Summertime, and the culture is easy.
Hollywood will assault your brain with loud and louder movies full of CGI, fading rock stars will team up to double their audience and extract higher prices for tickets, and sometimes you might long for football season to begin, but never fear. The Pop Culture Beast staff is here to tip you off to some of the slightly under the radar treats of the upcoming season. Oh, and a double dose of blockbusters, so you don’t feel left out.
Scranton Zine Fest
Woo hoo! Welcome to summer! Time to relax, and time to party. First, take advantage of your time for summer relaxation, and read a zine (or ten) at the Scranton Zine Fest, taking place on June 13 at the Tripp Park Community Center. Support DIY publishing in all its forms, from the personal to the radical to the absurd. You can probably pick up some pin-back buttons there, too.
Electric Daisy Carnival
Of COURSE you should be at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway June 19-21 for Electric Daisy Carnival Las Vegas! Three days of pretty lights, PLUR people, booming beats, and sweet mayhem! Even if you’re not into EDM, Electric Daisy Carnival is an experience for the senses and the soul. Also: it’s Las Vegas.
Dance your way deep into the summer with the bad-ass beats, hip-hop flavor, and funky feel of Vokab Kompany at the Lake Tahoe Reggae Fest on June 27th. Not into reggae? That’s okay, because Vokab Kompany will be touring the West Coast this summer with Dopapod, so be sure to catch a show! Lead vocalists Rob Hurt and Burkey Baby tell Pop Culture Beast, “It’s always fun touring with a new group, and it’ll be interesting to see who can do the most push-ups.” Vokab Kompany’s “The Good Kompany Album” will be dropping soon! You can check out the first single, “Kaleidoscope,” here, on Soundcloud. It’s an electro-funk-hip-pop adventure.
Jeremy Saulnier is a young director with confidence and style well beyond his short resume. His 2013 film Blue Ruin, a bloody tale of revenge, justice and violence, was a revelation and Saulnier declared himself a director who could command style just as easily as he could story. His new film, Green Room, is listed as a horror/thriller about a punk rock band and features a cast – Imogen Poots, Macon Blair (the lead in Blue Ruin), Alia Shawkat, Anton Yelchin and Patrick Stewart–that dares you to remain unexcited. Though the film has no confirmed release date, it just premiered at Cannes and can be expected to see a state-side run at festivals, at least, and theaters throughout the summer.
As the owner of an anxious brain, I couldn’t be more excited for Pixar’s new film Inside Out, which takes place entirely inside the mind of a young, anxious child. Though Pixar’s tally of hits vs. misses still rests well above a five-hundred average, their releases in the last few years have been a bit of a disappointment. Inside Out looks to be a return to form for the studio. With a gonzo premise, an outstanding voice cast (Diane Lane, Kyle MacLachlan, Amy Poehler, Mindy Kaling, Bill Hader and Richard Kind) and an old hat in the director’s chair (Pete Docter, director of Monster’s University and Up) Inside Out has the potential to earn a spot in the upper-echelon of Pixar films.
KAITLYNN E-A SMITH
WayHome Music & Arts Festival
Canada isn’t necessarily known for its music festivals, but more and more keep popping up with major headliners hoping to legitimize the true north. The WayHome Music and Arts festival is coming to the Burl’s Creek Event Grounds (a few hours north of Toronto) July 24th-26th. The festival includes headliners Neil Young + Promise of the Real, Kendrick Lamar, Hozier and Sam Smith. The fest is in collaboration with the co-founders of Bonnaroo – so you know it’s legit. More than just a music festival, the 3-day event features original art installations, international and local cuisine and an on-site farmer’s market. If you have ever been lured in by the phrase “late-night spectacles and experiences” then this is the place for you.
