Chapel Hill
Franz Nicolay

NightlightIn his five-piece New York rock band The Hold Steady, Franz Nicolay is the handlebar-mustached keyboardist with the toothy smile, the wide eyes and the dancing feet at stage right. He sings backups, switches between handclaps and piano and accordion, and grabs the party that Craig Finn starts at center stage and pushes it into the crowd. Yet, The Hold Steady’s reason for celebrationsongs that reconcile the realities of growing up rough in America against a vibrant classic rock landscapecome across a bit ham-fisted on Nicolay’s solo debut, Major General. The metaphors are obvious or belabored, the singing is stiff and the songs are predictable hammered rock or trickled ballads. That said, both in The Hold Steady and the wild-animal cabaret ensemble World/ Inferno Friendship Society, Nicolay proves a premier performer. I’d imagine he’s capable of making even mediocre songs feel like a night well spent. Pay $8-$10 at 9 p.m. Grayson Currin

The 39 Steps

Rialto TheaterGarnering its director fame and the attention of Hollywood, The 39 Steps turns on a premise that is classic Hitchcock: a wrongly accused man forced to prove his innocence. The hero of the film, based on the novel by pioneering spy thriller author John Buchan, is Richard Hannay (Robert Donat), a Canadian visiting London who encounters a British spy, Annabella Smith (Lucie Mannheim) and is framed for her murder. Hannay has no choice but to discover the truth behind the 39 steps she mentions before dying, in order to reclaim his innocence. The film departs heavily from its source material, but it reportedly impressed Buchan. This is the last film of the 2008-09 Cinema Inc. series. It will be screened at 7 p.m. Admission is by season ticket only, but prorated subscriptions are available. Visit for more information. Belem Destefani