The Weekender: Kenny’s return; Dicky’s party; Lenny’s birthday
Got plans this weekend, Weekender?
Me, I may just relax, take in a leisurely stroll, enjoy the fresh air of the shortening summer days along with my good friend [Individual 1]. You really have to take advantage of this weather while you can, know what I mean?
The Weekender may be keeping a low profile this weekend, but do you suspect it’s still pulled together way too many options for your final August weekend? Guilty as charged! This week we’ve got gross puppets, skanking grown-ups, shoegaze duos, and not one but two 100th birthday parties. (Bonus: They’re both dead, so don’t sweat the gifts.)
SESAME SEEDY: Billed as “No Sesame. All Street.” (which Elmo and Co. did not seem to appreciate at all), “The Happytime Murders” is what happens when the Children’s Television Workshop turns out to be a meth lab. It’s a darkly crude crime thriller from the mind of Brian Henson (yes, same Hensons) crawling with puppets whose problems run deeper than a puppeteer’s arm. The hard-R rating should be enough, but here’s me saying do not bring your kids to see this. “Even adults can’t unsee what goes on in a scuzzy backroom at Vinny’s Puppet Pleasureland,” writes reviewer Tom Russo, lightly traumatized but still able to write a 2½-star review. While “some of this smutty irreverence is undeniably hilarious,” he writes, it doesn’t take long for the movie’s withering wit to lapse into “lurid gags involving Silly String and puppets’ baser instincts.” The human cast includes Melissa McCarthy, Maya Rudolph, Joel McHale, and Elizabeth Banks; but hardcore Muppet fans should keep an ear out for O.G. erstwhile Elmo, Kevin Clash. Now screening.
MASS MEDIA: Movie buffs let down by slutty puppets can restore their faith in film at the Massachusetts Independent Film Festival, which rolls at the Regent Theatre in Arlington on Saturday and Sunday. Peter Keough offers a highlight reel of festival entries that explore “how we make the world meaningful.” “They are films about the artistic impulse in all of us that persists despite inevitable frustrations,” he writes. Among this year’s standouts is “The Last Sacred Place of Poetry,’’ an intimate documentary from directors Weiying “Olivia’’ Huang and Mengyuan Lin that leafs through the history of Harvard Square’s enduring Grolier Poetry Book Shop. (Screening Saturday at 8 p.m.) Find the full festival schedule and find tickets here.
IT’S KEN . . . AGAIN: Kenny Chesney has played Gillette Stadium more than any other artist, about as often as most men shave (I’m still an every-other-weeker — thanks a lot, Mom genes). And for his 18th and 19th appearances on Friday and Saturday, the Tennessean titan of twang brings his Trip Around the Sun Stadium Tour to town, along with his good buddies Dierks Bentley, Brothers Osborne, and Brandon Lay. Expect yet more repeat performances of the local favorites culled from past Gillette gigs for last year’s “Live in No Shoes Nation,” as well as some other local favorites who’ve been raging in the parking lot since 1 p.m. Grab tickets here.
PLENTY OF HORN: Depending on your definition of skanking, it’s probably been a long time since you’ve done it. After all, most of us (especially around here) associate ska with the vanguard Boston ska-punk scene of the ’90s, led by Dicky Barrett and his Mighty Mighty Bosstones. While the Bosstones have long thrown their annual “Hometown Throwdown” to touch base with lifelong fans, this weekend they’ve put together the first-ever Cranking & Skanking Fest in Worcester to cap (or fedora?) the summer. All day Saturday outdoors at the Palladium you can catch acts like the Bosstones, Toots & the Maytals, Fishbone, Bouncing Souls, Big D and the Kids Table, Planet Smashers, Pietasters, Doped Up Dollies, and more. Conspicuously not on the bill? My existentialist ska-metal side project Jean-Paul Skartre. Missed opportunity, dudes. Find tickets here, and hey! Watch the elbows!
‘7’ WONDERS: Weekenders, do y’all listen to Beach House? And if not, why not? You really can’t go wrong with any album from the Baltimore mavens of swoony, shadowy, shoegazey dream-pop, but the duo’s seventh outing, “7,” goes above and beyond the call of beauty. And bonus! When they come to House of Blues on Friday, they’ll have San Francisco’s spectral Papercuts in tow, whose equally dreamy “Parallel Universe Blues” just dropped on Slumberland. This is gonna be really good. Grab tickets here.
