The New York Underground Film Festival; Metal in Jersey; Kittie Hits the City

| 16 Feb 2015 | 04:52

    Though that's not the case for people who keep in touch with nature by growing seasonal plants. A chance to join the ranks of such well-connected hobbyists will be offered this Saturday by the New York Botanical Garden. "Get Up and Garden!" is the appropriately imperative title of their full day of lectures and workshops with professional "horticulturalists and plantsmen," including Michael Ruggiero and Tom Christopher, authors of the new book Annuals with Style (noon), and Tovah Martin, author of The Bold Effect (1:30 p.m.). Widely applicable truths seem to stem from gardening lessons, to wit: affect boldly, achieve style and prepare for springtime, by first getting up off your ass! (3/11, 200th St. at Kazimiroff Blvd., Bronx, 718-817-8700, free w/Garden adm.)

    The arrival of warm air in New York always brings with it the unpleasant sight of nonjoggers jogging. What can be done about this wholly unnecessary public reminder of the grim specter of death? Surely our skull-faced Mayor despises competition in this field, and is planning a crackdown. Meanwhile, there will soon be a much better way to contemplate the paradox of a dirt nap in springtime, courtesy of death-metal nymphets Kittie. Their show is scheduled for 3/15 at Bowery Ballroom?I'm mentioning it early because you might want advance tickets. I, for one, saw photos of Kittie but thought little of them until I heard a moment of their album, Spit. They look young and cute, as if they're gonna sound like the Donnas or L7. But they sound more like Napalm Death. The situation definitely merits more research. (Next Weds., 3/15, 6 Delancey St. at Bowery, 533-2111, $12, ages 16 and over.)

    Serious white-youth-culture anthropologists will be heading for the swamps of South Jersey, where this weekend's March Metal Meltdown II promises to relieve of the spawn of Springsteen fans their rustic virtues. Sentenced, from Finland, Testament and reunited Stormtroopers of Death?beloved throughout the American exurbs since the 1985 release of their seminal (and I never use the word "seminal") debut, Speak English or Die?headline the festival. More than 100 bands in all will perform, and there's also going to be a pro-wrestling match and porn-star hostesses. Pensauken is quite a haul?most of the way to Philadelphia?but to see Anal Blast, Spite, Impaled, Nocturnus, Mortician, Cephalic Carnage, Fleshgrind, Holocaust, Bloodstorm, Forcefed, Vomit Snack, Twytch, Reign of Terror, Hatred, Scrape, Burial, Internal Bleeding, Skinlab, Malignancy, Disinter, Vile, Angeles Del Infierno, Impaled Nazarene and Overkill converge in one place over two days, man, it's anything but overkill. (Fri., 3/10, from 4 p.m.; Sat., 3/11, from 10:30 a.m., at the South Jersey Expo Center, 2323 Rte. 73, Pensauken, NJ, 307-7171, $35 for one day, $55 for both, all ages.)

    New in stores this week is Black Rob's Life Story. I've only listened to part of the advance so far, but from what I've heard Puffy didn't too egregiously Puffify the sound of this well-reputed MC, though he did see fit to lend his vocal "skills" to several tracks. The stupid-ass Madd Rapper shows up as well. Furthermore, "Whoa!" is not a hiphop term?it was coined by Joey Lawrence on Blossom. On the indie side there's Del's Both Sides of the Brain, which emphasizes lyrics too strongly over beats for my tastes. But the Hieroglyphics founder remains a unique and engaging voice. Rhyming about his obsessions with video games and drugs, he proves a more generous writer than any of the thugs currently trying to go pop. Tuesday, 3/14, brings Choclair's amiable Ice Cold to market. It's always refreshing to see this Toronto rapper's video?which features him and his crew riding around their city on banana-seat bicycles?sandwiched between all the overbudgeted monstrosities that MTV and BET insist on playing. If Choclair keeps challenging himself, learning and growing, he'll produce a must-buy album right around the time Vince Carter takes the Raptors to their first NBA championship. Canada doesn't eat its young.

    The best new disc to buy this week might be High On Fire's debut, The Art of Self Defense, on Man's Ruin. This is the new band formed by guitarist Matt Pike, formerly of the already-legendary Sleep, bassist George Rice and a drummer named Dez Kensel, whose uptempo rampaging makes High On Fire sound more like dear departed Karp than dear departed Sleep. Sad that what we talk about when we talk about heavy riff-rock are bands that are no more (you know it's a dark age when Fu Manchu is compared favorably to Mudhoney, even though it was just some fool writing in the Feb. 23 Voice), but this album is no joke.

