John Black

John Black

Big Head Todd and the Monsters are not that big on anniversaries, so there won’t be any big hoopla over the fact that the band is officially crossing the three-decade mark this year. Thirty years would seem like something to commemorate, especially with the same core lineup, an achievement few other name-brand bands can boast of. Yet right now they’re less about celebrating stability than volatility, in the form of their eleventh studio album, New World Arisin’, which makes good on its forward-facing title with what might be the brashest rock and roll of their career. The old world can’t rest on any laurels, and neither will they.

 “We’re in a real exciting part of our career right now,” says co-founder Todd Park Mohr.  “We’re a viable band with a great audience and we’re able to work at a very high level. It’s a career that’s getting more and more interesting, rather than less, which is remarkable,” he says, chuckling at the unlikelihood of anyone being this cheerfully all-in, this far in. “I mean, 30 years into it, I really feel like: Wow, this is getting fun. I’m learning more about music and about my instrument, and it’s just really engaging in every way. We also dovetail well with the times, I think; I feel like we have something to say.”

That desire to communicate and connect is very much reflected in a new album that explores a variety of subgenres, from the funky (“Trip”) to the unexpectedly punky (“Detonator”), with stops along the way for raging country-rock (“Damaged One”), expansive storytelling in the Van Morrison/early Springsteen mode (“Wipeout Turn”), a Jimi Hendrix cover (“Room Full of Mirrors”), and, in the title track, “New World Arisin’,”a Charley Patton-inspired tune that ended up having what Mohr describes as “a heavy metal/gospel feel.”

He doesn’t feel these musical zigzags will give fans musical whiplash. “The fact is, most people, like myself, listen to multiple genres of music, so I don’t think people have a problem with variety. I love it.”

Big Head Todd and The Monsters play The Wilbur on Jan. 28. Showtime 7:30 PM. Tickets $30-$35

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Hito Steyerl: Liquidity Inc.

Hito Steyerl (b. 1966, Munich, Germany) is an artist, filmmaker, and writer whose art speaks urgently to our digitally mediated era. In her work, she has addressed the wide-ranging effects of today’s mass proliferation and dissemination of images, issues of surveillance and militarization, and the evolving functions of technology in our networked culture. Liquidity Inc. (2014) is a new acquisition to the ICA’s collection and is on view at the museum for the first time. As suggested by the title, this video sculpture uses water as its guiding theme, and has particular resonance at the ICA’s waterfront location. Liquidity Inc. takes as a point of departure the story of Jacob Wood, a former financial analyst who lost his job during the 2008 economic recession and decided to turn his hobby in mixed martial arts into a career. Steyerl follows actor and martial artist Bruce Lee’s dictum to “be shapeless, formless, like water,” turning “liquidity” into a trope fluid enough to speak about everything from the weather to water as material resource, to the circulation of information and assets. Projected onto a double-sided screen in front of a wave-like ramp structure, Liquidity Inc. is a captivating parable of economic crisis and contemporary culture that is by turns playful and poignant.

 

Hito Steyerl: Liquidity Inc. is presented at the Istitute of Contemporary Art in conjunction with the exhibition Art in the Age of the Internet, 1989 to Today, on view February 7 – May 28, 2018.

In apartheid South Africa, where intimate interracial relationships are illegal, a black man and a white woman share more than just their love, baring all in the face of oppression and uncertainty. Athol Fugard’s Statements After an Arrest Under the Immorality Act is a remarkable love story that stands as a strident reminder of the intolerance and cruelty of a not-so-distant past.

“In our Statements of Survival Series, we chose plays that would resonate firmly with the social and political times in which we are now living,” says New Rep Artistic Director Jim Petosa. “The fact that Athol Fugard’s Apartheid-era play is so timely is telling, especially as we continue to navigate the treacherous waters of an increasingly divisive world. It is our hope that presenting this work will shed light on issues that unfortunately still plague us.”

“New Rep’s mission to present plays that speak powerfully to the vital ideas of our time could not be more relevant than during our Statements of Survival Series,” says New Rep Managing Director Harriet Sheets. “Starting with the one-woman show Unveiled by Rohina Malik in January, continuing with Athol Fugard’s Statements… and Stephen Dietz’s Lonely Planet, and concluding with Ripe Frenzy by Jennifer Barclay this February, these plays are thought-provoking, important, and quintessential New Rep.”

