KQED’s Cy Musiker and David Wiegand share their picks for great show around the Bay Area this week.
Here at KQED Arts, we’ve launched First 100 days: Art in the Age of Trump, a series of stories about how Bay Area artists respond to the new administration. Comedian Zahra Noorbaksh’s new show tackles what it’s like to be a Muslim comedian under this new administration.
Somehow Noorbaksh, recently featured on Fresh Air, manages to be funny about everything from Muslim registries and deportation centers to pussy hats. On Behalf of All Muslims is at a venue we don’t usually cover, the Islamic Center of Northern California in Oakland, and runs Feb. 2–4 and 9–13. Details here. Now the rest of the show.
Jan. 29: Bay Area Jazz violinist Mads Tolling and his Mads Men are mining the Mad Men TV era, finding musical gold in the theme music for TV shows and movies from the sixties — everything from the classic-cool of Mission Impossible (Lalo Schifrin) and The Pink Panther (Henry Mancini) to the classic-corn of The Flintstones (Hoyt Curtin, Joseph Barbera and William Hanna). Details for their two album release shows (Playing the ’60s) at Yoshi’s in Oakland are right here.
Jan. 26–June 25: Artist Cary Liebowitz also goes by the name Candy Ass. It fits his image as a self-deprecating, funny, gay, Jewish artist. A lot of his work is text based: a hot pink canvas with the words “Do these pants make me look Jewish,” and a “Go Fags!” sports pennant. It may sound lighthearted, or offensive, but Liebowitz fearlessly digs into issues of depression and self-esteem in ways no one has before. His first career retrospective continues at San Francisco’s Contemporary Jewish Museum. Details here.
Jan. 29: It’s been a season of important birthdays for a groundbreaking generation of a classical composers. Berkeley’s John Adams turns 70 (more on that next week), Philip Glass just turned 80, and so did Steve Reich, who sets up exquisite rhythms, often featuring marimbas and clapping hands, and then shifts the pattern just a bit to take you into a new musical universe. Reich is in Berkeley to oversee the premiere of a new work, Runner, a co-commission by Cal Performances with the crackerjack chamber group Ensemble Signal, led by Brad Lubman. Details for the show at Zellerbach Hall are here.
Feb. 2-4: We rarely feature more than one classical show on The Do List, but how we can we neglect the routine brilliance of the Kronos Quartet. David Harrington and his contemporary chamber group is staging its annual festival at SFJAZZ, doing four nights of category-defying music, including pieces by the Who’s Pete Townshend, Van Dyke Parks, Van Anh Vo, new work from Sahba Aminikia, and lots more. Details are here.
Jan. 27–March 5: Tom Stoppard is a master of sometimes very abstruse theater, like The Coast of Utopia, his trilogy on the birth of Russian radicalism. But in 1982’s The Real Thing, he wrote a play that’s both intellectually rigorous, and about love and marriage, feelings and humor. This is a show where it really matters who plays the women, and we’re in good hands with Bay Area stars Liz Sklar and Carrie Paff, with Timothy Near directing. Can’t wait. Details for the run at the Aurora Theatre in Berkeley are here.
Feb. 2 and 3: Run the Jewels, El-P and Killer Mike, are two very cool, very odd, very funny rappers, combining amazingly inventive profanities with politics. They’ve released a new album that challenges our new President (“We return from the depths of the badland / With a gun and a knife in our waistband / Went to war with the Devil and Shaytan / He wore a bad toupee and a spray tan”), and an upcoming appearance on Portlandia (very funny). It’s hard to be more relevant. Details for their show at City National Civic in San Jose are here. Their show at the Fox in Oakland is sold out (but details here).