Andy Warhol Revisited: A Mirror For Today
Toronto art enthusiasts are getting the chance of a lifetime to view one of the world’s largest collection of original Andy Warhol prints and paintings. Ger your artistic senses flowing this summer as the exhibition is open to the public daily in the trendy Yorkville neighbourhood of Toronto beginning July 1st for six months. The LA based Revolver Gallery is curating the exhibit that will feature a selection of Warhol’s most recognizable pieces, from the iconic Campbell’s Soup Can to portraits of Marilyn Monroe. Revolver Gallery is founded by Toronto native Ron Rivlin who is displaying the collection through educational materials as well including activated spaces, audio tours, interactive programming and special events. It will also feature details of The Factory, Warhol’s main art studio in NYC for over two decades. This event is an exciting chance for all ages to experience how pop art is still a modern phenomenon.
Have you been waiting your whole life to see Todd Glass do stand up? Do you enjoy watching stand up in a “420-friendly” atmosphere? Well then aren’t you in luck! Joanne Baker’s esteemed Underground Comedy Club contains a Hemp History Museum while the back room has a stage, audience seating and a bar. Todd will be in Toronto June 19th and 20th doing late sets each night at The Underground. If you prefer your breathing space smoke free, he will also be at the Comedy Bar (brought to you by Empire Comedy) the same nights (June 19 and 20th) for early shows. Choose your night, choose your venue, choose your high and I’ll see you there (not telling you which, my mom might read this!)
I have three binge choices for this summer. One is the just finished Mad Men, of which I am six episodes in, so I have a long way to go. The problem is I have very little time to watch TV. I’m not a snob, I LOVE TV, but I’m a busy man, and if my wife doesn’t want to watch it, it’s hard to catch it on my own. But that’s what I did with Battlestar GalacticaI and Breaking Bad. She falls asleep, and if I’m not too tired, I grab my phone and start watching. It takes a long time, but it’s doable. So far, I’ve avoided any Mad Men spoilers. All I know about the end of the series is that Coca-Cola is involved. Having worked in advertising in a previous life, the show has extra appeal for me, further spurred by my love of the 1960s. It so believably recreates that decade, I sometimes have trouble following the plot.
A show I’d like to get in on the ground floor of is Yahoo!’s Other Space, the comedy series from Paul Feig (Freaks & Geeks, Bridesmaids). It is appealing on two fronts: it’s about space and it’s silly. Starring a cast of relative unknowns, the show satires the science fiction genre while also generating a lot of character-driven comedy. I’m through the pilot and hoping to binge catch up. That should be easy, as all eight episodes of season one were released at once on April 14 of this year.
The Most Popular Girls in School
Finally, I need to get back to the YouTube series The Most Popular Girls in School, which I left off around episode 16. They’re up to 70. Episodes are less than five minutes long so catching up shouldn’t take a little more than an evening. Using various fashion dolls and stop motion animation, the MPGiS is crude, silly, vulgar, and totally hilarious. Following the exploits of a clique of high school girls in Overland Park, Kansas, the series takes chances, the majority of which pay off brilliantly. It’s a satire of both high school based TV shows a well as actual high school.
Go Set a Watchman
Summer reading might traditionally mean a spy novel or some stupid book about a girl, her friends and her shoes, but put down the fluff and pick up the hottest release of the year. Harper Collins Publishing is printing a first run of two million copies (yikes) for the second book by Ms. Harper Lee. Don’t recognize the name? Come on now. The author of To Kill a Mockingbird will publish her rediscovered story more than 50 years after the one that won her the Pulitzer. She’s pacing herself. Buy your copy July 14th.
What Pet Shall I Get?
Your childhood memories will also be reactivated when the new Dr. Seuss hits the bestseller lists. He has been dead since 1991, but similar to the case of Harper Lee, this manuscript, if you can call a children’s book by Theodor Geisel a manuscript, was discovered after 22 untouched years, and will be published by Random House Children’s Books in July. What will the cynical world of today make of this potential classic? Come on, it’s Dr. Freaking Seuss, so go take your snark to the park.
