Issue 241
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Pop-up performances, small-batch gin, craft workshops and street food seem to come as standard in this great age of festivals. But scratch less than a millimetre below the bullet pointed flyers and you'll find some right proper bangers, all coming at you in the next few weeks. 


This two-dayer is ram-packed with mind-bending tomfoolery. Look out for Seed, the story of one man's struggle to plant the last acorn and grow it into an oak tree. Based around a pottering shed on wheels (pictured), expect plenty of very physical theatre, including battles with giant insecty-types. Or maybe meet Hilary, a pedal-powered Triceratops, or Terry, a fully flapping Pterodactyl as mechanised dinosaurs roam Brum's streets, courtesy of outdoor artists Festive Road. There are also life-sized arcade games and French artist Olivier Grossetête’s is constructing a huge Chinese arch out of cardboard for you to destroy. Free entry. More


Gin in the City is a complete newbie, and we've got the skinny: pay £10 to get a wristband, then over three days, drink £5 gin pours and cocktails from over 40 venues around our citadel. There'll also be masterclasses and rather coin-purse friendly food pairings. And though you can go to any bar at any time, we've devised a walkable little Edgbaston Village plan: try the very Roman Gin de Professore Madame at Laghis, with the option of a deli board for £7.50. Next stop Blue Piano where a Singapore Sling is the south-east Asian team's five pounder, or get it with a truly excellent savoury carrot cake for £2 more. El Borracho's got Larios garnished with orange and lime, served with Mediterranean Fever Tree, while Loki's going all in on the Cotswolds — there'll be three days of masterclasses from Cotswold Gin across their Edgbaston and city centre digs. More


Ever heard of the Symphony Hall's "loading dock stage"? Us neither. But as part of their completely free Inside Out festival, you'll see all the nooks and the crannies of the award-winning venue filled with events you probably wouldn't expect. Take in punky funky trio, GorillaBot before filling up on some Digbeth Dining Club grub. Then maybe conduct your own orchestra before you let someone else do the creating with a Silent Disco taking place in the VIP lounge — not somewhere with a long history of dance. And Brum-town DJ and producer Headgear will be looking after beats at all other times over the weekend. Entry is free. Just turn up from 5pm on Friday July 20. Running til 10pm Saturday July 21. Informative video...


If we were betting people — which we absolutely are — we'd wage that you're pretty familiar with the JQ Festival. Think St Pauls Square market stalls, plus a helter-skelter and circusy sort of happenings on Golden Square. But have you got involved in The Makers' Hub? From paper, to virtual reality, to furniture, to jewellery (of course), Stan's Cafe is hosting a pop-up shop with demos and workshops from the Jewellery Quarter's makers — 18 of them to be precise. Open from 11am on Saturday and Sunday in A.E. Harris' former digs, probably poke your head in. The JQ Festival is free to attend, and here's the full lineup, including The Indian Brewery around Golden Square, and circus on St Paul's Square for the first time. And do leave time for that helter-skelter.


The IB Festival includes drinks or dishes from 25 indies including Peel & Stone pizza, Arch 13, The Meat Shack and Hampton Manor, who are bringing a pork and onion broth from their Mich-starred kitchen. Tickets (£10) are still available for Sunday July 22.
It's the 34th Birmingham Jazz Festival, which we're thinking means it's probably a bit of a goodie. Catch 351 musicians at 234 performances in 115 venues across Brum, Solihull and Sandwell. July 20 to 29. Full programme
A documentary crew gets way too involved with the killer they’re profiling in Man Bites Dog — one of those films that everyone’s heard of but hardly anyone’s actually seen. The Electric's totally twisty Shock & Gore festival, is your chance to put that right. Til Aug 5.
Tilt is a 7-day aerial and physical theatre festival with masterclasses from starlets of the circus sphere, plus free outdoor shows, workshops and even a rigging course. From July 16 to 22, book a multiple class pass or for individual events around about here.


Shakespeare's The Merry Wives of Windsor opens at the RSC on August 4. If the 16th century comedy didn't quite make it on to your A-Level syllabus either, listen up and listen good. Struggling along in the suburbs, Sir John Falstaff plans to trickster his way to a fully-funded retirement by taking advantage of the wives of two wealthy men. But he learns the hard way that it’s the women of Windsor who really run things, with a lot of ego-bruising along the way. This new production by the Royal Shakespeare Company comes with a very modern makeover: Essex accents, fake tan and all — a nice intro to the Stratfordites if this is your first rodeo. Guffaws guaranteed. Until Sept 22, tickets are from £16.


