His powerful sculptures landed him in hot water with authorities in his native China, and now, Ai Weiwei is trying out a different kind of heavy metal. Having worked with sculpture as well as audiovisual art, the artist and activist is planning on recording a heavy metal album called Shen Qu, or “Divine Comedy.” The Dante and Heaven/Hell motifs make for pretty excellent heavy metal concept album fodder, if not a little well-worn, but either way, props to Ai for doing his homework.
The artist told The Guardian his interest in testing the musical waters came from his 81-day stint in jail, where he realized his lack of musical knowledge outside of Chinese revolutionary songs. Consultants on the album will include Chinese rock artist Zuoxiao Zuzhou as well as one of his marquee supporters from the pop music world, Elton John, for whom he made a video. Material will include a song called “The Great Firewall of China,” about the country’s Internet censorship. It will probably not include a cover of “Holy Diver,” as sweet as that has the potential to be.
Ai isn’t a stranger to using popular music as his medium, however. He did do that amazing “Gangnam Style” video, perhaps the only “Gangnam Style” parody the world actually really needed. Let’s revisit that below.
● Eastern Standard (Fenway) – This huge bar and restaurant is always packed because of its proximity to Fenway Park. They also have some of the best bartenders in the city, many of whom have branched out into the other spots below. If your bartender apprenticed here, you know you’re in good hands. Try the Whiskey Smash — they’ve served 21,000 in the past four years. ● Craigie on Main (Cambridge) – The food here is justifiably renowned, but the bar deserves a lot of credit too. Stop in for an impromptu lecture on the history of the martini while it’s being made, or just let them mix you a Threadneedle Pimm’s, replete with pineapple syrup and juniper branches. ● Drink (Fort Point) – Another gathering spot for the area’s best bartenders who are drawn to the creative theme of the bar. No drink list, just spirit and flavor suggestions from the customers. Allows for experimentation on the fly, and an opportunity to school us noobs on what a cocktail really is.
● Green Street Grill (Cambridge) – The only thing that could make this neighborhood bar any more cozy is tossing back a few of their signature drinks. Try the Diamond Back — Old Overholt Rye, Applejack, green chartreuse. ● The Blue Room (Cambridge) – Longtime favorite is known for its rustic charm, fabulous brunch, and lived-in feel. Tenders here know their way around a bar, be it with classic mixing techniques, how to use experimental ingredients, or turning on the charm. Go with The Dark Side — Plymouth gin, Erbaluna Barolo Chinato, Peychaud’s bitters, lime, star anise. ● Dante (Cambridge) – A hearty red wine with one of the rich pasta or seafood dishes here is great, but consider sipping a light refreshing Italian style cocktail like the Amoroso Fizz (Aperol, orange juice, soda, Prosecco) on the patio overlooking the river, and it’ll feel like Rome. ● Beehive (South End) – This creative spot has a throwback artist’s colony vibe. The drinks are just as creative and full of flair as the decor. Be sure to try one of the champagne cocktails, like the Yellow Jacket — yellow chartreuse, St. Germaine, lemon. ● Franklin Cafe (South End) – There’s a few locations to choose from, but we prefer the South End classic. It’s small, romantic, and not as common as you’d think. Drink list has a classics focus, so stick with what they do best, like a Ward 8 — rye, lemon, grenadine). ● The Independent (Somerville) – Don’t be fooled by the dim Irish pub interior — they can mix a Manhattan here just as well as they pull a pint of Guinness, which makes this a favorite stop for hipster neighborhood beer heads and cocktailers alike. ● Sonsie (Back Bay) – There’s plenty of people watching to do sitting by the big open windows overlooking the Newbury Street promenade. We recommend gazing into a Re-Fresh Cocktail–Hendricks Gin, St. Germains, muddled cucumbers, lime).