✔ Pick of the Pack
Concert: Scott Weiland performs Christmas music
Many years ago, Jason Hartley and Britt Bergman developed a theory to explain why some of their favorite pop-culture icons — Lou Reed among them — made such seemingly bad artistic decisions later in their careers. Maybe, they thought, Mr. Reed was a genius; maybe pioneering artists are truly pioneering only when they are making seemingly bad artistic decisions that their fans simply cannot appreciate. They called their theory "Advancement Theory." Scott Weiland, formerly of Stone Temple Pilots and Velvet Revolver, is a perfect candidate for advancement. He satisfies the requirements (did 15 years of good work, is now hated by his original fan base), and recently made his most incomprehensible decision to date by releasing an album of big band Christmas covers. "The Most Wonderful Time of the Year" features the same counterculture icon who dyed his hair pink to sing "Plush," dressed like Bing Crosby and crooning like, well, Scott Weiland. It's either awful, or it's awfully advanced. You can decide at the 9:30 Club.
Dec. 19 at the 9:30 Club, 815 V St. NW.
Exhibition: "Sugar High"
Some artists like to imagine themselves as enemies of consumerism, despite the fact that someone must consume their art if they're to get paid. Hong Seon Jang does not truck in such dissonance. While the title of his exhibit, "Sugar High," hints at a fleeting pleasure (similar to the kind brought about by, say, an impulse buy), Mr. Jang's work, writes Stamp Gallery curator Megan Diane Rook-Koepsel, "places the detritus of human pleasure firmly in the continuing cycle of creation and destruction that lead to the development of human activity." One of Mr. Jang's more subtle pieces is an installation of what appears to be mushrooms, growing up a wall. Upon closer inspection, however, the fungal steps are actually tightly bound magazine pages. It is a quiet but powerful reminder that at the heart of our consumption is a close relationship with the natural world.
To Dec. 16 at the University of Maryland, 1220 Stamp Student Union, College Park, Md.
Film: "The Muppet Christmas Carol"
"A Christmas Carol," by Charles Dickens, is not a story for children. Beyond its core message of "be charitable," its lessons are incomprehensible to little ones. Children do not practice usury. They do not stay up late on Christmas Eve, eating smoked meats. They do not fear death. And yet, thanks to "The Muppet Christmas Carol," a generation of Americans grew up wary of the Ebenezer Scrooge within. Released in 1992, it was the first Muppet movie made after the death of Jim Henson, and continues to have a fan following unrivaled by any other Muppet movie. Granted, "The Muppet Christmas Carol" uses far better source material than the others, and features Michael Caine as Scrooge. But we imagine that Jim Henson perhaps imbued it with something special as he split this plane for the next one.
Dec. 16-22, AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center, 8633 Colesville Road, Silver Spring, Md.
Exhibit: "The Great American Hall of Wonders"
Whether the 19th century was America's greatest 100-year period really comes down to one question: Is the light bulb a more important invention than Facebook? The answer, of course, is yes. During the 19th century it seemed every man, woman, and child was a tinkerer, explorer or entrepreneur, destined for greatness, or the TB ward (community college was not yet an option). That century, Dr. Richard J. Gatling invented the Gatling Gun (1861), Thomas Edison invented the electric light bulb (1879), and Charles Willson Peale oversaw the exhumation of a mastodon, which he also painted (1806-1808). The American Hall of Wonders digs into the "belief that the people of the United States shared a special genius for innovation" with paintings, photographs and inventions from the 19th century. Behold what our predecessors did before the Internet, air conditioning and 24-hour television programming.
To Jan. 8 at the Renwick Gallery, 1661 Pennsylvania Ave. NW.
Concert: "Sesame Street Live: Elmo Makes Music"
The "Sesame Street" brand isn't what it was, not since Katy Perry showed up underdressed and people began speculating about Bert and Ernie's living arrangement. But at the end of the day, these are adult concerns. Kids still love "Sesame Street." Do they love it enough to sit through a live-action performance at the Patriot Center featuring the entire "Sesame Street" cast? Perhaps the better question to ask is, Dear Parent, Do you love your kids enough to sit through the same?
Dec. 16-18 at George Mason University's Patriot Center, 4500 Patriot Circle, Fairfax, Va.
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