Spectral Forces, Giselle, Justice 101, and more

The BSR Weekly Arts and Culture Roundup, January 18-24, 2024

4 minute read
A band of 3, drums, cello, and keys, speakers on tripods on an outdoor stage, a poster with WEIRDO hand-written on it
Spectral Forces debuts its new album this weekend at the Rotunda. (Photo by Richard Stankiewicz.)

This week has us tuning in to the music. A record release show comes to the Maas Building featuring a New Jersey band with two decades of music behind them—and they’ll be supported by local star Anne Ishii. Another comes to West Philly for a spacey trip through hip-hop, jazz, and punk. And then, a classic romance ballet screens in theaters this weekend, and it’s sure to sweep you off your feet (I use that phrase loosely). Then, find yourself exploring a nuanced conversation around Civil Rights with Eastern State, and make a trip up the turnpike to see impactful art from Trenton locals.

Be sure to double-check listings before you head out this weekend—a storm is upon us! I encourage you to support and check out the arts, but I also implore you to be safe, Philly.

Justice 101: Conversation on Civil Rights Movements within Prisons
Friday, January 19, 12pm
Streaming live via Zoom

Eastern State Penitentiary launches its inaugural Justice 1010 program, an exploration of the intersection between civil disobedience and imprisonment as catalysts for social change. This edition, titled Conversation on Civil Rights Movements within Prisons, examines how acts of dissent of civil rights leaders and the consequences of imprisonment have shaped historical and contemporary efforts for justice and equality in America. Be sure to register ahead of time.

The Early Record Release Show with Anne Ishii/Clint Takeda Duo and M.E.
Friday, January 19, 8pm
Maas Building, 1325 North Randolph Street, Philadelphia

The Early, a New Jersey band mixing post-rock, jazz, synths, and minimalism, pays a visit to Philly this weekend in tandem with another pair of bands, including a duo featuring Philly’s own Anne Ishii. The Early is putting out their new album Impatient, which you can listen to now.

Spectral Forces Album Release Show
Saturday, January 20, 8pm
The Rotunda, 4014 Walnut Street, Philadelphia

West Philly band Spectral Forces looks to release their new album The Light of the Universe Is in Who, a blend of songs that explore the parallel universes within the city of Philly. Sci-fi synths, hip-hop, punk, metal, and free jazz elements bring us the unique set of sounds, and there will be a four-act performance featuring “avant-jawn” afro-diasporic dance from Vitche-Boul Ra, experimental rap from Ishtar Sr., and free jazz from the 52nd Street Experimental Planet Ensemble. Tapes will be available for sale at the event (shout-outs to everyone out there still collecting cassettes, I see you!), and digital recordings will be available on their bandcamp.

Reciting Women: Alia Bensliman & Khalilah Sabree
January 20-Sunday, March 31, 2024
Art@Bainbridge, Princeton University Art Museum, 158 Nassau Street, Princeton

Alia Bensliman and Khalilah Sabree are two Muslim American artists and educators deeply rooted in the Trenton community, and their new exhibit at the Princeton University Art Museum speaks to human rights struggles and the challenges of cultural belonging. Bensliman uses watercolors and local artistic motifs to illustrate images that focus on the Indigenous population of North Africa, particularly Amazigh women. Sabree’s painting suite serves as a meditation on loss and the devastations of war, pulling from a photograph taken during Hajj—the annual Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca. Check out an online gallery of selected works in the exhibition before making the trip up, too.

Sunday, January 21, 2024
Various locations

The classic romantic ballet sees a film screening for one day only this weekend in various theaters in the Philly area. Giselle tells the story of the young peasant girl of the same name who falls in love with a nobleman who is already betrothed and hides his true identity from her. When she learns the truth, she becomes mad and dies, and against her will, joins the Wilis, a group of vengeful spirits of jilted brides who condemn the nobleman to dance until he dies of exhaustion. That sounds darkly hilarious to me, and I think I’m here for it. (Editor’s note: it looks like the film is also screening on Wednesday, January 24, 2024, despite being billed as one day only.)

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