The old, bohemian East Village comes out of hiding today as the 8th annual HOWL! Festival kicks off in Tompkins Square Park. The festival lasts the weekend, with the related HOWL! Arts Project running slams, plays, dances and more productions with counterculture bents for the whole month. Check out our top picks below.
Kick things off with a communal reading of "Howl," the famed Allen Ginsberg poem that inspired the festival, a landmark obscenity trial upon its 1957 release, and an upcoming James Franco movie. (Friday, 9/10 at Tompkins Square Park, South Stage, 5-7pm. Free.)
Definitely make time on Saturday and Sunday for the Lower Eastside Girls Club East Village Earth Circus. The youth group will provide entertainments ranging from double dutch to flamenco dancing to pony rides all afternoon. (Saturday and Sunday, 9/11 at TSP, North Stage, 12-7pm. Free.)
Arthur Russell was an East Village musician whose outsize influence on basically the last 30 years of dance, rock and popular music becomes more obvious every day. Celebrate the legacy of a man who helped define the idea of the modern NYC nightclub at places like the Loft and Paradise Garage with a performance from tribute band Arthur's Landing on Saturday. (Saturday, 9/11 at TSP, South Stage, 6:30-7pm. Free.)
Legendary downtown performance artist Penny Arcade revives some of her most famous material next week in "The Girl Who Knew Too Much." With shows such as Bitch!Dyke!Faghag!Whore! and characters like the Junkie Whore "Girl" and the Massage Parlour Hassid, Penny's show should make for one of the ribald, if less family friendly, programs at the festival. (Thursday, 9/16 at Theatre 80 St. Mark's, 8-10pm. $15.)
CBGB is long gone, but you can catch some veterans of that squalid punk rock cathedral at Bowery Electric, just up the street from the iconic shuttered venue. Performers include The Sick Fucks, the Planets, Jahn Xavier & The Bowerytones, and the Enablers. (Tuesday, 9/21, Bowery Electric, 327 Bowery, 8pm-midnight. $10.)
For complete festival information, including schedules and ticket info, click here.