Go Deeper

The Weekender: All Your Weekends (and Weeknights) Belong to Festival Bar

Posted September 2nd, 2011

Um, Festival Bar! Duh.

Jess Conda is resident artist at BRAT Productions. BRAT is the resident group at RUBA Club. Hey, we’re doing our bar at RUBA! So who better to put together this year’s Festival Bar! It kicks off OH MY GOD IT’S TONIGHT with Les ‘el malito’ Rivera, followed by DJ Rashaan and DJ Aaron “The Kosherican” Levinson spinning upstairs and DJ Shawn Ryan below ground.

Despite the explosive performance expected from el malito, compared to the past couple of years, Jess said, “The vibe is more mellow and intimate, about having conversations while still in a place for entertainment. It’s a homey kind of feel. It’s an off-the-beaten-path destination, in a delightfully weird building. It’s a scale shift, creating an environment that’s more conversational, and it’s an opportunity for RUBA to make new friends too.”

The bar decor will still be fringe-y; Sarah Davey is doing wall mounts with human mannequin heads that are distorted and carnival-like. She’ll be showing about ten pieces. “It’s a good match for an eccentric space,” Jess said.

Jess is a good match for it too. She produced BRAT’s BRATWURST fundraiser in April at Arts Underground, and she’s well-connected with all sorts of Philly scenes. And she’s connected so much so the performance scene that before coming to the bar every night of the festival, she has to go perform in either Heavy Metal Dance Fag or Water Bears in Space. Busy times! But not so busy that she couldn’t throw together this awesome bar schedule.

“A lot of the talent is bands–there will be two big acts on weekends, and on Saturday, September 3, the brothers Cromie are hosting a special 15th anniversary festival Quizzo.” Prizes, she promises, will be awarded every round, so it’s not just for the old heads. And if you’ve been to the party that is the bar, you know that old heads and youngbloods play nice together, something that will happen again this year.

“I think I’ve booked a nice blend of bands to entertain, and entertainment designed to introduce you to companies,” Jess said.

Wednesdays, for example, are given over to introducing you, bargoer, to Philly’s comedy scene. On September 9, apparently, we’re offering this puppet dance party: “BYO puppet and get your dance on with the Extraordinaires, super fun, theatrical and high energy local band. The night will include a Jim Henson tribute set with guest vocalists from the Philadelphia performing arts community.” And on September 12, you get NKOTB night with samplers from some of the best up-and-coming Fringe performers like Applied Mechanics and PuppeTyranny (wait, isn’t a certain bar programmer in their show?).

Jess is especially excited for the speakeasy night, which features hot jazz from Drew Nugent and the Midnight Society.

“Their live show is crazy–they jump on tables, play trumpets in people’s faces,” Jess said. And on the last Thursday of the festival, Jess is Mae West, John Jarboe is Marlene Dietrich, and (potentially) another very special guest will join the band. Why?

“We’re making spectacles within spectacles.”

And that’s what you do at the Festival Bar. That, and probably at some point fool around with somebody maybe you shouldn’t have, but it’s ok, because what happens at the Festival Bar stays in the performing arts community which, as we all know, never gossips about anything. I guess that’s a spectacle within a spectacle, so hey, you win! The Festival Bar opens at 10:00 pm every night of the Festival at RUBA Club, 414 Green Street, Northern Liberties. The bar is cash only, so come with enough singles to make it rain on the dance floor. Do people still make it rain? I’d like to think so. This “if you go” footer makes so little sense, that I think it’s time for a disco nap before tonight’s show’s and bar. Happy Freaking Festival!

–Nicholas Gilewicz

I think I made this joke before, but drink up! Happy hour is now enforced by Pia Jess.