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

CMJ 2014: DAY ONE

Back in April, local band Walking Shapes played twenty-four different places in New York City in twenty-four hours, in conjunction with the release of their debut album, Taka Come On. The five-piece won’t be going quite as nuts at the annual CMJ Music Marathon, but they will be playing Bowery Ballroom on Tuesday at 10:00, Cameo Gallery on Wednesday at 8:50, and Spike Hill on Friday night at 11:20. This year’s annual festival features more than thirteen hundred performers at more than eighty venues October 21-25; below are some more recommendations for opening night.

“Reinventing the Steel: Finding Metal’s Next Big Bands,” panel discussion with Andrew “Cutter” Puyleart, Carl Severson, Darren Dalessio, Kodi McKinney, and Sammi Chichester, Rosenthal Pavilion, NYU Kimmel Center, tenth floor, 12:30 pm
September Girls, Cake Shop, 3:30; Cameo Gallery, 11:00 pm
Cymbals, Cake Shop, 5:45; Glasslands Gallery, 10:45
Olga Bell, Mercury Lounge, 6:30
STRNGRS, Spike Hill, 8:30
James, Webster Hall, 9:15
Cold War Kids, Brooklyn Bowl, 11:00
The Suffers, Drom, 12 midnight

LENNON: THROUGH A GLASS ONION

(photo by Joan Marcus)

Pianist Stewart D’Arrietta and John R. Waters tell the story of John Lennon in music and words in THROUGH A GLASS ONION (photo by Joan Marcus)

Union Square Theatre
100 East 17th St. between Park Ave. S. & Irving Pl.
Tuesday - Sunday through February 22, $68-$88
800-982-2787
www.lennononstage.com

The main poster image for Lennon: Through a Glass Onion shows a psychedelically colored John Lennon staring back at the viewer, with two huge white holes where his eyes would be. Too much of that round emptiness, unfortunately, can be found in the two-man musical play as well. British-born Australian actor and musician John R. Waters, who will turn sixty-six on December 8, the thirty-fourth anniversary of the murder of the Smart Beatle in New York City, and pianist Stewart D’Arrietta have been touring the stripped-down production for more than twenty years. For ninety minutes, Waters, dressed in jeans, a black T-shirt, and a leather jacket, does not try to imitate Lennon as much as embody his spirit in a kind of VH1 Storytellers manner, relating episodes from John’s life, told in the first person, to the songs he wrote. He also tries to get inside Lennon’s head, imagining what the musician and peace activist might have been thinking during some of those seminal moments, but these brief narrative vignettes often feel forced, especially when Waters is discussing the day of Lennon’s death, which open and close the show. (It’s more effective when Waters incorporates Lennon’s actual words, from interviews and writings.) The music, for the most part, is splendid; Waters lets Lennon’s skills as a wordsmith shine, the intelligent, intense lyrics reverberating throughout the hazy Union Square Theatre and inside your head. He wisely doesn’t even try to mimic Lennon’s singing voice or guitar playing, instead audaciously toying around with some of the music, reinventing such songs as “Help,” “Norwegian Wood,” “Crippled Inside,” and “Working Class Hero” in inventive, at times captivating ways, with a particular focus on the White Album.

In “How Do You Sleep?,” Lennon’s public attack on songwriting partner Paul McCartney, Anthony Barrett’s lighting casts Waters’s huge shadow on the back wall, highlighting the size of the boots Waters has dared to step into, but it also emphasizes one of the faults of the show; only a few times does it step out of its own boots, curiously using visual projections for just two songs (one of which, of course, is “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”). And the vast majority of the nearly three dozen tunes, from the Beatles and the Plastic Ono Band periods through John’s solo career, right up to Double Fantasy, are heard in snippets that merely tease. D’Arrietta, who has toured his own one-man show featuring the music of Tom Waits, is masterful at the keyboards, often sounding like an entire backing band, fleshing out the arrangements and contributing background vocals as well. Lennon: Through a Glass Onion is at its best when dealing with John’s relationship with Yoko, who many fans still insist was the cause of the Fab Four breakup; renditions of “Woman” and “Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy)” are among the highlights of the evening. “I’m just a lad from up north,” Waters says as Lennon at one point. John, of course, was so much more than that, but Lennon: Through a Glass Onion, though heartfelt, doesn’t quite add anything new about the man or the legend.

