You many have heard recent reports of drag-averse states banning showings of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. I take this as a personal insult to Jersey City. Rocky Horror wasn’t created here, but we’ve got a long history with the movie and its attendant phenomena, including some memorably gonzo screenings and performances in the Harsimus Cemetery. Sal Piro, the longtime president of the Rocky Horror Picture Show Fan Club and the prime mover behind the crowd participation elements that are now synonymous with the movie, was a Jersey City guy. Piro, who died at 72 in January, grew up Downtown, and would have been bewildered by the paucity of imagination that certain American communities are currently demonstrating.
Not this one. On April 18, Midnight Misfits, a Hudson County theater troupe, will do what Rocky Horror obsessors do: they’re going to stand in front of the screen and act out the scenes, as outrageously as they can, while the movie plays. That means performing their version of the songs, dressing up like the characters, and generally making mischief. Your job, if you’re up to it, is to sit in the audience at White Eagle Hall (337 Newark Ave.) — and sitting in the audience at Rocky Horror means you’re part of the show. How else can you be part of a legendary event without leaving your seat? In keeping with a tradition that feels as long as that of many religions, the party won’t start until late at night, and it’ll keep going well after twelve. Newark Avenue ought to be a fun scene in the wee hours. Now and forever, here in Jersey City, we’ll dress how we like.
The Weeklings and Cellophane Flowers @ The Fest for Beatles Fans (Apr. 1 & 2)
Unless you’re under 18 — and if you’re interested, you probably aren’t — a ticket to the international Beatle Fan blowout at the Hyatt is probably going to run you a hundred dollars a day. But if you attend on the first of April, you’re getting a performance from a first-rate pop-rock quartet whose act, while thoroughly Beatlesque, is more than just a tribute. The Weeklings feature the Jersey guy who played Paul McCartney in the original Broadway version of Beatlemania: Glen Burtnik And Burtnik, who also performed in Styx and has made some authentic Mersey-sounding power-pop of his own, isn’t even the Beatle-iest member of his latest band. That’s Bob “Zeek Weekling” Burger, an entertainer so devoted to the aesthetic of the era that he was likely born wearing paisley. Their Beatle bona fides are so solid that they don’t even have to do covers (although their versions of Sixties classics are impeccable). Even their original stuff radiates Fabness. I’m just as intrigued by Cellophane Flowers, a Sunday attraction that features Beatles songs arranged for a string quartet. Seems like “Eleanor Rigby” is a cinch to appear on that set list, and no time is a bad time for “Eleanor Rigby.” (Hyatt Regency Jersey City on the Hudson, 2 Exchange Place, 11 a.m – 1 a.m. on Saturday, noon – 11 p.m. on Sunday; $99 for a single-day ticket, $185 for both days, half price for children; visit www.thefest.com.)
Desert Sharks, LKFFCT, and Sir Synthesis @ Pet Shop (Apr. 6)
In a Tarot reading, the Tower Struck by Lightning signifies unavoidable upheaval. That’s the sort of force that Desert Sharks, a bruising garage band, promises to bring to the pedestrian plaza next Thursday night. They’re celebrating the release of The Tower, a six-song project on which they affix melodies reminiscent of ‘60s girl groups and surf rock to stormy guitar-rock arrangements. Welcoming the New Yorkers to the Garden State are two local favorites: Jersey City’s own Sir Synthesis, a pleasantly zonked psychedelic band, and Montclair’s rattling LKFFCT, a straight-up power-pop band that keeps things fast, frenetic, and urgent. They’ve got a new release of their own to push, and it’s a good one — Temporary Parade is an amalgam of growly power chords, stomping beats, and immediately appealing melodies. My favorite is “You Stole Fizzy Lifting Drinks,” a song that lives up to its title with an attitude that simultaneously larcenous and combative. This is another show presented by the podcasters and tastemakers at Look at My Records!, local champions of interesting independent music. (Pet Shop, 193 Newark Ave., 7 p.m.; free; visit www.lookatmyrecords.comor www.petshopjc.com.)
Caili O’Doherty Quintet @ The Statuary (Apr. 7)
Some piano players sound physically strong. Caili O’Doherty is one of those. She’s as dexterous as any other young jazz pianist of prominence, and she can play tricky melodic passages with tremendous precision and clean articulation. But what’ll really impress you is the sheer power of her left hand. When she strikes a chord, it’s like all the bells in the cathedral pealing at once. Throw in the current of darkness that runs through her discography like an underground river, and you’ve got a musician who can keep you interested — and maybe even fascinated — straight through a set. Quarantine Dream, her 2021 set, opened with a version of Oscar Peterson’s “Blues for Big Scotia,” and O’Doherty’s playing does approach Peterson’s self-assurance. She’s bringing a quintet to the Heights, including the charismatic jazz vocalist Tahira Clayton. I’d expect something simultaneous approachable and adventurous. This show is presented in partnership with Riverview Jazz. (The Statuary, 53 Congress St., 6 p.m. doors, 7 p.m. show; $25 recommended donation; visit www.instagram.com/thestatuary.)
