Do couples celebrate the weekend before or after the 14th? Does their choice somehow reflect the state of the relationship? (For being this far out of the loop, I sigh a relieved sigh.) Anyway: you can still book all related appointments thanks to an anonymous romance junkie in the office who collected these choices to help woo your sommelier, your comedienne, or even the lovable goth in your life.
To get to the black-box Studio Theatre at the Wyly last night, one had to pass through a wake first. Framed photos of We’re Gonna Die‘s cast members were set on small tables with candles and guestbooks. I found three broad avenues for interpreting the show from this moment of preface and wandered between them. The first: it’s a Unitarian Hell House, an earnest and methodical hazing of its captive audience with mortality-exposure therapy. Another: it’s a commentary on the wide gap between our day-to-day mindset and the reality of impending death, that it would require an indie-pop cabaret with deeply personal, discomforting monologues to remind us of inevitable expiration. And then, there’s this feeling of intentional overkill, like an angry twee sacrifice of fresh-faced young musicians to the Angel of Death.
In 2015 writer Young Jean Lee performed the lines of her show, passing the baton to David Byrne for the songs. In Jake Nice’s version Samantha “Rat” Rios takes both rites as the Singer. She is an impeccable vocalist, and believable both as an earnest shepherd of the audience and also as someone a little bit over the theatre of survival. Her character gets through a lot: rejection, isolation, the death of someone close to her amid grossly unfair circumstances. The strange joy she takes in striking up the band behind her — they’re all dressed in colorful denim for emergent-church worship band practice (or, maybe, brunch with a hangover), and Jacob Metcalf is perfectly cast as Rios’ harmonizer — gives the piece a self-aware dimension. As do Rios’ exuberant, wordless onstage check-ins with her partner Robert Anthony, who, as a member of the band, answers her lines “someone will miss me/someone will be so sad/and it’ll hurt/it’s gonna hurt so bad” with a sparkly guitar riff and an affirming smile.
These bizarro emotional intersections didn’t lessen the direct sting of cancer and death for my seatmate, who cried softly for much of the show. We’re Gonna Die has its truths. Perhaps the show settles differently for those who can forget them. Friday and Saturday, Wyly Studio Theater.
Erich Korngold wrote The Ring of Polykrates when he was just 17 years old. The German one-act opera has elements of two chief dramas that follow good fortune: jealousy (that endangers friendships), and desire (that puts marriages at risk.) Renowned violinist Augustin Dumay will play the writer’s Violin Concerto in D major to round out the evening’s rare performances. Opens Friday at the Winspear.
Visual art (etc)
Culture Hole is a radically lab-style, participatory artspace that leaves a lot to the imagination. Who attends and how they participate often shapes work made by Gregory Ruppe and his collaborators in the form of radio broadcasts and other experiments. Michael Mazurek’s Saturday-night-only No Vaseline is introduced with a treatise on the brains of domestic rabbits versus wild rabbits. This is undoubtedly a challenge to just show up.
Things slow down in this department, actually, but Three Links does have a Mind Spiders release show Saturday (melodic, scuzzy jams) and RC & The Gritz (bona fide neo-soul and funk jams) on Sunday.
Will Mecca filmed 33 bands over the course of eight months and made a series of video ‘zines called Paranoid Anxieties. The final installment is Saturday at Dreamy Life Records and Music. Punk/black-metal band Skeleton from Austin headlines a three-band show in tandem; comers should bring $5 for them. Here’s something Mecca filmed at the Fort Worth Community Library: a performance by The Noids, captured all haphazard on grainy VHS that serves the nostalgia-as-it’s-happening attitudes of punk shows in accessible spaces.