HALLOWEEN: BangOn! NYC WAREHOUSE OF HORRORS

Mystery location in East Bushwick
Friday, October 31, third tier $50, 10:00 pm - 6:00 am
www.bangon-nyc.com

Tickets are running out for BangOn!NYC’s Warehouse of Horrors, a Halloween extravaganza to be held in a mystery site in Bushwick. This year’s frightening musical lineup features Break Science on the Live/Bass/Glitch/Trap Stage, Random Rab inspired by Burning Man, Zebra Katz, Space Jesus, Sleepy & Boo, an “aural hallucination” DJ set by Twin Shadow, the U.S. debut of PurpleDiscoMachine, and other acts. The party, which begins on Halloween night at ten o’clock and continues through six in the morning, also includes a silent disco, cuddle puddle chill zones, 3D art, a haunted house, carnival rides, a demonic performance by Team Kitty Koalition, circus and freak-show surprises, and more.

MODERN MONDAYS: AN EVENING WITH BILL MORRISON

MoMA Film, Museum of Modern Art, the Roy and Niuta Titus Theater 2
11 West 53rd St. between Fifth & Sixth Aves.
Monday, October 20, $12, 7:00
212-708-9400
www.moma.org
www.billmorrisonfilm.com

There’s a reason why Bill Morrison calls his production company Hypnotic Pictures; for more than twenty years, the Chicago-born, New York-based experimental director has been making hypnotic, mesmerizing films that pair spectacular found footage in various states of decay with gorgeous original soundtracks. The results are as much about its main subjects — natural disasters, societal ills, Frankenstein — as about the history of film, particularly the physical celluloid itself, especially poignant now in the digital age. On October 20, Morrison will be at MoMA for the museum’s latest installment of Modern Mondays, discussing his work in conjunction with the midcareer retrospective “Re-Compositions,” comprising a rotating selection of his oeuvre shown in the Ronald S. and Jo Carole Lauder Building Lobby through March 31. The exhibition is supplemented with “Compositions,” a series of screenings through November 21 consisting of Morrison’s full-length and short films and videos, including The Great Flood, with the score performed live by composer Bill Frisell and Ron Miles, Tony Scherr, and Kenny Wollesen; the trio of All Vows, Just Ancient Loops, and Light Is Calling, with live musical accompaniment by cellist Maya Beiser; a collection of eight 16mm films made between 1990 and 1996; three dystopian works (Gotham, Dystopia, The Highwater Trilogy) made between 2004 and 2008; five 35mm projects from 2000 to 2005; and his 2002 masterpiece, Decasia.

PICKLE DAY 2014

Visitors will find themselves in quite a pickle at annual Lower East Side festival

Visitors will find themselves in quite a pickle at annual Lower East Side festival

Orchard St. between East Houston & Delancey Sts.
Sunday, October 27, free, 12 noon - 5:00
www.lowereastsideny.com
www.pickleday.nyc

Advertising itself with the deliciously cringeworthy phrase “It’s kind of a big dill,” Pickle Day returns to the Lower East Side on Sunday, October 19, promising its annual mix of food, fashion, and fun. Among the fifteen purveyors of pickled items will be McClure’s, Guss’, the Pickle Guys, Brooklyn Brine, Mrs. Kim’s Kimchi, and Sour Puss as well as more than two dozen other food vendors, including Georgia’s BBQ, Brooklyn Taco, Blue Ribbon Sushi Izakaya, Mimi and Coco, Melt Bakery, the Meatball Shop, Russ and Daughters, and Doughnut Plant. We’ve never really equated pickles with fashion, but at this festival you’ll also find clothing from Pull In, Yaf Sparkle, Fox and Jane, Grit N Glory, and Realife. Throughout the afternoon, music will be blasting from two stages, featuring Fantasy Grandma, Ellen Kaye and the Moscow 57 Band, Gil K, and DJs Hurrikeen, Bruce Tantum, and Kai Song, in addition to face painting, dancing, a home pickling contest, cat Bingo, a Pickle Day Pun-Off, a photo booth, workout demonstrations, a brine dunk tank, and animal adoptions.

ROCOCO ROUGE

(photo by Phillip Van Nostrand)

Company XIV invites audiences to their new NoHo space with ROCOCO ROUGE (photo by Phillip Van Nostrand)

XIV
428 Lafayette St. between Astor Pl. & East Fourth St.
Thursday - Sunday through November 1, Le Galerie $65, Le Court $105
www.companyxiv.com

