Arts Desk

Don’t Be Bored: Trans Am, Dick Gregory

Trans Am

Can an LP-length joke be considered a classic? Trans Am got more serious and more sinister following its recently reissued 1999 album Futureworld, but it’s hard to think of an example from their discography more worthy of being performed in full. The album more or less does to the futurism of ’70s Krautpop what Mad Men does to the racial and gender attitudes of the 1960s—that is, it emphasizes its quaintness but also extracts gusto. On Futureworld, the then-D.C.-based band stuck to this mission unerringly: The songs, even the long ones, are fast and silly; the synths are plucky and pulselike; the word “future” seems to appear at least a dozen times per track; and the execution is utterly deadpan. So, yeah, it’s a Kraftwerk send-up, but it also shares its inspiration’s core value: The future never gets old. (Jonathan L. Fischer) 8 p.m. at 9:30 Club. $20.

BOOKS

Henry Rollins is talking about his new book Occupants at National Geographic's Grosvenor Auditorium tonight, but that is sold out. If you have to get your book fix this weekend, check out Mark N. Ozer's talk at Politics & Prose on Sunday. The local historian will present his latest effort, Northwest Washington, D.C.: Tales From West Of The Park, a collection of stories from Cleveland Park, Tenleytown, and Georgetown. 1 p.m. Free.

COMEDY

Dick Gregory is on a hunger strike. It will last, he wrote in 2010, until either his 80th birthday or the day his Sept. 11 conspiracy theories are validated. With the latter unlikely to happen, Mr. Gregory will have to settle for breaking the fast on his birthday, which he’s marking with a set at Riot Act Comedy Theater on Sunday. (His actual birthday is Oct. 12.) But Gregory’s trutherism aside—he doubts the veracity of the Warren Commission, too—Hugh Hefner pulling the stand-up and activist out of the ranks of the Chitlin’ Circuit and into the mainstream is one of American comedy’s seminal moments. Long before Richard Pryor and Chris Rock ever did, Gregory challenged white audiences as aggressively as he did black audiences. In six decades of comedy, Gregory has never met a progressive cause he didn’t like, imbuing the struggle for freedom and civil rights with some much-needed humor. (Benjamin R. Freed) 7 p.m. Sunday at Riot Act Comedy Theater. $25.

VISUAL ARTS MEETS MUSIC

This weekend is your last chance to catch poet/photographer Thomas Sayers Ellis' go-go photography exhibit at The Gallery at Vivid Solutions. On Sunday, Sayers Ellis leads a poetry reading featuring a work dedicated to deceased go-go figure Little Benny. 2 p.m.-4 p.m. Sunday. Free. Refreshments provided.

Saturday, Artisphere will celebrate one whole year of being the only cool thing in Rosslyn. That party—keeping with Artisphere's "palatably weird" theme—features a bunch of intriguing entertainment, including the live debut of dance music supergroup Volta Bureau. 8 p.m. Saturday. $15-$30.

MUSIC

At Black Cat, Evan Dando and a version of The Lemonheads (which includes dudes from American Hi-Fi and The Candleswill play the band's awesomest album It's A Shame About Ray in its entirety. The Shining Twins and New York Rivals open. Tonight at 9 p.m. $15.

Tonight, erstwhile City Paper cover stars Foul Swoops are the guests at Rick Taylor's post-punk DJ night We Fought the Big One. 10 p.m.-3 a.m. at Marx Cafe. Free.

Oh yes, and we couldn't possibly forget the Sweet Tea Pumpkin Pie Festival, organized by Dave Mann, the subject of our arts editor's cover story this week. It runs Saturday and Sunday throughout the U Street corridor.

If you are way too fancy for any of this punk crap, line up outside the Park at Fourteenth to catch R&B star Avant. Wear your sexy shoes, but be sure to bring a comfortable backup pair. Doors open at 5 p.m.

In jazz: City Paper contributor Michael J. West has the scoop in this week's Jazz Setlist.

FILM AND THEATER

Our critic Tricia Olszewski is charmed by Weekend, which she calls the gay Before Sunrise. And that's a good thing! In theater, be sure to read Chris Klimek's shining review of Lungsthe inaugural production of Studio Theatre's Labs series—and snatch up those cheap $20 tickets while they last.

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