Nick Schroeder

Nick Schroeder

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Contemporary Band — An Interview with Colin Newman of Wire

If you don't have a ticket to see Wire, the legendary English art-rock band formed in 1976 by Colin Newman, Graham Lewis, Bruce Gilbert, and Robert Gotobed, we don't know what to tell you. The show's been out since late spring.

Still, we jumped at the chance to discuss the band's adventurous career in a surprisingly long and thoughtful conversation with singer and guitarist Colin Newman, who spoke to the Phoenix via Skype from his home studio in London.

Hi Colin, how's your day going?

Not so bad! Tidying up the studio.

I'm not sure if you know this, but the show here is sold out. So thanks for doing this interview anyway!

Well, there's quite a few on this tour that are sold out, so I'm not at all surprised. I mean, it's not very often that we play in Portland, Maine. I don't think we ever have before. We played in Bangor at some point in some biker's club, but that was in the '80s. 

I'm curious, as a band that's been together for 40 years with a lot of the same personnel, how have you kept it interesting? Do you devise new songwriting techniques or play games with each other?

I think it's a matter of refining than changing for the sake. You don't fix it if it's not broken. Since, really, (the album) Red Barked Tree in 2011, it's been a gradual refining of the methodology of how to make a Wire record. I mean, Wire records in the '70s were done in a certain kind of way. And in the '80s there was quite a lot of experimentation about how to make Wire records because there was a lot of experimentation in general about how to make records. I think the technology — to use a word I hate — sort of turned down around the millennium, so you could have the benefits of so-called electronic recording and old-school tape-style recording. Ultimately, the way we settled on how to make a Wire record was a synthesis of the best use of available tools and being able to actually play as a band.

Because we are a band. We can stand in a room and play. It's not a problem. But there was a period of time where we had to go to extreme lengths in order to make that happen.

Now, you can get anything in time with anything else in any way, shape or form. You can throw stuff together and sort it out later. So that led me to think I needed to go back to what I used to do originally, which is write songs on acoustic guitar, bring them to the band, the band learning them, and then we make the album on that basis. We got to a point where basically nobody hears anything until we all meet in the studio to record it. Occasionally I may bring stuff to others in various forms, but everything comes back here (to my studio) for us to finish as a band. Basically, (the question is) how do you go about the idea of making a Wire record? And how do you make it the purest expression of being a Wire record that you can get to? 

That's interesting because Wire is talked about as this influential punk band, but for so much of your career, you've operated well outside of that form.

We weren't a punk band in 1977 — what part of not being a punk band don't people understand? (laughs). I think there are two viewpoints on that. Some people, especially people our age, don't for one minute think Wire is a punk band. Even though some of [1977 album] Pink Flag sounds a bit like punk, it was the wrong kind of music. There were no such things as slow songs in punk. And then other people who are a bit more conceptual think Wire is the best punk band ever because we've broken every rule of punk. So, what does that mean?

One of you at some point talked about wanting to be a "contemporary band" — 

I think that's always been Wire's kind of cool identity. I mean, we were extremely aware of what was happening in music when we started. As far as we were concerned, punk was a 1976 thing, and every band, especially the local bands, who were influenced by the Sex Pistols — meaning they wanted to sound exactly like the Sex Pistols — were going to last about two minutes. It was important to be the next thing, so we considered what we were doing as the next thing. So that became a kind of way of describing what we wanted to do.

Obviously now, there's no such thing as a timeline in music. Every record that's ever been made is as new as every other record that's ever been made. It's hard to imagine when I was growing up that I would be walking down the street (today) hearing music that was fifty years old as a regular thing. And that's true in any country in the western world.

I don't have to go to special places where old people go to hear old music. Old music is a part of the culture. And in a way, that's a very weird thing. What is a contemporary band? I don't know what that means anymore. Everything and nothing is contemporary. There's new music that sounds more like old music than old music sounds. There's a (contemporary) artist called Drugdealer from Los Angeles, and that album is the most '70s-sounding album I've ever heard in my life. And I don't think anyone in the '70s sounded that much like the '70s. But in some ways, he's kind of crystallizing an aesthetic. In the end, you either like it or don't like it.

The other thing, of course, is what you say and what you do. You can have a band in their early twenties who say they don't listen to anything after 1973. Or that they only use old technology. You know, if someone in their sixties sounds like that, they just sound like an old geezer. For us, being sort of analog purists — I mean, we've made enough records in analog. We know their limitations. 


Wire + Minibeast | September 22 | Fri 8:30 pm | SPACE Gallery, 538 Congress St., Portland | SOLD OUT | www.space538.org 

Manhood Strikes Again — The Many Charms of Ray Harrington's 'Overwhelmed'

In 2015, Providence comic Ray Harrington turned a snapshot of his life — a thirtysomething brand-new dad who had just released his first comedy album — into a documentary film. Titled Be a Man, the stand-up artist’s movie explored the expectations of modern American masculinity as seen through the comic’s characteristically goofy, self-deprecating style. Harrington grew up in Bangor and his parents divorced when he was very young, and he was legitimately interested in cultivating techniques to be a good role model for his son.

As it turns out, this process is actually hilarious. With sincere intentions tucked away in there somewhere, Harrington turned this vulnerability into an absurdist vision quest, meeting hypermasculine figures and prototypical American role models and querying them about what it means to be a man. In a subsequent interview with Boston magazine, he said the process of making the film made him more of a feminist.

None of this is to say Harrington is a “socially conscious comic,” or anything like that (and if you’re wondering, his semi-ironic quest for manhood didn’t push the joke so far as to entertain any insipid men’s rights activist groups). He’s just a regular dude, and a smart one. And he’s brimming with ideas on Overwhelmed, his second album of stand-up, released earlier this month — about kids, about homeownership, about camping, about pets.

That’s right, Harrington deals in fairly conventional subject matter, geared, you might say, to the white thirtysomething New England male experience. As a new dad, much of this material hovers over the tribulations of parenthood, a realm where Harrington digs up an admirable amount of new insights. He derides people who use words incorrectly; he upbraids shitty parents who’ve made shitty children (“they’re real”), and he critiques domestic institutions like House Hunters while confessing to loving the show. He also gets unhinged, cusses a bunch, tells fart jokes, and tests boundaries he sees rising up among his audience, but he’s essentially a pretty good doobie. He’s likable and intelligent enough to know his blind spots, and canny enough to never come across as corny.

On Overwhelmed, the best evidence for this is Harrington’s ability to read a room. On a perhaps awkward, or awkwardly delivered, riff about the mortality rate of pet hamsters, Harrington realizes the crowd is ever so slightly slipping away from him. His timing as a joketeller is typically strong, but his timing in that particular moment — when interrupting his own story — is perfect. The second he feels the audience fade, Harrington issues a chortling, convivial laugh at himself. “I’m gonna keep going,” he tells them, mock-defiantly. “I have exhausted the goodwill of the room; that’s fine. I’m going to finish the bit.” Immediately, the audience is with him again. “It’s now just for me!” He issues a stage-y ahem and steps back into the scene, adopting an annoying-aunt-like droll. “I was the one who found the body!” he shouts, breathing new life into a joke lesser comics would have refused to acknowledge was dead.

A big dude, Harrington possesses a tool that many other comics don’t, which is the ability to deploy jokes about his own physicality. “I don’t like summer. I’m not a summer person,” he announces early on. “You ask any fat person what his favorite time of year is, you’re never gonna hear” — he puts on a strained, throaty voice — “Oh I love a good hot July!” Harrington can pull out this type of joke at his discretion throughout the act, but the gag hardly registers as a first principle of his humor. When half an hour later, as he’s setting up a story about teaching his son to swear, Harrington walks us through the domestic routine. “I was making a sandwich. At that time of the day, I needed a sandwich.” Laughter. Harrington reacts. “Not as a fat guy.” More laughter. “Not as a fat guy!” He says again, scolding us. “As a parent, I needed a sandwich. So I could eat that sandwich and for forty seconds feel like a human being. That’s all!” In this and so many other moments, it’s unclear which is more charming: Harrington’s routine as its written or the guy who occasionally shows up to interrupt his own set to talk directly to us.

Manhood is one of America’s most enduring, tragic fallacies. We should be lucky that Harrington is out here taking the piss in its name.


Ray Harrington | 'Overwhelmed' | Stand-Up Records | www.rayharringtoncomedy.com 

  • Published in Arts

Five of the Eyes drop sprawling first album 'The Venus Transit'

If I had a criticism prepared for The Venus Transit, the first full-length by Five of the Eyes, it would have been that the band registered too studiously as disciples of The Mars Volta, that cultish, amazing, inscrutable El Paso band. Based on a couple years-old live shows and scattered tracks online, I expected a total sonic fealty to the aughties post-punk prog group, maybe with a little At the Drive-In sprinkled in.

