Drama Talk & Drinks: A Bronx Tale – “this kind of show is polarizing”

Since Brittany hasn’t been able to go to shows with me lately, I needed an extremely well versed theater-goer to attend the next one. I immediately asked my Uncle Louis, who, along with my aunt, were the first people to ever take me to a musical. We have been to a ridiculous amount of musicals together over the years, our joint favorite being Rent. So off we went for some drama talk and drinks to see this play-turned-movie-turned-musical, A Bronx Tale at the Golden Gate Theatre.

Photo by: Joan Marcus

Photo by: Joan Marcus

 

Louis: I thought the show propelled itself with a lot of energy, but the vehicle for that energy was very formulaic. It became redundant, I’m not sure how many times “look to your heart” can be said in a song. We did see the best quartet of gangster singers in sweater vests that there has ever been. At least now I’ll never forget to look at my heart.

Katie: Not just look at your heart, the songs also told us that you need to follow your heart, listen to your heart, choose your heart. Talk about the ultimate filler songs! This movie did not need to be made into a generic musical. It was disappointing. I guess I thought it was going to be more interesting than it was.

L: What was very interesting was as we walked out the people around us were very quiet, there wasn’t a buzz like I’ve felt leaving other shows. I think this kind of show is polarizing because it is formulaic. Some people loved it because it was familiar, but others that were seeking a moving experience didn’t get that.

K: The things I did love was the set, the lighting, and the actors who did a really great job. The casting was on point. When the writing was specific, the actors were able to create some really nice authentic moments.

L: Overall, to me, it was a really well polished turd. Pretty to look at and the actors were so talented, but this show could have been any show and the songs could have been anyone’s songs. A show like this makes me angry at Jonathan Larson for dying because I think we just had a taste of what he was going to do with Theater. Right now we are left with this formula that, granted, a lot of people seem to love and I’m sure would disagree with me about this.

The Verdict: Our hearts were not moved, however, if you have a 13 year old in your life that you would like to impress, this is a great show for them, otherwise this is one to skip.

The Drama Talk:  A Bronx Tale’s story, based on a play of the same name, made for a popular 1960’s mob film but an awkward and generic musical. I think that’s all we really have to say about that.

The Drinks:  We hit up my go-to bar after a show at the Golden Gate Theater, which is PianoFight.

A Bronx Tale runs through December 23rd at the Golden Gate Theatre. Tickets range from $56-$256 and can be purchased on the SHN website. They are also doing in-person AND mobile rush tickets for $40, which is pretty cool. Visit this page to find link to the mobile app.

 

Remembering Radish, Specchio, Hi Lo BBQ, and I guess Hog & Rocks

I don’t actually recall much about any of them to be honest, but the Ford GoBike map is keeping the dream alive:

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The Lexington Club is definitely still kaput though.

Also what ever happened to Emily’s Seasonal Soulfood?

Drama Talk & Drinks: Cirque Du Soleil’s Volta – “I was mesmerized”

I haven’t seen a Cirque Du Soleil show in about 9 years and Garrett had never seen one. So this year I knew we needed to check out Volta. So off we went to the parking lot of AT&T Park to see what was going on underneath that huge tent.

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Katie: Having only seen a Cirque Du Soleil show about insects, I enjoyed the heartfelt, darker tone and mood of Volta’s storyline. I also liked that they explored themes of how technology can be a negative distraction and it can keep us from each other.

Garrett: Having never seen a Cirque du soleil show before, I was thoroughly impressed and entertained. I was mesmerized with what was going on. I liked some of the themes they explored but there were times where the story was hard to follow and didn’t really match was was happening in a scene.

K: Yeah, agreed, but overall I thought it was beautiful. The music, lighting and costumes were so great. The show feels like a concert, but also a dance show and also an exciting athletic event with acrobats and gymnasts.

G: Yeah, the vibe was really cool. The relationship between the performers and the audience is very unique, and different from anything I’ve seen. Everyone’s very encouraging because you understand that what they are doing is dangerous so there is applause when someone does something cool or when someone messes up they get love from the audience. Having driven past those tents hundreds of times over the years, it’s incredible to finally see what’s going on inside, and I like it. They create such a unique environment…you forget you’re in a freaking parking lot!