 

New Repertory Theatre and Boston Center for American Performance present Statements After an Arrest Under the Immorality Act, performed January 27-March 3, 2018 in the BlackBox Theater at the Mosesian Center for the Arts, 321 Arsenal Street, Watertown. Tickets may be purchased by calling the New Rep Box Office at 617-923-8487 or visiting newrep.org

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Lady Bunny at Oberon

Foul-mouthed drag legend Lady Bunny usually shies away from politics – because it’s one hell of a train wreck right now. But she doesn’t shy away from gender politics. From the new pronoun we’re forced to learn every time Will Smith’s son puts on a dress, to Caitlyn Jenner reaching out to Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz to become his ‘trans ambassador’, Bunny feels that it’s time for the gloves to come off.

Featuring new parodies of Adele, RENT, and Bruno Mars punctuated by some actually insightful social commentary (well, she thinks so anyway). Trashing the current overemphasis on political correctness, Bunny breaks down some of the latest buzzwords that we’re all supposed to remember for every occasion.

The self proclaimed ‘pig in wig’ brings her trademark huge hair to astound and offend – prepare to be challenged.

 

Part of the 2017/18 Glowberon Season

Now in its third year at OBERON, Glowberon is an acclaimed series that features exceptional storytellers, solo playwrights, and cabaret and performance artists. The series was founded by Quinn Cox and is produced in partnership with Cambridge’s Glow Festival and Provincetown’s Afterglow Festival.

 

Lady Bunny performs at Oberon on 1.25 and 1.26. Showtimes 8 PM. More information.

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Carla Bruni at Berklee Performance Center

With a beautiful and alluring voice, Italian-born French supermodel Carla Bruni has seduced the world with her intimate love songs. She is touring in support of her new album, French Touch, a collection of adaptations of well-known songs by Depeche Mode, AC/DC, Willie Nelson, The Clash, and more.

In addition to being the wife of former French president Nicolas Sarkozy, Carla Bruni has been a pop star in France for 20 years. On French Touch, singing in English, she brings her trademark smoky, breathy vocals to an impeccable range of covers from well-worn standards ("Moon River," "Stand By Your Man") to personal favorites (Depeche Mode's "Enjoy the Silence"). Bruni brings a hint of mischief to Mick Jagger's "Miss You" and a sultry, playful take on AC/DC's "Highway to Hell."

Carla Bruni hasn't just been making music throughout her colorful and singular life; she's also been a fan. The singer-songwriter has assembled a trove of all-time sentimental favorites-pop songs forever associated with a person or place or moment in time, the sort of records that she says, borrowing the French term for love at first sight, "have been a coup de foudre."

Bruni, for her part, imagines the record being played "in the car when you go somewhere with someone you like, or a quiet evening, or maybe on a Sunday morning. It's made for being in a warm, cozy place with someone sweet, some sweet moments. That's my dream, you know? That people would listen to my music when they're relaxing and in love."

Carla Bruni has been performing music since 1997, with her first album, Quelqu'un m'a dit (Someone Told Me), being released in 2002. Since then she has had three more critically acclaimed releases, selling over 3 million albums worldwide, including 2007's, No Promises, which set English poems to music, 2008's Comme si de rien n'etait (As If Nothing Happened), and 2013's Little French Songs.

 

World Music/CRASHarts presents the Boston debut of Carla Bruni on Thursday, February 15, 7:30pm at Berklee Performance Center, 136 Massachusetts Ave., Boston. Tickets are $79, $58, $48, and $37, reserved seating. For tickets and information call World Music/CRASHarts at (617) 876-4275 or buy online at www.WorldMusic.org.

 

 

Takashi Miike’s ICHI THE KILLER has endured as one of the most influential pieces of genre filmmaking of the last two decades, and now it returns in a stunning all-new digitally restored special edition debuting on Blu-ray™ March 20 from Well Go USA Entertainment. Based on Hideo Yamamoto’s manga series of the same name, the controversial and graphic tale of feuding yakuza gangs is seen primarily through the actions of a scarred and psychologically damaged man, who is manipulated into killing rival faction members. Digitally remastered in 4k and approved by director Takashi Miike (13 Assassins), ICHI THE KILLER stars Tadanobu Asano, Nao Omori, Shinya Tsukamoto, Alien Sun and SABU. Bonus content includes Audio Commentary with Director Takashi Miike & Manga Artist/Writer Hideo Yamamoto and a still gallery.

