News+Features » Features

Doubling Down

by

comment

Best flashback to an earlier era that isn't your Rick Sebak DVD collection
Down & Derby Roller Disco. Belvedere's, 4016 Butler St., Lawrenceville. www.downandderby.org
Started five years ago by promoter Vince Masi, Down & Derby has grown from an occasional party held at temporary locations to a regular monthly roller disco at Belvedere's. Roller skates, tube socks and short-shorts are the norm, along with dance tusnes spun by guest DJs. The phenomenon has grown -- there are now Down & Derby parties in Brooklyn, Las Vegas, Los Angeles and elsewhere -- but it all started here. 

Best Inconspicuous Music Venue 
The Shop. 4312 Main St., Bloomfield. 412-951-0622 
It's easy to miss from the street, but this latest in a line of gallery/venues operated by local curator-promoter team Lauri Mancuso and Edgar Um is also perhaps the best yet. The Shop, which opened in the spring, is minimalist in furnishings but comfortable, and hosts all manner of small rock shows while leaning toward the underground. From noise to punk to hipster hip-hop, the nascent venue has somehow established a reputation without calling attention to itself.

Best New Performing Arts Troupe
Microscopic Opera Company. www.microscopicopera.com
The oft-neglected repertoire of contemporary one-act operas has proved fertile terrain for co-founders Andres Cladera and Erica Olden. Working on a shoestring, they staged two evening-length programs in 2010, the second with a small orchestra. And they met the challenge of ambitious material like Jake Heggie's tragic "To Hell and Back" and Katarzyna Brochocka's "Happy Garden of Life," the latter a dark but wacky adaptation of a satiric Kurt Vonnegut story. 

Best Theatrical Provocation
The Shipment
Cult-favorite Brooklyn-based playwright Young Jean Lee and a cast of five African-American performers collaborated on this "minstrel show," an in-your-face deconstruction of race, racism and racial stereotypes that played in April as part of the Warhol's Off the Wall series. Really, it was the profane opening "standup comedy" routine that prompted the most walkouts at the New Hazlett Theater by people who didn't quite get it. But a parodic "ghetto" narrative and a strangely "normal" third act drove home the point that everybody's got some presumptions to confront.

Best Crossover Art Exhibit of 2010
Whatever It Takes, Miller Gallery, Carnegie Mellon University. millergallery.cfa.cmu.edu
Sure, Andy Warhol blurred the lines between high art and popular culture decades ago. But in Pittsburgh, if you ain't a Steelers-themed gallery exhibit, you ain't shit. Curated by Jon Rubin and Astria Suparak, Whatever It Takes features Steelers tattoos, fan garb, homemade football shrines ... everything you can imagine and some things you can't. Visitors are invited to consider Steelers fandom in light of working-class identity and the desire for stability during periods of economic upheaval. Or they can just think about how much ass Jack "Splat" Lambert used to kick.  

Best Local YouTube Phenomenon: 
Jasiri X's Tea Party takedown (http://tinyurl.com/2blckvy
A catchy beat and controversial lyrics helped Jasiri X's rap video, "What if the Tea Party was black?" go viral after its summer release. The song, which targets the conservative movement, has received nearly 250,000 views since being posted on YouTube in July. While the song never explicitly accuses the Tea Party of being racist, Jasiri's lyrics take aim at media and government hypocrisy, challenging listeners to imagine the reaction to a Tea Party movement led by black Americans. "What if the Tea Party was black / holding guns like the Black Panther Party was back?" the chorus begins. It concludes, "Ya'll know if the Tea Party was black / The government would have been had the army attack."

Add a comment