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    Things to Do

    The Weekender: Soul superstars, Shakespeare on the Common, and ‘Eighth Grade’

    Janelle Monáe (pictured July 18 in New York) plays Blue Hills Bank Pavilion Saturday.
    Greg Allen/Invision/AP
    Janelle Monáe (pictured July 18 in New York) plays Blue Hills Bank Pavilion Saturday.

    Want the Globe’s top picks for what to see and do each weekend e-mailed straight to you? Sign up for the Weekender newsletter here.

    Oh, hey Weekenders! It’s me, the Weekender! Back again with an overwhelming bevy of exciting arts events that I see no reason why you would enjoy. 

    Wait one sec. My editors are telling me there is need for some clarification. It should have been obvious, I thought it would be obvious, but I would like to clarify, just in case it wasn’t. I meant “wouldn’t,” as in “you wouldn’t enjoy,” except I’m saying you would enjoy them, because there’s no reason you wouldn’t. 

    There. I hope that clears things up. On with the show(s)!


    SPACE FORCE: Like Grace Jones, or Prince, or David Bowie, or Sun Ra, the unstoppable Janelle Monáe seems shortchanged by the word “star.” The singer, songwriter, producer, and actress (and whatever other form she decides to take) feels more like an entire constellation, her career suggesting a familiar shape, but her talent still light years away from her earthbound peers. Her latest album of futurist funk, “Dirty Computer,” is as versatile a package as Monáe herself, and she’ll be tightroping her way through its handful of genre-hopping instant classics — as well as the favorites (like “Tightrope”) that first launched her into orbit — when she comes to Blue Hills Bank Pavilion on Saturday night. Grab tickets here

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    COUNTRY TIME: If your preferred view of the cosmos comes from lying in the bed of a pickup truck, Saturday in Mansfield you can catch Miranda Lambert as she rolls through as part of The Bandwagon Tour with none other than Little Big Town, Turnpike Troubadours, and Tenille Townes. Lambert’s ambitious 2016 double-platinum double album, “The Weight of These Wings,” packs in 24 songs that dig deep into heartbreak and unearth the grit it takes to come back from it. (So maybe pack some tissues if that breakup is still fresh.) Find tickets here.

    PAPA MUSIC: Dads of all ages: Prepare to get stoked and/or stoned. The 40-and-under set may be upset to learn that I’m classifying Foo Fighters as straight-up dad-rock for a not-so-new generation, but just look how quickly you forget how angry you are when I tell you they’re playing Fenway on Saturday and Sunday! As you slip on your Sox cap and the old “In Utero” shirt you’ve been using to polish the RAV4, I want you to look in the mirror and tell me I’m right. Tickets are still available; as for baby sitters, that’s all you, pal. Meanwhile, for the dads of those dads, there’s “An Evening With The Eagles” at TD Garden on Friday and Saturday, featuring the new lineup of Don Henley, (Glenn’s son) Deacon Frey, Joe Walsh, Vince Gill, and Timothy B. Schmit. Grab tickets here and enjoy the peaceful easy feeling that comes with knowing you have way better taste in music than your kids. 

    BROKEN RULE: It’s summer in the city, but for Commonwealth Shakespeare Company, the winter of discontent plods forth. After staging feel-good hits like “Fear and Misery in the Third Reich,” “Death and the Maiden,” “Old Money,” and “Macbeth,” the company’s latest undertaking, “Richard III” continues a seasonal through-line exploring “despotic regimes and what it takes to live through them.” “We see this lurch toward totalitarianism and we see this demonizing of the other, and it’s a very volatile time,” director Steven Maler told the Globe. “And I think it’s important to look back at history and to look at great works of art that offer a window into the consequences of men’s actions and where they can lead, and how do you head them off at the pass.” The free production runs at Parkman Bandstand on the Common through Aug. 5. (And if it’s your kingdom for a comfy chair, you can rent one.) More details here.

    Elsie Fisher and Emily Robinson in the 2018 film "Eighth Grade," directed by Bo Burnham. Photo by Linda Kallerus, courtesy of A24
    Elsie Fisher (left) and Emily Robinson in “Eighth Grade.”

    TEEN SPIRIT: Globe film critic Ty Burr loved “Eighth Grade” — the debut film from Hamilton-bred writer-director Bo Burnham, not the traumatic experiences — which at times “plays like a nature documentary about life and death on the savannas of suburbia.” In his 3½-star review, Burr says Burnham captures the “hopes and fantasies and daily mortifications” of 13-year-old Kayla Day (played “with supreme awkwardness and not a shred of vanity” by Elsie Fisher), and does so “with a precision that makes your heart die and get reborn with every scene.” Now screening.


