Chicago musicians kicked out the holiday jams Saturday night at the Bottom Lounge for the Slo ’Mo Spectacular: A Soulful Holiday Shindig. Sidewalk Chalk served as the house band for the night, joined by guests including JC Brooks of the Uptown Sound, Psalm One, Matthew Santos, Jeanine O'Toole of the 1900s and Bare Mutants, Damon Locks of the Eternals, Lili K, KOKUMO, David Sampson of Cains & Abels, Deja Taylor, #rthe St. James, Grana' Louise and the a cappella group Queerty.
The evening was hosted by Kristen Kaza, producer of the regular Slo ’Mo night at the Whistler (a nominee for best LGBTQ night away from Boystown in this year's Time Out Chicago Best Awards), and Ike Holter of the Inconvenience, and served as a benefit for Project Fierce Chicago's efforts to support homeless LGBTQ youth. The next Slo ’Mo at the Whistler is this Thursday, December 19.
Rustie + DJ Rashad Part of a Scottish beat revolution that also includes Hudson Mohawke and numerous highlights on the Numb3rs label roster, Rustie is currently one of the U.K. scene's top names, praised in the Guardian (winning its Best First Album award in 2011 for his Glass Swords on Warp Records). The low-end, leftfield beatmaker descends on the Mid with hometown footwork king DJ Rashad, who has critics in a tizzy with his Double Cup, a masterwork of soulful, hip-hop riddled Chicago drum & bass. The Mid. Dec 20 at 10pm. $10, free before 11:30pm with R.S.V.P. at clubtix.com.
Oval + Container + Anenon + Natural Information Society As Oval, Marcus Popp creates music that is anything but pop. His minimal electronic compositions, often abetted by programmed software, is all ping-ponging pins and needles, Autechre and Aphex Twin pushed into a realm that approaches classical chamber music. L.A.'s Anenon approaches jazz in his clean, hushed electro-organic works, chopping up sax and voices into the mix. This brainy, intimate Red Bull Academy concert is proof the energy drink is about more than giving you an extreme jolt. Empty Bottle. Dec 22 at 8pm. $8.
Kanye West + Kendrick Lamar Oh, sweet Yeezus! Kim Kardashian's baby daddy is embarking on his first solo tour in five years, with Kendrick Lamar in tow. Kanye pranced around in his leather skirt with Jay Z during 2011's. Now he has a freaking mountain and moon onstage. Will it be all Walt Disney meets Steve Jobs? Will his tour rider include croissants? We'll just have to wait and see. United Center. Dec 17, 18 at 7:30pm. $35–$150.
Wale + Meek Mill + Twista + L.E.P. + Spenzo + Kam WGCI's UB's Big Birthday Jam brings a packed hip-hop bill to Uptown. D.C.'s lead spitter, Wale headlines, hopefully previewing tracks from his upcoming 2014 album, The Album About Nothing, a collaboration with Jerry Seinfeld (reportedly, seriously) that spins off his career-making debut mixtape. Fellow Maybach Music MC Meek Mill tells dark tales of the Philly streets. Of course, Chicago represents with South Siders L.E.P. and scene grandfather Twista. Aragon. Dec 17 at 9pm. $30.
ZooLights Open late through the holidays, the zoo guides evening visitors along its winding pathways with a sprawling display of illuminated designs, many of them shaped like animals. If the lights leave you dazed, the hot cider and chain-saw-wielding ice sculptors are sure to wake you up. Lincoln Park Zoo. 5pm– 9pm.
ART & DESIGN
"Art and Appetite: American Painting, Culture and Cuisine" If we are what we eat, then this exhibition—featuring more than 100 paintings, sculptures and decorative arts depicting an array of edibles, lavish meals, the remnants of meals and factory-produced foods—tells us a lot about what we are. Organized by the Art Institute and exploring the presence of food in artwork from the 18th through 20th centuries, "Art and Appetite" speaks to America's evolving but ever-important food culture and the historical art of eating. Art Institute of Chicago. 10:30am–5pm.
Breakfast with Santa at Brookfield Zoo Join Santa and Mrs. Claus for an all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet at the Brookfield Zoo's Discovery Center. There will be live music and appearances by costumed characters, which will offer plenty of family photo ops. Reservations are required. Brookfield Zoo. 9am, 11am. $21.95-$40.95.
