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Infringement Daily Planner: Day 4

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Pac Man Park, an interactive Pac Man performance, comes to Day's Park at 2 p.m. today.

Here are some picks for today, the fourth day of the Buffalo Infringement Festival:

Adam Giancarlo, a singer-songwriter in the Cat Stevens mode whose work often deals with social and political struggles, is the sort of musician the Infringement Festival was built for. He'll be performing a set in El Buen Amigo at noon today. Here's how he describes his work: "My music has innumerable influences, and has been compared to the likes of Cat Stevens and Jack Johnson. The style is folk rock for the most part with some blues and ballads. The content of the lyrics ranges from personal struggles and conflicts to social and political commentary to love and desire."

• The start of Giancarlo's set also coincides with the start of the People's Park Hip Hop Blowout, just one of many tough Infringement conflicts that have to be sorted on the basis of your own personal preference. The concert features five hip hop acts, including that rapper named d and Walt Dizziness.

Continue reading "Infringement Daily Planner: Day 4" »

Infringement Daily Planner: Day 3

Squeaky Wheel's 10th annual Outdoor Animation Festival comes to Days Park tonight at 8:30 p.m.

The amount of activity happening during this, the third day of the Buffalo Infringement Festival, absolutely boggles the mind. Just straight-up boggles it, for real.

You might have as much fun throwing any kind of predetermined plan out the window in favor of wandering aimlessly around Allentown and following the omnipresent Infringement vibe wherever it may lead you. But if you're the think-ahead type, here are five of many dozens of activities that will likely be worth your while today:

Continue reading "Infringement Daily Planner: Day 3" »

8BitBuffalo at The Foundry

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A little earlier this evening, I caught a bit of the "8 Bit Bonanza" at The Foundry, a mini-art and music festival meant to celebrate the opening of an exhibition of work by members of the 8BitBuffalo collective. I caught up with curator, game designer and former Sp@ce 224 owner Jose Rodriguez outside the venue for a little more info about the show. Here he is:

--Colin Dabkowski

Review: Torn Space Theater's 'Uncle Vanya'

Morgan Chard, left, and Diane Gaidry appear in Torn Space Theater's production of "Uncle Vanya" in the Dnipro Ukrainian Center.

 

There will always be incurably miserable people moping around in the world, so theater companies will always produce plays by Anton Chekhov, the Russian master of depression and despair.

As part of the Buffalo Infringement Festival, Torn Space Theater is mounting a brief run of Chekhov's masterwork "Uncle Vanya" in an ad hoc theater space inside the Dnipro Ukrianian Center on Genessee Street. The play is a snapshot of the tortured lives of a group of terminally woebegone Russians, each of whom is trapped in his or her own peculiar state of manic desperation.

This production, directed by Megan Callahan (who was also behind "He Who Gets Slapped," the company's Infringement offering last year) moves swiftly along through a story about wasted potential, wasted time, wasted energy and wasted passion. But one thing that won't be wasted is your time. Despite some quibbles, the show is sure to be an Infringement Festival hightlight.

The show tells the story of a creaky old Russian professor and his beautiful second wife, who have taken a brief sojourn to the country estate that makes their life back in the city possible. That estate, a drab and isolated place that seems to inspire a slightly different brand of simmering madness in each of its inhabitants and visitors, is managed by the utterly depressed and borderline suicidal Uncle Vanya.

Vanya is played in this production by James Luce, whose extremely affected performance sits somewhere between John Malkovich and Buddy Cole, the martini-sipping barroom wit portrayed by Canadian actor Scott Thompson. It doesn't remontely work for the character, who is supposed to be in love with the professor's wife (Diane Gaidry), but boy is it ever fun to watch.

Luce sinks his teeth into Chekhov's words, delivering certain lines with a sarcastic glee that only thinly masks his roiling unhappiness and sputtering out others with a feigned exasperation that never quite works for him. Still, the delivery is memorable and his comic timing elevates the performance.

Excellent work comes from James Heffron, who plays the alternately idealistic and world-weary young doctor Astov and from Morgan Chard as the bright-eyed Sonya, whom Checkhov dooms as he dooms the rest of his characters to a long life of constant disappointment.

The setting for the play, on an upper floor of the sprawling Ukrainian Center, may be the real star of the show. During the first act, the characters gaze out of the large, unblocked windows over the gritty landscape of Buffalo's East Side. It's not exactly the sweltering Russian countryside, but the setting works well, especially in its use of natural light. For the more troubling and troublesome second act, the seating is completely rearranged and we enter a sort psychological dream space more familiar to Torn Spac regulars, in which digital projections of several characters attempt to heighten our awareness of their internal struggles.