    OFFENSIVE LINES: Elsewhere at the cineplex, you can catch Gus Van Sant’s latest film, “Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot,” an intriguingly non-conventional biopic starring Joaquin Phoenix as Portland, Ore.’s favorite “highly transgressive quadriplegic cartoonist” John Callahan. The Globe’s Mark Feeney gives the film 2½ stars, even while he was smitten with many of its performances (including the “real revelation” of the film, Jonah Hill). “Sometimes the movie is sentimental. More often, it’s scabrous,” he writes. “Maybe if the movie didn’t feel overlong (trim and tight it’s not), those qualities might seem better balanced.” Now screening.

    CLEESE FOR COMFORT: On Saturday night, if you’re not busy wheeling out your dead or determining who in your neighborhood is a witch, consider silly walking to Lynn for a very special screening of “Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” followed by a Q&A session with the one and only John Cleese, who will be entertaining “absurd and ridiculous questions only,” and will also just be entertaining. Lately, he’s been busy battling an onslaught of Twitter trolls like so many Rabbits of Caerbannog, so this will be a good chance for everyone (everyone) to put their angry little devices down and laugh for a few hours. More info and tickets here.

    FORMATIVE STAGES: Elsewhere in public chuckles is 29-year-old Brookline native Alex Edelman, who has been on something of a global hot streak that’s taken him to far-flung stages in Edinburgh, London, Moscow, Berlin, and Jerusalem — just not Boston. This weekend Edelman settles in for a three-night stand at Laugh Boston, concluding Friday and Saturday, before taking his new one-man show, “Just for Us,” back on the plane to the Just for Laughs Festival in Montreal later this month, and the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in August. What are you running from, Alex?! Tickets and showtimes here.

    NEW DEVELOPMENTS: You photo buffs out there are likely already aware of the anticipated “Sally Mann: A Thousand Crossings” exhibition at the Peabody Essex Museum. Reviewer Cate McQuaid calls it “a deep and tender examination of Mann’s relationship to the American South.” “Photographers craft their art from the facts of the visual world,” she writes, “Toting her large-format camera around and laboring in the darkroom, Mann uses those facts as touchstones as she concocts the hot breath of history’s lingering whisper.” That’s up at PEM through Sept. 23. More info here. Meanwhile in Porter Square, the Photographic Resource Center (or PRC if you’re nasty), long a staple in Kenmore Square, has relocated across the river, shacked up with Lesley University, and opened “Exposure: The 22nd Annual PRC Juried Exhibition,” curated by photographer Christopher Rauschenberg. That’s on view through Aug. 10. More information here.

    TAPPING IN: And in dance this week, here’s another good reason to head for the hills and get comfortable at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival in Becket. Through the weekend you can catch a world premiere work from Dorrance Dance, led by the dynamic tap titan Michelle Dorrance. Her new group work, “Myelination,” showcases an original live score by Donovan Dorrance and Gregory Richardson with vocals by Aaron Marcellus. Kick up those heels and find performance times and tickets here.


    CAN I GET AN AMEN: Oh, and real quick, speaking of the Hills, you may have missed Ryan Walsh reading from his book “Astral Weeks: A Secret History of 1968” earlier this week at Brookline Booksmith, but you can catch him and the new lineup of his enduring endearing good-times-in-the-midst-of-bad-times band, Hallelujah the Hills, who play their first proper show in Boston (since last summer’s sold-out planetarium gigs) with a new lineup (David Michael Curry on viola? Whaaaat?) at the Midway Cafe in J.P. on Friday night, along with Adam Remnant and Planet of Adventure. Grab tickets here.

    Country singer-songwriter Lori McKenna - photographed in Annapolis, Maryland, last month - says she aims to push her songs to "the edge of whatever it is." MUST CREDIT: Washington Post photo by Marvin Joseph
    Washington Post photo by Marvin Joseph
    Lori McKenna just released an album titled “The Tree.”

    OR STAY IN! If keeping it close to home is what you have in mind this weekend, you can’t do better than a new Lori McKenna album. The Stoughton-born, Grammy-winning songwriting powerhouse just released “The Tree,” a stunning collection of songs about family, struggle, and love. “I love how we all have these remarkable things that happen to us, every single person,” she recently told the Globe, “and I love picking apart those stories and looking at them in a 3½-minute song.” (Heads up: This album may count as one of those remarkable things.)

    And that, inquiring Weekenders, is everything my investigation turned up this week. However you choose to spend your weekend, make it one you won’t not miss come Monday. See you next week!

    Michael Andor Brodeur can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @MBrodeur.