Top 9 Can’t-Miss, Mostly Free Performances to Catch This Weekend
BOOM festival, Charlotte’s most innovative and inclusive annual arts explosion, brings three days of art, music, dance, theater, spoken word and family activities to Plaza Midwood April 26-28.
Established as a platform to showcase the Queen City’s unique, sometimes unclassifiable but always undeniable creativity, the festival is entering its fourth year with more than 100 shows, exhibits, art installations and pop-ups, and an expected attendance of 12,000-15,000.
The Intersection Stage, 1920 Commonwealth Ave., is the best spot for soaking up the atmosphere. Audiences can lounge in BOOM’s outdoor living room, engage with dozens of performers, create public art installations and participate as much or little as they please—all for free. Ticketed shows, part of the Fringe performances, are hosted at Petra’s Bar, Snug Harbor, Open Door Studios, Rabbit Hole and Coaltrane’s and are only $10 a seat.
BOOM features contemporary and experimental work by local and national artists. A short-list of can’t-miss performances include:
How to BOOM: Charlotte’s unofficial poet laureate, Boris “Bluz” Rogers, has won three Emmys and coaches Slam Charlotte, the hometown three-time National Poetry Slam champs. “How to BOOM” is his spoken word piece aimed at helping audiences stop worrying about “getting” fringe-y art and tap in for a real experience. It’s part of BOOM’s brand-new VIP experience, the Spark Tour, and takes place Saturday, 1:30-1:40 p.m.; Sunday 1:20-1:30 p.m., Intersection Stage. Free.
BOOM BOX SHOW: Visual arts curator Jessica Gaynelle Moss Invites artists and audience to explore their community beyond traditional borders with this highly Instagrammable series of mobile art galleries. Eleven local, national and international artists were provided with only one instruction– to work on or within a square, with four equal sides and four equal angles. Locations include Moxie Mercantile @ 2008 Commonwealth Ave., Stash Pad @ 1216 Thomas Ave, Open Door Studios @ 1318 D- Thomas Ave., and The Living Room [mobile galleries] @ The Intersection stage. Free.
Podblast Charlotte: This mobile podcast studio will host live broadcasts in continuous half-hour blocks by different podcasters all day Saturday, capturing in-the-moment interviews and reactions. Free.
The Palette Table: Learn to wine your body at this Mas-themed performance showcasing a Carnival dance group in vibrant costumes, DJ Renaissance spinning new and classic soca, a photo op with opulent headdresses, and more. Free.
SOTTO VOCE: One Voice Chorus, the LGBTQIA and allies chorus of Charlotte, sends their traveling group to perform pop hits like Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and Gaga’s “Edge of Glory,” but don’t be surprised if they mix in a little Gershwin or Gaynor, too. Free.
BOOM FOOD 2019 Workshop: “Growing Food in Small Spaces with Erin the Patio Farmer” sets guests up for successful container gardening with an overview of the essentials. Come with questions and leave with a new plant friend. Sunday 1-2 p.m. $20.
BLKMRKTCLT Photo Walk/Workshop: Carey J. King and Will “SimplisticPhobia” Jenkins built their reputations on BLKMRKTCLT photo walks, monthly photo workshops where photographers, videographers and other cool kids worked together to generate creative visual content and learn new techniques. The BOOM photo walk is an open invitation to join them as they capture the magic of this art explosion. Meeting spot: Common Market, Saturday and Sunday. Free.
Ali Steele: A Neosoul, Hip-hop and R&B artist, Steele sings affirmations about life and “grown folks’ business,” accompanied by a guitarist, pianist and/or background singers. Sage smoke and crystals are ever-present at his performances, as Ali always shows up as his authentic, light-filled self. Free.
NC Dance Festival: In the final show of its 28th season, NC Dance Festival will showcase three artists. The Bipeds present “Hypnagogiacs,” an original, cross-disciplinary duet that delves into a hallucinatory landscape of dreams. Lindsay Winthrop’s “Protection” asks dancers to interact with the element of water as an agent for navigating personal beliefs. Megan Mazarick’s fierce solo unpacks female identity, remixing the metaphor of hero vs. villain. A post-show conversation follows the performances. $10.
Before and After Parties: BOOM is hosting a preview party, open to the public, 7:30-9:30 p.m. Thursday April 25 at Noda Brewing Co. There will be pop-up performances by Fringe artists, merchandise for purchase and the chance to get to know the faces behind BOOM. Free. Friday night, the party moves to Snug Harbor and is hosted by AfroPop Nation. $10. Quentin Talley and the Soul Providers headline the Saturday night jam, with sets by DJ SPK. It’s understood that all asses will be shaking. $10.
See the full lineup of shows for Friday, Saturday and Sunday here.
The vision for BOOM is bigger than a simple arts festival. The city of Charlotte has reeled from reports listing it last in the nation for economic mobility. One of BOOM’s missions is to change that through exposure to and support of the arts. A recent Americans for the Arts’ study found the nonprofit arts and culture industry generated $166.3 billion of economic activity during 2015, and supported 4.6 million jobs. BOOM reflects the demographics of Charlotte, bringing together artists and audiences from every background in a welcoming place to experience new and original works. BOOM literally takes art to the people, with stages in the streets, parking lots and public greens of Plaza Midwood.
“BOOM spotlights the amazingly deep and rich tapestry of arts in Charlotte,” said Manoj Kesavan, director. “Come laugh, cry, and connect in a new way. You never know what you’re going to find at BOOM.”
Full Disclosure: Emiene Wright is part of the BOOM communications team—which is why she knows the best shows and experiences to recommend.