This Week in New York Insider's Guide to Arts & Culture in New York City Since 2001


Soundwalk Collective, Jesse and Patti Smith, and Lillevan collaborate on an exploration of Nico’s death in Crossing the Line presentation

Soundwalk Collective, Jesse and Patti Smith, and Lillevan collaborate on poetic audiovisual exploration of Nico’s death in Crossing the Line presentation

French Institute Alliance Française, Florence Gould Hall
55 East 59th St. between Madison & Park Aves.
Thursday, October 2, $40, 7:30

A limited number of tickets have just been released for Killer Road, a one-night-only event that is part of FIAF’s annual Crossing the Line interdisciplinary arts festival. On October 2, Soundwalk Collective, the international trio of Stephan Crasneanscki, Simone Merli, and Kamran Sadeghi that specializes in site-specific audio installations, and mother and daughter composers and musicians Patti and Jesse Smith, will convene at Florence Gould Hall to present a tribute to Velvet Underground lead vocalist and Factory actress Nico. The presentation, originally performed earlier this year in Nico’s native country of Germany, focuses on Nico’s death at the age of forty-nine in 1988 while riding a bicycle on vacation in Ibiza with her son Ari. Soundwalk Collective will incorporate samples from the harmoniums that Nico played — one of which was given to her by Patti Smith after her original instrument was stolen in 1978 — as Smith reads Nico’s last poems (“Facing the wind / it’s holding me against my will / and doesn’t leave me still”) and video artist Lillevan provides visual projections. “Patti was very kind to me,” Nico said about Smith, as noted in Richard Witts’s biography Nico: The Life and Lies of an Icon. “Early in 1978 my harmonium was stolen from me. I was without any money and now I couldn’t even earn a living playing without my organ. A friend of mine saw one with green bellows in an obscure shop, the only one in Paris. Patti bought it for me. I was so happy and ashamed. I said, ‘I’ll give you back the money when I get it,’ but she insisted the organ was a present and I should forget about the money. I cried. I was ashamed she saw me without money.”


atlantic antic

Atlantic Ave. between Hicks St. & Fourth Ave.
Sunday, September 28, free, 12 noon - 6:00 pm

Brooklyn’s most popular street fair, Atlantic Antic, turns forty this year, and it’s doing it in style with an extensive lineup of special guests and live performances, along with games, family-friendly activities, art exhibitions, book readings, dozens of vendors, and plenty of politicos. There will be live music from the Windsor Terrors, Junior Rivera and Charanga Soleil, the Black Coffee Blues Band with Popa Chubby, the Dysfunctional Family Jazz Band, Dead Leaf Echo, Le Sans Culottes, and headliner Brown Rice Family World Roots Band, a welcome-ceremony dance by the Brooklyn Ballet, and the presentation of the Ambassador Award to Assembly Member Joan L. Millman. And for the twenty-first year, the New York Transit Museum is hosting the Bus Festival on Boerum Pl. between State St. & Atlantic Ave., featuring vintage buses (Betsy, Bus 2969, Bus 3100, Tunnel Wrecker), workshops, free tours, and other fun things, with admission to the museum only one dollar.



Björk stretches boundaries once again in concert doc of innovative multimedia performance (copyright © 2014 / image courtesy of Wellhart and One Little Indian)

BJÖRK: BIOPHILIA LIVE (Nick Fenton & Peter Strickland, 2014)
IFC Center
323 Sixth Ave. at West Third St.
Opens Friday, September 26

“Welcome to Biophilia, the love for nature in all her manifestations, from the tiniest organism to the greatest red giant floating in the farthest realm of the universe. . . . In Biophilia, you will experience how the three come together: nature, music, technology. Listen, learn, and create. . . . We are on the brink of a revolution that will reunite humans with nature through new technological innovations. Until we get there, prepare, explore Biophilia.” So announces British naturalist Sir David Attenborough at the beginning of Björk: Biophilia Live, Nick Fenton and Peter Strickland’s lovely film of Icelandic musician Björk’s final show of her Biophilia tour, a more-than-two-year journey in which she presented a dazzling multimedia concert experience based on her 2011 album and genre-redefining interactive app. Filmed at the Alexandra Palace in London, the cutting-edge in-the-round show features Björk performing such complex songs as “Thunderbolt,” “Moon,” “Crytalline,” and “Virus” from the hit record, accompanied by the twenty-woman Icelandic chorus Graduale Nobili and a group of visually dramatic instruments built and/or adapted specifically for her, including a pendulum-swinging gravity harp, the percussive hang, a gameleste, and a Tesla coil. In addition, most songs have related animation that ranges from the far reaches of space to deep inside the human body. Fenton, a longtime documentary editor, and Strickland, the writer-director of such fiction films as Berberian Sound Studio and Katalin Varga, often splash the animation on the front of the screen, immersing the viewer in a vast array of shapes, colors, and scientific imagery, like a turned-around Joshua Light Show. But even amid all the gadgetry and computers, Björk is the real star, ever charming in a wild wig and futuristic costume as she sings in her engaging accent and unique voice, enchanting the audience for more than ninety minutes as she brings together nature, music, and technology in a whole new way. We saw the show when it came to Roseland in March 2012 and can heartily affirm that Fenton and Strickland have done a wonderful job of capturing the feeling of being there, something that is rare in concert films.

