A rebellious art show, an epic indoor beach party and 10 other things to do this week
Kent Monkman’s rebellious 150th-anniversary show
The Cree iconoclast’s sesquicentennial exhibition is more a critique than a celebration of Canada’s first 150 years. The sprawling show begins in the present, with scenes of prison brawls, and divine visitations on the streets of northern Winnipeg and modern reserves. Those images hang next to depictions of Monkman’s drag queen alter ego, Miss Chief Eagle Testickle, reigning over fur traders in New France. Together, the works are meant to trace—and rewrite—the history of Canadian colonialism and highlight Indigenous resilience. Thursday, January 26 to Saturday, March 4. The Art Museum at the University of Toronto, 7 Hart House Circle, artmuseum.utoronto.ca.
A balmy indoor beach party
This winter’s closest (and cheapest) tropical escape is a subway ride away. This Friday, Ripley’s Aquarium transforms into a balmy beach resort, complete with a surf simulator, photo booth, cocktail bar and themed grub. Beachwear is encouraged; swimming in the shark tank is not. Friday, January 27. $40. Ripley’s Aquarium, 288 Bremner Blvd., ripleysaquarium.com.
The best of the post-breakup Beatles
After the Beatles split, John Lennon reached for new artistic heights and Paul McCartney churned out cheerfully poppy dad-rock. This Classic Albums Live concert argues that they were better together—even after the breakup. The show combines two of the ex-Beatles’ best solo albums, Imagine and Band on the Run, played back to back to remind audiences of how Lennon’s moodiness and McCartney’s playfulness perfectly complemented each other. Friday, January 27. $39.50–$59.50. Roy Thomson Hall, 60 Simcoe St., masseyhall.com.
The Last Wife, a feminist take on the monarchy
Katherine Parr, Henry VIII’s final wife, becomes a proto-feminist hero in this restaging of Stratford Festival’s 2015 revisionist-history play. Set in the present day, playwright Kate Hennig’s script examines the tumultuous, abusive relationship through a modern lens, focusing on the Queen’s push for gender equality, even while living under the threat of the executioner. Wednesday, January 25 to Saturday, February 11. $32–$96. Baillie Theatre, Young Centre for the Performing Arts, 50 Tank House Ln., soulpepper.ca.
A raw and rowdy Cloud Nothings set
The earnest guitar rock on Cloud Nothings’ albums might not prepare you for the ferocious energy of their live concerts. For all their success, the Cleveland band’s performances still have an unpolished basement-gig vibe, and frontman Dylan Baldi remains a slightly aloof stage presence. They hit Toronto the day they release their new album, Life Without Sound, which marries their existing style with a new-age aesthetic. Friday, January 27. $18. Lee’s Palace, 529 Bloor St. W., ticketfly.com.
Noisy, an experimental dance show
Ame Henderson’s dance experiments take cues from unorthodox sources: one improvisational production, inspired by the Voyager space program, challenged dancers to never repeat a movement; in another, the performers taught each other their steps instead of taking instruction from a choreographer. The characteristically inventive Noisy turns performers into “agents of sounding”—that is, they create their own musical accompaniment as they dance. Thursday, January 26 to Saturday, February 4. $25. Winchester Street Theatre, 80 Winchester St., tdt.org.
Liv Stein, a delicate drama by a buzzy playwright
A famous concert pianist quits her instrument, dissolves her marriage and loses all hope after her son’s tragic death. But when she meets a young piano student—and friend of her late son—the titular heroine returns to the keyboard. This delicate drama will introduce Canuck audiences to Nino Haratischwili, one of Germany’s most acclaimed young playwrights. Thursday, January 26 to Sunday, February 12. $39–$99. Bluma Appel Theatre, 27 Front St. E., canadianstage.com.
A prix-fixe pig-out
Starting this Friday, more than 220 of the city’s restaurants will participate in Winterlicious, Toronto’s annual two-week-long prix-fixe food fest. Participating kitchens will offer three-course lunch and dinner menus, starting as low as $18. Some new and notable places on the list this year: Leña, Loka, Miku and Fring’s. Friday, January 27 to Thursday, February 9. Various locations, toronto.ca.
Aesop Rock’s introspective wordplay
His dense, complicated wordplay is still there, but The Impossible Kid, his latest LP, revealed a new side to the loquacious indie rapper. If you can follow the tangled web of his lyrics against the pounding synth beat, you’ll hear him reflecting on his troubled relationship with his family, struggles with mental health and insecurities about his career. On his current tour, he’s made the unusual move of performing the album’s tracks in order, interspersed with occasional solos from guests Rob Sonic, DJ Zone and Homeboy Sandman. Sunday, January 29. $22.50–$40. Mod Club, 722 College St., ticketfly.com.
The chart-topping soul-pop of Lukas Graham
The Danish quartet hijacked Spotify playlists worldwide with “7 Years,” a weepy ballad that has scored more than 600 million streams. It’s the lead single on their self-titled 2015 album, which blends R&B, funk, folk and hip hop into a pop potpourri. Their songs can get heavy (see: “Don’t Worry ’Bout Me,” about the death of frontman Lukas Forchhammer’s father), but the up-and-comers keep things mostly upbeat on the stage. Wednesday, January 25. $30. Rebel, 11 Polson St., ticketmaster.ca.
Jeff Dunham’s Trumpian tomfoolery
The confrontational ventriloquist is beloved for his comic assaults on elites and political correctness. Rest assured, Dunham’s posse of insolent puppets—Walter, the cranky geezer; Peanut, the alien monkey; and Achmed, the dead terrorist—will have plenty to say about the current scene down in D.C. Saturday, January 25. $44.50–$74. Air Canada Centre, 40 Bay St., ticketmaster.ca.
The breezy folk tunes of Lindy Vopnfjörd
The Winnipeg native grew up singing Icelandic folk song with his family band, the Hekla Singers, before decamping to Toronto and branching off as a songwriter in his own right. His latest album, Frozen in Time, is a warm and gentle folk effort with some heavy lyrical inspiration: human rights in North Korea, wrongful imprisonment and the awe-inspiring beauty of Iceland. Plus, mere minutes after the Donald’s inauguration, he released this anti-Trump tune. Friday, January 27. $10. The Garrison, 1197 Dundas St. W., ticketfly.com.