Happy New Year! Even though I’ve been hearing lots of horror stories about missing money for Akron events, I was looking forward to First Night Akron from Christmas night. It’s such a strange amalgamation of arts and other events that it’s always a lot of fun.
This year, I started out at the Akron Art Museum, where I caught Case Sensitive, a teen band with some really nice choices of cover tunes and a few original pieces. They definitely had some talent, and they might bring extra drumsticks along next time.
In the Greystone Hall Ballroom, I listened to the Akron Derbytown Barbershop Chorus. I intially headed that way because I thought it’d be a little curious, but it ended up being a lot of fun, with some songs that got the crowd moving and singing along - there was a guy behind me really belting it out along with the chorus.
I grabbed a traditional hot pretzel at the John S. Knight Center (someone needs to step it up - I almost didn’t finish the thing) and went to the Summit Art Space to see Creatures of the Midnight Sun, of which the lion up there is one. Blacklights can be really tricky to work with, but everyone there seemed to be having a lot of fun with the art. I really hope the art space can keep up little interactive shows like this.
I finished up the night doing some ice skating at Lock 3 - the first time I’ve done any skating for a few years. I didn’t fall once, but it wasn’t for lack of flailing around. I sort of scooted along the outside edge as 6-year olds blew by me backward in the center. I didn’t know it was actually so easy to rent skates out up there; I’m thinking I’ll be doing that again before the season is over.
The night finished with dancing to radio tunes (dear radio people: can we please put a moratorium on that song? You know what I’m talking about) and finally, the thing I was waiting for most:
Last year, unsuspecting filmgoers were terrified by a series of haunting and sometimes gruesome shorts in the merciless Freakishly Short Animation Festival.
Now, it returns to thrill a brand new crowd with the Revenge of the Freakishly Short Animation Festival!
No, seriously. Akron Film got to setting up the Halloween mood at the Akron Art Museum with an animation festival filled with more than a dozen great shorts. Several of the films, like The Terrible Thing of Alpha-9! and Who’s Hungry? cut right to the heart of what makes the season so much fun by being so unsettling.
Not everything was gore, though. Several of the films, including one of my favorite segments, went to the absurd. I couldn’t find a full version of Hello (my actual favorite part of the night), but here is Mameshiba, a tiny bean dog that unnerves people who are about to eat them with disturbing trivia.
It was all a build up to Seeds of the Damned, made by local Akron animator Cory Sheldon, and Please Say Something, a literal story of cat and mouse.
Thanks to the site, I found out that Hello ended up winning the crowd’s favorite award, so at least one vote I made recently counted!
I’m really not thinking of the Akron Film Festival as a part two to the Cleveland International Film Festival - they just happened close together. I’m glad I was able to make it up to the Akron Art Museum almost every night of the festival, because I saw some movies with great potential. And a few that were kind of not as cool. But mostly the former. The theatre was about twice as packed as this by Saturday.
If there was any movie I caught this weekend that really needs to be seen, it’s Sita Sings the Blues, directed by Nina Paley. The story is an animated version of the Indian epic Ramayana with ties to modern life and jazz music vocals by Annette Hanshaw. It sounds like a lot to go into one story, but it blends together so beautifully.
Probably the best part is that Paley is offering the movie for free viewing on the web site. Go check it out.
Last Son was Friday, which gave me some new facts about Superman’s origin and development that I didn’t already know. The movie wasn’t badly put together, but as a documentary, it kept losing me.
I missed Saturday’s feature, The Rock-a-fire Explosion, but I did see the animated shorts by Studio AKA. Their main short, Varmints, was beautiful and creative, but I think some of their real skill is shown off in the Love Sport shorts.
I want to post all of them on here, but that would just get ridiculous.
Also, look for A Practical Guide For Imaginary Friends. I saw that short twice this weekend and I still loved it.
I am not certain when this started, but a part of me sort of hopes that First Friday had a part in it. I came across a flyer for Third Thursday while out a few weeks ago, and knew that if it was anything like the Canton incarnation, it would be a blast. The Akron Art Museum stayed open during the evening hours to let people have a chance to hang out in a local art center and hear a live concert by The Twilight.
I do want to come across fairly, because I did think that it was a pretty cool event if it’s just starting out. I’ve felt the pain of trying to get big events off the ground, so the smaller crowd was just fine. The problem was just that other than the concert, there was nothing really to do that didn’t cost money. I mean, I realize that you have to be able to make money to make this stuff work, but what makes First Friday so much fun is that there are a handful of different galleries that you can just wander through while catching local music. Buying food and doing other shopping here and there comes naturally from that. I really wanted to go and do things for Third Thursday, but just to visit even the main galleries, I still had to get an admission pass? Come on guys, it’s four hours once a month. I think you could probably donate a little bit of that time to the people coming to see the show and buy food in your lobby. I mean, if you’re serious about trying to get more Akron U students or young people involved at all, there needs to be something else going on.
Speaking of the show, The Twilight seemed to have a good time with the small crowd. There was some banter back and forth between songs from the lead to the people in the lobby, which is always fun. I like seeing bands get into the location they’re playing. I didn’t know much about them before Thursday, but I liked what I heard. I think I liked their opening song the most, but they had some solid upbeat rock going on. I can pretty easily see why Cleveland Magazine had them as last year’s best band.
I did check out some of the exhibits before the band got started, but I’ll get into those mostly another time. The only one that I really want to mention is a set of collaborative works between One South High students and local artist Aminah Brenda Lynn Robinson in the Corbin Gallery.
The kids took her inventive and earthy style to the museum, recreating scenes inspired by the “RagGonNons” she created. The really ridiculous bit about these works was that these are fourth-grade students, some of whom understand a few of the gallery pieces better than I do, I’m pretty sure. It’s only open for a couple more days (two, in fact) but check it out if you have the chance.
As for Third Thursday, the next one comes up in April, with live music from The Mickeys, who also played at the First Friday in March. I’ll be looking forward to it, but I really hope that they take a few more cues from Canton on this. Get more people (or better yet, other Akron galleries) involved, and it would be a really great event.