Synopsis:

Takashi Miike’s ICHI THE KILLER has endured as one of the most influential pieces of genre filmmaking of the last two decades, and now it returns in a stunning all-new digitally restored special edition approved by Miike himself. This visceral, bloody, and often hilarious film follows Kakihara (Tadanobu Asano), a notoriously sadistic yakuza enforcer whose search for his boss’ killer brings him into the orbit of a demented costumed assassin known as Ichi (Nao Ohmori).

 

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Gintama Arrives March 6

GINTAMA, the visually spectacular feature film based on the long-running manga, debuts on digital, Blu-ray™ and DVD March 6 from Well Go USA Entertainment. The live-action film adaptation of the blockbuster manga is set in an era where aliens have invaded and taken over feudal Tokyo, and a young samurai finds work however he can. Written and directed by Yûichi Fukuda (Psychic Kusuo), GINTAMA stars Masaki Suda, Kanna Hashimoto, Yuya Yagira, Hirofumi Arai, Ryo Yoshizawa, Akari Hayami, Murotsuyoshi, Masami Nagasawa, Masaki Okada, Jiro Sato, Nanao Ken Yasuda, with Kankuro Nakamura, and Tsuyoshi Domoto.

Synopsis:

Based on the best-selling action comedy manga by Hideaki Sorachi, GINTAMA takes place in an alternate Edo-period Japan, where an Alien race has taken control, forcing Samurai to lay down their swords. Once feared as the "White Demon," former samurai Gintoki Sakata now works as an everyday handyman--until a master swordsman tasks Gintoki and his friends with finding the cursed sword Benizakura to keep it from falling into the wrong hands. Packed with the sword-swinging sci-fi action and offbeat humor that have made the manga a classic, GINTAMA is bound to delight both fans and anyone looking for a journey to a visually-stunning universe where fantastical action lurks just around every corner.

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PlayTime at PEM

This February, the Peabody Essex Museum (PEM) debuts the first major thematic exhibition celebrating the role of play in contemporary art and culture. Nearly 40 works by 17 leading and emerging artists reveal how behaviors essential to the creative process — risk-taking, exploration, questioning and curiosity — are all encouraged by the act of play. Through large scale installations, video, sculpture, photographs and tactile experiences, PlayTime explores how play catalyzes creative expression, enchants the ordinary and helps us understand ourselves in new ways. PlayTime will be on view at PEM from February 10 through May 6, 2018.

 

“Play is no longer on the margins,” says Trevor Smith, exhibition curator and PEM’s Curator of the Present Tense. “Since the early 1990s we’ve seen play increasingly manifest itself across divergent streams of contemporary art and engage a wide range of social, technological, economic and psychological concerns.” Exploring a broad emotional range and engaging a diverse array of creative perspectives, PlayTime is presented as part of PEM’s Present Tense Initiative which seeks to be reflexive and responsive to the pressing issues of our contemporary reality. “Play is a catalyst for creativity, where we make up the rules and learn how to negotiate and resolve conflict,” continues Smith. “Play helps us possess a power for change. It’s fundamentally about human empowerment.”

 

Artists at PLAY, Visitors at PLAY

PlayTime features three tactile interactive works, including an immersive balloon room installation by Turner Prize winner Martin Creed and participatory One Minute Sculptures by internationally renowned artist Erwin Wurm which invite visitors to become part of the exhibition by striking and holding unexpected poses with everyday objects. Leading contemporary artists from around the globe are exhibited alongside several younger, emerging artists who make their New England debut with this exhibition. PlayTime artists include: Cory Arcangel, Mark Bradford, Nick Cave, Martin Creed, Lara Favaretto, Cao Fei, Brian Jungen, Teppei Kaneuji, Paul McCarthy, Rivane Neuenschwander, Pedro Reyes, Robin Rhode, Roman Signer, Gwen Smith, Angela Washko, Agustina Woodgate, and Erwin Wurm.

