Fall Arts Preview: September 2015

Your exclusive guide to the season’s top cultural happenings.

By Matthew Reed Baker, Carly Carioli, Shaula Clark, Susanna Jackson, Kristofer Jenson, Maura Johnston, and Sean Maloney

boston cultural events september 2015

Photograph by Loek van der Klis, courtesy of Theo Jansen

“Strandbeest: The Dream Machines of Theo Jansen”

For years, Dutch artist Theo Jansen has been sending his colossal synthetic skeletons down Holland’s Scheveningen Beach, and now the Peabody Essex Museum is bringing the eerie phenomenon to the Hub. Dubbed Strandbeests (Dutch for “beach animals”), the sculptures are fashioned from materials such as zip ties and PVC, then animated according to an algorithm and set in motion by wind-powered pistons and crankshafts.

By late August, the PEM will have staged demonstrations in three locations, with one more outside the MIT Media Lab on September 10. The Salem exhibition, meanwhile, will feature the 42-foot Animaris suspendisse, built with a responsive nervous system and sweat glands.

September 19–January 3, 2016, Peabody Essex Museum, 978-745-9500, pem.org.

Lee Child and Stephen King

If you’re a fan of Lee Child’s hard-boiled Jack Reacher series, you’re in good company. Maine horrormeister Stephen King is such a devoted Reacher Creature, he even worked shoutouts into his book Under the Dome. Now King makes a rare public appearance with Child to talk about Child’s latest, Make Me.

September 9, Sanders Theatre, 617-661-1515, harvard.com.

Oddball Comedy and Curiosity Festival

Funny or Die presents its annual comedy festival, headlined by Aziz Ansari and Amy Schumer and featuring some 20 other standup acts, including T. J. Miller, who plays Erlich Bachman on HBO’s Silicon Valley.

September 11, Xfinity Center, 508-339-2331, oddballfest.com.

“LA/MA: ’60s Pop from Both Coasts”

This bicoastal pop-art throwdown at Brandeis pits top East Coast artists (Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol) against their western counterparts (Billy Al Bengston, Judy Chicago), illustrating how both ends of the country were at the forefront of the postmodern aesthetic.

September 12–December 13, Rose Art Museum, 781-736-3434, brandeis.edu/rose.

Let’s Dance/Bailemos Boston

Get ready to bust a move at this Greenway dance-off, which offers a series of 45-minute lessons—from mambo to salsa to disco— followed by 90- minute concerts from similarly styled bands.

September 16–20, celebrity series.org/letsdanceboston.

The Big E

In addition to the requisite livestock contests and midway, West Springfield’s annual agricultural expo features racing pigs, dog shows, colossal butter sculptures, and—best of all—the most delightfully random musical lineup, including Kiss’s Ace Frehley and DJ Paris Hilton (yes, that Paris Hilton).

September 18–October 4, 413-737-2443, thebige.com.

Boston Calling

The semiannual rock festival takes over downtown yet again with a lineup of acts rootsy (the Avett Brothers, Alabama Shakes), funky (Chromeo), edgy (Chvrches), and top-40 (Hozier, Of Monsters and Men).

September 25–27, City Hall Plaza, bostoncalling.com.


Her most recent album, Rebel Heart, went relatively unheralded, which is a shame, as it’s a thrill ride of thumping jeep beats and swirling headphone excess. Live, of course, expect the world’s greatest female pop star to add her decades of hits and visual overload to the already extravagant mix.

September 26, TD Garden, 800-745-3000, tdgarden.com.

Fall Arts Preview: September | October | November