Björk: Biophilia Live opens September 26 at the IFC Center; the 9:20 screening each night will also include the Channel 4 documentary When Björk Met Attenborough, in which director Louise Hooper goes behind the scenes of the three-year creation of the tour as it prepares for its debut performance in Manchester in June 2011. In the four-part, fifty-two-minute film, Björk visits the British Natural History Museum with big fan Attenborough as they talk about the sound of sound in nature, transcendence, prelanguage, and the evolution of singing, beginning with lyrebirds, and meets with Henry Dag, the inventor of the solar-powered sharpsichord, Andy Cavatorta, who created the gravity harp for her, and Evan Grant, who discusses cymatics, visualization, and the vibration of sound. In addition, another Björk fan, Dr. Oliver Sacks, delves into the connections between music and the brain, and Damian Taylor and Scott Snibbe go inside the development of the app. Tilda Swinton’s narration feels too much like an industrial video hyping the project, but otherwise When Björk Met Attenborough, also known as Björk and Attenborough: The Nature of Music, offers fascinating insight into Biophilia in all its incarnations.


New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center
40 Lincoln Center Plaza
Monday - Saturday through October 25, free
Thursday, September 25, “Three Choreographers Celebrate,” free with advance RSVP, 6:00

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Peter B. Lewis Theater
1071 Fifth Ave. at 89th St.
October 5 – December 15, $30-$35

For three decades, the Guggenheim has been presenting illuminating performances and discussions in its groundbreaking program Works & Process, in which emerging and established dancers, musicians, composers, and choreographers share their creative inspiration with glimpses at upcoming productions. The New York Public Library is honoring the series with “Works & Process at 30: Artists at Work, Artists in Process,” a collection of photographs, costumes, and printed ephemera from past events featuring some of the greatest directors, choreographers, and performers of the last thirty years. On September 25, the library will host “Three Choreographers Celebrate” in the Bruno Walter Auditorium (free with advance RSVP), bringing together a trio of W&P veterans, Karole Armitage, Larry Keigwin, and Pam Tanowitz, to talk about the importance of the program with Dance Theatre of Harlem artistic director Virginia Johnson; the event will also include footage from the library’s archives of nearly five hundred W&P performances. Meanwhile, tickets are now on sale and going fast for the fall 2014 W&P season, which continues October 5 with “The Kennedy Center: Little Dancer with Susan Stroman” (with Stroman, Boyd Gaines, Rebecca Luker, Tiler Peck, Lynn Ahrens, and Stephen Flaherty) and also includes Brian Brooks Moving Company on October 19-20, “Harlem Stage: Makandal” on October 27 (with Carl Hancock Rux, Yosvany Terry, Edouard Duval-Carrié, and Lars Jan), “In Process with Pam Tanowitz and David Lang” on November 2, and “Jerome Robbins: Fancy Free to On the Town” on November 9-10 (with Robert LaFosse, John Rando, Joshua Bergasse, Phyllis Newman, and Jamie Bernstein, moderated by Amanda Vaill).


Prepare to dive into some pretty hot chocolate at Chile Pepper Festival (photo by Jason Gardner)

Prepare to dive into some pretty hot chocolate at Chile Pepper Festival (photo by Jason Gardner)

Brooklyn Botanic Garden
900 Washington Ave.
Saturday, September 27, $15-$20 (children under twelve free), 11:00 am - 6:00 pm

The Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s twenty-second annual Chile Pepper Festival, a celebration of all things spicy and hot, takes place Saturday, September 27, promising “sizzling sounds,” “fiery delights,” and “7 hours of chocolate debauchery,” which certainly gets our attention. Beginning at 11:00 and continuing through 6:00, the festivities include live performances by Talavya, Tipsy Oxcart, Shiro & the Raw Dogs, Cumbiagra, Tee Chaoui Social Club, and Alidu; food from more than three dozen culinary artisans, from Brooklyn Delhi and the Jam Stand to La Newyorkina Mexican Ice & Sweets and Pelzer’s Pretzels, from Beyond the Spice and Queen Majesty Hot Sauce to Holy Schmitt’s Homemade Horseradish and TorchBearer Sauces; chile tours with BBG curator Maeve Turner; hot books for sale; chile pepper paintings by Jonathan Blum; and pepper plants for kids to pot and take home.


Emeka Ogboh’s “Lagos State of Mind II” is part of Africa Center celebration on Saturday (photo by Steven John Irby aka stevesweatpants, © Emeka Ogboh)

Emeka Ogboh’s “Lagos State of Mind II” is part of Africa Center celebration on Saturday (photo by Steven John Irby aka stevesweatpants, © Emeka Ogboh)

The Africa Center: Africa’s Embassy to the World
Saturday, September 20, free, 10:00 am – 6:00 pm
1280 Fifth Ave. between 109th & 110th Sts.