 The Verdict: Cirque Du Soliel shows are all about spectacle and Volta doesn’t disappoint. Bring a date, bring the fam, this show is for everyone.

The Drama Talk: Wow. How do they do it? You forget how difficult these things are because they make it seem so easy. Tricks off trampolines, with bikes and jump ropes, through hoops and in the air, there were like 100 athletic achievements being done and it was all pieced together with a story of a young man who has lost touch with himself because he’s different. The storyline has some cool, beautiful moments, but overall it didn’t quite feel cohesive. However, the incredible performers, music, and lighting make up for it.

The Drinks: There was free champagne at this performance as well as a bar so we decided not to venture, but if we did we were going to go to the Atwater Tavern since it’s pretty much in the same parking lot.

Volta plays through February 3rd under the Big Top at AT&T Park. Tickets range from $68-$290 and can be purchased on their website. Right now there are discounted tickets available on Goldstar.

 

Drama Talk & Drinks: Shout-out

As big fans of Crowded Fire Theater we were really excited to hear about their collaboration with AXIS Dance Company, Star Finch, and Ensemble Mik Nawooj to create a new immersive multidisciplinary experience that merges “hip-hop, contemporary dance, and theater into a boundary-pushing work featuring a 12-person orchestra”. Sounds intriguing right?!

Unfortunately there are only 3 performances over 2 days, which means we won’t be reviewing it, but we felt strongly that a show as unique as this needed a shout-out. We definitely recommend checking it out. We will be.

Photo by Ian Davis.

Photo by Ian Davis.

WHAT:

DEATH BECOME LIFE: BANISH DARKNESS - a future vision by Crowded Fire Theater, AXIS Dance Company, Star Finch, and Ensemble Mik Nawooj

WHERE:

Bayview Opera House Ruth Williams Memorial Theatre, 4705 3rd Street, San Francisco

WHEN:

November 16, 8:00pm

November 17, 3:00pm and 8:00pm

Tickets $25: Visit www.crowdedfire.org/dbl-banish-darkness for more information and to purchase tickets.

 

Drama Talk & Drinks: Men On Boats – “It looked so cool when they were going over waterfalls!”

I knew when I heard about Men On Boats, a play described as “Spinning historical, theatrical, and gender conventions on their heads, this subversive tale of 10 men, four boats, and two rivers contains none of the above”, I needed to go with one of my awesome lady friends. So I brought my friend Kim, lawyer by day, and theater goer by night, to A.C.T’s Strand Theater for a night of drama talk and drinks.

John Wesley Powell (Liz Sklar, standing center) leads a brawny and eclectic band of explorers on an expedition through the canyons of the Green and Colorado Rivers | Photo: Kevin Berne

John Wesley Powell (Liz Sklar, standing center) leads a brawny and eclectic band of explorers on an expedition through the canyons of the Green and Colorado Rivers | Photo: Kevin Berne

 

Kim: If I read this play in script form I would be convinced I would hate seeing it put on stage but actually I was surprisingly pleased, and it was a lot of fun.

Katie: I was very entertained, I really didn’t think I would like this show as much as I did. I mean, we just saw a group of women play narcissistic white men from the 19th century. That sounds annoying to me and yet I really cared about the characters.

Kim: That’s definitely part of the theme that’s going on there. If they had actually been all white men, it would have been impossible to swallow. This all female cast really nailed it, their comic timing was really good. It was very charactery, campy acting throughout, which worked in the context of this play.

Katie: On top of the cast being so strong I was very impressed by the set, lighting, and sound design. You really believed they were in boats on a river to the Grand Canyon. It looked so cool when they were going over waterfalls!

The Verdict: Very well done new approach to an old narrative. This is storytelling at its finest. Go!

The Drama Talk: The ups and downs of the plot, interesting character development, cool set, and strong all female cast, created a tight and entertaining 90 minute adventure. The story and style of this play creates multiple layers in this show that different people will enjoy. For those who want an entertaining show that will make you laugh, you can come and watch this play and have fun. For those looking to question the patriarchy, manifest destiny, and the power structures in America you this play does not disappoint.

The Drinks: The Strand was serving drinks after this opening night performance, but assuming that doesn’t happen every performance we recommend going around the corner to Mr. Smiths.

