Weekender: This Weekend's Top Five Events


Caleb Nichols endeared himself to many rock fans in the East Bay by combining anxious, self-effacing, melancholy lyrics with well crafted balladry — which, together with his autobiography (a perfectly hewn "coming out" narrative about growing up gay in Los Osos, California), made him stand out among hipsters, albeit in a fairly innocuous way. The band name "Churches" could be seen as a provocation, except that it's not: Nichols is not a pious person by nature, but he often writes about existential angst and a desire for salvation. It's not "church" in the traditional sense, but it's definitely church in the abstract. Moreover, he's got a fabulous cast of backing musicians, including drummer Pat Spurgeon and bassist Dominic East. Churches performs alongside Talk Hot, Cerfs, and Dempsey at The Night Light on Friday, Sept. 28. 9 p.m.,. $5-$15 TheNightLightOakland.comRachel Swan

Vigilante Vigilante
What's most remarkable about Vigilante Vigilante is its tone: Here is a movie about graffiti — specifically, about the battle between Berkeley anti-blight activist Jim Sharp and the graffiti artists whose work he spends hours a day buffing out — that's neither apologetic or smug, that neither vilifies street art nor spends all its time pressing its importance. And in refusing to be a movie that simply rehashes the debate over the value of street art, Vigilante Vigilante elevates itself: The movie is ostensibly abut graffiti, but really, it's about much more — obsession, human expression, local politics, the sometimes thin line between art and vandalism. It's a great film, and all of it plays out right here in the East Bay (there's even a cameo by our wonderful and very telegenic co-editor, Robert Gammon, who wrote a cover story about the conflict). It's playing on Sunday at 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. at Special Delivery. Go see it. — Ellen Cushing

Amendola Vs. Blades

Amendola + Blades: the good kind of cafe music
  • Amendola + Blades: the good kind of cafe music
When drummer Scott Amendola and organist Wil Blades came to Awaken Cafe in June, they regaled their audience with a mix of recognizable, but not-so-obvious standards — a few tunes from Duke Ellington's Far East Suite and a jaunty rendition of Thelonious Monk's "Nutty" — plus several originals. Blades dragged in a Leslie speaker (a large, old-fashioned amplifier that uses the Doppler effect to create tremolo and vibrato), but otherwise the two kept their setup fairly lean. Though drum-and-organ duos aren't particularly common, Blades and Amendola are convinced they'd make a viable "cafe music" format. At Awaken, it worked. Fans were dazzled by the sheer range of tones that Amendola and Blades produced, as they oscillated from chunky swing tunes to harder bebop. Amendola, in particular, is known for his wandering sensibility (he features a lot of found objects on his own recordings), but in this group he sticks by the credo that less is more. That's a hard line to toe with an instrument as big and meaty as a Hammond B-3 organ, but these guys do it convincingly. They'll reappear at Awaken Cafe on Saturday, Sept. 29. 9 p.m., $12-$15. AwakenCafe.com Rachel Swan

Cal Performances' Fall Free for All
It may cost you a pretty penny to attend UC Berkeley these days, but it won't cost a dime to attend Cal Performances' Fall Free for All, which features a full day of totally free music, dance, and theater performances both outdoors and in halls and auditoriums throughout campus. From Lower Sproul Plaza to Zellerbach Hall, the gratis open house includes a shadow puppet show by Daniel Barash, music by the Cypress String Quartet, a performance by the Chitresh Das Dance Company, and much more. Visit website for complete schedule. On Sunday, Sept. 30.11 a-m-6 p.m., free. 510-642-9988 or CalPerfs.Berkeley.edu Cassie McFadden

Sydney Cohen + W. Scott Trimble
A smartly curated two-artist show can cause two disparate artistic practices to play off of one another in the gallery space, in effect opening each other up wider than would otherwise have been the case. This is certainly true of the exhibition currently at Swarm Gallery, in which Seattle-based W. Scott Trimble occupies the floor space and Berkeley-based Sydney Cohen, the walls. Trimble's geometric, modular structures resemble a curious model city. Consisting of pyramidal skyscrapers and elaborate hamster-tube pathways, it evokes something between an Aztec village and a Star Wars outpost. Playing against the rigidity of these shell-like architectural exteriors, Cohen's fluid abstract paintings, composed of acrylic fields in a comforting palette of mauves, grays, mustard yellows, and the like, suggest the domestic interior, albeit one where solidity has given way to flux. Through October 7 at Swarm Gallery. 510-839-2787 or SwarmGallery.comAlex Bigman

Get your cheapskate on:
This is how much we love you guys: Here are our searchable listings of every single free event happening in the East Bay this weekend.

Feed Us: Got any East Bay news, events, video, or miscellany we should know about? Holler at us at Ellen.Cushing@EastBayExpress.com.