Eldad Tarmu @ Tamborim (Apr. 9 & 23)
Now here’s an unusual happenstance: an instrumental master and Grammy-nominee at a Brazilian restaurant located steps from the Grove Street PATH train station. That instrument is the vibraphone, which might just be the most underrated member of the percussion family. Vibes are naturally dreamy and delicate, and when those slats are hammered with authority, the sound impart a silky texture and translucent sheen to a song. Eldad Tarmu can coax all kinds of sounds out of his instrument: machine rumbles, treetop chirps, champagne-glass chimes. But he’s a traditionalist at heart, and his recent work finds an intriguing intersection between jazz, classical compositions, light funk, and Latin music. How did we get this accomplished artist to appear at a South American tapas place with copious caipirinha? Well, Tarmu is also a music professor at Hudson County Community College. Thus it’s not too surprising that he’d opt to bring his mallets to a makeshift stage on this side of the big river. That’ll happen twice, on two April afternoons a fortnight apart. Who knows; maybe he’ll make it a regular thing. He’ll certainly enliven the pedestrian plaza while he’s there. (Tamborim Bar and Grill, 130 Newark Ave., 1 p.m.; free; www.tamborimbargrill.com.)
Lucius @ White Eagle Hall (Apr. 11)
Who knows?, maybe Holly Laessig and Jess Wolfe sing nicely when they’re not together, too. I admit I hope we never find out. In my imagination, the two vocalists carry on their daily activities and everyday conversations in close harmony. That’s how they approach their arrangements for Lucius, their art-pop combo: they’re almost always singing together, and achieving the preternatural effects that only happen when vocalists really know each other. On the theatrical Good Grief, their 2016 set, they shot the works, simulating a choir on the wildly ambitious “Almighty Gosh,” channeling the Pointer Sisters on “Almost Makes Me Wish for Rain,” and going insane on the loopy coda of “Gone Insane.” After a few years touring as support singers for Roger Waters and other rock legends, Laessig and Wolfe re-emerged last year with Second Nature, a pop-country set produced by Dave Cobb and Brandi Carlile. Along the way, they’ve worked with some of the most imaginative session musicians in Brooklyn and Los Angeles, including Dan Molad of Elizabeth & The Catapult. This idiosyncratic pop act also presents a singular stage show. (White Eagle Hall, 337 Newark Ave., 7 p.m.; $30; visit www.whiteeaglehalljc.com.)
Rocky Horror Picture Show @ White Eagle Hall (Apr. 15)
It’s possible to argue that modern fandom in all its obsessive particularity was born at the Waverly Theater in the early ‘70s. Sal Piro encouraged a radical kind of identification with the Rocky Horror characters that used the weird magic of crowd response to make it seem like Brad, Janet, Frank N. Furter, and the rest of the cast were actual human beings who a viewer might be able to interact with. The gleeful, uncategorizable sexuality of its characters also made Rocky Horror a forerunner of the freewheeling post-gender storytelling that’s become popular in the 21st century, and the costume skits performed by audience members were a clear predecessor of modern fanfic and cosplay. The Rocky Horror Picture Show was made for the era of otaku and Comic Con, and Piro’s skewed brilliance seems, in retrospect, prophetic. These days, every work of filmed entertainment engenders a kind of crowd participation, including weblog commentary, recaps, endless debates about plotting and sequelization, and slash fiction catering to every sexual orientation — including some that haven’t been invented yet. In the 1970s, there was no Internet to accommodate that stuff. Instead, people had Rocky Horror. They made the most of it, and it’s still going strong. (White Eagle Hall, 337 Newark Ave., 11 p.m.; $24; visit www.whiteeaglehalljc.com.)
Golden Shoals @ Fox & Crow (Apr. 28)
Multi-instrumentalist Mark Kilianski of Golden Shoals is a quick picker on the banjo and the acoustic guitar, and his feel for traditional country and bluegrass feels organic and instinctual. Surely he was born on in a barn on the top of a mountain? Actually, he’s a Jersey guy, and even if he’s lived elsewhere in North America for a long time (including stints in the spectacular Americana scene in Asheville, North Carolina), there’s Garden State impudence apparent in his songwriting. Violinist Amy Alvey plays things a bit gentler, but she can get pretty rowdy when she wants to; check out “Old Buffalo” on their self-titled set to get a sense of how much heat they’re able to generate when they pick up the tempo and lose themselves to a Dust Bowl reverie. Recent Golden Shoals recordings find the pair branching out in all sorts of fascinating directions, and applying their expansive imaginations to old-time country music. They’ll bring their well-oiled touring act to the best spot in Hudson County for a hoedown. (Fox & Crow, 594 Palisade Ave., 8 p.m.; $10; www.foxandcrowjc.com.)