But that wouldn’t be fair, because the debut album by the Portland-based quintet covers a hell of a lot more ground. These nine songs have a lineage, both personally and musico-historically, and on Venus, expertly recorded by Jonathan Wyman at The Halo in Portland, the band play as if they’re rewriting the form.

The wriggling bassline of “Atmosphere” at track one will spark the hearts of elder prog wizards still crazy for early Yes. The modern and carefully calibrated “Wasteland” sounds like a thornier versions of A Perfect Circle (or maybe reconstructed late-era Incubus) before toppling into a stabby, arrhythmic post-hardcore outro like something out of a late, great Botch track. Little fronts as punkish here, but echoes of numerous groups who’ve made the transition from roots in both punk and metal — Boston’s Cave In comes to mind — float to the surface. In other words, Dream Theater this is not.

Depending on your preference, it could be a service that none ofThe Venus Transit’s tracks follow the prog party line to lengths approaching 10 minutes and beyond. Instead, all of them slot between four and five and a half. It’d be splitting hairs to argue that prog records don’t often function so conventionally; this could also be a sign of the group’s strength. Somehow, through the pristine recording and the whatness of the band itself, Five of the Eyes transcend the veiled cloak of the genre and somehow manage to sound like a pop band.

And none of this would be possible without frontman Darrell Foster’s bold, brazen, beautiful vocals. In press releases, the group willingly asserts similarities to Jeff Buckley, and while Five of the Eyes’ songwriting doesn’t allow for as much emotional range as Buckley’s did, Foster’s instrumental depth can certainly pull it off. The stunning half-ballad “Passenger” comes closest, the band swaying in a pressurized slow rhythm while Foster issues overtures — convincingly — like a half-ruined R&B singer. In “Mirrors,” Foster’s dynamic falsetto set alight by Tim Meehan and Ned Rich’s twining medieval-folk guitar lines. It’s enough to suggest that Five of the Eyes could be any band they wanna be.

To the best of my memory, Portland hasn’t sported a band like this. Groups have hovered around the post-metal, prog-rock fringes — the terrific Sunrunner comes to mind, as well as the ecstatic black-metal/folk group Falls of Raurus — but those projects are much different, and none have married music this complex with mainstream accessibility. If there’s a next step, Five of the Eyes appear ready to take it.

Let me level with you. This is a genre too often weighed down by indulgent, overwrought bands playing unnecessarily complicated music meant to make its players look intelligent and virtuosic while masking an intrinsic lack of inspiration or depth, generally topped off with wincingly bad lyrics. Five of the Eyes commit none of these crimes. These songs are carefully crafted and smartly arranged, and while some parts are indeed jawdroppingly virtuosic, the real feat is their ability to weave it all together as seamlessly and intentionally as they have here. There’s room for growth, sure, but I wouldn’t be surprised if people came to swear by this record. It may be a masterpiece.


Five of the Eyes | The Venus Transit album release | with KGFREEZE + Mirth + In the Presence of Wolves | Sep 30 Sat 9 pm | Portland House of Music and Events, 25 Temple St, Portland | $10-12 | www.portlandhouseofmusic.com 

8 Days a Week: Dark Crystals, Half Moons, All Black Everything

THURSDAY 21

FOISTED EAST | One of the summer's successful music series, Are You Kidding Me? Tapes' Thursday night showcases of weird, experimental, and next-wave rock, has moved from Geno's Rock Club to Bayside's Urban Farm Fermentory. Besides bands of unpredictable and high-personality musicians, the prime virtue of this series, the project of a DIY tape label project by musician Chris Gervais and Jason Engler, is its ubiquity. A cheap weekly showcase of local rock stuff is pretty necessary to keep a scene alive. Tonight's affair, by slow-build alt-country act Tall Horse; the gorgeously soaring sounds of Bangor's five-piece indie unit Wait; and Portland's emotionally soaked Cape Cannons, fronted by Dustin Saucier; should be a solid hang.

| 8 pm | Urban Farm Fermentory, 200 Anderson St., Portland | $3 | www.fermentory.com

 

SKEKSI YOUTH | The late revolutionary puppeteer Jim Henson's 1983 film masterpiece The Dark Crystal sees a late-night screening at Nickelodeon tonight, part of their laudable late-night series every Thursday. The struggle between the Skeksis and Mystics turned out quite a bit darker in execution than Henson imagined — it is, ostensibly, a kids' film, but it somehow cut a lot deeper than the youth standard. Like a lot of Henson's work, the film's capacity awakened an appreciation of the power of puppeteering among new audiences and practitioners. | 7:30 pm | Nickelodeon Cinemas, 1 Temple St.., Portland | www.patriotcinemas.com

 

INTERTEXT | A true highlight of last year's film festival circuit, the documentary Cameraperson compiles numerous scenes and outtakes from decades of cinematographer Kirsten Johnson's career in documentary film — all for films she didn't direct. What appears like an abstract formless collage of seemingly unrelated footage takes on incredible and resonant shape, as Johnson somehow massages the footage to tell stories not only of her ethics behind the camera, but tales much closer to home. A recommended public screening, and free. | 6:30 pm | Portland Public Library, 5 Monument Sq., Portland | www.portlandlibrary.com

 

FRIDAY 22

 

FROM WITHIN | As uprisings swell once again in St. Louis after last week's acquittal of white Officer Jason Stockley, who was let go after being charged with the murder of black driver Anthony Lamar Smith in December 2011, you should make sure to see Sabaah Folayan's Whose Streets?, the searing on-the-ground documentary of the protests and actions in and surrounding Ferguson after the murder of Michael Brown in 2014. Folayan's film screened twice at SPACE Gallery last week, but receives a full run at Brunswick's Frontier, opening tonight. With reports that St. Louis cops in riot gear have begun to co-opt the chant, you owe it to yourself and others to know its history. | 3 & 7 pm (two screenings) | Frontier, 14 Maine St., Brunswick | $6-8 | www.explorefrontier.com

 

HEY! | Hear the sound of contemporary America as Americana/country/pop group The Head and the Heart swoops through town this evening, playing on the season's last good and sprawlable lawns. The Seattle quintet are still riding high from the release of their 2016 album Signs of Light, and are major users of the so-called "Millennial Whoop," the ubiquitous whoah-ah sound jumping between the third and fifth notes of a key that musicologists and irritated bloggers have tracked down to a name, pattern, and science (which are, hopefully, the first steps toward its obsolescence). | 7:30 pm | Thompson's Point, Portland | www.statetheatreportland.com

 

SATURDAY 23

 

BACTERIALITY | Today's Beer Meets Wood Festival, put on by the definitive Beer Advocate, gathers the finest examples of breweries adopting the trend of aging beer in wood. Today's tastings should feature beers aged in bourbon-soaked barrels, fresh oak, weird bacteria, and all other varieties, collecting over 200 beers from 20 states across the U.S. (and Belgium, of course, known for its funk in this department). Wood-aging has a long history, and these folks know it. | 6 pm | Portland Company Complex, 58 Fore St. Portland | $55 | www.beeradvocate.com  

 

BOOTSTOMP | Off the path in Casco, Maine's Half Moon Jug Band of throwback players whoops it up for awhile at the Carousel Horse Farm, where a barbecue and kids' pony and wagon rides round out a heartwarming benefit for the nonprofit Jackman Preschool, in nearby Jackman, Maine. The whole shindig starts at 2, but the corn hole tournament at 3 is when things really get going. | 2-7 pm | Carousel Horse Farm, 69 Leach Hill Rd. Casco | $30, $10-15 youth | https://chfmaine.com/ 

 

 

POST-PARALYSIS | Now nine months into a Trump administration, the threats to democracy, working and marginalized people, and other civic institutions have moved from nebulous and abstract to a lot more defined. The GOP has launched yet another attempt to repeal the ACA, trying to strongarm the Graham-Cassidy Bill through Congress, and ICE raids are continuing to threaten vulnerable immigrant people throughout the country. Whatever your participation level is in anti-oppression politics, you might find it useful to have today's "Active Bystander Training" under your belt. A workshop hosted by Portland organization Prevention.Action.Change, this training at the outer Forest Planned Parenthood will help you know specifically what to do when witnessing hate speech and violence enacted on another person in your presence. | 4-6:30 pm | Planned Parenthood, 970 Forest Ave., Portland | $10 sugg. donation | https://pacmaine.com/

 

