Spring is in full effect, and it feels good on the skin. At this point, you've probably already spent a good amount of time drinking by the lake with every other human in Oakland. It's difficult to make a case for doing anything other than that for the next five months, but here's what we've got. Believe it or not, there are a lot of other worthwhile events going on this weekend. So many, even, that we added some bonus suggestions at the bottom.
Oakland International Film Festival
The Oakland International Film Festival is returning for its thirteenth year, with a diverse selection of films from Oakland and all over the world. Among them is F R E E
, a new feature-length documentary that follows five teens in Oakland’s own Destiny Arts Youth Performance Company, as they co-create a piece and work through the challenges in their lives — including issues of poverty, sexual abuse, and gang violence. East Side Sushi
, another Oakland-made film, is a narrative about a young Latina who fights for the opportunity to pursue her dream of becoming a sushi chef. That film will also screen with the twenty-minute documentary TDK - The Dream Kontinues
, which tells the story of the late graffiti writer Mike Dream, the TDK Crew, and Oakland graffiti today. From elsewhere, a highlight includes the documentary Melvin and Jean: An American Story
, about two African-American activists who hijacked a Miami-bound plane and flew it to Algeria in 1972 to escape racial oppression in America.— Sarah Burke
April 2-5. OIFF.org
David Polka’s drawings are like visual spells for conjuring allegorical dreamscapes. He forms them using a potent blend of personal storytelling, social critique, American tattoo aesthetic, and folklore from around the world. The local artist often works into the wee hours of the night, bent over at his desk, turning cut pieces of cardstock into small, self-contained worlds. In his new zine, Night Songs
, he presents a collection of 24 cleanly executed drawings that catalog his developing language of archetypes and symbolism. For the zine release event, which will take place at Good Mother gallery
on Friday, he will also be showcasing 24 new drawings for one weekend only, as well as a site-specific mural. These pieces touch on themes of loss, betrayal, struggle, and redemption — offering glimpses into an unfinished story, like stars in the sky ready to be made into an endless number of constellations. Zine presales will be available up until the event for $15 at DavidPolka.BigCartel.com
, or at the release party for a slightly higher price.— S. B.
Fri., April 3, 7-11 p.m. Free. GoodMotherGallery.com
Switchboard Music Festival
Black Spirituals will play at Switchboard Fest.
The lineup for Outside Lands 2015 was recently announced. Performers include Kendrick Lamar. Excellent. But you already knew that, and the internet will remind you every day until August. Meanwhile, The Switchboard Music Festival, which occurs this Saturday at the Brava Theater
— also the venue for the crucial San Francisco Electronic Music Festival — is another all-day music soiree focused on progressive composers and singular new music ensembles. The main pull is the premiere of In C Re-Do
, a reimagined version of Terry Riley’s groundbreaking minimalist composition, performed by a host of local left-field luminaries such as Zoe Keating, Fred Frith, Pamela Z, and Greg Saunier, among many others. Performers earlier in the day include Bill Baird, performing a new mixed-media piece; and Black Spirituals, an outfit that couples live percussion and electronics with historic allusions and political overtones. Of course, if you prefer, Outside Lands also presents Slightly Stoopid.— Sam Lefebvre
Sat., April 4, 2-10 p.m. $20. Switch-BoardMusic.com
Zeek Sheck’s 2014 double album, Joinus
, is a rather maddening statement. It proceeds in little leaps — with chants, caustic synth-scree, and busted little percussive bursts — each idea toyed with and quickly discarded. It evokes The Residents, sans some of the campiness and pop-culture fixation. A veteran of Chicago’s scrappy experimental scene, Zeek Sheck has put out a suite of conceptual albums, the newest of which is Joinus
, for which there are several paragraphs online offering a “short version” of the full explanation. It appeared on Resipiscent Records, a local anti-profit label that gravitates toward the best of suitably noncommercial material. On Saturday, Resipiscent and the likeminded local label Ratskin present Zeek Sheck, along with Noyzelab and 404 Not Found, at Vamp Music
Sat., April 4, 6 p.m. Facebook.com/VampMusicandArt
Destination Home: Four Short New Works
Destination Home (at the Flight Deck) is four short plays that attempt to capture and free the haunting ambiguity of “home” by answering the question: “If home were the destination, what would the journey look like?” Ragged Wing Ensemble often takes a collagist approach to storytelling, and because of that, all of the mini plays are predictably weird, experimental, and tend to veer wildly from conventional notions of plot and dialogue. In other words, don’t come expecting neat story arcs and tidy resolutions. It’s far more enjoyable to experience something like Destination Home by relaxing into the discomfort that comes with not ever being completely sure what is going on. Which is why it is so delightful, for instance, to watch two clowns lose their dream home to a floating mannequin head, as was the case in Fantasy Home Sweepstakes: Malibu. Taken collectively, Destination Home functions as a hall of mirrors — audiences will recognize the familiar grappling and trappings of home explored in the four short works at the same time that they will also probably be baffled by them. Home is, after all, a place that often doesn’t exist, but a lingering image of someone or something you used to know. It is both a curse and a comfort, and Ragged Wing does an interesting job of mining the emotions associated with the bedraggled spectacle, often in surprising, dreamlike ways.— Anna Pulley
Fridays-Sundays, 2 & 8 p.m. Continues through April 4. $20-$40. TheFlightDeck.org
On Friday, there will be an opening for Re-Visions: Black and Brown Resisting State Violence
, an art show and round table discussion commemorating Palestinian Prisoners Day held at Uptown Body and Fender
. That same night, IROT will be opening his solo show at Oakland Termina
l, called April Ain't for No Fool
. Aggregate Space
will also be opening New Paintings,
a show that rethinks traditional painting styles. On Saturday, B4BEL4B
will throw the third annual Faux Real avant-drag party
, which will also be an immersive theater production. (Read the full story here
If your pockets are feelin' light and you're still yearning for more suggestions, we've got a ton, and these ones are all FREE!
We're Hungry: Got any East Bay news, events, video, or miscellany we should know about? Feed us at Sarah.Burke@EastBayExpress.com.