Men On Boats plays through December 16th at A.C.T’s Strand Theater. Tickets range from $30-$100 and can be purchased on the ACT website. Right now there are discounted tickets available on Goldstar.

  

Old Time Relijun back from the grave plus Rocky’s band Turqoiuz Noiz!

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OTR hasn’t toured in like 10 years, but they’re back, at the Chapel! And Rocky’s band Turqouiz Noiz is opening!

RSVP and invite your friends!

What’s happening for Halloween???

1.) First there’s happy hour:

CountryReggae

STAND BY YOUR MON!
Classic Country & Classic Reggae
w/ your selectors DJ Dukes + DJ Nutzeffekt
ALL vinyl, ALL irie, ALL my exes live in Texas

“Jah bless America!”

RSVP and invite your friends!

2.) Then there’s cover bands:

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Everyone Is Doorsy (as The Doors)
Down Dirty Shake (as The Spice Girls)
Mayya & The Revolutionary Hell Yeah! (as Iggy Pop)
Blue Lotus and the Lagoons (premier showing)
+ DJ Neil Martinson

RSVP and invite your friends!

4.) And of course, more cover bands:

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Lucifudge
as DANZIG 12:15
Stereorehab
as STEREOLAB 11:30
Stephen & Kristin & Michael & Candice & Peter & Nicholas & Elizabeth
as BELLE & SEBASTIAN. 10:45
We have Joy
as KILLING JOKE 10:00
The Heelies
as THE FEELIEs 9:15
Bitcharge
as DISCHARGE 8:30

RSVP and invite your friends!

5.) Or you could always go to Weird Wednesday!

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This week is Polyester!

6.) Or you could see Suspiria Classic at the Roxie right before New Suspiria premieres everywhere else the following day:

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Tickets here!

What’s it gonna beeeeeee??????

Something out of a ’70s daydream: Tennis stripped down live at the Chapel [review + lots of lovely photos]

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By Valerie Luu / Photos by Ruchita Lalmalani

I knew nothing about Tennis before going to their show on a Tuesday night at The Chapel.

All I had was this memory: listening to “Young and Old,” their sophomore album released in 2012, which was on heavy rotation at Reveille Coffee in North Beach, where I would go for a pot of tea and to chat with my cafe crushes.

Their song “It All Feels the Same” reminds me of continuing that soundtrack as I put on headphones after leaving the cafe. I’d skate down Montgomery Street while the fog lifted and the sun filtered through skyscrapers and commuters emerged from BART with freshly ironed clothes and washed hair.

When I hear that song, I think about what a luxury it was to have all that time to banter with baristas, to push up Howard Street to the Mission and to witness the morning sunrise. Where have those days gone?

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I was curious what memories Tennis holds for other people, so I went into the show with this question: “Is there a Tennis song or album that reminds you of certain time in your life?”

Liz O’ Neal, 30, was the first person I spoke to. She was holding down a spot in front of the stage with her friend Hanna Steinberg, 29.

“How would you describe their music?” I asked, realizing that I hadn’t thought about how to classify their sound up until that point. “It’s dreamy, sexy rock,” she said. “It makes you want to go to the beach.”

Beaches and boats are a big part of the band’s mythology. Alaina Moore and Patrick Riley, the husband-and-wife duo of Tennis, met in a philosophy class at the University of Colorado, Denver. After graduation, they took sail for half a year along the Atlantic Coast. “Cape Dory,” their debut album, was written on their trip and is a diary of the places they visited — Maryland, South Carolina and Florida.

For O’ Neal, “Marathon” brings back memories of her sailing trip in Greece. “We hired this old sea captain, who looked like a sexy dad from ‘My Big Fat Greek Wedding.’ He took us to all these tiny Greek islands for a week,” she said. “It reminds me of being happy and carefree.”

I had recently come back from island hopping in the Cyclades, the group of Greek islands known for their whitewashed and blue domed buildings, so I was able to imagine how “Cape Dory” could be a perfect soundtrack to hanging out on a boat, grilling fish on the secluded beaches and feeling your cares dissolve away in the saltwater and Mediterranean sun.

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For others, the songs are less about actual memories and more about a image.

For Serratia Krank, 22, “Baby Don’t Believe,” from Tennis’ most recent album, is a love song from a “wingman’s perspective.”