The former Museum of African Art has gone through a dramatic transformation that will be revealed to the public on September 20 at a free festival celebrating the renamed Africa Center, also known as Africa’s Embassy to the World. As part of “its mission to become the world’s leading civic African institution . . . [the center] aims to transform the international understanding of Africa and promote direct engagement between African artists, business leaders, and civil society and their counterparts from the United States and beyond.” The museum will open permanently in late 2015, but on Saturday visitors can get a taste of what’s to come with the immersive sound-art installation “Lagos State of Mind II” by Emeka Ogboh involving a Danfo bus; the unveiling of Meschac Gaba’s hanging sculpture, “Citoyen du Monde,” in the atrium; live performances by the Dance Theatre of Harlem, Janka Nabay and the Bubu Gang, Chop and Quench, Mamadou Dahoue & the Ancestral Messengers Dance Company, Nkumu Isaac Katalay, and DJs Rich Medina, Underdog, and Birane; screenings of The Power of Protest Music; arts and crafts workshops; traditional storytelling; grill tastings from chef Alexander Smalls of the Harlem brasserie the Cecil; and other cultural activities. The revelry will conclude with a private-event Festival-in-Exile concert that focuses on the musical connections between America and Africa, particularly Mali, with performances by Amanar, Amkoullel, Rocky Dawuni, Salif Keïta, and Samba Touré and Vieux Farka Touré.


Forest Hills Stadium
West Side Tennis Club
Friday, September 19, $35-$59.50, 6:30

When the Replacements announced they were going on a reunion tour, shows in their hometown, Minneapolis, sold out in minutes. Strangely enough, there are still tickets to be had for their September 19 concert at Forest Hills Stadium. Perhaps it’s because only two of the original members are still in the band: songwriter, vocalist, and guitarist Paul Westerberg and bassist-guitarist Tommy Stinson. Chris Mars departed over creative differences when the band was making 1990s All Shook Down; lead guitarist Bob Stinson, who was known to perform in diapers, left the band in 1986 and died from a drug overdose at the age of thirty-five in 1995; replacement Replacement Slim Dunlap suffered a stroke in 2012; and drum replacement Steve Foley died in 2008 at the age of forty-nine. Paul and Tommy are now out on the road with guitarist Dave Minehan and drummer Josh Freese, playing songs from throughout the ’Mats too-short career, as well as Westerberg solo tracks and covers. We’ve gotten into discussions with friends whether these can really be considered Replacement shows; it certainly doesn’t have the same feel as when we saw the group play their legendary frantic, packed gigs back in August 1985 at Irving Plaza and in February 1986 at the Ritz.

(photo © 2014 by Kelly Shee)

Craig Finn lets it all out at Hold Steady show last week (photo © 2014 by Kelly Shee)

For those of you heading out to the renovated Forest Hills Stadium, be sure to get there on time, because the Replacements are only one-third of a hot triple bill. Born and raised in Minneapolis before moving to Brooklyn, the Hold Steady is an inspired choice to play with the ’Mats. “They were the first band I saw that made me think I could be in a rock band,” lead singer and songwriter Craig Finn says on the DVD of 2011’s Color Me Obsessed, a documentary about his all-time-favorite group. A truly great live band that plays with energy and passion, after a brief hiatus the Hold Steady are back with Teeth Dreams, the exciting follow-up to the disappointing Heaven Is Whenever. The 2014 disc is a return to form for the group, filled with clever wordplay, inventive hooks, and Finn’s quirky, inviting voice, the sound of a man who loves that he’s in a rock-and-roll band. From the powerful drive of “Hope I Didn’t Frighten You” and “Spinners” to the epic ballad “Oaks,” the Hold Steady again sound like the band they were meant to be, living up to the promise of their breakthrough records, Separation Sunday and Boys and Girls in America. And when Finn sings, “You came back to us / South Minneapolis / Said ’revenge exists outside of space and time’ / Out behind the Ambassador / Man, it feels kinda magical / I guess your friend can really move things with his mind” on “The Ambassador,” it’s as if he’s singing about Westerberg and the Replacements.

Deer Tick will open show for the Hold Steady and the Replacements at Forest Hills Stadium on September 19

Deer Tick will open show for the Hold Steady and the Replacements at Forest Hills Stadium on September 19

Opening the show is Providence’s Deer Tick, whose most recent album, Negativity, came out in 2013, following a 2012 EP the band had the audacity to name Tim. Led by singer and songwriter John McCauley, the five-piece has been known to play a fiery cover of the Replacements classic “Can’t Hardly Wait,” which features one of the sweetest guitar lines in the history of alternative music. During this tour, Deer Tick has also been covering the Hold Steady, and the Hold Steady has been covering Deer Tick, so it’s all become a kind of mutual admiration society. (You can also find Finn and fellow Steady Holder Tad Kubler covering the ’Mats’ “Within Your Reach,” “Color Me Impressed,” and “Hootenanny” here.) But it all starts and ends with the Replacements, who once famously proclaimed, “Children by the million sing for Alex Chilton when he comes ’round / They sing, ‘I’m in love. / What’s that song? I’m in love / with that song.” The same can be said for Westerberg, whether you consider this a welcome reunion or not.