MAKE YOUR NIGHT | There's an inspired kind of variety show down at Zero Station tonight called "All Black Everything," combining comedy (James Swaka), poetry (Nyanen Deng), dance (the art-pop dance hybrid group Hi Tiger), hip hop (DJ/producer 32french and rapper AFRiCAN DUNDADA), and paintings by celebrated artist Daniel Minter. Produced by Derek Jackson (a contributor to this newspaper), who has a knack for assembling exciting contemporary shows of artists in disparate mediums, genres, and forms. | 8 pm | Zero Station, 222 Anderson St. Portland | by donation 

 

SUNDAY 24

INDIVISIBLE | If you've exhausted Black Mirror and Westworld and are thirsty for some more quixotic, dystopian techno-futurist fiction, hop on over to today's screening of Marjorie Prime, a film adapted from the stage by Michael Almereyda (Experimenter, Hamlet (2000), Nadja) about a service that provides holographic representations of deceased loved ones. | Fri 2 & 6:30pm; Sat-Sun 2pm | Portland Museum of Art, 7 Congress Square, Portland | $8 | www.portlandmuseum.org

 

MONDAY 25

 

PLAY GAMES, HEAL KIDS | Channel your irrational love for meaningless competition into something good today! Register a team of four and bowl for the highest score at this Bayside Bowl fundraiser for the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital. Team fees — which are $20 each — and 2% of food and drink sales will go to support the vital work that folks do there which ranges from specialized surgical treatment, to checkups, to treating complex maladies and injuries. Help some of Maine’s sick kids out and have fun in the meantime.

| $20 | 4:00 pm to 11:00 pm | Bayside Bowl, 58 Alder St., Portland | https://www.baysidebowl.com/ |

 

ADULT STORY TIME | For it to resonate, creative (song) writing is usually a deeply personal affair. Ideas once hidden in the deepest recesses of the brain are suddenly yanked, molded into words, and served still raw for public consumption— the writing process can be pretty nerve-wracking. But that anxiety is precisely what makes listening to writers read their own work so enthralling; it’s like a little preview of the gears inside their brain. Sometimes the gears are greased and spin flawlessly, while other times they are clunky and broken. Whatever the outcome, writers make themselves extremely vulnerable all for the sake of provoking thought; and that’s laudable. Three local wordsmiths —Ekhlas Ismail Ahmed, Roy Davis, and Jim Thatcher — will do just that during musician Chris Robley’s Verses vs. Verses storytelling event. This edition of the monthly series is built around the theme of “growing up,” something that unfortunately none of us are spared from.  

| DONATION BASED | 5:30 pm | Blue, 650 Congress St., Portland | http://portcityblue.com/ |

 

DON’T FEAR PEOPLE | Equally as nerve-wracking as sharing your words with others is the act of simply addressing a crowd of strangers on a stage. Trust us, there’s a reason many artists are introverts. If you’re a creative type bursting with good ideas, but haven’t quite overcome stage fright, Empire’s Great Open Mic Challenge could be the place to earn your wings. Organizers there are calling for comedians, storytellers, songwriters, and poets from all skill levels to conquer the stage and compete for the title of “Best in Show.” Will the acts exude confidence and charisma or crumple under the pressure of entertaining a — likely boozed up — Portland crowd? How they will be judged is surely all part of the fun. Hosted by Kari Hodgens and Luna Colt, this event kicks off every Monday.

| $2 | 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm | Empire, 575 Congress St., Portland | http://www.portlandempire.com/ |

 

WINNING COMBO | In a delightful merger of two great things — legendary rock-n-roll and eccentric cinema — Seu Jorge tours through town with his internationally raved about show The Life Aquatic, A Tribute To David Bowie. Set in front of a backdrop of screens playing scenes from the colorful and quirky Wes Anderson film, this Brazilian rocker will likely impress die-hard fans of the late, great Star Child with his solid covers and playful remixes. We’re glad this innovative show’s booked for Portland’s biggest stage; it certainly calls for it.

| $40 | 8:00 pm | State Theatre, 609 Congress St., Portland | http://www.statetheatreportland.com/ |

 

TUESDAY 26

 

PAGE TO STAGE | What does it take to perform a captivating (and fairly authentic) retelling of the life of Billie Holiday on the theatre stage? It turns out, a lot of work beyond just laudable acting, and stage blocking. The cast and crew of the recent Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill show will recount how they recreated the story of one of the greatest jazz singers of all time during this revealing discussion on the creative process.

| FREE | 12:00 pm | Portland Public Library, 5 Monument Sq., Portland | https://www.portlandlibrary.com/ |

 

CHILLY NIGHTS | I’m guessing with the departure of summer, there aren’t that many viable weeks left for hanging out comfortably on the rooftop of Bayside Bowl. So take advantage of the few remaining nights above 50 degrees and head on up for the free concert planned there featuring Sea Level, aka electronica artist Dan Capaldi. He deploys a unique blend of shoegaze, chillstep, and trip-hop sounds to induce a colorful journey inside one’s own head. Hang out and let him play with your thoughts.

| FREE | 6:00 pm | Bayside Bowl, 58 Alder St., Portland | https://www.baysidebowl.com/ |

 

EXPERIMENTAL FICTION | KL Pereira, an author from Boston, visits Portland today with her new book A Dream Between Two Rivers: Stories of Liminality, a hypnotic, dark, and spiritually intense collection of stories that will deftly cross an intersection of experiences between females, children, and immigrants. She’ll be at Print Bookstore for an hour or two talking to Portlanders about the craft of writing and creating characters that seem equal parts fantastic and viscerally real.

| FREE | 7:00 pm | Print Bookstore, 273 Congress St., Portland | http://www.printbookstore.com/ |

 

MORE THAN BIRDS | A mesmerizing film screens tonight at the SPACE Gallery. Titled the Ornithologist, the film follows a handsome man named Fernando as he searches for endangered black storks on a river in Portugal. But after being swept away by the rapids, rescued by two Chinese pilgrims, and exposed to a myriad of strange obstacles that we won’t spoil, his journey changes from a scientific one, to an erotic one. Dubbed a “transfixing spiritual and sexual odyssey” by the LA Times, this film, as is often the case with avant-garde foreign art films, will either serve as the philosophical jolt your bored mind craves, or simply two-hour pleasure reel of natural landscapes and beautiful, interesting people.

| $8 | 7:00 pm | SPACE Gallery, 538 Congress St., Portland | http://www.space538.org/ |

 

WEDNESDAY 27

 

GET TO WORK | You might not be really human if you’ve never muttered to yourself, at least once, “my job sucks, what am I doing with me life.” Perhaps that’s even how you’re feeling right now. That’s okay, because jobs that pay the bills and happen to be enjoyable and fulfilling are hard to come by. But that’s why it’s important to stay vigilant, and open to change whenever the opportunity comes your way. One such opportunity presents itself this week in the form of the Portland Press Herald’s annual job fair at USM. Representatives from dozens of businesses and organizations with job openings will be there, and they want to meet you! So take a shower, print a resume, and shoot for a fresh start.

| FREE | 12:00 pm to 6:00 pm | Abromson Center, USM, Portland | http://usm.maine.edu/ |

 

STAR-LORD ARRIVES | In a world obsessed with social media, political dramas, and debates over meaningless nonsense, healthy mental exercises involve remembering that we’re all just talking animals on a floating rock spinning somewhere within an incomprehensibly huge pool of blackness. Viewing life through this slightly depressing, but scientific lens, tends to dissolve any socially constructed anxieties people get outraged over on a daily basis; you see, the enormity of the universe can liberate one from the stresses of the daily grind. The renowned astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson is a perfect example of a man confident enough to move through life aware of just how small, and inconsequential humans are in the grand narrative of the universe. Tyson — of Cosmos and StarTalk Radio fame — has inspired at least two generations of people to look up at the stars in wondrous reverence, and consider their place in it all. You’ve seen Tyson drop many knowledge bombs about quantum physics, the fabric of spacetime, and astronomy on the Internet dozens of times, but this week marks the extremely rare chance to hear his cosmic revelations in person, RIGHT HERE IN PORTLAND. The tickets are steep, but we’d say Tyson and his invaluable wisdom, are well worth the price of admission.

| $60 | 7:30 pm | Merrill Auditorium, 20 Myrtle St., Portland | https://www.porttix.com/ |

 

THURSDAY 28

 

IT’S GOING DOWN | Next week brings another slate of culturally relevant, emotionally stimulating, and just plain entertaining events to consider attending. Though modest in size, Portland seldom fails to offer up some new and interesting way for the hard-workers to spend their rare block of free time on. If you disagree, you either aren’t a fan of these pages or are seriously deprived of fun (or both)! Our next edition of 8 Days will surely bring you, the reader seeking a reason to stay downtown longer, with details on such happenings like: the rescheduled Tony Bennett concert, an intimate photo exhibit of maternity wards abroad at the Portland Public Library, an extremely funky (and affordable) concert at Empire, a public dance performance that defies gravity and takes place on the side of a building, an eye-opening university discussion on gender and religion, and two jam-packed nights featuring the beguiling talents of songstress Kat Wright. It’s getting colder, but that’s no excuse to stay at home!

