Best of Vancouver 2018: Entertainment

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      Most surreal place for an even more surreal art exhibit

      The Patricia Hotel
      403 East Hastings Street

      Feeling part David Lynch, part David Cronenberg, a new exhibit placed almost casually in 18 lived-in rooms at the Patricia Hotel is as unforgettable for its setting as the fantastical sculptures that bring to mind The Island of Dr. Moreau. Until December 15, you can see Australian artist Patricia Piccinini’s creepily lifelike animal-human hybrids set up with their suitcases and other objects as if they’ve just moved in there from… the future?

      While you contemplate the scarier propositions of genetic science, you can also gain a sneak peek into a century-old hotel that Ferdinand “Jellyroll” Morton once called home, that once housed a boxing ring in its basement, and that, early in the previous century, offered rooms for a buck a night. As much as there is to see at Curious Imaginings, this hotel has seen more.


      Best way to get the led out

      Other than that one time back in 2007 when he took part in a Led Zeppelin reunion as a tribute to legendary record exec Ahmet Ertegun, Robert Plant has always argued against the idea of “getting the band back together”. The singer has scoffed at the idea of touring with surviving bandmates Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones—and a replacement for late Zeppelin drummer John Bonham, most likely his son, Jason—even though such an undertaking would certainly boost his bank account by several million dollars.

      But much to the delight of diehard Zep fans everywhere, Plant is not averse to rekindling the spirit of the band while on-stage with his current group, the Sensational Space Shifters. During their thrilling jazz-fest show at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre last June, Plant peppered the set with half a dozen tunes from his old band’s heyday, and the Zep-starved crowd responded with a whole lotta love.


      Best new documentary venue

      The future of the Hollywood Theatre has been unclear since the art-deco Kitsilano venue, which opened in 1935, closed in 2011. On July 24, the City of Vancouver approved plans to redevelop the site as an arts centre. Thanks to a campaign by the Hollywood Cinema Network, comprised of local film-industry organizations and professionals, documentary screenings will be featured at the venue in addition to live music and arts performances. Happily, the show must go on.



      Best reason not to blame it on the Rio

      It took seven months of hard-core fundraising efforts, but the operators of the Rio Theatre managed to raise the necessary mountain of dough to purchase the $7.9-million property after the East Vancouver site at Broadway and Commercial Drive was put up for sale in January. Thanks to more than 190 community members, a grant from the City of Vancouver, a mortgage from Vancity Credit Union, and celebrity support from the likes of Ryan Reynolds, Seth Rogen, and Kevin Smith, the deal was completed earlier this month. And how did they celebrate? By holding free screenings of The Big Lebowski, of course.


      Best reason to beat up Vancouver

      The first Deadpool spent $40 million on filming in B.C. Deadpool 2 then spent more than $100 million on production here. Besides a ginormous thank-you to Vancouver’s hometown star Ryan Reynolds, need we say anything else?


      Best local way to relive the vibe of a long-gone Guitar Hero

      The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has been slagged many times for refusing to induct certain artists that have had a profound effect on music lovers. For some bizarre reason, the much-ballyhooed institution in Cleveland has continued to overlook such legendary guitar heroes as Link Wray, Johnny Winter, and Rory Gallagher. They’ve all passed away, unfortunately, but in the case of Gallagher, at least, there’s still a way to experience what he was all about in a live setting.

      The Irish Strat-slinger’s former rhythm section of bassist Gerry McAvoy and drummer Ted McKenna has hooked up with guitar wizard Davy Knowles to form a group called Band of Friends that performs Gallagher’s rowdy old tunes for the faithful. Lucky for Vancouver’s most devoted Gallagher fanatics, the trio’s itinerary includes a stop at the Fox Cabaret on December 14. Luckily, as well, that’s a Friday night.


      Mike Usinger

      Best bike-route diversion

      It is generally accepted—unless your name happens to be Wai Young—that Vancouver is a great city for those who have embraced cycling. Thanks to designated bike lanes, you don’t have to worry about being doored on Dunsmuir or forced off the road on Richards. But cycling isn’t without its frustrating moments, a big one being the train tracks that cut across Union Street right by La Casa Gelato. Hands up if you’ve found yourself sitting on your robin’s-egg–blue fixie for an eternity while a train rolls along in front of you, wondering when the end is finally going to appear. Did you know that there’s another way across the tracks and it doesn’t involve riding to Hastings or 1st Avenue?

      The next time the Adanac bike route is blocked by a train, simply head a block north to the Keefer Street Pedestrian Overpass, which seems to be a secret to 99 out of 100 cyclists. A chain-link–enclosed ramp that connects Raymur Avenue and Keefer not only takes you up and over the tracks, but also gives you a pretty great view of the mile-long train you’ve just cleverly managed to avoid. Or you can stand with the muttering, inconvenienced, and exasperated masses on Union, wondering why the hell you haven’t invested in an Evel Knievel XR-750 Harley Davidson sky cycle.


      Best new theatre venue

      Upstairs at the Penthouse Night Club
      1019 Seymour Street

      It has housed a steak club, a boxing ring, punk-rock concerts, and, of course, strippers; now the storied Penthouse Night Club is about to bring you plays by the likes of Samuel Beckett and John Patrick Shanley. Seven Tyrants has launched a full season in a new 45-seat black-box theatre in the storied club’s upstairs. How lofty has the loft become? There will even be a new Shakespeare adaptation by Camyar Chai debuting there next spring. Under the umbrella name of Tyrants Studios, the Seven Tyrants Theatre joins the adjacent lounge stage, which has been hosting comedy nights and concerts since May.


      Best way to get your horror on this Halloween

      If you’re a fan of horror films—especially the stylish, old-school ones from the 1970s—then the Cinematheque is the place to be during the last week of October. The downtown Vancouver movie house is presenting the series “Don’t Lose Your Head!”, which features screenings of three of Italian fearmonger Dario Argento’s finest works. Between October 26 and 31, local fright-flick fanatics can check out restorations of Argento’s The Bird With the Crystal Plumage (1970), Deep Red (1975), and Suspiria (1977). On Halloween night, the screening of Suspiria will include a costume party, cash bar, and a specially choreographed, Goblin-scored ballet by Dancinema. As Count Floyd would say “That’s scary stuff, kids!”