When The Black Keys first exploded out of Akron, Ohio with the release of their sophomore LP Thickfreakness back in April 2003, The White Stripes were at the top of their game. Elephant—the album that made Jack White and his ex-wife superstars—had been released the week before, and the Keys suffered from comparisons to that other guitar-and-drums blues duo. Thankfully, while Jack went on to marry a model and star in duets with Alicia Keys, Akron’s Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney have quietly soldiered on. Two fantastically gritty albums followed Thickfreakness—2004’s Rubber Factory and 2006’s Magic Potion—and this spring the duo collaborated with producer Danger Mouse, the guy behind Beck’s Modern Guilt, for their latest record, Attack & Release. The new tunes are a wild mix of post-modern funk and pre-modern blues (see “Psychotic Girl” and “Strange Times”)—a curious juxtaposition you’ll have the change to witness live when Auerbach and Carney play Terminal 5 on February 6. [Tickets on sale: Friday, October 31 at noon]
There’ve been lots of Frank Zappa cover bands over the years, but none, presumably, as faithful to Frank’s strange muse as Zappa Plays Zappa—the project led by his son, Dweezil. After squirreling himself away to study Frank’s more than 80 albums in chronological order for two years, the guitarist emerged in 2006 to recruit musicians capable of capturing Frank’s bizarre—and dizzyingly technical—genius. (If you can’t speak personally to the wonders of a tune like “Peaches En Regalia,” we’re sure you have an uncle who will gladly testify.) Not only does Dweezil star in ZPZ, so too does long-time Zappa collaborator Ray White. The eight-piece band is in the middle of a three-night engagement at the Blender Theater at Gramercy. Friday’s show is sold out, though tickets for tonight’s performance are still available. [Tickets on sale now]
Back in 2001, Stephen Daldry’s Billy Elliot received three Oscar nominations, including best supporting actress (for Julie Walters) and best director. The film focused on a young Brit whose love for ballet helped him rise above his working class roots and the miners’ strikes shaking Northern England in the mid-1980s. Seven years later, the movie has been turned into a musical at the Imperial Theater featuring many of the same talent—there’s Daldry as the director, as well as choreographer Peter Darling and lyricist Lee Hall. Though Daldry has no intention of recreating the film, despite its success. “We only decided to go ahead with the musical because we felt we could make it better than the film,” he told the Times. “I feel like it lives much more happily on the stage than on the screen.” Plus he managed to snag the services of Sir Elton John to write the music. Nice. “Billy Elliot" is currently in previews, and opens on November 13. [Tickets on sale now]
And finally, “If You See Something Say Something” opened at the Public Theater at Joe’s Pub on Monday. Riffing off the hated MTA slogan, Mike Daisey’s monologue constructs a super-critical history of America’s national security structure running from the creation of the atomic bomb at Los Alamos, New Mexico to today’s bloated Department of Homeland Security. All in all, a timely, though not entirely pleasant, reminder of our president’s failed administration. Here’s to the next one! [Tickets on sale now]
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