8 Days a Week: Posi-Jams, Lawn Hangs, and Street Talk

THURSDAY 14

HERE'S YOUR CHANCE | Tell you what. You could skip this whole weekend and drive to New York right now to see the Fall, the legendary post-punk band from Manchester, UK, fronted by the brilliant and asinine Mark E. Smith. They play the first of five consecutive nights in Brooklyn tonight, a mere six-hour drive. No? Okay, then. Closer fantasies at hand, the fine folks at Bayside’s elevated barbecue joint Terlingua get weird with special one-night-only pours from Austin Street Brewery (whose Patina Pale Ale collects high marks on Beer Advocate) and sup from Cold Springs Ranch, a grassfed beef operation also from Portland. This pairing dinner starts at 6pm, prices a la carte. | 6 pm | Terlingua, 52 Washington Ave., Portland | www.terlingua.me

 

INTERPERSONALITY | As we roll into harvest season, and as city officials continue to tweak and grapple with the city’s food systems, it’s a decent time to think about your relationship to the stuff. Tonight, you’ve got a chance to sit in with peers, visionaries, re-imaginers, and industry folks to do just that. With a hat tip to Solange, A Seat at the Table is a fine idea drafted earlier this year by writer and activist Chanel Lewis, collecting interested parties to gather face-to-face to discuss real, high-stakes issues, and see which of those are included among the important decisions and resources in our world. Tonight’s discussion revolves around food and food systems — sit in. | 5:30-7 pm | Urban Farm Fermentory, 200 Anderson St., Portland | https://treehouseinstitute.typeform.com/to/TnWq7S

 

FRIDAY 15

 

FATES DECIDE TOGETHER | As the country again rallied the last couple weeks opposing the repeal of DACA — the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy put into place during the Obama administration — an ethics of mass protest is something of value. Enter The Maribor Uprisings, an interactive participatory film made by Colby College educators Maple Razsa and Milton “Milo” Guillen. This groundbreaking film uses documentary footage from a real-life, highstakes protest in 2012 Slovenia, where the people of Maribor had hit their limit from the mayor’s corrupt extortionist policie. In the film, the audience collectively decides, choose-your-own-adventure style, which actions to take during the protest, while Razsa and Guillen (among other facilitators) contextualize the group’s decisions. A film festival highlight, the screening becomes an interesting experiment in a freely accessible public square. | 7 pm | Congress Square, Congress and High Streets, Portland | www.congresssquarepark.org

 

POP RELEASE VALVE | No more dedicated a singer than she is a performer, the New Zealand artist Aldous Harding infuses her songs with humor, danger, and confession. Recommended for fans of Jenny Hval, St. Vincent, and Julia Holter, this gothic-folk songwriter is on the up, and likely won’t come around for another little while. Have a listen to her lovely new album, Party, which ripples with bottled energy and is full of bold choices. Bonus: it features the musician John Parish, who was all over those fantastic early PJ Harvey records — another touchstone. Harding plays with Wildflower and the microdub sensations of Artie Appleseed. | 7:30 pm | $8 adv, $10 day of | SPACE Gallery, 538 Congress St., Portland | www.space538.org

 

SATURDAY 16

 

SWINGIN' PARTY | If you're of a certain persuasion, there's no way you aren't all over the Trey Anastasio Band's show on the meadows of Thompson's Point tonight. But did you know local Phish tribute band Pardon Me, Doug was priming the pump (and then cooling it down) on the complex's Brick South from 3 am until late night? Your epic late-summer Phish session is upon you. | 6 pm | Thompson's Point, 4 Thompson's Point, Portland | $45-50 | www.statetheatreportland.com

 

JELLIES DELISH | One of Biddeford's biggest, silliest celebrations, the annual River Jam Festival collects a smorgasbord of activities and music in Southern Maine's most intriguing Portland suburb. There's a 5K race, a "Dash to the Sea" kayak race, canoe trips, a charter boat (a/k/a party boat), and nightly sets from some of Portland's most talked-about artists, from the pop singer Amy Allen to the roots country act Mallett Brothers Band to pop artist Spencer Albee's most recent configuration. Stay for the day, and then swoop into this next listing in the evening... | Fri-Sat all day | River Jam Festival, Biddeford | Free | www.riverjamfest.com  

 

LANDSPUN | ...because metastasized within the vast former textile mill in Biddeford is the compelling art installation Influx, an exhibition of notable Maine artists threaded together by the interdisciplinary artist Sarah Baldwin. In an exhibition tying the Pepperell Mill both to its history as a site of labor for countless families in Southern Maine and its future as a hub of art, commerce, and lifestyle that it's ascendant to today. Influx is up just two weeks; the smart move is making sure you're in town for the reception tonight.

| 5-9 pm | Pepperell Mill, 2 Main St, Biddeford | free | http://autuscollective.weebly.com/events.html

 

TRICK OF THE NEEDLE | Some might say the band Roochie Toochie and the Ragtime Shepherd Kings have one trick, but goddamn it's a good one. The old-time string-plucking quintet made their first album entirely on wax cylinder, a method for recording invented by Thomas Edison in 1888. The medium helps Roochie Toochie to sound like they're poached in time, but tonight at Mayo Street, you get to hear them play their selection of Tin Pan Alley tooters in real-time. Featuring the old Portland musician Tim Findlen (of Over a Cardboard Sea), an inimitable showman and tremendous student of the ukulele. | 8 pm | Mayo Street Arts, 10 Mayo St., Portland | $12 | www.mayostreetarts.org  

DEPTHLESS ADVENTURES | If you can't make it up to the national-caliber Camden International Film Festival this weekend (more on that on page 5), some slim consolation could be had in Freeport, where the Maine Outdoor Film Festival transpires on the L.L.Bean Discovery Park grounds. That's not a dig — for that subset of filmgoers who love nature docs, however rugged, this is surely preferable to a weekend of politically thorny, ponderous, experimental, or otherwise niche flicks. There's also a major difference in commitment: the whole program at L.L.Bean is only about an hour and fifteen minutes. | 8 pm | L.L.Bean Discovery Park, Freeport | $3-5

 

SUNDAY 17

 

IN MEMORIAM | Let me tell you a story. Once, a Portland resident endeavored to run the Trail to Ale 10K. The night before, he ran into an old friend he hadn't seen in awhile and very casually sipped three martinis with him, and when the morning came and the sky was awash with rain, he woke confident it would be cancelled, and he could return to bed for a few more hours in lieu of running. But, since he was up, he figured he'd treat himself to a huge breakfast at Hot Suppa before returning to bed. And though he was confident throughout his delicious meal of eggs and biscuits and gravy that the rains would wash out the race (it was his first Trail to Ale 10K, you see), he learned only at the conclusion of that breakfast, when his friends texted him that they'd pick him up in five, that he was dead wrong. The Portland resident quickly ran home to change, and was whisked away to the East End to stretch for what seemed (it was reported to me) like an impossible task: running six-plus miles in the pouring rain on a hangover and a full stomach. But strangely, he hadn't realized that running long distances with several hundred other people is bizarrely invigorating, far more (or so he told me) than running alone. Though slow, he finished the race without stopping and finished in the low 500s — truly a heroic feat. And though it was said that he couldn't feel his legs for fully five days after the fact, it was 100 percent worth it. If there's a moral here, it's that road races don't rain out. Get on your horse, Portland.

| 9 am | Portland Trail to Ale, Eastern Promenade, Portland | www.trails.org/t2a | $35

 

 

EMBODIMENT | A stalwart of the Portland theater scene (and a medical doctor in his free time), actor and director Hal Cohen opens his self-directed dark comedy Intervention this weekend, which hovers around the increasingly harrowing matter of addiction. Starring Portland actors Aileen Andrews, Thomas Campbell, Anna Gravél, Sarah Barlow, and Steven Leighton, Intervention plays at 2 pm today, the first weekend of a two-week run. | Thu-Sat 7:30pm; Sun 2pm | Portland Ballet Studio, 517 Forest Ave., Portland | $18 | https://on-a-dare-productions.ticketleap.com/

  

MONDAY 18

 