Anders Nilsen Nilsen celebrates the release of Rage of Poseidon, his new accordion-style book from Drawn & Quarterly, full of silhouette images of mythical characters and haunting narratives. He'll discuss the book with Chicago journalist Jessica Hopper, followed by a signing. City Lit Books. 4pm. Free.
The Jerry Seinfeld that bounded onto the Chicago Theatre stage on Friday night was a somewhat different man from the even-steven, cereal-and-Superman–obsessed perpetual bachelor version of himself that we came to know from television. At 59, the comedian has a little less hair, but he seems to have gained a measure of perspective in the 15 years since Seinfeld ceased production. (Yes, it's been that long.) The "What's the deal with…?" guy, so easily caricatured over the years for his absurd riffs on airline peanuts and car-rental reservations, is now looking at minutiae with the broader, less self-involved view of the family man who realizes those things affect his wife of 14 years, their relationship and the world in which they're raising their three kids.
"I don't like my whole generation—the way we parent. Too into it! When we were kids, our parents didn't give a damn about us," he said. "If you're a parent now, putting your kid to bed, it's like a royal coronation ceremony, with the flossing and the plaque rinse and the reading of the eight moron books. You know what my bedtime story was? Darkness!"
Seinfeld admitted he doesn't hang out with single guys anymore. "You have a girlfriend? That's wiffle ball, my friend. You're playing paintball war; I'm in Afghanistan. You're sitting on a merry-go-round blowing on a pinwheel; I'm driving a truck full of nitroglycerin."
This is all to say that a modern Seinfeld stand-up set is not a show about nothing. In the era of everyone and your mother sweating the smallest of life's small stuff on social media, Seinfeld seems a comedian made for this time. More so than in the past, his jokes resonate as little nuggets of cultural criticism. There are still bits about the quirks of automatic faucets and his parents' retirement home being a minimum-security prison, but he has largely updated his repertoire to fit these overcaffeinated, tech-centric times. Jerry is still "just walking around, looking around"—as his previous riff on the male mind goes—but now he's glancing at his smartphone, too.
Girl Unit + Nguzunguzu Girl Unit's a Night Slug. Gross, right? Hardly. One of a number of increasingly prominent U.K. bass-music innovators, joined under the banner of the Night Slugs label, GU has a deep-seated love of American R&B and hip-hop, and it comes out in his productions, which are nonetheless decidedly from the U.K.: soulful and full of that low-end 808 whomp whomp dubstep fans crave. L.A. digi-tropical duo Nguzunguzu are hot off producing alien R&B for Kelela's wonderful Cut 4 Me. Primary. 10pm. $10–$12.
Chicago Tap Theatre: Tidings of Tap! Festive dances are on tap at this special performance by Chicago Tap Theatre, featuring dynamic interpretations of various Christmas, Chanukah and winter songs, as well as a dusting of indoor snow. University of Illinois at Chicago Theatre. 8pm. $35, seniors $27, students/dancers $22.
The holiday season brings with it a variety of seasonal stage entertainments, from a menagerie of Scrooges to religious-minded pageants to non-denominational family fun, such as the Hypocrites' Mikado. We reviewed 10 holiday offerings this year; click through the photos above for our full takes, or check out our more comprehensive guide to holiday plays.
As even those astronauts in the International Space Station know by now, Beyoncé shock-dropped a new album on iTunes at the stroke of midnight this morning. Titled BEYONCÉ (Of course. It was either that or Pepsi Blue.), Mrs. Carter's fifth album is a shadowy, downtempo showcase for her unparalleled pipes. "Radio tell me, Speed it up / I just go slower," the 32-year-old raps in "Partition." So, if you're looking for another "Single Ladies," you might be bummed, irrationally.
Well, not quite. The incredible "Grown Woman," which comes off like Major Lazer producing an Afrobeat track for MJ's Thriller, made my day. Over and over. Upon downloading these 1.17 GB, I immediately dug through the tracks to find this year's "Countdown," my favorite song of 2011. "Grown Woman" is it. Unfortunately, it's not exactly on the album proper. The cut comes as bonus video at the tail end of this "visual album." Oh, right, I forgot to mention: There's a slick, expensive, choreography-and-booty-riddled music video for each and every track. Eat that, Taylor Swift. Watching is easily the best way to experience the record (if we can still call this merely a "record").
