Things are warming up in Phoenix, and that means downtown is preparing itself with a new variety of events to lure you inside. This week, join the art activists from Desert ArtLab, the film buffs at No Festival Required, the dancers and poets of Center Dance Ensemble, the actors of the Black Theatre Troupe and the musicians in Manchester Orchestra and Lightsystem for entertainment of all sorts. Care for expressive literature? Head to the Herberger. Instrumental space-rock? The Trunk Space is your best bet. The options are there. Which choice will you make?
- Tuesday, April 17
- 6 to 8 p.m.
- Bokeh Gallery at monOrchid: 214 E. Roosevelt St.
- Getting there: Walk—Roosevelt Street between Second and Third streets
- Price: FREE
Recommended if You Like: sustainability, desert life, art + ecology
Last August, DesertArt Lab first debuted its work at monOrchid gallery as part of a group show on desert living. At the show, the group distributed cacti to all who would listen, then encouraged participants to plant the cacti they received and to document the experience, sending in any materials to the organization as part of a mass collaborative art project on desert plant life and sustainability. Since then, DesertArt Lab has been closely involved in a variety of ecological art projects, partnering with the Ro2 Lot and Garfield Garden Park on mural projects integrating the organization’s trademark cacti. Now, for one week only, the group will show a site-specific installation documenting all of the work they have completed in the eight months since DesertArt Lab’s inception. The installation will incorporate performance art, video and photography, among other disciplines, and will also represent the MFA thesis exhibition for Matthew Garcia, co-founder of the organization.
- Monday, April 16
- 6:30 p.m. Doors, 7:00 p.m. Show
- Phoenix Center for the Arts: 1202 N. Third St.
- Getting there: Bike—Third and Moreland streets
- Price: FREE
Recommended if You Like: art studios, gentrification, Carnegie Hall
Carnegie Hall: Everyone knows its name. The New York City institution has stood for more than 100 years, an icon of New York’s film, theatre, music and performance scenes across numerous generations. For nearly all of that history, the theatre has held 165 artist studios in its upper floors, housing at one time or another such luminaries as Marilyn Monroe, Marlon Brando and Norman Mailer. And in 1960, it was those same artists who rallied to save the historic site from demolition by the city. But suddenly, in 2007, the Carnegie Hall Corporation began moving out the creative groups inhabiting the studios, making room for far more profitable office space. Shocked at this turn of events, longtime tenant Joseph Astor began documenting all that he could while the artists were left in place, recording their stories and legacies, which would soon become faint memories in the history of the Hall. Likely as commentary on the gentrification of Phoenix’s arts districts over the past several years, No Festival Required is bringing the film to town for a one-night-only inside our own historic Phoenix Center for the Arts. The screening is presented as part of NFR’s hugely-successful, free Building Community Cinema series, dedicated to films promoting inclusive, creative communities, urban design and architecture.
- Sunday, April 15
- 2 p.m. and 5 p.m.
- Herberger Theater Center: 222 E. Monroe St.
- Getting there: Walk—Second and Monroe streets
- Price: $11.50; $6.50 with student ID
Recommended if You Like: modern dance, modern American poetry
Herberger Theater Center’s resident modern dance company has been on a roll this year. Fresh off of its in-demand original work “Dance AZ/100” in celebration of Arizona’s centennial, Center Dance Ensemble is bringing a one-day-only production together, again of all-original work, but this time to commemorate National Poetry Month. For this latest work, the troupe will pair its trademark modern dance routines with the words of America’s most famous poets. The multi-disciplinary work seeks to attract audiences to unexpected experiences, combining two different arts into one fluid performance. For those looking for thought-provoking performance, this short-run show is not to be missed.
- Friday-Sunday, April 13-15
- Playhouse on the Park: 1850 N. Central Ave.
- Getting there: Rail—Central Avenue and McDowell Road stop; theater at Central Avenue and Palm Lane
- Price: $33.50 in advance at phoenixtheatre.com
Recommended if You Like: musical revues, blues, Duke Ellington
For most, the thought of a musical revue spawns images of sweeping Broadway-style singing and dancing, paired with melodramatic performance, moving swiftly from song to song. Forget that; when watching a performance by Phoenix’s Black Theatre Troupe, it’s best to throw conventions out the window. The final show of the professional theater group’s season presents a musical revue done up in the spirit of heartbreak and the blues. The musical follows three women, dramatically telling the stories of their love lives through song, taking cues from 26 of the blues’ most iconic tunes. Through only three characters, the play covers much ground between each of the women’s stories of love and loss, telling the tales of the men who left them by the wayside.
- Wednesday, April 18
- Crescent Ballroom: 308 N. Second Ave.
- Getting there: Walk—Second Avenue and Van Buren
- Price: $16 in advance at psykosteve.com; $19 at the door
Recommended if You Like: Brand New, Kevin Devine, heartfelt rock
Coachella. For the West Coast music scene, it’s the best time of the year. Even for those who can’t attend one of the massive festival’s two weekends, the show brings dozens of bands from around the world with nothing to do in the time leading to and from, and now between, the festival dates, gracing cities like Phoenix with the fabled “Coachella runoff.” This year, among the numerous bands coming through Phoenix is Georgia indie-emo-rockers Manchester Orchestra. First discovered by Brand New’s Jesse Lacey in 2007, the band gained ever-increasing critical and commercial acclaim over its first two albums, with the second featuring the group’s biggest single, “I’ve Got Friends,” which reached #8 on the Billboard Alternative charts. Most recently, the group released Simple Math, their biggest, most ambitious record yet, and first to be distributed by Sony Music Entertainment. Gaining a perfect score of 5/5 from Alternative Press magazine, the group has toured incessantly since the album’s release. Joining them in Phoenix is The Sheepdogs, best known for winning Rolling Stone’s “Choose the Cover” contest for unsigned bands.
- Saturday, April 14
- The Trunk Space: 1506 NW Grand Ave.
- Getting there: Bike—15th and Grand avenues
- Price: $6 at the door
Recommended if You Like: cinematic music, Explosions In the Sky, Hydra Head Industries
Post-rock has never been for the simple-minded. The spacey, vibrant genre has come to define bands as disparate as Mono, Isis and Godspeed You! Black Emperor, but is largely regarded as sounding like the soundtrack to any movie involving the beauty and power of space. Even Phoenix has its own purveyors, the boys in Cassiopeia, who even use spaceship launch footage at times to augment their live shows, driving home the otherworldly sound they aim to create. In an effort to create a musical network and to promote their craft far and wide, every few months the band brings to the Valley the next rising stars in their oft-exhilarating genre. For this latest show, the group has recruited Los Angeles’s Lightsystem, a set of experimental rockers whose lengthy songs recall Mogwai’s middle period, but with a few more sets of vocals. Just beginning to gain steam in the LA scene, Lightsystem is coming to Phoenix hoping to space out some, while enthralling others with their deliberate, reverb-heavy sound.
Events compiled by Connor Descheemaker