Winter is the perfect time to explore the natural stone shelters where native Arkansans once lived
When you throw down $15 to see a favorite band for the first time, there's always that risk that what you fell for on record won't translate live. But short of a speaker blowing or a freak violin accident, Ra Ra Riot looks like a safe bet to put on a strong live show. The six-piece specializes in slightly prog-y pop with big orchestral flourishes; these guys really know how to play their instruments. Formed when its members were students at Syracuse, the band enjoyed a rapid ascent in the indie ranks. In the winter of 2006 they were students; in the winter of 2007 they were signed to Universal subsidiary V2. Comparisons to Vampire Weekend, which entered the New York scene around the same time, have followed the band through two albums. Sure, both are polite and sunshine-y, but there's way more drama in Ra Ra Riot's music than in that of its pals Vampire Weekend — the chamber pop flourishes provided by cellist Alexandra Lawn and violinist Rebecca Zeller and frontman Wes Miles' mournful vocals almost recall Morrissey. Heralded Dublin act Villagers recalls Elliott Smith in the opening slot. Lafayette, La.'s Givers round out the bill for the all-ages concert.
Every year since 2003, the Arkansas Community Arts Cooperative has thrown a big Halloween blowout in which local acts impersonate national ones in look and song. Inevitably the line-up is hit or miss. Bands either go all-out and practice like crazy and recruit girlfriends to sing back-up (like the American Princes did when they played, near flawlessly, as The Pixies) or they spend too much time finding the perfect wig, don't practice and spend their time onstage muddling through your favorite songs. If this year's roster follows the former path, it'll be epic. The line-up includes Mandy McBryde as Loretta Lynn, Mad Trucker and Jen Shaw as Portishead, Real Live Tigers as Bruce Springsteen, (clap!)Kidzpop as Belle & Sebastian, Osyrus as Common and The Flaming Death Faeries as KISS. Dress-up and you'll save $3 on the $10 cover charge. White Water Tavern came later to the party, but its track record — The Libras as Fleetwood Mac, The Good Fear as Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, The Moving Front as The Clash — has been just about uniformly great. This year, three acts try to keep the streak alive. The Moving Front take on punk-pop icons The Jam, while two collectives take on perhaps the most beloved albums of '90s indiedom: A large group of friends of the late Little Rock musician Luke Hunsicker, who movingly paid tribute to him at a memorial service, come together to do Neutral Milk Hotel's spectral "In the Aeroplane Over the Sea," while members of the local literary collective [we at the book] try on songs from Weezer's emo classic "Pinkerton."
If you've been working on your Halloween costume since September, this is the party for you. Once again, the Peabody's annual Boo Bash is home to one of the city's fattest cash costume prizes. A thousand smackers goes to the best outfitted. Or rather the best outfitted as determined by judges including ALICE 107.7 DJs Heather, DC and Poolboy; KATV's Pam Smith and Christina Munoz, and chef Donnie Ferneau. Last year, a "Where the Wild Things Are" duo jointly won the prize. Their costumes looked good, but Lady Gaga in a meat dress they weren't. In other words, bring it creative Little Rock. Popular local cover bands CRISIS and Tragikly White provide the soundtrack, which will be augmented by "a spooky light show." Don't want to try to fit the hoop skirt in your Marie Antoinette costume in a cab? The Peabody's offering special rates and one free ticket for guests. Only those 21 and older can attend.
This Halloween, Disco's not just coasting by on its reputation as the place where all the sexy nurses go to get down. The dance club's putting up $1,000 for a costume contest, bringing in six DJs and continuing its rollout of a new DJ format. You'll recognize the change as soon as you step into the club's lobby, where the grinding hordes have long congregated for hip-hop jams. No more. Now the lobby's about Top 40 house music, dubstep and indie. The techno room remains the same, but with bigger and better lighting. After a special Halloween drag show and the culmination of the costume contest, the theater will transform — with lighting and massive video screens — into the hip-hop room. Grind on, y'all. DJs Balance, Jared Lawler, SleepyGenius, Michael Shane, Justin Sane and Big Brown will be spread throughout the venue. Last year, the club turned folks away at the door late in the evening, so don't tarry.
The Arkansas Symphony Orchestra already did its Halloween-themed concert, but there's no reason you can't don a suit for the orchestra's second Masterworks performance and, post-concert, apply some make-up and be a zombie symphony-goer and join in the revelry nearby at the Peabody or elsewhere around town. Better yet, tote along a frilly blouse and a powder wig to be zombie Mozart, whose music opens new director Philip Mann's third performance of the season. Mozart's overture to "The Magic Flute," written during his fecund final year of life, will play nicely into Strauss' Horn Concerto No. 2, a work that recalls Mozart's style and concludes with a section the ASO describes as "a fiendish test of agility and breath control" for the solo horn player, David Renfro. The orchestra closes with Mahler's Symphony No. 1 "Titan," a work that was widely panned when it debuted in 1889, but which has since helped the composer become one of the most beloved of our era. The ASO reprises the performance on Sunday at 3 p.m.; same place and price, though students, grades K-12, can go for free if accompanied by a paid adult as part of the new Entergy ticket program on Sunday.
The New York Times called it "the defining musical of the decade." It's broken box office records in cities across the country, including Chicago, Los Angeles and Boston. And it's easily the biggest national production to come to Little Rock in recent memory. Beginning Wednesday night, you've got more than a dozen opportunities to see "Wicked," the Tony Award-winning musical adaptation of Gregory Maguire's book of the same name. The plot, which begins long before Dorothy, focuses on how green-skinned, misunderstood Elphaba Thropp and beautiful, popular Galinda Upland meet, become friends and eventually become The Wicked Witch of the West and Glinda the Good Witch, respectively. Two-time Tony Award winner Joe Mantello directs the 16 performances that the cast will stage Nov. 3 to 14. Discounts are available for groups of 20 or more by calling Celebrity Attractions at 501-492-3314.
Building a lead so rapidly and holding it in games, even professional football, is difficult…