MAN IN CHAINS | How does a person follow up an album as coolly deep and surprisingly affecting as War On Drugs' 2014 full-length Lost in the Dream? Beats us, but Philadelphia musician Adam Granduciel just made his attempt, putting out the understated indie-rock album A Deeper Understanding last month. The thing still sounds like a modern reframing of '80s soft-rock hits like the Eagles, Dire Straits, Bruce Hornsby, and while it lacks the holy shit element the last one did, it should hardly disappoint true believers. I don't know how this stuff manages to hit the spot for thoughtful, sensitive millennial men (though there are theories — listening to this is often easier, or more possible, than talking to their dads), but it does. Granduciel and co. play the State Theatre tonight with Elizabeth Powell's quirky and emotionally resonant project Land of Talk, from Montreal. | 7:30 pm | State Theatre, 609 Congress St., Portland | $35 | www.statetheatreportland.com

 

GROUND GAME | A true highlight of the Camden International Film Festival (profiled on page 5) is the film Whose Streets?, an incredibly moving documentary of the protests and foundation of the Black Lives Matter movement in the weeks after the murder of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. Made by filmmakers Sabaah Folayan and Damon Davis, two residents of the St. Louis region whose on-the-ground footage and participation in the uprising allowed for an incredible access, it's a tremendously powerful film. (This writer saw it in Columbia, Missouri when it premiered at the True/False Film Festival, and a 1,200-seat theater at full capacity was on its feet. Tonight (and Wednesday), Portland receives a gift of a screening complemented by an appearance and discussion with filmmaker Sabaah Folayan. | Mon and Wed 7 pm | SPACE Gallery, 538 Congress St., Portland | $8 | www.spacegallery.org

 

TUESDAY 19

 

THE ONCE OVER TWICE | It's with some astonishment that Portland receives the legendary punk rock band X tonight. The hugely impactful Los Angeles group, led by John Doe and Exene Cervenka, circle the country as part of a 40-year anniversary tour, playing tracks from their staple albums Los Angeles, Wild Gift, and more. We hear Cervenka's been bit by the same bug that got former Saturday Night Live comedian Victoria Jackson and is now something of a right-wing conspiracy theorist, but hey, life is complex. With Skating Polly. | 8 pm | Port City Music Hall, 504 Congress St., Portland | $30-35

 

WEDNESDAY 20

 

THE MAN WHO LOVES TO HURT HIMSELF | Long ago, a good chunk of late '90s hardcore punk bands got stuck for ideas. Bored with looking to '80s stalwarts like Agnostic Front, Youth of Today, and Minor Threat for inspiration, and fully exhausting the reserves of thrash-metal crossover acts like Vio-lence, Voivod, and Slayer, a good crop of them started taking cues from Today is the Day, a little-known noise-rock band from Nashville fronted by the seethingly angry Steve Austin. Early Today is the Day records on Amphetamine Reptile weren't exactly as metal as the pummeling beast the band turned into — 1994's Willpower is a raw and shockingly complex record, at times almost indie-rocky and no less heavy for it. But much devolution occurred, and 20 years later, Austin has become a sort of singular titan among metal dogs, even though his band has never snugly fit the genre. Now a Mainer, he plays the entirety of TITD's psychotic breakthrough record Temple of the Morning Star, from 1997, with Portland's black-metal group Shabti, harsh-to-the-point-of-meditative noise act Nycterent, and more. | 8 pm | Geno's Rock Club, 625 Congress St., Portland | $10

 

THURSDAY 21

 

CERTAIN FUTURES | Next week, we inch closer to fall festival season (Common Ground starts September 22, Cumberland County the 24th, and the Fryeburg Fair a week later). Keep the pumpkin spice memes flowing.

Never gone — The unremitting spirit of Forget, Forget

One of my favorite lines on You’re Not Gone, the second album from Portland-based duo Forget, Forget, arrives midway through “Seashells,” track five. It’s when Patia Maule sings "let’s get takeout and go see a show.” Kind of a throwaway line, and an odd one to find refreshing or unique. But it’s unlike almost every other lyric on the album in that it’s absent some intention to move, to inspire, or to connect.

The etymology of the word “inspiration” means “to fill the mind with grace,” or to feel “the immediate influence of God or a god.” I don’t know the particulars of the religious faith of Maule or Tyler DeVos, the two members of Forget, Forget. Hell, I don’t know whether they have any at all; that's besides the point. But one of the band’s core qualities is a seemingly avowed interest in making music wholeheartedly — that is, with their whole hearts — in the hopes of getting the room to sing along. This music seeks to inspire.

Naturally, this sort of vulnerability can make for some wincingly earnest moments. “Ohh, I'm prepared for an interval of time. Ohh, I'm prepared to believe in mankind,” begins frontman DeVos on album-opener “The City.” In a cultural landscape chin-deep in irony, such displays of naked sincerity are jarring.

But this is, fundamentally, a music of hope, and there’s something plainly beautiful about that. As a listener, it makes me grapple with my own belief system. Again putting aside religion, I rarely share any feeling of unvarnished faith that DeVos seems to conjure on this album. And while I have some buried instinct to write critically from that particular crossroads, that would as much indict my own cynicism as anything else.

Forget, Forget’s first album from five years ago, was a big affair with a lot of musicians. This one’s stripped down to DeVos and Maule, who tackle guitars, vocals, synths, and programming between them. The moments of bombast in the sprawling, six-piece band from years ago are replaced by a more driving new style, more new wave than Neon Bible.

On We Are All, the band’s 2013 debut, DeVos wrote lyrics culling from the perspectives of his clients. A counselor who worked with the mentally ill and otherwise in need, he arranged the quotations and first-hand accounts in song. Here, there's evidence he's still taking on characters, but they're far more abstract and sublimated. “Week Or So” takes on the narrative of a father, possibly a universal one, in a state of reflection. In “Year of Transition,” he addresses someone being saved from the stormy weather of some unknown dread.

It all makes for a noble and worthwhile project. It’s certainly true that there are only so many ideas left to mine in this genre, and DeVos and Maule don’t seem particularly impelled to reinvent the form. But the album can’t help but bring up complex thoughts about what inspires people today, and that’s worth thinking about.

“Seashells” make for one of the album’s two finest songs, standing along with closer “Your Kid Sister,” a single from 2015, as comfortable and radio-ready. The ascendance of Maule as a sometimes-lead vocalist is a huge asset on the album. Her voice is delightfully nimble and expressive. On songs like “Public Places,” the band more recalls Blondie or Aimee Mann’s more calculatedly upbeat tracks than the Arcade Fire or other of their indie forebears.

And DeVos’s vocal presence is steady and sound as well, a trickier task this time around with four fewer musicians around him. With this more measured formation, you can follow DeVos moving through registers and playing with deliveries far more, particularly on the slower stuff. But DeVos and Maule are best when they move. To me, each of the album’s upbeat songs add a necessary urgency to the group’s earnestness. Maybe it’s just easier to run alongside spirit this strong rather than stare it directly in the face. 


Forget, Forget | You’re Not Gone, album re- lease with Cape Cannons + The Empty + Super Psyche | Empire, 575 Congress St., Portland | $8 | www.portlandempire.com  

This article has been edited for clarity since publication.  

8 Days a Week: Six-Fingered Men, Victorian Revivals, and Badass Poets

THURSDAY 7

 

TO BLAVE | One of the most quoted, celebrated, and influential movies of a generation, the '80s fantasy film The Princess Bride gets a one-night-only screening at the Nickelodeon tonight. Some of this film's lines have been embedded in my vernacular so long I'd forgotten where they came from. (I've been addressing my entire family the way Andre the Giant calls up to Princess Buttercup for about 20 years now.) The late start time here will deter some of the less hardcore following, but around midnight, right around the point where you hit the pit of eternal despair, you'll realize who your people are. The Princess Bride kicks off a really respectable late-night Thursday Night Throwback series, which continues weekly until the end of the year. We're about it.

| 11 pm | Nickelodeon Cinemas, 1 Temple St., Portland | www.patriotcinemas.com

 

CONNECTING DOTS | Hear Waverley, the new album by indie-rock act An Overnight Low, and you may detect nods toward the slightly acid-caked neo-psychedelia of British rock group the Soft Boys as well as American cult heroes like Gram Parsons. With a sound that moves effortlessly between haunted and sober, the group, fronted by Manchester-reared songwriter and educator Chad Walls, release their third full-length album tonight at Portland House of Music, with Bri Lane and Dominic Lavoie, formerly of the longtime Portland psych-rock band Dominic and the Lucid. Walls has taught at SMCC, MECA, and UNE, so his relationship-building skills in this community are strong. We hope for a warm night.

| 8 pm | Portland House of Music and Events, 25 Temple St., Portland | www.portlandhouseofmusic.com

 

FRIDAY 8

 