Lucky us, we get the queen herself in concert tonight, at the United Center. To celebrate, I've ranked all 17 new videos. Here is the countdown:
I’ve heard a lot of brewers say that their brewing philosophy is “______ with a twist.” But Begyle is one of the few breweries who have demonstrated that twist with quiet consistency. Their first beer was a pale ale, but with added wheat. Instead of angry, demonic names (Malevolence, Dark Lord, Darkness, Wake Up Dead), their stouts were cuddly little Flannel Pajamas and oh-hey-nice-to-see-you Neighborly. Their summer beer was released days before September. Christmas ales are often spiced with nutmeg, clove, allspice and ginger—theirs uses bay leaves and sassafras instead. You see a pattern forming. Begyle’s beers are just different enough to take notice, but not crazy enough to, well… to be Pipeworks.
The Christmas Ale is one of the first few batches on their new, expanded 10bbl system—one that Begyle’s Kevin Cary tells me is “a little oversized for us at the moment”—that’s been operating since November. While brewing on their new toys and waiting for a few final T’s to be crossed with the build-out and licensing of their retail space, Begyle opened reservations for their much-discussed Community Supported Brewery program.
The Drake concert experience is all about rings. The rapper performs atop a circular catwalk, his band tucked in the dark of the hole. Another large ring hangs above his head, a massive halo. Smoke arises from the ring, as many in the crowd blow their own smoke rings. Late in the show, a ring lifts the 27-year-old into the rafters, like a Bulls championship banner, so that he may serenade the cheap(er) seats.
Aside from the occasional guest vocalist—the breathy siren Jhené Aiko, the amusingly emo and dopey ATLien rapper Future, a man dressed as the owl mascot from his October's Very Own brand logo—it's largely just Drake up there on his Would You Like a Tour? Tour. Nothing else is needed. Like perhaps a mere handful of other MCs, Drake can capture a stadium in his aura with no accompaniment. Hubris helps. Golden light throws his shadow large against the backdrop, projecting a two-story Drake, as he both boasts of his fortune and struggles to maintain humility on his songs largely pulled from his last two albums, Take Care and Nothing Was the Same. The Toronto native closes with "Started from the Bottom." A couple ten thousand people overlook the mistruth of the song title and imagine themselves in his shoes.
That's the difference between Yeezy and Drizzy. Kanye underlines how nobody can or will be like him. Drake instills the idea that his lifestyle is attainable. Even if that's just an illusion, like his shadow projected in a haze.
We dine out constantly in pursuit of finding the best places to go (and the places to avoid), and along the way, we find some dishes that we just can't stop thinking about. With help from former Restaurants & Bars editor Julia Kramer, we rounded up everything from tiny bar bites to dishes designed for sharing, from coffee to Malört, from doughnuts to ice cream. Here's our list of the 100 best things we ate and drank this year.
ART & DESIGN
Paul Sietsema In his most comprehensive exhibition to date, the L.A.-based artist explores image-making—"a less significant event than it used to be," he explains—via film, drawings, paintings and other works on paper. The goal of his labor-and time-intensive works is to restore some signficance to the act of capturing an image. Museum of Contemporary Art. 10am–6pm.
Adventure Club + Mord Fustang The Montreal duo known as Adventure Club formed two years ago and quickly inspired a legion of followers thanks to sonically twisted dubstep remixes of '50s stars the Shangri-Las, indie rockers Metric and Temper Trap, and a few original productions. The two throw down a properly bass-driven set here. If you thought this EDM mania was a U.S. phenomenon only, think again. When you have Estonian beatmakers coming to the Concord, that means it's on a whole other level. Electro, house and dubstep rising star Mord Fustang sprinkles in 8-Bit arcade sounds to his heavy, blissed out assault. Concord Music Hall. 8pm. $35; 18 and older.
Grouper + Benoît Pioulard + Christopher Bissonnette + Justin Walter The Kranky 20th Anniversary celebration heads into day two, with drone-pop darling Liz "Grouper" Harris and sauve cinematic soundscaper Pioulard. Expect film projections and enough reverb to drown a giraffe in this evening of gorgeous ambience. Ideally, they'll let us all lie on the floor and stare at Christmas lights. Constellation. 8:30pm. $18.
Hubbard Street Dance Company: Winter Series Back by popular demand, the full-length, full-company production One Thousand Pieces, inspired by Marc Chagall’s America Windows, highlights choreographer Alejandro Cerrudo and music by Philip Glass. Harris Theater. 8pm.
