Summer Roundup: What You (Might Have) Missed

By LUKE TEEGARDEN, NICOLE BOURNAS-NEY AND ANDREW GNERRE
Arts & Culture Staff
Published: August 30, 2007

Sounds

The Hold Steady at Prospect Park

For this free show, part of the “Celebrate Brooklyn” concert series, donations were not necessary but suggested, as was the beer. This Brooklyn-cum-Minneapolis group has become everyone’s favorite bar band, and because of this recent bloom of popularity, they are now playing stages that dwarf the drinking holes from whence they came. Luckily, the songs from their latest album “Boys and Girls in America” are more aptly suited for such a venue. The bombast of each Springsteen-esque keyboard fill and Kerouac inspired lyric filled the rainy summer night with a warmth far surpassing that provided by the $6 dollar Budweisers. The ecstatic crowd was probably one of the largest and rowdiest that The Hold Steady has played for, but lead singer Craig Finn seemed to be having more fun than anybody.

The Boredoms

“77 Boa Drum” Performance

If you were one of the lucky (and patient) ones to make it through the gates of Brooklyn Bridge Park in DUMBO on July 7, 2007 (7/7/07), you already know what a midsummer night’s celebration this was. Japanese avant-noise champs The Boredoms rounded up a posse of 77 drummers for the event and composed a 77-minute non-stop jam that dropped more than a few jaws that day. Group leader Yamatsuka Eye hammered out shimmering blasts of sound on an apparatus of protruding, polytonal guitar necks while the drummers that spiraled from his band’s centric location thumped like metronomes on their kits. Those who didn’t get into the free (but space-limited) event found a perch atop the Brooklyn Bridge or down the rocky shoreline, but at its epicenter, the sound was extraterrestrial. Finally, the sun dipped below the Manhattan skyline, the music shivered to a halt and it was all over before bedtime.

Laughs

“The Dave Hill Explosion with

Guest John Hodgman”

“The Dave Hill Explosion” is a sporadically scheduled talk show/variety hour hosted by comedian Dave Hill and held at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater. On this night in July, his guest for the night was author, advertisement PC and frequent “Daily Show” contributor John Hodgman. The two discussed only the subjects found on the list provided by Hodgman, a blatant mockery of late night talk show interviews and their pre-approved questions and highly rehearsed answers. This list included beef jerky, moose, hobos and colon plaque. His next show is scheduled for September 20. His guests have not been announced yet, but maybe he’ll perform the magic trick where he escapes from a box while a midget with a smoke machine prances around him. It would be the second time he has executed such a feat.

Stage

“Shakespeare in the Park”

This season of the wildly popular and totally free Shakespeare performances in Central Park showcased the tragic/comic pairing of “Romeo and Juliet” and “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” Highlights include Lauren Ambrose of “Six Feet Under,” who appeared as the star-crossed Capulet daughter, and Martha Plimpton, as Helena in “Dream.”  In fact, the Central Park forests are still enchanted for one more week—if you’re dedicated enough to brave the day-of-show ticket queue (which has been known to start forming at around 7 a.m.), you can still catch “Dream” playing Sept. 4-8 at 8 p.m.

Screen

 

“Hairspray”

The old-fashioned movie musical (with a twist) staged a comeback this summer with the release of “Hairspray.”  In the third version of the John Waters cult classic, John Travolta plays a woman (think the curvaceous Sophia Loren plus two hundred pounds); Christopher Walken shows off his dancing and singing chops; and newcomers Elijah Kelley, Zac Efron and the unstoppable Nikki Blonski burst onto the scene in this vibrant, nostalgic mega-musical.  Expect big Oscars for this one.

Goodbye to Bergman and Antonioni

We must pause to note the passing of two of the greatest directors of all time:  Ingmar Bergman and Michelangelo Antonioni.  Bergman will be remembered for such masterpieces as “The Seventh Seal,” “Wild Strawberries” and “Smiles of a Summer Night;” and Antonioni for such classics as “Blowup,” “The Red Desert” and “L’Avventura.”  In this summer of blockbusters and franchise films, it is important to remember the legacy of these two filmmakers—treating films as a serious art form rather than as a commercial endeavor.

Words

“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows”

By now we all know that the boy wizard survived through the final book of the spectacularly popular seven-part saga. However, the release of the book proved to be as intense as Harry’s journey to destroy You-Know-Who. When The New York Times published a review in advance of the July 21 release date, Scholastic started talking lawsuits. The publisher’s worries intensified when a teenager scanned all 700 plus pages of the book onto the internet, also before the long-awaited unveiling of the final volume.