The engrossing Hold These Truths, a one-man play about the remarkable true story of Gordon Hirabayashi, returns to the stage for a month-long run at ACT. I caught the show last year, when it was in town on a limited run, and it was one of the best things I saw all year. (Kudos, ACT, for bringing it back).
Hirabayashi was a UW student who defied the U.S. government when it sought to intern him and all people of Japanese ancestry on the West Coast during World War II. Los Angeles playwright Jeanne Sakata interviewed Hirabayashi several times and also culled together information from several of his relatives (Hirabayashi died in 2012) to write this critically acclaimed play that is both history lesson and a tale of how to have faith in oneself, no matter the odds. It stars Ryun Yu.
If you go: Hold These Truths, ACT Theatre, Now through August 16 ($44) — F.D.
Capitol Hill Block Party (Friday)
It’s that time of year again: Seattle’s best (in this author’s humble opinion) music festival, Capitol Hill Block Party, is this weekend. It’s got more than 100 artists, many of them local, on five stages — only three if you’re under the age of 21, though. Thankfully, the main stage is accessible to all. This is a ton of music to wade through, and sadly, there’s no way to see everything. Here then follows a day-by-day directory that lays out a non-conflicting schedule for the festival’s best musical performances [note: Saturday and in separate listings below].
Seattle electro pop group The Flavr Blue opens the Main stage at 4 p.m. Go to this and start dancing right away. After that, it’s a tough choice between two more local groups: Darkwave synth masters Murder Vibes and chamber pop/neo folk singer Whitney Lyman. At 4:15 p.m. catch Seattle’s most avant-garde hip-hop group, Shabazz Palaces. Ishmael Butler, formerly a member of the legendary art rap group The Digable Planets, does all the rapping. Local funk/rap/rock fusion outfit Theoretics will pump things up at 8:15 p.m. To end the night, go catch indie rock veterans Built to Spill. Use this concert to (politely!) move closer to the stage. It’s essential to be up front for TV on the Radio’s headlining set. This group draws on rock, doo-wop, R&B, funk, shoegaze and even more genres to create a truly unique and incredibly intellectual sound.
If you go: Capitol Hill Block Party (Friday), East Pike Street & 12th Avenue, July 24 ($50). All ages. — J.S.H.
The Apu Trilogy *
Between 1955 and 1959, director Satyajit Ray released three breathtaking films on shoestring budgets, known as The Apu Trilogy. The historical significance of these coming-of-age films (created at a pivotal time in world cinema and in response to the garish Bollywood films of the time) is often cited as the greatest in Indian cinema. That alone makes them worth seeing but there’s also the soundtracks by the inimitable Ravi Shankar and the opportunity to vicariously travel India in the 1950s via Ray’s lovely cinematographic sensibility that makes this trilogy irresistible. The films’ praised restoration — a marked night and day difference — can be experienced for a limited time at SIFF!
If you go: The Apu Trilogy, SIFF, July 24 through July 30 ($9 to $12 per film) — N.C.
Kimchi Demonstration *
Kimchi’s been big for a few years now (though, somehow, word still hasn’t reached any of my relatives in my home state of Wisconsin) — and rightfully so. It’s versatile to make, healthy (So much fiber! And Vitamin C!), and provides a complement to just about any simple rice dish you can concoct. If you haven’t made your own, a hot summer like this one is the perfect time to start your own fermenting operations. Christina Seong of Sahngnoksoo, a Seattle-based Korean organization, will be demonstrating how to make a light summer kimchi that showcases cucumber. This program is presented in conjunction with the Wing Luke exhibition Bojagi: Unwrapping Korean American Identities and includes access to the galleries.
If you go: Wing Luke Asian Art Museum, 1 p.m. July 25 ($15) — N.C.
Capitol Hill Block Party (Saturday)
Doors open earlier for both of the last two days of Capitol Hill Block Party. Put in earplugs and check out local rock band Kinski at 2 p.m. The group’s bandcamp page claims their sound has “the power of the Stooges” and few would argue the claim. Much of their music is instrumental and lays the fuzz, distortion and other gnarly pedal effects on very, very thick. You can check this out and still catch the last half of The Physics’ set. These Seattle rappers have been spitting smart rhymes over funky instrumentals for years now. Stick around the main stage for Seattle/New Zealand hybrid band Unknown Mortal Orchestra if you like polished pop rock. They play at 3:30 p.m. If you want something a little rougher, say ultra catchy garage rock, check out Snuff Redux at 4 p.m. Jarv D, founder of the Seattle rap collective Moor Gang, plays at 5:15 p.m. Later in the evening, two great electronic DJ/producers, Giffrage and Kodak to Graph, play at 6 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. respectively.
The shoegazey, funky Toro y Moi will start a guaranteed dance party at 9 p.m. Saturday’s headlining spot goes to English rock duo The Kills. Lead singer Alison Mosshart is also in The Dead Weather with Jack White. Her work in both groups solidified her status as a rock goddess years ago. It’s uncanny how The Kills strike a balance between catchiness and edginess.
If you go: Capitol Hill Block Party (Saturday) East Pike Street & 12th Avenue July 25 ($50). All ages. — J.S.H.
Capitol Hill Block Party (Sunday)
Seattle-based jazz-fusion outfit Industrial Revelation opens the day at 2 p.m. This is a great choice for those going all three days, who probably want to ease into things with something chill and melodic at this point. Yet another fantastic local rock group, Great Spiders, plays after that, at 2:45 p.m. Look for the cutting irony and brainy angst in lead singer Omar Schambacher’s lyric during this set.
Brooklyn dream pop group DIIV plays just after Great Spiders at 3:30 p.m. Another dream pop group, Lower Dens — a little more pop and a little less dream than DIIV — play at 5 p.m. After that comes the hardest choice of the weekend: Local slacker surf rock ironists Chastity Belt or the awesomely weird, Brooklyn-based rap collective Flatbush Zombies. These two very different, very talented acts occupy a nearly identical time slot. The choice for ending the weekend, however, is easy: Camp out at the Main stage. First see some sardonic Americana pop from Father John Misty at 7:15 p.m. Then end the night on a high note with the dancy, intricate guitar and keyboard sounds of Ratatat, who just released their first album in five years, “Magnifique.”
If you go: Capitol Hill Block Party (Sunday), East Pike Street & 12th Avenue July 26 ($50). All ages.—J.S.H.
Cotton Road *
We all have things whose origins we REALLY obsess about: rescue mutts, a favorite bag of whole bean coffee, a favorite lesser-known piece of art. For most of us, this obsession does not extend to the origin of our clothes. In fact, if you’re like me, you may try to think of the other end of the process as little as possible. This documentary takes us on a journey from the cotton fields of South Carolina to the factories of China, all the way to the department store racks we frequent. I’m going to guess the truth isn’t pretty but it doesn’t mean we can’t start to wake up. This is the Seattle premiere; director Laura Kissel will be in attendance.
If you go: Cotton Road, Northwest Film Forum, July 28 ($11) — N.C.