The Mercury Theater will mount the Chicago area's first post-Broadway production of The Addams Family—The Musical next fall, representatives for the theater said this morning. The musical based on Charles Addams's macabre characters, with a book by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice and music and lyrics by Andrew Lippa, had a troubled life in its original production, which had a Chicago tryout in 2009 before going on to a mildly reviewed Broadway bow.
The Addams Family (September–November) is the big news of the Mercury's 2014 season announcement, which also includes the previously revealed Into the Woods (a co-production with the Hypocrites, February 6–March 30), a new staging of the bawdy puppet musical Avenue Q (April–June) and the perennial holiday showing of The Christmas Schooner (November–December). The current production of The Christmas Schooner runs through December 29.
Daley Plaza Christmas Tree Celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the city's first municipal Christmas tree on November 26. At 6pm, Mayor Emanuel flips the switch. Show up at 5pm to watch live performances by Darlene Love and the Joffrey Academy of Dance. As usual, the UL Santa House is open in conjunction. Visit the replica Santa's workshop for kid-friendly amusements and photo ops. Daley Plaza. 11am–8pm.
Joffrey Ballet: The Nutcracker With designs that suggest a pop-up book come to life and choreography that honors both the narrative and Tchaikovsky's score, Robert Joffrey's 1987 Nutcracker (with contributions by Gerald Arpino) is among the country's best versions of the holiday ballet. The Chicago Sinfonietta provides live accompaniment, along with a children's choir, which performs in the lobby before curtain and during the intermission. Through Dec 28; visit joffrey.com for further details. Auditorium Theatre. 7pm. $31–$117.
Individual tickets for the first national tour of Motown the Musical will go on sale this Friday, December 13, at 10am, Broadway in Chicago said today. The new jukebox tuner by Motown mogul Berry Gordy, with songs from the Motown records catalog made famous by the likes of Diana Ross, Smokey Robinson and the Jackson 5, is set to kick off its touring production with a 12-week stint at Chicago's Oriental Theatre, April 22–July 13. See broadwayinchicago.com for box office details.
The Goodman Theatre today named four Chicago playwrights to the fourth iteration of its Playwrights Unit residency program. The Gift Theatre ensemble member Andrew Hinderaker, Theater Oobleck cofounder Mickle Maher, Chicago Dramatists resident playwright Anne García-Romero and Laura Schellhardt, head of undergraduate playwriting at Northwestern University, join the fourth iteration of the Goodman's residency program.
The Goodman also named Erica Weiss, associate artistic director of Route 66 Theatre Company, the recipient of the 2013/2014 Michael Maggio Directing Fellowship. Weiss, recently a nominee for Best Next-Generation Stage Director in Time Out Chicago's Best Awards, will assist on a Goodman production to be named.
Martín Zimmerman's The Solid Sand Below, currently onstage in a workshop production as part of the Goodman's New Stages festival, was developed as a part of the Playwrights Unit residency of 2011/2012.
Last winter’s trendy Canadian comfort food poutine is showing up again this year just as frigid temperatures begin to set in. Not familiar with the dish? The popular bar snack is composed of deep-fried potatoes, rich meaty gravy and a handful of squeaky-fresh cheese curds. Quickly becoming a new cult favorite, the dish is still popping up on menus across the city, has its very own festival (disclaimer: we’re the organizers of Poutine Fest), and is even appearing as a take-home freezer meal-in-a-bag from Trader Joe’s.
During December, Mercadito is throwing their gravy boat into the ring with a rather unusual spin on poutine for their Tacos for Strength campaign, which donates 5 percent of sales to Share our Strength, an organization focused on ending childhood hunger. This month’s unholy taco combination is the brainchild of Paul Tanguay of Tippling Bros., who has worked in many of Quebec’s best restaurants. We headed in to find out what happens when you combine the cuisines of our country’s neighbors to the North and South.
A corn tortilla is folded around a heap of braised beef and topped with bits of fried potatoes, cheese curds and serrano gravy. The ratio of traditional poutine is turned on its head, with the majority of the filling consisting of beef instead of fries. The tacos turned out to be surprisingly tasty and reproduced all the gooey flavor of poutine in an easy-to-eat taco package. We wouldn’t have minded getting our hands a little dirty in exchange for more of the serrano gravy, as the dish lacked a decent level of heat and the rich, slow-cooked wholesomeness of gravy. The poutine tacos come four to an order at dinner ($16.50) and three during lunch ($12.50).