Some of the featured artists embrace playful behaviors in order to re-enchant the ordinary and to encourage fresh dialogue through play. Artist Lara Favaretto’s sculpture Simple Couples, installed in PEM’s historic East India Marine Hall, features seven pairs of spinning car wash brushes of different sizes and colors, which move in a mesmerizing choreography of color and light. Elsewhere, Pedro Reyes’ Disarm Mechanized ll transforms 6,700 guns confiscated by the Mexican government into an array of working musical instruments that push these objects beyond their originally intended purpose.

 

The world of video gaming, which currently generates more revenue each year than the music or movie industries, offers rich material and subject matter for artists to tackle in provocative ways. Angela Washko’s work, Performing in Public: Ephemeral Actions in World of Warcraft, delves into World of Warcraft — the online role-playing game with more than 10 million users — to conduct absurdist performances and engage other players in discussions of gender, sexism and harassment. Her work inside World of Warcraft began in 2012, a couple of years before #gamergate made us all aware of the vicious harassment and threats to which women and gender non-conforming gamers are commonly subjected. By documenting her interactions on the platform Washko doesn’t critique the game itself, but rather gets inside the game to facilitate a dialog about the rules by which we are all agreeing to play.

 

Play involves a level of vulnerability and letting go of preconceived notions or boundaries, allowing an openness to new possibilities, enjoyments, failures and risks. In addition to being fundamental to our development, thanks to our digital devices, the barriers between work and play have eroded, influencing where and when and how we play. “Play is no longer just a reward for hard work,” says Smith. “It is absolutely central to how we learn how to be human.”

 

Smith hopes that an exhibition dedicated to play can upend traditional museum visitor behavior. “My hope is that PlayTime demonstrates that museums can be playful, lively, noisy, joyous spaces. We’re providing people with opportunities to engage with the power of creativity and to understand how it might work in their own life.”

 

 

PlayTime will be on view at the Peabody Essex Museum February 10 through May 6, 2018

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Wangechi Mutu: A Promise to Communicate

Artist Wangechi Mutu is known for her self-proclaimed “maximalist aesthetic,” hybrid compositions, and wall-based works that add texture and dimension to architectural spaces. Feminism, Afrofuturism, displacement, and marginal spaces figure in her category-defying collage and sculpture work. In a new commission for the ICA, Mutu has used the rough, gray rescue blankets of humanitarian aid efforts and emergencies to create a less rational interpretation of the world map. Titled A Promise to Communicate, the work creates a space for visitors to explore ideas of public space, communication, and free speech, addressing the idea of a world that despite its increasing potential for collectivity struggles to communicate in a comprehensive way.

 

Wangechi Mutu: A Promise to Communicate is on view at the Institute of Contemporary Art through Dec 31, 2018

 

 

VIZ Media, LLC (VIZ Media), a premier company in the fields of publishing, animation distribution, and global entertainment licensing, announces the home media release of the sci-fi horror anime series TERRAFORMARS on January 23rd.

In the deep silence of space, the planet Mars hisses with death. On Earth, a mysterious virus is devastating the human race. To find a cure and give humanity a fighting chance of survival, a multinational team of genetically modified citizens must race to the Red Planet and uncover its secrets. What awaits is the bloody aftermath of a colonization attempt gone horribly wrong--hordes of hyper-evolved cockroaches known as "Terraformars" roam keen to kill. Earth's chosen stand ready for combat and ready to change the course of human history. The question is which species can unite for victory.   

The TERRAFORMARS home media edition features a talented English voice cast highlighted by Christopher Niosi (Akari Hizamaru), Erica Lindbeck (Michelle K. Davis), Chris Smith (Shokichi Komachi), Cherami Leigh (Kanako Sanjo), Patrick Seitz (Sylvester Asimov), Cristina Vee (Eva Frost), and Robbie Daymond (Marcos Eringrad Garcia).

 

The TERRAFORMARS Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack contains 13 episodes on two Blu-ray discs and two DVDs and carries an MSRP of $59.99 U.S. / $69.99 CAN. Blu-ray episodes are presented in full 1080p HD, 16x9 video with stereo audio featuring English and Japanese dialogue options. Notable Blu-ray exclusives include a digital art gallery and behind the scenes interviews with the English voice cast and an interview with VIZ Media’s Animation and Manga Staff.