WRITERS WRITE | If you've slayed your stack of summer beach reads and feel ready to tackle something with a little more heft, allow us to introduce you to Seth Rogoff's debut novel First, The Raven: A Preface. A hiccupy title, perhaps, but numerous writers have attested to the hypnotic power of this debut novel by Rogoff, a Maine native who's lived in Prague the last two years. The premise is this. After decades apart, two old friends meet in a townie Maine bar — the Czech translator Sy Kirschbaum and the playwright Gabe Slatky — where they, y'know, compare notes. Rogoff's book has drawn comparisons to My Dinner With Andre, the influential film-where-nothing-happens, and the fiction of Kafka, a writer he himself translates. Also a professor at the Maine College of Art, Rogoff appears tonight at Print to discuss his mesmerizing book.

| 7 pm | Print: A Bookstore, 273 Congress St., Portland | www.printbookstore.com

 

DANCING ABOUT INCARCERATION | If you witnessed or enjoyed last week's tent spectacle at Thompson's Point, the one whipped up by Alison Chase and her band of performers (and that dude from the Hold Steady), then listen up. This weekend's ineffable dance/theater hybrid is totally different! The Freedom Project, a devised piece by the intergenerational, multicultural Everett Company, explores the theme of mass incarceration in the U.S. One would be hard-pressed to find a weightier subject to tackle, but this cluster of five dancers weave personal narratives, daring physicality, and historical framework to dance around their point, which is the ways in which the "Land of the Free" became the country with the most incarcerated citizens in the world.

| Fri-Sat 7:30 pm | $18 adv, $20 day of | 7:30 pm | SPACE Gallery, 538 Congress St., Portland | www.space538.org

 

IDEA CITY | Tonight marks the second of two benefit shows for Elijah True, the Lewiston punk statesman, father of two, and drummer of the otherworldly instrumental rock band An Anderson, who's been battling a form of cancer since last winter. Shooting into Bayside from the last show's environs, see experimentalist id m theft able, rock burlies Cushing, Alex Merrill's longtime song project Old Night, and more at the warm confines of the Apohadion.

| 8 pm | The Apohadion Theater, 107 Hanover St., Portland | by donation 

 

 

FUZZY BUDDIES | Returning to us tonight is the gifted songwriter Henry Jamison, whom locals may remember as the frontman of the dreamy and sophisticated folk-rock act The Milkman's Union. Jamison's been living in Vermont and flying solo lately, and his singles, particularly the restrained joy of "Real Peach," have been catching the attention of all sorts of listeners. (Seriously, I listened to that song just once over a year ago, and I get it stuck in my head all the time.) Jamison's a songwriting slugger, and it's easy to root for someone who goes deep this often. He plays tonight at One Longfellow Square, with estimable alt-country act Tall Horse and the piano/violin duo Gracie and Rachel.

| 8 pm | One Longfellow Square, 181 State St., Portland | $12-15 | www.onelongfellowsquare.com

 

SATURDAY 9

 

LAYING IN THE SUN | Against the backdrop of a waning summer, weekend hours are precious. A reliable option is HenryFest, the thirteenth annual outdoor shindig of string music and Americana conjuring, with dance workshops for kids, food trucks, craft beer, an "instrument discovery truck," and, fingers crossed, some hot slabs of late summer sun. (Reports circulate that Hurricane Irma may travel as far up the East Coast as Maine, which would certainly change the tenor of this party.) The Gawler Family String Band, a fiddle-playing family of five from Belgrade, Maine, serve as a sort of headliner for this one, reaching into their kettle of Scottish, Irish, and Franco-American fiddle tunes. They're joined by Portland songwriter Katie Matzell, the great Emilia Dahlin, Congolese drumming group Mbondo Africa, and more.

| noon-7 pm | Skyline Farm, 95 The Lane, North Yarmouth | $18-20 ($35 for the family) | www.skylinefarm.org

 

PUSHING FOR EQUITY | It's good news that registration for today's action workshop, titled "Changing Maine: Centering Anti-Racism in Our Movements," is mostly filled. Sponsored by a coalition of groups committed to the long, slow process of anti-racist justice work and spearheaded by Resources for Organizing and Social Change (ROSC), the workshop collects anti-racist activists from here and out of state to help train locals to advance racial equity. As a response to the election, the political climate, and the white liberal-heavy vibe of organizing spaces (and the state in general), the workshop's organizers have planned for black and POC breakout sessions, recognizing that needs and questions differ among those showing up for this. For more information, visit the website below.

| 8 am-5 pm | YWCA of Maine, 130 East Ave., Lewiston | sliding scale $0-50 (no one turned away) | www.resourcesforsocialchange.org

 

FREAK SCENE | Somehow, the Portland pop group Weakened Friends scored Dinosaur Jr. guitarist J Mascis to solo on their new song, "Hate Mail." It rips. And it seems to be working — the surly, snarly rock song (an unsentimental missive about the end of a relationship fueled by gaslighting) debuted on Stereogum this week, and should help propel the Portland-trio forward. As weirdo punk rock idols go, there aren't many better out there — maybe I should ask J to write an 8 Days entry. I digress; fans should follow the former Box Tiger and Audience rockers to their show in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, tonight, where they play with Badfellows and Heavy Pockets.

| 9 pm | The Stone Church, 5 Granite St., Portsmouth, NH | $7 | www.stonechurchrocks.com

 

REFORMERS ENGAGE | The annual Portland Greenfest kicks off in Monument Square today, a high positivity eco-event that models creative solutions to deal with the environmental challenges to come. It may be a grim distinction that this event co-incides with Hurricane Irma, a category 5 storm which at the time of this writing is potentially slated to hit Florida and possibly travel up the East Coast. But with luck, this part of the country won't be disturbed, and the day's demonstrations of hybrid cars, upcycle artmaking, and a "pollinator parade" will all continue without a hitch.

| 10 am-4 pm | Monument Square, Portland | www.portlandgreenfest.org

 

NO BYE, NO ALOHA | They may be playing it chill themselves, but those who've partied with DJs Barfhorse and Laura Vanilla know that it's the end of an era when the two retire their "SLIME" party this month. The last of an ongoing party that was for awhile one of the most eclectic, hard-hitting, and knowledgeable in town, the duo lay it down tonight for one last time, before Laura Vanilla (a/k/a Portland designer and hairstylist extraordinaire Meghan Harrington) moves out west.

| 9 pm | Flask Lounge, 117 Spring St., Portsmouth, NH | free | www.flasklounge.com

 

SUNDAY 10

 

KICK THE CAN | Now that the steampunk wave is mostly behind us, it's okay for the rest of us to poke around with Victorian-era aesthetics again. The city's favorite precious dollhouse museum, the admittedly fascinating Victoria Mansion, hosts its biennial Victorian Fair, with interactive exhibitions, demonstrations, tarot readers, tea etiquette instruction, a cider press, a Punch & Judy performance, and tons more. Whether you find this stuff uncanny and creepy, perversely exciting, or unironically beautiful, you'd be among friends today. | 11 am | Victoria Mansion, 109 Danforth St., Portland | $10 | www.victoriamansion.org

 

MONDAY 11

 

LIVING HISTORY | Read artist and poet LaLa Drew's review on page 24 for a more in-depth take on tonight's documentary film The Revival: Women and the Word, a fiery documentary by Sekiya Dorsett covering the salon-style national poetry tour launched by poet Yaani Supreme (a/k/a Jake Foster) that has amplified the art of thousands of queer women and femmes of color around the country. Drew hosts a performance of their homegrown poetry reading series BloodLetting following the film, with a collection of fine area poets front and center. | 7:30 pm | SPACE Gallery, 538 Congress St., Portland | $6-8 | www.space538.org

 

WEDNESDAY 13

 

TUGGING THE CHORDS | If the transition to fall returns you to states only loud music can penetrate, then drench yourself in the power-chord syrup of pop-punk band The Menzingers, who play tonight with Long Island emo/hardcore band Movielife, who formed in the late '90s, split, and reunited again several years ago. They're also joined by MakeWar, a Brooklyn punk band much nearer drinking age. | 8 pm | Port City Music Hall, 504 Congress St., Portland | $20-23 | www.portcitymusichall.com

 

FINDING TREASURE | Comedy scenes burn out quick. If you're peeking around for a new one, peep into Bayside's Apohadion Theater tonight, where local personality Jack Slattery hosts an inaugural showcase of joke-tellers TBA.| 8 pm | The Apohadion Theater, 107 Hanover St., Portland | by donation

 

THURSDAY 14

 

CERTAIN FUTURES | Next week, the vaunted Camden International Film Festival plans to kick off in the Midcoast; playwright and actor Hal Cohen unveils Intervention, his theatrical inquiry into addiction and harm reduction; and Portland House of Music continues their comedy series with "Cocktails and Comedy 5." Let you know next week who's got the mic.