CARE TAKER: “I tried to call myself a performer for a stretch of time, and I felt so paralyzed. I learned I can’t go down that road,” folk/country hero Iris DeMent recently told the Globe. “I think of myself as a servant — a minister, a nurse. I think of myself in the service profession. That’s what I’m really doing.” And if you’ve ever heard DeMent’s singing voice reach out like sunrise across an Iowa cornfield, you’d be hard pressed to argue — it can start your whole day over. You’ve got two chances to hear her this weekend: Friday night at the Narrows Center for the Arts in Fall River, and Saturday night at City Winery. Tickets here and here.
OUTSIDER ART: It’s going to be aggressively lovely out there this weekend. So if you’re an art lover who doesn’t necessarily want to spend your dwindling summer days inside a museum, consider Cate McQuaid’s tour of new outdoor artworks scattered around Greater Boston. In addition to Liz Glynn’s “Open House” (which we Weekender’d a couple weekends ago), you can experience Alicja Kwade’s maze-ing “TunnelTeller” at Castle Hill on the Crane Estate in Ipswich, Yayoi Kusama’s (highly) reflective “Where the Lights in My Heart Go” at deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum in Lincoln, and Fujiko Nakaya’s “Fog x FLO,” which shrouds sections of the Emerald Necklace in the artist’s “sculpted” fog, what Nakaya calls “the most generous medium.”
BROTHERLY SHOVE: Running through Sept. 8 at Gloucester Stage Company is a “scorching” production of Sam Shepard’s classic “True West,” starring Nael Nacer and Alexander Platt. Globe reviewer Joel Brown sees a “fresh, Trump-era take” in Joe Short’s vision, perhaps because the play “says something essential about the American character in its yin-yang depiction of battling brothers Austin and Lee.” You can find showtimes and tickets here.
FEEL THE BERN: We’ve spent all year celebrating ol’ Lenny Bernie’s big birthday, but the actual-factual Leonard Bernstein centennial is Saturday — and Tanglewood is not playing. (Well, they are — it’s what they do — so let’s just go with “they’re not fooling around.”) The Boston Symphony Orchestra’s yearlong tribute to Bernstein culminates with a gala hosted by Audra McDonald, led by five conductors, and featuring the BSO performing alongside members of the New York Philharmonic, the Vienna Philharmonic, and the Israel Philharmonic. To close, the whole gang plus the Tanglewood Festival Chorus will be led by Andris Nelsons in a performance of the Finale from Mahler’s Second Symphony, which Bernstein led the first performances of at Tanglewood in 1948, way before super charming and informative newsletters existed. Full program information and tickets here.
BIRTHDAY PRESENCE: And if one 100th birthday bash just isn’t enough, head to Becket, where Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival welcomes Daniel Ulbricht and his Stars of American Ballet collaborative for a centennial celebration of choreographer Jerome Robbins. They’ll perform Robbins works including “Suite of Dances,” “Interplay,” and “Concertino.” Meanwhile onstage at the Doris Duke Theatre, the San Francisco troupe OCD/Dance makes its first return to the festival since the mid-’90s to perform KT Nelson’s “Dead Reckoning.” Both run through Sunday; find info and tickets here.
OR STAY IN! On Friday night at midnight, you can catch my new favorite thing to trip out in front of, “Random Acts of Flyness,” HBO’s new show from the artist Terence Nance. Self-described as a “stream-of-conscious response to the contemporary American mediascape,” it blends music, video art, animation, and language into some of the most visionary half-hour stretches on TV. (I’m getting shades of “Wonder Showzen” and “Alive From Off Center,” and if you don’t know what those are, you have a high-quality weekend on YouTubing ahead of you!)
And I don’t know about you, but this whole Netflix rom-com-boom that’s in progress is right on our (my) frequency right now. It continues this weekend with ‘‘To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before,” starring Lana Condor (“X-Men: Apocalypse”) as Lara Jean Song Covey, “a 16-year-old girl who copes with ‘intense’ crushes by writing love letters she never plans to send out.”
And with that, unimpeachable Weekenders, I rest my case.
Have fun out there! And however you spend your weekend, make it one you’ll miss come Monday. See you next week!