The End of the Tour
Jason Segal, future Oscar winner? (Don’t laugh, Jonah Hill has TWO nominations). This could be the year of The End of the Tour, a film is based on the true events of a four-day long interview conducted by Rolling Stone writer, David Lipsky (played by Jesse Eisenberg) with author David Foster Wallace. This is billed as a talky, funny road trip film, set during the last days of Wallace’s 1996 book tour where he was promoting his landmark novel, “Infinite Jest.” Sort of My Promotional Tour with Andre? If you like talking, intellectuals, Ron Livingston, Anna Chlumsky, jealousy and wigs, this might be for you. The only drawback? Now I need to finish Infinite Jest.
Don’t get too excited – this as about, errr, shoes, which I am not really that into. However, any excuse to walk into the glorious Victoria & Albert Museum, and this is history combined with art and function. Forget Carrie Bradshaw, it’s all about heels, slippers and sandals for everyone to mummies and 50’s Mommies, and even those adorable tiny silk shoes that hobbled the feet and dreams of ancient women of Asia. The exhibit opens 13th June and runs through next January.
I am super stoked for the fifth installment of the Terminator series. I’ve been a pretty big fan since I was a kid, but the philosophy and science fiction of these movies really kicks in as I entered adulthood. I even tolerated the underrated Sarah Connor Chronicles. And with Schwarzenegger returning as an aged T-800? How could you avoid this!? I’m really intrigued to see what marketing schemes Arnold has up his sleeve for the rest of the summer; this guy is in a renaissance, and I hope NO ONE is missing out. Terminator Genisys is released July 1st.
STAR WARS: Battlefront
In the video game department, I am excitedly awaiting the release of STAR WARS: Battlefront, promising to have intense recreations of the famous battles from the beloved sci-fi/adventure series. There’s even a possible level featuring events from Episode VII: The Force Awakens! I am cheating, as Battlefront hits shelves November 2015, but you can be damn sure that I’ll be spending the summer keeping up with leaks and blueprints. Just don’t make me cable the AT-ATs; that’s hard as hell!!
If you have read Ready Player One, then you are probably already more excited for this release than anything else coming out this year. If you haven’t just what are you waiting for? Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One is amazing and Armada sounds like it will be just as great, if not better. This time the story surrounds a teenager who notices a UFO that happens to look just like the ones from his favorite video game. Alien Invasion madness follows. Expect plenty of pop culture references that make Cline’s books so relatable and fun to read. Out mid-July.
Ok, mid-September can still count as summer right? Late summer? Late late late summer? Whatever – I’m more stoked for this one than most of the other movies coming out this year. Zombie kids vs teachers? Elijah Wood? Rainn Wilson? I’m in opening night. It’s already getting great buzz from festival screenings so that only makes me more eager to see it. Here’s the trailer so you can make up your own mind. So, please rush to your theaters and catch Cooties! (See what I did there?)
SOAK. – Before We Forgot How To Dream
Maybe it’s crass to call her a female Ed Sheeran, I don’t know. What I do know is that I was instantly captivated by her after I saw a performance from Coachella or some music festival or another. Her lyrics and her voice entranced me instantly, much the same way that Ed Sheeran did the first time I saw him. SOAK. finally hits the US with her debut album very soon and I for one cannot wait.
Years & Years – Communion
Another band from across the sea. Years & Years are an electronic pop act with some fantastic songs. They have a few Eps out there and finally we’regetting a debut LP out July 10. I’ve already preordered this one and received a few tracks. I love every one of them. Lead singer Olly Alexander has such a great voice. I don’t usually go for electronic type music but there is something about this that has me hooked.
Scream Factory Summer of Fear 2
If you know me you already know my love of Scream Factory, Shout Factory’s horror label. This summer has kicked off their second Summer of Fear and the titles are already strong with some great stuff coming down the pipeline. This year brings titles like The Howling 2, Sleepaway Camp 2 and 3, Ghosthouse, Witchery, Invaders From Mars, Scarecrows, and so much more. Scream Factory continues to put out some amazing titles and I for one am super excited to get my hands on all of the Summer titles!
A former ABC National, Dallas and Atlanta radio personality, Martina O'Boyle is now making movies and covering culture in London, Dublin, and as far in Europe as the cheapie flights will take her, for Pop Culture Beast.