Happy Friday! Did you know that Robert E. Lee was “an honorable man“? Or that environmental experts are actually bad for the Environmental Protection Agency? Ah, maybe not, since you were too busy hearing about sweeping changes to immigration after the horrible attack in New York City. In fact, just about the only good things this week were the Dodgers losing the World Series and the 11 blissful minutes when Trump was kicked off Twitter.
Look homeward, angel, into the avenging night. Here’s what got us through it all.
A Three-Minute Prayer From an Atheist Outlaw Hiding in an Alleyway
An’ you know I ain’t never prayed before
But it always seemed to me
That prayin’s the same as beggin’, Lord
An’ I don’t take no charity
I mean, this is just a perfectly written song. Not one word out of place. Played it 12 times this week. —Gabe Meline
Akram Khan’s ‘Until the Lions’
It’s been a year since I last experienced the work of the British choreographer Akram Khan. That was his dark, dark version of the classical ballet staple Giselle at London’s Sadler’s Wells Theatre, and it rocked my world. The Akram Khan company was in town this week, performing Until the Lions, his jaw-dropping take on the ancient Indian epic The Mahabharata. With some of the most barbarically beautiful kathak and contemporary choreography I’ve ever witnessed, along with balletic lights and an arresting percussion-and-voice-centered musical score performed by musicians live on stage, the production engulfed me completely. —Chloe Veltman
Rihanna + N.E.R.D. = !!!
Since Future’s DS2 came out in 2015, rap and R&B have shifted toward hazy, drugged-out trap beats. It’s great that the genres are evolving, but as someone who grew up in the ’90s and 2000s, sometimes I miss hyphy music’s knock or the danceable bounce of iconic producers like Timbaland, Pharrell, and Lil Jon. Lucky for us millennials, Pharrell recently revived his production outfit N.E.R.D. for a new song with Rihanna, “Lemon,” which features RihRih rapping (rapping!) over a sparse, infectious rhythm that contains all the percussive goodness of Pharrell’s best work. Let’s hope they do an album together. —Nastia Voynovskaya
A 13th Floor Elevator at the Chapel
The Chapel in San Francisco has been the place to see legacy acts this past year — Sparks and the Flamin’ Groovies come to mind — and for old heroes who might’ve felt forgotten, seeing them receive such adulation always makes my heart swell. So when I saw that the godfather of psychedelic music, Roky Erickson, was playing a set of 13th Floor Elevators tracks, I didn’t think twice. Roky turned 70 this year and his voice doesn’t have the primal rage that it once had, but the musical legacy he represents is worthy of worship. Though the set was full of Roky’s best from those early days — “Splash 1,” “You Don’t Know,” “Levitation” — the highlight for me was an audience member. Sporting a permed mullet with a bald spot as a crown, the older man danced the entire hour-and-a-half set, despite not knowing a single song (he admitted this to me during a break). At one point he turned to his friend and enthusiastically announced that he “just loved the energy!” It made my night. —Kevin L. Jones
Joan Didion, Being a Badass
This new documentary on the writer Joan Didion: sober, but inspiring. —Rachael Myrow
A Salve From the UC Berkeley Grad Who ‘Can’t Keep Quiet’
I discovered MILCK, a UC Berkeley graduate, at the Women’s March in D.C. when her original song “Quiet,” that she street-performed with choral singers from across the country, was captured by filmmaker Alma Harel and went viral. MILCK just dropped “Ooh Child,” by the Five Stairsteps, covered by many greats before her — from the priestess Nina Simone to Beth Orton. I love how MILCK brings it with her own soulful and emotional voice. —Kelly Whalen
The Almighty André 3000’s GQ Interview
André 3000 is a rare gift. He elevates any song he’s on, from his own work in OutKast to features with Kesha, Frank Ocean and UGK, while embracing humility and averting the trappings of fame. GQ dropped a rare longform feature on the Atlanta treasure for their quarterly Style issue, and it’s a striking and sometimes somber read, especially when Three Stacks opens up about his own private tragedies. He also admits that the first piano melodies he learned eventually led to “Ms. Jackson,” and his first guitar licks were the basis for “Hey Ya!” The man could probably write an opera in his sleep. Read it here. —Joshua Bote