The Cultural To-Do List: August 2016

Our guide to this month’s events.

Black Sabbath

Courtesy Photo

Black Sabbath

After nearly 50 years of mammoth anthems, unthinkable debauchery, feuds, lawsuits, and reunions, these rock gods are calling their current tour “The End.” Really, this is it. Bassist-lyricist Geezer Butler seeks a normal home life, while singer Ozzy Osbourne plans to continue his solo career. Most crucially, guitarist Tony Iommi needs to fight the lymphoma he was diagnosed with four years ago. As the last strains of “Paranoid” and “Sweet Leaf” fade from venues around the world, so does the career of one of popular music’s most important bands.

After all, they achieved the alchemy that yielded heavy metal. In late-’60s Birmingham, England, Black Sabbath combined down-tuned guitars, volcanic riffage, wailing vocals, and occult-tinged lyrics, and struck gold worldwide—with rabid fans and Sabbath-inspired bands from Boston to Beijing. These days metal is rivaled only by hip-hop as a thriving, evolving musical culture. So Black Sabbath’s work is done. Now they can finally take their shrines in metal’s Valhalla.

August 25, Xfinity Center, 508-339-2331,

Dorothy Curran Wednesday Night Concerts

Government Center will be thumpin’ and bumpin’ with this August concert series. First comes the pride of New Bedford: the Grammy-winning R & B crew Tavares, most famous for Saturday Night Fever’s “More Than a Woman.” They’re followed by Stardust, Boston’s long-running disco big band, and then Harold Melvin’s Blue Notes, which will revive the silky sounds of the late Philly legend. Each show begins at 7 p.m.

August 3, 10, 24, City Hall Plaza,

Boston Pops at the Crane Estate

The Boston Pops perform for the first time at Castle Hill on this stunning 2,100-acre Ipswich estate to celebrate the 125th anniversary of the Trustees, which cares for the lands and the château. Broadway’s Megan Hilty guest-stars.

August 6, Castle Hill, Crane Estate,

Boston Contemporary Dance Festival at the Paramount Theatre. Boston, MA 8/17/2013 Kate Cook

Courtesy Photo

Boston Contemporary Dance Festival

After a year away, Urbanity Dance’s Betsi Graves brings back this one-day celebration of the most au courant terpsichorean talents, featuring 16 groups and choreographers from around the U.S.

August 13, Boston University Dance Theatre, 617-572-3727,

“First Light”

This vast series of six exhibits highlights the past decade of collecting by the ICA, featuring some of contemporary art’s biggest names. The first four shows open this month with Andy Warhol, sculptor Eva Hesse, cut-paper-silhouette artist Kara Walker, and pioneering photographers such as Cindy Sherman, Rineke Dijkstra, and Nan Goldin.

August 17–January 16, 2017, the Institute of Contemporary Art, 617-478-3100,

Brew at the Zoo

Nothing goes better with big cats and Sardinian dwarf donkeys than a nice cold one. For one blissful afternoon, stroll the zoo and sip beers from more than 40 breweries, including Berkshire Brewing and, of course, Samuel Adams.

August 20, Franklin Park Zoo, 617-541-5466,

august culture calendar 3

Courtesy Photo

Notes from the Field: Doing Time in Education

Monologist Anna Deavere Smith brings her latest project to Cambridge: a searing examination of how young people in poor communities get pushed out of school and into prison. Based on hundreds of interviews, this performance adds a new Boston chapter to her work in progress.

August 20–September 17, American Repertory Theater, 617-547-8300,