Dancing on the Edge of Summer — Alison Chase's 'NO PLAN B' takes over Thompson's Point

This weekend, the choreographer Alison Chase and her dance company, Alison Chase/Performance, take over Thompson’s Point for a multimedia tent show, merging her team of six trained contemporary dancers with sound and visual design from some unexpected sources.

Teaming with multi-instrumentalist Franz Nicolay, who played with rock group The Hold Steady as well as vaudeville-punk group World/Inferno Friendship Society; and video artist Gene Felice, director of the University of Maine’s CoAction Lab, the cohort have originated NO PLAN B, an immersive event that may help illuminate and excavate the charged emotional landscape of summer of 2017.

Throughout her career, Chase has not shied away from across-the-aisle collaboration. She was the founding artistic director of the famed Pilobolus Dance Theater as a student at Dartmouth in 1971 and the company of dance illusionists MOMIX in the 1980s. A Mainer for nearly 30 years, she’s choreographed operas for La Scala Opera, the Ballet du Rhin, and the Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall, and taught a theater program for six years at Yale.

Last year’s production, the street performance Dancing With Steel, was performed in seven locations across coastal Maine. After Dancing With Steel, NO PLAN B is the second of six productions Chase is designing for a site-specific series she’s titled Beyond the Proscenium.

We spoke with Alison Chase by phone after her company completed the first leg of NO PLAN B’s run, with shows at Fort Knox State Park in Prospect, Maine.

300 achase tent session GeneFelice (1)

 

Alison Chase/Performance erects a tent to accommodate all elements of the production

Are the elements you started with when you began this project still visible to you at this point?

Oh yeah, it’s beautiful right out of the box because it starts with the dancers illuminating themselves. There’s a visceral, visual and emotional line, and they’re all sort of fluidly interfaced. Your eye can go from the dancer to the part of the tent, and then swim back to the dancer. All of a sudden the projection will take your eye and move with it and float it in and out so your focus is very different. It’s very fluid. What were the shows up at Fort Knox like? The whole thing has been a birthing process. It’s amazing how having an audience changes everything. I was like, I should have put you all in front of an audience months ago! Because of the technology, we couldn’t all come together in the tent and until Aug 23 [one day before the show opened in Fort Knox]. We had one day of tech and three with the dancers. It takes a long time to marry and blend all the layers together. We all enjoy that process, but it takes time. We had a lot of late nights in the tents.

In situations like that, do your dancers get concerned they wouldn’t have enough time to adapt?

I don’t think we ever really know what the show is until we put it in front of an audience anyway. I mean, we know some of it but not the whole of it. The dancers never get to see what the audience sees. Each night we morph and define and polish and scrub, and the trajectory of that progression has been beautiful and magical. We performed under the bridge in Fort Knox, near the water, so we’re very curious to see how it’ll settle into Thompson’s Point. But that’s also next to the river, too.

Why did you decide to mount a show like this in Fort Knox?

We did [Dancing With Steel] last summer that was performed at seven sites over coastal Maine. For NO PLAN B, we decided to perform at two sites. I went to Leon Seymour [Executive Director of Friends of Fort Knox] and asked if we could put up a tent someplace, and he was like I have the perfect spot. I’d never been up here. It’s beautiful to have a portable spot to have nice circus magic under a tent.

Did you work with community partners up there to make it happen?

Oh yeah. There were some vendors that wouldn’t come because we didn’t have the volume they wanted. Our tent only seats 180. I was thinking we’d get audiences around 130 and they thought that wasn’t enough. But a few have. Audience members eat here, or they bring some type of picnic piece, like a bento box or Japanese noodles.

Does this show travel beyond Maine or is it Maine-specific?

Well, no it doesn't ... currently. We birthed it in Maine, and the University of Maine IMRC (the campus’s Innovative Media, Research, and Commercialization Center] there has been a very strategic partner. We incubated the show in early spring. We put a tent in our black box theater, and that was the early experimentation. And then Gene Felice [founder of the University of Maine’s CoAction Lab] did more projector content and I went back and worked with the dancers, and then I went back again and we did a sandbox, and then we began to put the layers together. That was the first time the dancers danced over the projection. It was a long time in development.

What is the Beyond the Proscenium series? This is second of six shows?

Yes. For the street shows last year, sometimes we were in the field, sometimes we were right on the water’s edge. We performed at Wolfe’s Neck Park.

For this, It’s been a real experience partnering with nontraditional presenting partners. It’s not like Merrill Auditorium, it’s Fort Knox and Thompson’s Point and Schoodic Point and the wharf in Belfast. I decided to use a tent for the second Beyond the Proscenium event because it gave us some weather-proofing. But I think these tent events are going to be a series. And now, several music festivals have asked us to come.

Is collaborating with “nontraditional presenting partners” more interesting to you in this point in your career?

I love the experimentation that comes along with it. I’ve worked in a proscenium for three decades and found that after a while, everything was squeezed out of my imagination. Chris Thompson [of Parallax Partners, developers of Thompson’s Point] did the Sunanna Festival [in March 2017] and asked for our dancers, and I was like let’s see what we can do in this warehouse space. And TedxPortland has asked us to perform. We could go into a gallery, a raw warehouse space, under a tent; I don’t know with the projections if we can go back into a proscenium space.

How did you start working with [New Hampshire-born musician] Franz Nicolay [of World/Inferno Friendship Society, Hold Steady, etc.] for this?

Franz comes from a different tradition. When he scored this show, he never saw any of the technology. He’s just always seen the piece in the dance studio. I met him when this photographer I collaborate with quite frequently and I was driving up to the University of Maine. He and I always appreciate the exchange of music, and he put something of Franz’s on and said you should listen to this kid, I know his mom. And he played me a few songs and said now listen to these strange interludes. I think this would really work with what you put on stage. I said this is really cool stuff, I just wish it were longer than a minute and ten seconds. He said I'm sure Franz could do that. So Franz did a score for us in New York in 2015 and that expanded into NO PLAN B.

Do the dancers have any connection to Maine?

They do now! No, the dancers are not from Maine. They all love being in Maine, though. Ever since I started my company in 2010 there’s been a couple that has this barn that sleeps eleven and every time we work the dancers stay at this barn, and it’s great. They don’t have to stay at a hotel.

You’ve lived in Brooksville for 20 years, how has life in Maine informed or changed your work?

I think it’s been a huge change in my work. I was with Pilobolus [Dance Theater, which Chase co-founded at Dartmough in 1971] for 30 years and then I left them. I was just trying to figure out how to get my new thing together. I started doing partnerships in the quarry in Stonington [in 2009]. And those kind of turned my head around, taking dance out of the theater. I was interested in what those productions had to be in order to hold the audience’s attention. You can’t do that in New York — like, get an excavator and suspend three people — you can’t do that sort of thing. I worked at the University of Maine and got into film.

Maine’s a smaller state and it’s not so oversaturated. When you call someone with an outof-the-box idea, they’re more wiling and have more time.

I think the scale of Maine has greater fertility for incubation. You can do things here that no one else will venture into because they can’t make a dime here. For NO PLAN B, I’m personally happy not going out of the state of Maine, but i think the dancers would like a greater visibility.

When you’re devising a piece with the troupe, what sort of intensives or processes do you employ? What do you pull in from outside the dance discipline?

Well, I don’t dance about dancing. When I started this piece I had sort of a soft narrative to it. That gets sort of morphed and reshaped when Franz’s music is added. As we started adding projections that started causing different interior trajectories. You don’t want to let the projections be some wallpaper that doesn’t have relationship to what you’re doing in front of it.

NO PLAN B has a vaguely ominous tone. Is there anything about this piece that reflects the era we’re living on?

Yeah, it does. A lot of people have said so.

When I approached Chris Thompson to do this at Thompson’s Point, he was like, oh yeah. I think it’s neat that he’s taking the dare to host stuff that’s experimental. The title actually comes from Chris. They were opening bricks out for Sunanna in March. Gene and I went a couple weeks before in February and it was freezing. There was a hole in the wall and the toilets weren’t installed. And the next time I came I saw a piece of really terrific theater. And i could see the relief on Chris that they had passed inspection. I saw him again a few weeks later and was like, Chris, that must have been an intense moment! And he said, you know, sometimes you get into these things, and there’s no plan B. I was like, can I borrow that?


