Spacebar, Chiodos, Lipizzaner Stallions and more 

Thursday • 22

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SPACEBAR There are many mysteries that we wrestle with, and one of the more pressing is this: Why isn't Spacebar signed? To Geffen? In 1993? Seriously. These guys have a sound that instantly recalls the swooning, guitar-drenched alt-pop of the era, when bands like Sloan and Weezer figured out a way to make big, catchy albums that rocked mightily but were still suffused with plenty of left-of-center, smart(-ass) cool and, more importantly, massive doses of guitar. Spacebar similarly dishes out deeply infectious pop treats that are very much emboldened (and improved) by thick six-string squalls (and lead singer/guitarist James Rowland's Kevin Shields haircut). We'd be lying if we said that listening to these guys doesn't make our heart swell; when you combine their phenomenal guitar sound with their incredible facility with soaring choruses … well, the cumulative result is some of the most maddeningly memorable music currently being made in this town and, truthfully, we're peeing ourselves waiting for them to finish up their new studio album. (with Socialburn, Katty; 9 p.m. at The Social; $7; 407-246-1419)

A CHRISTMAS CAROL Some people prefer their Dickens with a snack or two, so for them, there are two food-involved performances to make those lips smack. Hot tea and cookies come with Dickens by Candlelight, now in its ninth season. This energetic three-person interactive show is staged at the spirited Dr. Phillips Victorian Mansion in downtown Orlando. Things move along quickly here, but you have to sit at a table and share with strangers. (8 p.m. Thursday at the Courtyard at Lake Lucerne; also 6:15 p.m. and 8 p.m. Friday; $30; 407-263-6132) Over at East of Paris restaurant in Winter Park, David McElroy gets schizophrenic-times-10 at his annual one-man whirl through all the characters in the well-known story of the haunting of Scrooge. (7 p.m. Thursday at East of Paris, Winter Park; $30 includes buffet, $15 for show only; limited seating; 407-644-2880)

Friday • 23

ORLANDO HARLEY-DAVIDSON BLOOD DRIVE Take away the glitter of the holidays and what do you have? Blood and guts, same as any other day. So cheers to the bikers at Orlando Harley-Davidson for decorating their holidays in red … blood red. If you're in good health, weigh a minimum of 110 pounds and are 17 years of age or older, AND have had no tattoos with one year (that shoots down a large portion of regular clientele), drop on by to drop some blood that'll stay in local reserves. In return, pick up coupons for a free Sonny's BBQ Big Meal Deal, a free oil change from Midas, 50 percent off admission to Gaylord Palms' "Ice" attraction, a free mini-physical (we don't know by whom), free food and the "satisfaction of having saved three lives." No riding a motorcycle till 45 minutes after the stick, so plan on hanging out before cruising. (noon-6 p.m. at Orlando Harley-Davidson, 3770 37th St., Orlando; 407-423-0346; and 5881 W. Irlo Bronson Hwy, Kissimmee; 407-944-3700)

Saturday • 24

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CHRISTMAS EVE AT THE MORSE The city is changing so quickly, sometimes we don't even know where we are, as landmarks are gone and who knew street names in the first place? But – sigh – some things are the same as they ever were, and stepping into the free open house at the Morse Museum is a tradition as comfortable and familiar as jumping into worn-out jeans. The late museum director Hugh McKean was zealous in his mission to bring art to the masses, and Christmas Eve was one of the days he flung open the door for all to enjoy the beauty within. We could launch into a recitation of the merits of the Louis Comfort Tiffany century-old ecclesiastical windows or the scores of other Tiffany lamps and vases and various other gems in the collection. But trust us when we say there's joy to be experienced in this resplendent atmosphere that's rejuvenating and totally appropriate on this special night. (9:30 a.m.-4 p.m. at the Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art, Winter Park; free; 407-645-5311)

Sunday • 25

THE FELDMAN DYNAMIC CHANUKAH SPECTACULAR Say what you will about Orlando's performing Feldman family – they know how to do a lot with very little. For a few years now, the four-member clan has been inviting audiences to listen in on their unscripted dinnertime conversation and passing the results off as reality entertainment. The latest manifestation of this ongoing experiment involves welcoming paying customers into the Feldman home on all eight nights of Hanukkah and allowing them to watch as … well, there's no guarantee of what's going to happen (or if). "Theater" of this kind is obviously a love-it-or-hate-it proposition; in a previous issue, we called the Feldman schtick "unpalatable," a brickbat they proudly adopted as a cornerstone of their Hanukkah show's PR. Now that's the kind of attitude that gets you ahead in show business. (5:30 p.m. at Performance Space 1112, 1112 Meadows Ave.; also 7:30 p.m. Monday through Dec. 30 and 5:30 p.m. Dec 31; 7:30 p.m. Jan. 1; $10;

Tuesday • 27

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WORLD FAMOUS LIPIZZANER STALLIONS Tradition states that the 35th is the jade anniversary, so we'll be looking extra hard for any newly bejeweled accoutrements on the Lipizzaner Stallions' costumes when the fabulously pedigreed horses trot into Central Florida on their (you guessed it) 35th anniversary tour. A freshly choreographed program of equestrian routines will showcase the grace and agility that have made the Lipizzans the showmen of the horsy set for the past three and a half decades. The climactic, highly balletic Grand Quadrille, in which six to eight animals run through intricate full-dress maneuvers, may seem to leave little room for the stallions to top themselves next year. (7:30 p.m. at Silver Spurs Arena, Kissimmee; also 3 p.m. Wednesday; $11.50-$24.50; 321-697-3300)

Wednesday • 28

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CHIODOS We were initially skeptical about Chiodos' disc All's Well That Ends Well, so much so that we shrugged off its most immediately apparent positive traits. Yes, its album art promises macabre mysticism, and its song titles ("Expired in Goreville") suggest witty content. But so many bands in the emo/metalcore realm excel in intriguing-looking albums filled with uninventive instrumentation and trite lovelorn lines that share no thematic ground with the compositions' clever christenings. But the Michigan-based sextet won us over for good with the second track, which features the piano prominently, incorporates its oddball title ("All Nereids Beware") into its lyrics and ends with a haunting out-of-nowhere a cappella harmony. The group's guitars zigzag sporadically, and even its lockstep rapid-fire riffs avoid breakdown clichés. During its melodramatic flourishes, which Bradley Bell punctuates by power-plinking his piano as if using clenched fists, Chiodos resembles Queen or Muse more than its mosh-minded contemporaries. The phrase "One Day Women Will All Become Monsters" summarizes the fear-driven misogyny that drives the genre, but Chiodos smartly plays it literally, right down to a horror-film-influenced video complete with a gory gouging. (with From First to Last, #12 Looks Like You, Dead Reckless; 7 p.m. at The Social; repeat engagement Dec. 29; $13-$15; 407-246-1419)

Contributors: Jason Ferguson, Andrew Miller, Steve Schneider, Lindy T. Shepherd


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