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Plastic Jesus CD-release Party

Punk rock that mildly goes along just to get along can’t very well be punk rock, now can it? You want your punk rock to go against the grain, to make—not only an unholy racket—but bad decisions. You want your punk rock shortsightedly antisocial. You want your punk rock defiant and independent and bullheaded, even if it means wiping out completely. Well, how better to represent that spirit than by the following decision: Let’s move away from the greater New York metropolitan area, and head on up to Waterford to start a punk-rock band. Seriously, what could be more anti-good-sense than that? Such is the backstory of Plastic Jesus, who are throwing themselves a CD-release party at Valentine’s on Sunday.

Guitarist-vocalist Frankie Levittown abandoned his home in the “suburban wasteland” (bonus points if you can guess the exact town) of Long Island to head upstate; call it a vision quest. It was in Waterford that he recruited Josh Welf to add the bass to the songs he’d been working out, and fellow Long Islander Johnny Riott was soon plunked down behind the kit to round out the sound. Far removed from the Stroke-alike competition in the Big Apple, Plastic Jesus were free to establish their own identity—one that, band members allude, may have just a little something to do with the effects of a certain nearby PCB-rich river. Metroland’s own Bill Ketzer said of the band’s ’50s-infused American punk, simply, “This stuff deserves to be heard.”

Plastic Jesus will host a CD-release party on Sunday (June 27) at Valentine’s (17 New Scotland Ave., Albany). Also playing will be the Marvels, Operation Extermination, Stand Up Citizen and Mike Blank and the SDABS. Tickets for the 7 PM show are $10. For more information, call 432-6572.

Juilliard String Quartet

The 2004 Hudson Valley Chamber Music Circle concludes its spring series at Bard College on Saturday night with a performance by the venerable Juilliard String Quartet. The quartet currently are celebrating their 40th anniversary as quartet-in-residence at the Library of Congress. (They’ve been around for more than 50 years—not the same members, though.)

The program will feature Schoenberg’s emotive Verklärte Nacht (Transfigured Night), Mendelssohn’s Octet for Strings and Mozart’s String Quintet in C-major with two violas. It’s nice to see Schoenberg and Mendelssohn side-by-side, as they complement each other well: Schoenberg sounds hysterical even when trying to be sweet, and Mendelssohn sounds happy even when trying to be serious. You are no doubt thinking, “How can a quartet perform a piece for a quintet—or an octet?” With a little help from cellist Sharon Robinson and violinists Jaime Laredo, Joan Kwuon and Hiroko Yajima, of course.

The Juilliard String Quartet will perform Saturday (June 26) at 8 PM at Olin Hall (Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson). Tickets are $25, $18 seniors and $5 students. For more information, call (845) 758-7425.

Four Exhibits at the Tang

If you were wondering where the art action is this weekend, it’s at the Tang in Saratoga Springs. Four summer exhibitions will open with a gala reception on Saturday.

Julia Jacquette: I Dreamt is the latest in the Tang’s series of what the museum calls “openers,” in which an exhibition is designed to introduce “new work and artists” to the region. Jacquette first made her mark in the mid-1990s with “droll portraits” of comfort foods and everyday objects (pictured: A Watched Pot, 1995). Critic Berta Sichel wrote that these paintings are “tinted with tragedy and humor—ultimately her own sense of humor, flirting with seduction never satisfied even when indulged.” Jacquette’s newest works are white-on-white paintings that “zero in on the trims and trappings of American weddings.” This exhibit spans her entire career, and continues through Sept. 4.

Sound artist Steve Roden has created an installation for the Tang’s series Elevator Music: Investigations in Experimental Sound. In this case, the term “elevator music” is literal: The exhibition is in the museum’s elevator. You can take the ride and savor the sound through Sept. 26.

The other two exhibitions, About Painting (through Sept. 26) and About Sculpture (through Jan. 2, 2005) offer, respectively, “a wide ranging survey of painting today,” and “a selection of new Tang acquisitions and works on extended loan to the Tang Museum.”

The opening reception for all four exhibitions will be Saturday (June 26) from 6 to 7:30 PM at the Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery (Skidmore College, 815 N. Broadway, Saratoga Springs). The event is free. For more information, call 580-8080.

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