, immersive multimedia performance by Alison Chase/Performance + Gene Felice + Franz Nicolay | Thompson's Point, 1 Thompson's Point Rd, Portland | Thu-Sat 8pm | $25 | www.alisonchase.org  

Double Negative — Rap Artist Brzowski Drops Fiery Third Album 'ENMITYVILLE'

"When I was young, the art world was where you went to be a failure," says a mysterious audio sample opening the first track from ENMITYVILLE, a new album by Portland “post-rap” artist BRZOWSKI. “It was a chosen profession. You chose to be a failure.”

For a Portland artist that’s been working in a genre as long as many of its most passionate adherents have been alive, this should sound like some next-level irony. But those familiar with BRZOWSKI’s work will recognize it as the artist staking out the terms of his philosophy, which has long dwelled in themes of negativity, independent thought, D.I.Y.-ism and the slow, methodical destruction of harmful norms.

It’s impossible to approach a record by BRZOWSKI, a/k/a the Portland artist Jason Cornell, without talking about his dedication to the project, which, now dozens of releases into an 18-year career, is approaching something like legacy status. Cornell’ has rapped through countless waves of evolution within American hip hop (to say nothing of countless eras of faddish interest by enterprising white dudes getting hyped on trends for a year or so). Boasting over a thousand performances between here and Europe and collaborating with Portland artist and label impresario Moshe and his Milled Pavement imprint, Cornell has made BRZOWSKI a legit name, fusing indie and “backpacker”-style hip hop with an appreciation for punk and metal’s dystopian aesthetics and lyrical themes. His signature grit and gravel delivery is here welcomely decipherable, as producers 80HRTZ, Chryso, and C Money Burns’s skittering beats and measured production leaves plenty of room for him to maneuver.

In this 12-song barrage, newbies would be best-served bouncing to track ten first. Titled “Ordinary Monsters” and featuring A-list guest vocalist and Portland chanteuse Renée Coolbrith on the chorus, it’s as pop-ready a track as we’ve heard from Brzo, its string section and brooding bassline widening the sonic chasm for a screed against social media that doubles as one of the album’s best performances. “Who’s following whom in the cynical orgy of bad taste?” He spits over a welcomely doom-level heavy drum beat trudging toward Coolbrith’s all-too-brief appearance. “I watch semi-formed opinions bandied about with abandon / Keep jaw wired shut it’s not worth offending every mouthbreather, I need to turn that candle on its end and see where the middle lands.”

Via punk perhaps, BRZOWSKI is a notoriously fierce and energetic performer. But the relatively stolid, reflective production on a few of ENMITYVILLE’s tracks can sometimes fail to set him up. “Some days I can’t imagine any way out of this / some days my work boots are full of lead,” attests the labor-critical ballad “Leave It All Behind.” But there’s a little too much studio silence in the quiet, rolling melody, and the rage ends up sounding more canned than bottled. Brzo seems to work better when the world around him is as busy as his thoughts.

That issue is fixed on busy bangers like “Fall Zone Pink,” where, as if lifted from a Minor Threat song, a buzzing discordant guitar buried low in the mix anchors a boom-bap rhythm played by appropriately weathered-sounding drums. BRZOWSKI spits ravenously over the din. “I’m here to make a scene and hollow a bowl from my skull for birds to drink from,” he issues in a characteristically intense, verbose passage. “I wanted your face to look the same forever / Wish for a likeness to present itself in a marble slab,” goes the chorus, the jarring vowel sound of slab a smart illustration on an emotional rhyme gone wrong. On the quasi-industrial “Lachrymimosa,” he decries the decay in social fabric writ large. “The value of interaction a depreciating asset,” he notes, later implicating his own role in the deterioration, as a death-rattle bassline churns below the verses.

Cornell has seemed dead set on naming the limitations of the bleak and deeply problematic world for nearly two decades. That may sound like a grim existence, but in times of intense darkness, artists committed to articulating negation and the failure of systems can appear like a beacon of light. When you think about it, it’s still a fine life to choose.


BRZOWSKI | ENMITYVILLE album release | with Ceschi Ramos + Stay on Mars + Spoken Nerd + Quiet Entertainer | Aug 26, Sat 8:30 pm | SPACE Gallery, 538 Congress St., Portland | $8 | www.space538.org 

This Machine Kills Doubt — An Anderson's Incredible 'Very Machine' is more vital than ever

If you were to peer in on American life from the era of pre- and early-Internet, you’d have no idea what was going on.

Back then, men who wanted to make complicated, noisy instrumental music were everywhere. All over the country, basements were deployed for the purposes of improving the sound of noisy, rhythmic instrumental bands, and the friendships of those who played in them. Disaffected rock fans wanted to little more than to come together in sonic squall over some tangled 11/8 time signature — not, say, tweet some uninformed racist nonsense anonymously from the basement computer.

Think of An Anderson as a gift sent here from that era. At the time of this record's official release in December 2016, this cohort had been playing together around five years, having produced the excellent six-song EP Parts in winter of 2013. A supergroup of Portland-area musicians, guitarist Ron Harrity had played in Honey Clouds and operated record label Peapod Recordings. Bassist Stefan Hanson of Huak played in Perfect Hair with guitarist Dan Smith, who played in Cuss with drummer Elijah True. By the time they formed, it seemed they already worked well together.

The band's latest album, Very Machine, is a single 35-minute track. Released nearly a year ago, but it deserves attention today for several reasons, not least of which that it's a towering musical achievement. Like what you like, but I'd challenge anyone to listen to this in full and make an argument that An Anderson aren't one of the most exciting bands to come out of Portland.

With music like this, you either know its antecedents or you don't. Groups like these are rare. They take years to cohere to this level of intensity and excellence. But even before that, they require people who have the time and wherewithal to learn how to manipulate their instruments like this. And finally, they need whatever spirit is required to make art this fantastic and complex with little to no expectation of audience or grand reception. The last time I saw An Anderson was at Geno's last fall, one of the final sets for October's Waking Windows festival. They played Very Machine in its entirety. Maybe 15 to 20 people attended.

And that's fine. From getting drunk, reading Twitter, playing Pokémon, keeping up with the White House, tending to human relationships, making an income, harboring or discrediting various political conspiracies, watching TV (and reading subsequent hot takes on TV), liking @earlboykins posts on Instagram, and whatever else people do to pass the time in America in 2017, there's a lot to do. And there's simply not a lot of cultural capital found in loud, instrumental math-rock.

Now I'm going to try to describe the actual album. On the surface, Very Machine may seem like an experience obsessed with its own intelligence and complexity, but it's way better than that. It's rhythmically polyglot and texturally dense, but its tight weave of sections never feel desultory or arbitrary. The guitars of Dan Smith and Ron Harrity vacillate between steady, repetitive patterns and discordant melodies, stumbling upon oddly moving and memorable passages through repetition more often than a lyrical passage. Having seem them live, bearing pedal boards so vast they look like tiny simulations of cities, the dynamic range Harrity and Smith are able to coax from their guitars is incredible. Others playing postrock often resort to grandiose emotionality and gesture. By contrast, An Anderson sound industrious, workmanlike; more attentive to process than payoff.

Of course, a solid rhythm section is requisitional for guitars to do that sort of work, and bassist Stefan Hanson and drummer Elijah True are truly marvelous here. By the album’s 14-minute mark, when a cacophanous noise break marries a passage where Smith's quirky guitar line repeatedly snakes away from an avalanche of tom hits to another section where steadily galloping percussion leads the band into what feels like Very Machine's spinal core — what is that time signature, 13/8? — and it's clear that drummer Elijah True is the lifesblood of the group. It's his effortlessly dextrous ability to juggle complex mathematical precision among abrupt shifts in tempo and mood that enables the album's unexpected emotional highlight, a dizzying passage from 23:30 through minute 29 that could serve as the band's most impressive composition to date. As rare as it is to find a drummer this good, it's rarer still to find one who refuses opportunities to be showy, and True's steadfast, head-down intensity through this articulate passage is perfect.

Last winter, after this album's release, Elijah True was diagnosed with a form of cancer, which he is still battling. While that's a challenging and difficult diagnosis for anyone — let alone a thirtysomething husband and father — it's particularly hard to fathom having witnessed his electrifying and vital performance on this album, and in this band. While An Anderson remains on hiatus, two shows have been assembled by the Portland music community to raise money for his medical bills. Like this album, they're strongly recommended.


"What Had Happened?: A Benefit for Elijah True," with Johnny Cremains + Uncertainty + Mouth Washington + Ossalot + Cryptic Overcast | Aug 25 | Fri 8pm | SPACE Gallery, 538 Congress St., Portland | by donation | https://ananderson.bandcamp.com/album/very-machine

"What Had Happened? A Benefit for Elijah True - Night Two," with Cushing + FCC + 300 Calories + id m theft able + Old Night | Sep 8 | Fri 8pm | The Apohadion, 107 Hanover St., Portland | by donation

 

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