Note: this is an extended version of an article in this week'sGuardian.
The crowd outside the Niebyl-Proctor Marxist Library in Oakland was hopping. Fidgeting, really. Almost imperceptibly at first, while above it a bulging moon hung in the temperate June sky, just itching to go super as it would the following night. But soon enough bodies were bouncing and flailing, until finally the scrum of dancers packed shoulder-to-front-to-back on the sidewalk morphed their collective way through the front door.
We followed the dancers (choreographed by Abby Crain) inside, swept along by their momentum, and were deposited around the perimeter of the main reading room like dust mice by a strong breeze. On that same floor, a few hours later, choreographer Ronja Ver would be sending her supine audience into dreamland with a couple of Finnish lullabies. Before that, a bowl of liquid nitrogen would send a delicate fog creeping over its wooden surface as the spectators (temporarily wrapped in reflective emergency blankets) braced themselves for a performance by Daniel Stadulis that was part science experiment, part detailed meditation on the fragility of the body.
Today is weird. It’s in that black hole gap between a nationally recognized holiday (er, Fourth of July) and the actual weekend, which begins for many traditional workers around 5pm on Fridays. So with this weirdness, we celebrate both X-Day, a parody of cult holidays, and the more literal, Weird Al -- he shines down on the Alameda County Fair tonight with a beam of frizzy light. Read more »
Not to give this family any more attention, but here I go. Are you aware of the fact that the Balloon Boy is now a long-hair tween, in a darker Hanson trio with his brothers, singing operatic heavy metal bits? It’s all here, in a Gawker long-read post. The article notes that the group (Heene Boyz) considers itself the "World's Youngest Metal Band." -- don’t we have that already here in the Bay with our own Haunted by Heroes? Take that, Balloon Boy. (Whatever, technically they’re billed as "The World's Youngest Rock Band.”)
But my real point is this: America, home of the free, free to whore oneself and one’s family out on reality TV, to sneak kids into homemade balloon UFOs, to shoot for fame from birth. Happy Fourth of July week, everyone. Celebrate it with the bedlam of Bob Log III, the annual Big Time Freedom Fest at El Rio or Fillmore Jazz Festival, dreamy R&B producer Giraffage, or, the snacktastic Burger Boogaloo fest with headliners Redd Kross, the Oblivians, the Trashwomen, and more! Paint your face red, white, and blue, stick a sparkler behind your ear, and rage out into the night, it’s what the founding fathers would have wanted. Read more »
Last Tuesday, in the parcel of land off of Telegraph Avenue between 19th and 20th Streets in Oakland, Randy Colosky discussed the orientation of his wooden sculpture, The Pressure to Hold Together That Which Held Things Back Part 2. Three assistants and two arts commissioners weighed in. The word of the hour, it seemed, was “dialogue.”
“It’s about starting a dialogue,” Steven Huss, the city’s Cultural Arts Manager, said on the phone earlier that day. He reiterated the same on site as he moved a portable chain-link fence aside to enter the Uptown ArtPark, a large-scale temporary sculpture garden that will open to the public tonight during Art Murmur. His favorite part of the park’s construction, he told me, was talking to people who stopped to ask questions.
Huss is experienced in the art of dialogue. Over the past three years, he has witnessed and participated in the many that have transpired between the community, the city, and developers during the planning of the space’s use.
Localized Appreesh is our thank-you column to the musicians that make the Bay. To be considered, contact email@example.com.
Magic Fight has got fangs. More precisely, the newly formed Oakland “post-indie” band — led by Florida born singer-ukulele player Alex Christopher Haager — just released its very first single, “Fangs” off its forthcoming debut album, Wooden Swords & Stolen Echoes.
It really wasn't a question whether the Robert Glasper Experiment would be any good at the New Parish on Friday night – but how it would go about replicating the success of Black Radio, which recently won the Grammy for R&B album of the year.
That’s an album that features notable collaborators on each track – Erykah Badu, Lupe Fiasco, Bilal, Mos Def/Yasiin Bey, etc. – which could leave pianist Glasper a lot to make up for live. Going into the show I had a few theories: maybe the group would use pre-recorded vocal tracks in places, maybe up-and-coming vocalists would be pulled on stage from Oakland’s music scene, or maybe some surprise guest would be introduced. (Singer José James was nearby at the San Jose Jazz Winter Fest. Maybe he’d finish in a timely manner over there and stop by?) Read more »
We've been hearing a lot about the Night Light thanks to its hosting of quality local shows; in the past year there have been performances by Warm Soda, Burnt Ones, Religious Girls, Jaberi and Deutsch, and the like. This Saturday, to celebrate 12 months of life, the bar-venue is hosting a free party, and there'll be eight bands, seven DJs, and three comedians to check out throughout the night. Yes, all free. Read more »
I pictured writing a different sort of response to last Friday's Oakland Art Murmur and accompanying street festival. The fatal shooting of an 18-year-old, however, taints the memory of the evening and retroactively adds a hint of menace to the crowded streets.
In OAM's responding statement, what begins as condolence, transitions into a reaffirmation of the monthly festival's aims: "The Oakland Art Murmur and the First Friday Street Festival are the products of communities coming together to showcase the best of what people create together." As questions surround the future of the event — most pressingly, can it continue as before? — it is important to remember this.
The mood on the streets before the shooting was celebratory. In the stretch of street closed to traffic, random pockets of activity testified to the joyful and creative possibilities contained within a diverse crowd of thousands.
“How the hell did this happen?” asks Anthony (Ant) Anderson, sitting in Willard Park, Berkeley, on a sunny afternoon. Ant lives in a house not far from here known as Church, which is where his story – and his weekly jam sessions – began. The “this” in question is his role in both the evolution of Church, and the weekly People's Jam night, which pal Dustin Smurthwaite created at a club in Oakland.
HERBWISE The neatly-dressed line of donors waiting outside the Fox Theatre on July 21 gawked at the procession coming down Broadway Avenue. Was it the impassioned protesters in wheelchairs, the oversized fake joint, or the realization that stoners could be so... vehement that had them transfixed?
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