That’s no typo. Canadian indie pop band Alvvays—pronounced “always”—is among a recent trend of new bands who’ve resorted to using a double-V as a W (see also: Ovvn, Ovvls). But the music of Alvvays is decidedly timeless, with jangly guitars, melodic choruses and lovelorn lyrics. Frontwoman Molly Rankin’s voice, deceptively simple, carries a type of confident yearning native to the genre; think a more riff-laden version of Best Coast or Teenage Fanclub, and you’re ready for an exciting new band. Details and information here.
Quiet Lightning's Fifth Anniversary
Quiet Lightning’s monthly readings are unlike any other in the Bay Area—instead of pre-screening individual submissions, organizer Evan Karp assigns a broad theme. The result is not only a series of surprises, but what Karp, an all-around lit impresario who’s also contributed to KQED, dubs a “literary mixtape.” To celebrate five years of such events, Quiet Lightning hosts a full gallery exhibit and literary mixtape reading featuring 11 writers, with free copies of its sparkle & blink zine to the first 100 attendees. Details and information here.
San Francisco Symphony: Brahms and Bartók
With his wedding earlier this month to longtime partner Joshua Mark Robison, conductor Michael Tilson Thomas has plenty reason to be joyful. So it’s fitting that this weekend, the San Francisco Symphony performs Brahms’ Symphony No. 2, a famously jubilant work composed in a burst of happiness. Thomas won’t be at the podium, however: that duty falls to Susanna Mälkki, a Finnish conductor, who also oversees pianist Jeremy Denk (pictured) in a performance of Bartók’s Piano Concerto No. 3. Kicking off the program is the short piece The White Peacock by the turn-of-the-century composer Charles Tomlinson Griffes, who in times very different from now was compelled to protectively hide his relationship with another man. Details and information here.
Peter and the Starcatcher
From The Phantom Menace to Wicked, the showbusiness world has been rife with prequels in the past decade. Into this mix comes Peter and the Starcatcher, a Tony-winning play that gives the backstory on everyone’s favorite pillar of eternal childhood, Peter Pan. The story of the orphaned child (simply called “Boy”), an influential heroine, and the quest to save treasure chests from the hands of evil in Neverland is augmented by spontaneous song and adventurous scenarios. Directed at TheatreWorks Silicon Valley this December by Robert Kelley, it’s a perfect holiday show for Nutcracker-beleagured parents and their children. Details and information here.
Oy Vey in a Manger
The Kinsey Sicks are our very own “dragapella” group, and their subversive holiday shows never fail to disappoint. This year’s, Oy Vey in A Manger, features toe-tapping numbers such as “‘Tis the Season to Drink Stoli,” “Harried Little Christmas,” “God Bless Ye Femmy Lesbians” and more to help drown out the incessant cheer of the department store P.A. and the dentist’s office. This year’s show also marks the bittersweet retirement from the group of Irwin Keller, the real-life rabbi of Congregation Ner Shalom who leaves as the Kinsey Sicks’ beloved, horn-rimmed Winnie. And though their makeup and hair may be over-the-top, this ain’t no cheap drag show—the group’s voices are as glorious as angels on high. Details and information here.
Truce: A Christmas Wish from the Great War
The year was 1914; the setting was the battlefield in France; and the time was Christmas. And for one night, World War I soldiers on both sides of the conflict agreed to put down their weapons and celebrate the holiday together. One hundred years later, San Jose playwrights Kit Wilder and Jeffrey Bracco have brought this historic event to the stage in Truce, which sees its world premiere this month. Based on real-life letters from soldiers and augmented by carols and music, the script balances the horrors of war with individual characters’ personal stories and serves as a reminder of not just a rare moment in history, but of the true holiday spirit. Details and information here.
All is Calm
It’s been seven years since Minneapolis vocal ensemble Cantus first debuted their holiday show All is Calm, but this year’s 100th anniversary of the WWI Christmas truce of 1914 renders it especially poignant. According to accounts, when soldiers on both sides of the war laid down their arms and joined in peaceful celebration, they also sang carols, folk songs and popular tunes; the likeliest among them, including “Silent Night,” make up this program of storytelling and music. Details and information here.