ToDo ToDay: Noise Punk at Hirshhorn, Public Dancing, Ai Weiwei
Say what you will about Doug Aitken’s monumental “Song 1” at the Hirshhorn—some critics have called the outdoor installation an overgrown music video—but it’s hard to knock the song itself. “I Only Have Eyes for You,” penned by the songwriting pair of Harry Warren and Al Dubin, is a perfect pop composition: so simple you commit it to memory instantly, its melodic lilt surprising enough to justify its stickiness. Most of the versions you hear in “Song 1” are at 60 BPM, and have a gauzy, haunting cast appropriate to the lyrical reverie (“Are the stars out tonight?/I don’t know if it’s cloudy or bright”). But my favorite moments in the looped, 35-minute work are the weird, interstitial ones, like a twinkly, Kraftwerk-like instrumental segue by Lucky Dragons and a liberating drum breakdown that sounds like it was recorded by Japan’s Boredoms. That bizarro side of “Song 1” should get its due at tonight’s “Happening,” which is co-sponsored by Pitchfork and Wired. Set to perform to the video projection are arty noise-punk duo No Age, drone evangelist Oneohtrix Point Never, restless organic-house composer Nicolas Jaar, Animal Collective’s Geologist, gospel singer Tim McAfee Lewis and singer/modern dancer Leo Gallo, and High Places, the twee-electronic outfit whose fast-paced version of “Song 1” is easily the most blissed-out I’ve heard. You won’t know if it’s cloudy or bright, indeed: Your eyes will be closed, your arms will be in the air, and your ass will be shaking. The “Song 1: Happening” takes place 8 p.m. to midnight at the Hirshhorn Musuem and Sculpture Garden, 1 Independence Ave. SW. $25 (advance sales only). (202) 633-4674. (Jonathan L. Fischer)
Short films and short... shorts?: Tonight and Saturday, D.C. Shorts is hosting Pasties and Popcorn, a selection of pervy short films shown alongside a burlesque and variety show by Tilted Torch. "Whatever your fetish or freak," boasts D.C. Shorts, "we’ve got you covered." We'll see about that. The films start at 7 p.m. tonight at the Atlas Performing Arts Center, 1333 H St. NE. $20.
What's that? Your parents are in town and they don't like house music or boobies? Don't trip: Take them to Garden Fest at the Smithsonian or the Steve Jobs patent exhibit at the S. Dillon Ripley Center. Both open today, and of course, they're both gloriously free.
From the opening blast of The Funk Ark’s new album High Noon, it’s clear that the D.C. ensemble has adjusted its attitude since last year’s From The Rooftops, which had a high afrobeat IQ but not nearly enough fight. Every second of High Noon, by contrast, sounds like something is at stake, even if it’s just the band’s own satisfaction with its hybrid of Nigerian heat, American groove, and Latin flair. Producer Adrián Quesada (of Austin, Texas’ well-traveled Grupo Fantasma) deserves his share of credit: All the shaping and editing favors momentum over noodly distraction, and The Funk Ark itself obviously decided that it’s better to be a force than merely be a cool concept. (Even the midtempo stuff—“El Rancho Motel,” “High Noon,” etc.—tends to be propulsive in one way or another.) Non-African afrobeat bands inherently demand some suspension of disbelief from anybody who knows the origins of the music; with High Noon, The Funk Ark has responded to that dilemma in the most efficient way possible: by favoring energy over homage. The Funk Ark performs at 8:30 p.m. with Sir Joe Quarterman and Frank Mitchell Jr. at The Hamilton, 600 14th St. NW. $22.50. (202) 787-1000. (Joe Warminsky)
Amble around the Hishhorn's fountain and you'll see Ai Weiwei's giant animal heads—mythical-futuristic and fearsome like something out of Stargate. The Zodiac heads are the first of three shows by the Chinese dissident artist in D.C. this year, and this weekend, the second one opens. Fragments, Weiwei's "irrational structure" composed of salvaged ironwood from Qing dynasty temples, goes on view Saturday at the Sackler Gallery. 1050 Independence Ave. NW. Free.
K Street's white-collar class is probably already hip to "Look Both Ways," the Kennedy Center's big street-performance festival that took to D.C.'s most buttoned-down corridors this week; since Sunday, street performers have been popping up downtown, juggling and unicycling in places where such things are not exactly de rigueur. But Saturday, all the zaniness will be concentrated in one place: Yards Park, where "Look Both Ways" will be peacing out with a big, free, six-hour party. Check out the schedule. Then check the weather. It's going to be beautiful. Come on, don't act like you don't want to see The Mouth Monster. Noon at Yards Park, 3rd and Water streets SE. Free.
In recent years, Dupont Circle has been elevated beyond its workaday identity as an all-purpose hangout and meeting spot to something a little more organized. In the winter, a loose collective of groups puts on a massive snowball fight. Today, the same folks—along with Historic Dupont Circle Main Streets—have pulled together a massive dance party peppered with a handful of kooky local dance groups like Hoop Dance D.C. and Northern Virginia’s Calico Cloggers. Today, troupes will perform and instruct attendees for a straight six hours—assuming the weather plays nice. This Dance in the Circle is a rain date for the original April 21 event. If this one is rained out, too (and it probably won't be!), we’ll just have to wait till fall to get our public hula-hoop on. “Dance in the Circle” runs from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Dupont Circle, Connecticut Avenue and Dupont Circle NW. Free and open to the public. danceinthecircle.org. (Lydia DePillis)
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