There seems to be no particular reason for this switch other than as an excuse to employ projections, and it seems almost certain that the straightforward approach, which worked so well in the first act, would have been more effective if it were carried through the entire production.

Even so, the performances, especially from Heffron and Chard, takes us firmly into the lives of these tortured characters, each of whom continues to grasp at some form of happiness even as the world outside seems determined to keep them from finding it.

The show runs through Aug. 4, with performances every day but July 28 and 30.

--Colin Dabkowski

'Sharknado' to show at Regal theaters

What's that up in the sky? It's not a bird. Nor a plane. It's the Syfy channel's unexpected hit "Sharknado" and it's coming to Buffalo.

"Sharknado" will be shown at midnight on Aug. 2 in the Elmwood Regal and Transit Regal theaters. Tickets are $12.50 and can be purchased at the theater box office or through www.FathomEvents.com.

Ian Ziering and Tara Reid star in "Sharknado," a Syfy original movie about a freak hurricane that dumps thousands of killer sharks literally on to the inhabitants of Los Angeles. The film became a social media hit, registering about 5,000 tweets per minute during its July debut on Syfy. A sequel, "Sharknado 2" is planned for a 2014 premiere.

Review video: Critics' Corner with Simon & Miers

WWE pay-per-view event set for First Niagara Center

Buffalo will be the setting for a "WWE Battleground" when the WWE pay-per-view event is broadcast live from the First Niagara Center at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 6.

John Cena, CM Punk, Randy Orton, Daniel Bryan, Sheamus, Dolph Ziggler, Rob Van Dam and the Shield will be on hand with more names to be announced.

Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. on Aug. 3 and will cost $402.50, $302.50, $97.50, $72.50, $47.50 and $27.50. A random handbill policy is in effect with a limited number of handbills now available. Get your tickets at the First Niagara Center box office and online at www.tickets.com. For more info or to charge by phone, call (888) 223-6000.

Live chat at noon: Miers on Music with The News' pop music critic

Infringement Daily Planner: Day 2

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The 8BitBuffalo collective will have its opening tonight in The Foundry.

The first day of the Buffalo Infringement Festival is behind us, and with all its unexpected encounters with utter weirdness, our appetites have been whet. The weekend days of the festival are always the busiest, and today is no exception. Below are my very subjective picks for the day, but make sure to visit the Infringement site for the day's epic schedule in case you want to come up with your own.

• At noon, an artist known as that rapper named d performs a set of socially conscious hip hop at Filigree's, the Infringement uber-venue run by festival veteran and hula-hooper extraordinaire Melissa Campbell. This guy, a presence in and around the Occupy Buffalo movement made a strong impression during an Infringement preview event a few weeks ago and he'll likely do the same today.

• Today is huge for Infringey art openings, perhaps the most hotly anticipated of which is the "8 Bit Bonanza" at The Foundry, a very cool arts space in a warehouse on Northampton Street on the East Side. The show, in addition to putting the spotlight on a number of local bands, will feature the work of the 8BitBuffalo collective, described tantalizingly as "a group of artists, both digital and traditional who, in a combination of tribute and nostalgia address the themes and aesthetics of classic (circa 1985) video games." Things get started at 7 and run through midnight.

• If video game-inspired art isn't your thing, use the opportunity to check out the opening of a new gallery next door to a new shop called Coming Home Buffalo at 138 Elmwood Ave. In addition to a series of performances from the likes of Sparklebomb and A Glitch in the Circle of Life, the space will feature work from an eclectic collection of underground artists that will remain on view throughout the festival.

Pete Sorkin, one of my favorite finds from last year's festival (here he is playing his hilarious original tune "The Residential Treatment Facility Blues") has a 6 p.m. set at the Essex Street Pub. More than worth checking out, and checking out again when he plays at various times during the rest of the fest.

• Hilarity is pretty much a sure thing during The Hotshot Whiz Kids Podcast Live event, scheduled for 6 p.m. in the back room of Rust Belt Books, which, fair warning, tends to be stuffy. (In the humid sense, not in the artsy-fartsy sense.) The Whiz Kids bill themselves as Buffalos number one comedy podcast, and their live show will feature a slate of experienced Buffalo stand-up comics. They'll record another live podcast at the same time on Saturday.

Feel free to drop your own suggestions in the comment section, and come back throughout the day (starting in the afternoon) for updates, photos and videos from day 2. Happy Infringement one and all.

--Colin Dabkowski

Alaysa O'Brien on Allen Street

Today's performance from the Slyboots Drumming Ensemble was canceled, so in the sprit of Infringement, I wandered onto Allen Street and discovered something else. That something happened to be a sidewalk acoustic set from Alaysa O'Brien, who was kind enough to play an original tune called "Maynard," titled for James Maynard Keenan, the lead singer of Tool. Here she is:

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