    Then there's this, from Heimytown correspondent Ben Sisario, who writes: "High Rise, a monstrously heavy power trio from Japan, is playing at Tonic on Tuesday. The last time High Rise was in New York was about a year and a half ago (Halloween '98), and it was a disappointment. I was dumbfounded?could High Rise, the band that best embodies the brain-damaged, thud-metal spirit of Blue Cheer, interpreted through the warp-prone gauze of Japanese youth culture, actually suck? Thankfully, evidence to the contrary has recently surfaced on a live album from the same tour (Durophet, on the import Fractal label), recorded in Paris just three days after that Halloween show, on which High Rise is as mighty as ever, their guitars bleating through their amps so loudly that the mics used to record the album can barely register the sound. So there's plenty of hope for this concert. Tonic has a tendency to de-rockify some worthy bands?the Fushitsusha shows there last fall were a bust?but if the gods are with them, High Rise has the electromagnetic brawn to blow many ears and minds. They also have a great new studio album, Desperado, on their longtime Japanese label, P.S.F." (3/14, 107 Norfolk St., betw. Delancey & Rivington Sts., 358-7501, $10.)

    With such extreme music going on, it's hard to believe that anyone could care about an indie-rock movement that continues to grow more smug and self-satisfied as it embraces ever-less-talented new bands. Just how insularly upper-middle-class and accepting of received wisdom does a white kid in year-2000 America have to be in order to be not affected at all by hiphop, electronic music or metal? The answer is documented, unwittingly, in Songs for Cassavetes, a rockumentary showing at this week's Underground Film Festival (premieres Sun., 3/12, 2:45 p.m.). Letting bands like the stupefyingly pretentious Make-Up speak for themselves, this dull, dull film (which also covers the Peechees, Henry's Dress, Sleater-Kinney, Hi-Fives, Further and Tullycraft) is like a vain rich kid's glossy fanzine blown up to screen size. Of course it contains many mopey critiques of capitalism. Better, though no less enamored of its subject, is N.Y.H.C. (premieres Sat., 3/11, 2:15), about New York hardcore. The Johnny Thunders documentary, Born to Lose (premieres Weds., 3/8, 7:30 p.m.) is actually good enough that people who don't already care a lot about the subject might enjoy it. Despite out-of-date musical tastes, the curators of this festival are actually pretty good, packing the program with worthwhile films you won't see anywhere else. All screenings are at Anthology Film Archives; the schedule is posted at (3/8-14, 32 2nd Ave. at 2nd St., 252-3845, $8 per program.)

    While we're bitching about capitalism?and let me just say for the record that slumming aristocrats are fine with me so long as they don't glumly preach socialism?I should mention that a new, not-for-profit used clothing and furniture store will open near Gramercy Park on Thursday, 3/9. According to its press release, The Vintage Thrift Shop (286 3rd Ave., betw. 22nd & 23rd Sts., 871-0777) "will attract New Yorkers who shun the cookie-cutter, assembly-line look of The Gap and Banana Republic?" Also, there's a chain coffee bar right next door, should the urge to hurl a newspaper box through a plate-glass window overtake you. Who can control themselves after a couple of double-shot, soy-milk lattes and an encounter with the madness of "vintage" pricing? This, perhaps, explains why Impaled Nazarene was not hired to play in-store at the opening.

    Slumming aristocrats who find themselves on the Upper West Side Thursday evening will face the utterly unsolvable dilemma presented by an offer of free Starbucks product. At the franchise at 86th St. and Columbus Ave. (3/9, 7-9 p.m.), you can at no cost join corporate taster Aileen Carrell, "direct from Seattle, as she walks you through the art of 'cupping,' or tasting, with her expert palate." What a rube am I, having never walked through cupping with anyone's palate but my own. Doing so with a paid expert's might cause me to cease walking, quit cupping and throw a newspaper box through the store's plate-glass window. Luckily, I'll be at "Coltrane on Film," a special Jazz on Film screening of rare performance clips, instead. (3/9, 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. at the Walter Reade Theater, 165 W. 65th St. at B'way, 875-5600, $10.)

    As Trane knew and millions of coffee addicts confirm on the daily, "Living with Drugs in America" is preferable to the alternative. Scheduled to give a lecture with that title, Friday at the Open Center, is Ethan Nadelmann, director of the Lindesmith Center. Among the nation's most articulate proponents of drug-law reform, Nadelmann is also a leading researcher on recent expansions of police power. His work shows that a reconsideration of our drug policies would make for a good first step toward the populist goals of reducing the role of government in Americans' daily lives, reworking the health care system and reviving the old-school value of personal responsibility. If only that populace could be coaxed away from their Budweiser and Prozac long enough to listen. The talk will include information on how you as an ordinary citizen can agitate for the cause. Get up and garden, so to speak. (3/10, 8 p.m., 83 Spring St., betw. Lafayette St. & B'way, 219-2527, $10.)