Austin McCormick’s Company XIV is inaugurating its intimate new home along Colonnade Row on Lafayette St. with Rococo Rouge, a Late Baroque-inspired evening of dance, music, acrobatics, sexy humor, and classy cocktails. The two-hour extravaganza is hosted by bawdy and buxom chanteuse Shelly Watson, who never met a double entendre she didn’t like, or an audience member she wouldn’t want to caress and grab. Channeling Bette Midler and Mae West, Watson riles up the crowd, telling jokes and expertly working the interstitials between the extravagantly costumed and elegant yet unusual acts. Performers include Allison Ulrich teaming with Steven Trumon Gray on the aerial hoop known as a lyra while Watson sings Dvořák’s “Song to the Moon”; the mustachioed Courtney Giannone twisting around on the Cyr wheel while Watson sings Rossini’s “La Danza”; soprano Brett Umlauf performing Lorde’s “Royals” while Davon Rainey, Cailan Orn, and Gray get down and dirty; Ulrich swinging around a pole while Umlauf, who has a lovely, ethereal voice, sings Julie London’s “Go Slow” with six-string virtuoso Rob Mastrianni on guitar; and Laura Careless dancing a sharp, striking solo while Katrina Cunningham sings Britney Spears’s “Toxic.” (Careless was also a standout in Company XIV’s Lover. Muse. Mockingbird. Whore., a burlesque play about Charles Bukowski and two of the women in his life.) Yes, it’s not all exactly from the time of Louis XIV, although Zane Pihlstrom’s gorgeous costumes, mostly in red with some black and white, reference bustiers and bustles, but there’s just too much fun to be had to worry about historical anachronisms and narrative lapses.

Laura Careless dazzles with a striking solo turn in ROCOCO ROUGE (photo by Phillip Van Nostrand)

Laura Careless dazzles with a striking solo turn in ROCOCO ROUGE (photo by Phillip Van Nostrand)

There are two intermissions, and the audience can either head into the front bar area, where Giannone might sit down at the piano and play some classical music (followed by her father, going the jump-and-jive route), or remain in the theater, where Mastrianni will do the entertaining. Among the specialty drinks ($14-$16 each) are the Opera Diva, the Maria Theresa, the Guillotine, and the Revolution, along with the Fountain of Versailles ($120), for “four to six drunkards.” Choreographed, conceived, and directed by McCormick, Rococo Rouge is a refreshing frolic through another time and place, an engaging spectacle that is like a French version of the Kit Kat Klub from Cabaret (without the dangerous edge) mixed with the variety of La Soirée. And everyone’s invited to stick around after the show, when bands such as Mastrianni’s Beatbox Guitar take the stage. Rococo Rouge runs Thursday to Sunday through November 1 and will be followed by Company XIV’s popular seasonal romp, Nutcracker Rouge.

CROSSING THE LINE — RYOJI IKEDA: SUPERPOSITION

(superposition, 2012 © Kazuo Fukunaga / Kyoto Experiment in Kyoto Art Theater, Shunjuza)

Ryoji Ikeda’s SUPERPOSITION is part of FIAF’s Crossing the Line Festival (photo © 2012 Kazuo Fukunaga / Kyoto Experiment in Kyoto Art Theater, Shunjuza)

Metropolitan Museum of Art
Grace Rainey Rogers Auditorium
1000 Fifth Ave. at 82nd St.
October 17-18, $35, 7:00
212-570-3949
www.fiaf.org
www.metmuseum.org

In the summer of 2011, Japanese multimedia artist Ryoji Ikeda dazzled New Yorkers with the immersive site-specific work the transfinite, which invited visitors to sit down in the Park Avenue Armory and merge with a two-sided monolithic wall, extended onto the floor, that came alive with a mind-blowing array of experimental digital music and mathematically based projections, as if welcoming people inside the mind of a cutting-edge computer. Things will be only slightly more contained for the U.S. premiere of superposition, Ikeda’s theatrical piece being presented October 17 & 18 in the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Grace Rainey Rogers Auditorium. Ticket holders may be sitting in seats, but what’s happening onstage will take them through mesmerizing sound and visuals that combine art and science, mathematics and human behavior in unique ways, exploring technology, philosophy, probability, and the future of existence, zeroing in on a single subatomic particle. The work is being presented as part of the French Institute Alliance Française’s annual Crossing the Line Festival, consisting of multidisciplinary projects and performances at locations throughout the city. In conjunction with superposition, Salon 94 on East Ninety-Fourth St. is hosting a solo exhibition of Ikeda’s work October 20-31, and his black-and-white test pattern [times square] is being projected on nearly four dozen digital screens in Times Square nightly from 11:57 to midnight for the October installment of “Midnight Moment,” the monthly program organized and supported by the Times Square Advertising Coalition in partnership with Times Square Arts; on October 16, the visuals will be accompanied by an Exclusive Sound Experience, with limited headphones available beginning at 11:00. (If you’re attending the October 17 performance of superposition, be sure to arrive at the museum early, as Icelandic cellist Hildur Guðnadóttir will be playing a special pop-up concert at 6:00 in the Carroll and Milton Petrie European Sculpture Court (Gallery 548) inspired by the Costume Institute’s upcoming “Death Becomes Her: A Century of Mourning Attire,” which opens October 21.)