Hey everyone and welcome to another edition of the Weekender! As this weekend is homecoming for the university, Iowa City will have plenty of past graduates walking the streets and mixing with the current students as they visit their ol’ haunts and rock out to Survivor. While I’m still bewildered by this decision to book Survivor for the homecoming concert, I have far more important things to talk about like this weekend’s events, all of which having nothing to do with homecoming.
I, actually, want to start with a heads up. There will be an appearance of the Muscatine River Monster on the Ped Mall. It’ll be invading the old Vito’s space. If you see something large and pink with tentacles sticking out of the building, that’s The Kraken. It’ll be there all weekend before it crawls back down to the Iowa River to go to its next destination. It’s a friendly beast, so pay it a visit. Let’s get into the other events.
Susan Orlean // Englert Theatre // 8:00 PM // $10-15, All Ages
A writer for The New Yorker, Susan Orlean has had a long, distinguished career as a journalist and author. Her previous book The Orchid Thief became the basis for the critically acclaimed Charlie Kaufman movie Adaptation. For this visit to Iowa City, she will be talking about and reading from her newest book Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend. For those of you that are too young to remember, Rin Tin Tin is a male German Shepherd. He started as a silent film star. Twenty three films later, Rinty, as he is still known, helped save Warner Bros. Studios from bankruptcy and became an international celebrity as well as an enduring cultural icon over the next 90+ years, gaining a celebrity that surpasses another famous dog: Lassie. Orlean’s book tracks the rise, fall, and resurrection of this special German Shepherd over time as well as the connection that people have had with their animals during that time. Orlean will use pictures, video, and audio to tell the full story of this dog on Thursday. Copies of the book will be on sale at the event. For $27, you can get two tickets and a copy of the book. Tickets for the event are available at the Englert and Prairie Lights. Lysistrata // Theatre B, UI Theater Building // 8:00 PM // $5, Free for UI Students; 18+
Using hip-hop dance and music, this is a very different version of Aristophanes’s play about the title character. For those classics scholars out there, the play itself hasn’t changed though. It’s still a play about Lysistrata using her mind to figure out how to end the Peloponnesian War between Athens and Sparta. If you are familiar with the play, you know what her solution is, and it hasn’t changed. If you don’t, this is something that you should check out as it’s a rather clever solution. I won’t give any hints, but I’ll tell you that it will be rather amusing, especially given the culture that it’s using for its score and choreography. Tickets for this event will be available one hour before the event at the Theater Building. This play will be up all weekend. It will be at 8 PM on Friday and Saturday and 2 PM on Sunday.
Das Racist w/ Danny Brown & Despot // Blue Moose Tap House // 7:00 PM // $13 Adv., $15 Day of Show; 19+
If you have been keeping up with either the local music scene (they were here for Mission Creek 2011) or the Internet music blogosphere, the name Das Racist should be familiar to you. If not, Heems and Victor are two Brooklyn-based rappers with nice flows, a good ear for beats, and liberal arts educations. In regular terms, this means that they can spit rhymes that move from Sartre to White Castle without sounding forced and still get the party to rock. If you’ve ever tried to freestyle and be smart at the same time, you know that this is no small accomplishment. Following two very well-received mixtapes in 2010, Das Racist have finally released their debut Relax this year, an album that builds upon their themes of pop culture satire and radical politics. They tore it up the last time that they were in town, and that this time isn’t going to be any different. If you like hip-hop and have grown tired of all of the Rhymesayers artists that have been coming through town, this show will be the breath of fresh air that you need.
As I am reminded frequently by signs and flyers, Iowa City is a town of literature. Unless one hangs around Prairie Lights all of the time, it can be hard to understand exactly what all the hullabaloo is about. Anthology is a very brisk splash of cold water to the face, a refresher of what it means to be a city of literature. The rules of the event are very simple. As long as it’s creative and it was made by that person, it can be heard or seen at Anthology. Generally, the only rule is that the readings/screenings/performances go for around five minutes. It’s a relaxing, friendly event, one that is always a nice change from the rather formal air of the regular reading. This is an Intimate event at the Englert, so seating will be at a premium. You’ll still be able to watch, but if you get there too late, you’ll be sitting on the hard, hard stage.
Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue // Englert Theatre // 8:00 PM // $18 Adv., $20 Day of Show; All Ages
I know that this is the third event that I’ve put in this column that is happening at the Englert, but I had to put this one in. I saw Trombone Shorty here at the 2009 Jazz Festival. He and his band came out on stage and absolutely went crazy. There was a point at which Trombone Shorty came off the stage and just started walking through the audience. People were following, dancing and feeling the groove the entire time. I hadn’t seen that many people dancing in a very long time. By the end of his set, everyone’s spirits were raised. He did such a good job that I couldn’t really tell you anything about the rest of that day. I don’t, honestly, remember who the headliner was as his performance stood out so much because of its passion and electricity. While this could be written off as a one-time thing, every audience that sees him has the same reaction because he always brings the same intensity to his performance. I know that his profile has increased since he was here last, but that’s because of his relentless touring and the ability to deliver a show of the quality that I saw in 2009 every night. This is definitely a worthwhile investment for all the funkateers out in the world.
Skye Carrasco w/ Brooks Strause & The Gory Details, American Dust, Pure High on the Sea // The Mill // 8:00 PM // $6, 21+ After 10
There is a lot that you can tell about a person by the way that people talk about them. While some people are only discussed in spiteful terms, Skye Carrasco is not one of them. If you talk to anyone that knows or has seen her, they will only speak of her in the most polite and rhapsodic of terms. Although I thought this was weird for a long time, I understood as I went to see her sometime earlier this year at The Mill. Her blend of classical training on the violin with folk, soul and a little bit of punk style results in a mix that is surprisingly more active and engaging than it would seem on its face. This might come from the fact that Carrasco’s music is all out. There is no halfway for her when she is singing a song or slashing away at her violin; it’s an all-or-nothing proposition. As a result, you get sucked into the performance. It’s a good feeling to get at a live performance, and one that has garnered her a substantial following through this town of ours throughout a variety of music communities. This show signals the release of her new album. Joining her in the celebration are Iowa City Americana rockers Brooks Strause & The Gory Details, lo-fi folkers American Dust from Davenport, and Pure High on the Sea.
In a last event for this weekend, there will be an event occurring at College Green Park, the site of Occupy Iowa City. Ten community members including LV contributor Yale Cohn will be reading Allen Ginsberg’s 1957 epic poem “Howl,” one of the most significant poems of the Beat Generation and one of the best American poems of the 20th Century. The reading will be by candle light and will start at 8:00 PM. If you haven’t seen Occupy IC recently, this would be a good time to see how much it has grown from its start and find others who are standing with them in their cause.