here in Philadelphia at Sigma Studios. It earned her a Grammy, one of her 19 nominations and four wins. Two she won for her debut: Best R&B Album and for the game-changing single, “On and On.”
In its video she’s some kind of weird nanny/housekeeper/slave/cinderella. She picks up the house, braids hair, rangles livestock and falls in shitty mud (”Damn, y’all feel that?”). It’s the kind of thing she’s at home with, she’s comfortable with – confronting the public with the unavoidable glare of the truth. Generations have been messed with, years of struggle have gone down, women are treated like garbage still and racism is real. But it’s not all pain and strife. It’s also so much about love. And about thought. Everyone remembers “Most intellects they don’t believe in God / But they fear us just the same,” right? In the Unplugged clip she slightly alters the chorus with: “They fear me just the same” and “They fear you just the same.” A woman like her was a welcome breath of fresh air almost two decades ago – a jazzy, strong-willed black woman who’s climbing charts with lyrics about intellectualism, feminism, mysticism and skepticism about the American way? Yes yes yes yes.
“Next Lifetime” is a bittersweet and devastatingly relatable experience of a woman who’s friend and confidant wants to devote himself to her; he’s in love. She’s spoken for and yet can’t deny that there’s an attraction, a chemistry that could be so much more than a friendship. The soul in this track is deep and with songs like these, she firmly planted herself alongside a couple of the best records of an emerging genre: neo-soul had a new queen with D’Angelo (Brown Sugar was 1995) and Maxwell (Urban Hang Suite was 1996) in her court.
“Appletree” is another jazz-funky number that prominently displays her jazz-schooled, scat-capable and controlled vocals. It also features a groove that’d fit nicely on a Guru track, a Roots record or a Mos Def jawn. Here’s where you can really see the comparisons to Billie Holiday, Bessie Smith and Nina Simone. She’s like a jazz siren who’s voice sounds like it oscillates between chaotic, emotionally-channeled wails and breath-controlled, hiccupy syncopation.
Baduizm’s almost 15 years old. Great records from her came after, of course, as did other outstanding collaborations. She slayed it, clearly, on The Roots’ landmark Things Fall Apart single “You Got Me,” for which she earned another Grammy for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group. And when she dated Common, their “Love of My Life (An Ode to Hip-Hop)” won Best R&B song in 2003. Then, out of nowhere, she dropped two New Amerykah records in 2008 and 2010 that were mind-blowing testaments to her lifelong devotion to neo-soul, funk, jazz, hip-hop and R&B and all their weird and mystic connections.
But on this night in Philadelphia, in addition to, hopefully, a few little surprises sprinkled in, she’ll do Baduizm all the way. No doubt with a full-ass band: at least 10 pieces – backup singers, brass, strings, pianist, percussion. Gotta have a “rimshot.” She’s moved beyond headdresses and ankhs, but her new incarnation of image is an afro and she’ll almost definitely sport one for some time and snatch it off her head at an opportune moment. Maybe during the daring “Window Seat,” the filming of said single’s video saw her stripping naked on the mall where JFK was shot and actually getting cited for indecency as a result. She’s the real deal. She’s got an old, musically-transcendent heart and a firm, solid grasp on what makes soul music that’s stirring, funky, modern and soothing. She’s the closest thing we’ve got to a priestess of R&B – the wise godmother of Frank Ocean and A$AP Rocky.
For what was, on paper, one of the most exciting Academy Awards in many years, I really wasn’t expecting such a lackluster red carpet. Apparently, Hollywood’s leading ladies collectively decided to rock simple, neutral colored gowns this year… Snoozeville!
I only have two picks for best dressed and a whole lotta worsts. So let’s start with them.
There’s no way she thought this looked classy.
She may just be one of the most beautiful women on the planet. Any designer would give their left arm to design a dress for her. AND SHE WORE THIS??? Besides the fact that it ages about 30 years, it’s not fitted properly around her waist and bust. Oh, and whoever told her it was a good idea to wear a necklace with a high neckline SHOULD BE SHOT.
I know Jen has never been one to make any bold statements on the red carpet, but this is just sooo fucking boring. This boredom got me thinking, “Why the hell was Jennifer Aniston invited to the Oscars?
Come on, Giuliana. As a member of the Fashion Police and all, you usually bring you’re A-Game. Would it have killed you to add a necklace or earrings?
Overall, I’m not sure this look is all that Oscars-appropriate. And that cockatoo hair really bothers the living hell out of me. Still, I’m totally in love with this Versace dress. And let’s face, few could pull it off quite like Halle.
This gunmetal Armani Privé gown was the first one of the night that actually made me say “Wow.” It was both stunning and interesting, a combo I can’t I saw much of last night.