Want to feel old? A kid who was four when The Incredibles came out can now vote. After 20 years of the superhero boom, can a sequel hope to be as fresh? The kicking-off point —another thread of superheroes being held accountable for collateral damage — may be slightly done, but all the pizzazz of the original is here in spades. A PR campaign sends Elastigirl out on her own while Mr Incredible becomes a stay-at-home dad; the resulting misadventures are the equal of anything in the first film and there’s a sequence with a racoon that’s one of Pixar’s best ever. This can’t compete with the emotion of the Toy Story sequels – what could – but wouldn’t it be great if all family entertainment was this good? Times
Venue: Tuk Cakes, The Atrium, Resorts World Birmingham, B40 1PU; website
Choice: Malted milk macaron (three for £6) Chooser: Head Pastry Chef, Darryl

Making it all the way to last Sunday's final, Darryl Collins and Bharat Chandegra baked their ever so lovely hearts out in this year's GBBO: The Professionals. And though it
didn't always go entirely to plan, something that has is the launch of a new venture by the pair called Tuk Cakes. Think handcrafted patisserie, including proper eclairs, bon bons and petits gâteaux (how much better does that sound than "little cake"??). Though traditional sounding in terms of description, the decadent cosmic-looking choccie-based bon bons caused surprise in terms of colour and flavour. A green and yellow creation turned out to be a tart orange curd and raspberry, while we'll leave you to find out what midnight blue and white equals (though spoiler alert — it's the most delicious flavour). The standout bite here though was the malted milk macaron. Rich, luscious and flavour-filled, it tasted much fresher and lighter than the macarons we've known, and was so much more than the hit of sweet that seems to have become normal in the world of treats. Good-looking, modern interpretations of French classics. Get. Menu


Life's better when you're nice. Nice to people, to animals, to the environment, your neighbour and you could even try being nice to yourself. Brand spanking new Brum clothing company Punks & Chancers has launched, and being nice is their self-proclaimed thing. In terms of adult-sized stuff, pick from their 'Brum Punk' tees (£25) or sweatshirt (£55), as well as their 'Yes Bab' range. For entirely new humans, christenings, Bar Mitzvahs and kids you just like way better than the other kids, additionally check out the bibs (£9.50) and rompers (£20) over on Le 'gram. The ethically lovely lot have got some of their gear in Hedgerow Stories in Harborne and will be at The Paperdolls Summer Market on July 21. Otherwise, get emailing Their gear is screen-printed in the UK by a guy called Bill, using water-based inks in a carbon neutral workshop. Some items already have a waiting list.

Rulers of ramen, Koba-Ko are at Bonehead on Monday with some tables still available between 5pm and 6.15pm. Book
Meanwhile Bonehead is on wings at Cotteridge Wines (confusingly, a bottle shop that's very good at a beer) on Friday and Saturday from 12pm.
In the Name of Pixo is an exhibition of Brazilian artist, Crypta Djan, launching tomorrow from 5.30pm at the almost too cool Tramshed on Kenyon Street in the JQ.

The next Maker Monday at 1,000 Trades is on July 30. Join Sarah Ellis, Director of Digital Development for the Royal Shakespeare Company. It's free but you need to register.

We're getting the team back together. The original Simpsons team — Luke Tipping and Andy Waters will be cheffing together for the ICB and Simpsons joint birthday bash. The one-off menu is £65 a spot. More

"No matter how many times you save the world, it always manages to get back in jeopardy again. Sometimes I just want it to stay saved! You know, for a little bit? I feel like the maid; I just cleaned up this mess! Can we keep it clean for... for ten minutes!"

Gareth Southgate

(Just kidding. It was Mr Incredible, from The Incredibles)

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WORDS: Katy Drohan, Andrew Lowry
PICTURES:  JQ Fest — Imagery: Gibson Kochanek, Jazz Festival — Merlin Daleman; The Merry Wives of Windsor — (C) RSC
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