“When I hear the song, I see a guy with flowers at a woman’s window,” she said. “Or a guy in the back of a crowd watching his woman playing on stage. The crowd is going wild for her, but he doesn’t mind. He’s there for her.”

To Krank, an inspiring filmmaker, the song is about someone rooting on the sidelines — even if it’s yourself. Sometimes she’ll listen to the song while she looks at herself in the mirror. “I’m your biggest fan,” she says to herself, becoming the person in the crowd.

Her friend Jamie Banks, 24, said “10 Minutes 10 Years” resonates with him. “I think about their relationship,” he said of the married musicians. “If I ever wanted a relationship I would want to be like theirs.”

With that, the show started. Moore came out in a silver sequined dress and sat at a piano across from Riley, who was on guitar. Without speaking, they opened with “10 Minutes 10 Years,” blue lights illuminating her blonde afro.

Their current acoustic tour was inspired by an experience they had opening for Father John Misty. At one of his shows, he spontaneously went onstage without his band and played an unplugged set. “I was shocked that it was my favorite [part of the tour],” Moore said.

That inspired Tennis to strip embark on their “Solo in Stereo” tour with just the two of them — which required the couple to do things outside their comfort zones — for Moore it was playing the guitar and Riley, the drums.

The aim was a more raw, stripped down version that sounds closer to their demos. “It’s the most minimal, just like how we wrote it,” she said. “It’s four chords and the truth.”

In trying to be minimalist, Moore realized her true nature. “Five minutes later, I found myself with five pianos and 20 drum machines,” she laughed. “Turns out I’m a maximalist — I tried to bring it down to zero and ended up with an afro and a 100 percent sequined dress.”

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In addition to the acoustic set, the stage design also made me feel like we were in their home recording studio. On stage at The Chapel was an upholstered green bench, vanilla shag rug and a side table with a velvet rose tablecloth which sat unused until “Island Music,” the last song on “Yours Conditionally” and the closing song of the night. Moore took a seat on the table and pressed a button, which turned it into a rotating pedestal.

Before the show started, I overheard Jamie Banks making a bet with Serratia Krank: “For every song you don’t dance to, you owe me a dollar,” he said. After Tennis finished “Island Music” and the house lights turned on, I turned to the two friends and asked if they had danced to every song.

“I did,” said Krank. As for Banks, he was coming out of a haze. “I didn’t dance to the last song,” he said. “I was so stunned by her beauty.”

As was I. “Island Music” now holds that image of Moore spinning onstage looking and sounding ethereal as she sang the lyrics “through the living and breathing and dreaming / like a daze” with tropical guitar sounds looping in the background. It was a magical ending, something out of a ’70s daydream.

Thanks to The Chapel, Allan Hough, and Tennis for the lovely, memorable show.

Valerie Luu chases grandmas for Chinatown Pretty and hustles at Rice Paper Scissors. She’s probably listened to “10 Minutes 10 Years” a hundred times.

Ruchita Lalmalani is a portrait and concert photographer. She’s available for prints, press and shoots at electric.spaceinvader@gmail.com.

[Editor's note: The Sadies are playing at the Chapel on Sunday afternoon and they are the BEST! Thanks Val!!!]

Clamped Down/Pumped Up, a ’70s-’80s punk and new wave night with cover band Space Force ’77!

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Here’s the deal:

CLAMPED DOWN/PUMPED UP
A Night of ’70s & ’80s Punk + New Wave

• SPACE FORCE ’77 live debut!
• DJ Nick Pal (Pal Family Records, BFF.fm, KALX)
• DJ Nutzeffekt (Hard-Boiled Babes, American Tripps, KDVS)

$3 before 8pm
$5 after 8pm

RSVP and invite your friends!

Music legend Lee “Scratch” Perry performs this Thursday in the Mission!

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It’s at the Chapel and here’s the deal:

Celebrating the 45th anniversary of Grammy winning dub & reggae pioneer Lee “Scratch” Perry’s landmark 1973 album “Blackboard Jungle Dub”, the world’s first dub album, Scratch, now 82 years young, will embark on a tour across North America performing his studio masterpiece live in its entirety for the first time, aided by the technology of NYC’s Subatomic Sound System, his hybrid band of new school electronics and veteran Jamaican musicians from the Black Ark era recordings.

RSVP and invite your friends here. Get tickets and more info here.