2011's Firecracker 500 Festival serves up more than 20 eclectic garage-rock groups bent on rocking an all-ages-audience's socks off over three thrash-filled days. Bands such as White Mystery and Pitchfork-reviewed quartet The Coathangers kick out jams with riot-grrrl grit, and headliners The Strange Boys shred psychedelic hooks sharper than Jimi Hendrix's diamond-tipped mustache-trimmers. The festival's full roster of up-and-coming acts can expose most attendees' ears to new shrieks and sounds.
While it is not possible to have a review for an upcoming event, the Englert Civic Theatre is an Editors' Pick on 10best.com for Iowa City attractions and was voted by Cityvoters as being the #2 Best Theater in 2010, and the #1 Best Theater in 2009.
Although most patrons won't meet the eponymous Carl or Ernie of Carl & Ernie's Good Time Pub and Grub, they will certainly meet the pub's most famous resident: its life-sized Clydesdale statue. The horse looks out from the corner of the bar, watching games of darts and serving as a beacon to the bar's long allegiance with Budweiser. But Budweiser isn't the pub's only beer. Bartenders serve up a full range of drinks and drafts, which can be paired with classic pub food. The nightly specials include pizza, tacos, and tenderloins. Guests can snack on these foods as they watch the Hawkeyes play, sing some karaoke, or sit on the patio to estimate the returns on selling umbrellas that double as sundials.
The same venue that hosts weddings and upscale dinners also welcomes established comedians and rock bands, making First Avenue Club a go-to destination for all manner of events. Inside, a full-service bar overflows with 12 draft beers, 40 bottled beers, and a wealth of mixed drinks. Further behind the scenes, the kitchen fires up hearty entrees such as roast pork loin and baked cod.
The ebullient volunteer performers of the Iowa City Community Theatre have cultivated creativity and entertained audiences for more than half a century. Extracted from Colette's novel and the 1959 motion picture of the same name, Gigi shuttles theatergoers back to early-1900s Paris, when elegance oozed from city streets and an infamous apple seed sprouted into the Eiffel Tower. Patrons succumb to irrepressible toe tapping as the play's stars pirouette through classic tunes—including the solemn, inspirational hymn "Thank Heaven for Little Girls"—arranged by Lerner and Loewe, the masters of melody behind My Fair Lady and Camelot. While memories shared between two lovers unfurl on stage, the Englert Civic Theatre drapes each performance in a century-long history that has seen a disastrous fire, time spent as a movie house, and a modern renovation into today's gracefully curving display space for local and national talent.