Steppenwolf Theatre Company's production of Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, first seen here in 2010, received five Tony Award nominations this morning for its Broadway transfer. Three of the four cast members were nominated, including Amy Morton for lead actress in a play, Tracy Letts for lead actor, and Carrie Coon for featured actress. The show also received nominations for best revival of a play and for director Pam McKinnon. Steppenwolf ensemble member Laurie Metcalf was also nominated in the same category as Morton, for her work in The Other Place.
The new musical Kinky Boots, which had its out-of-town tryout here last fall (read my review), led the nominations with 13, including best musical, best book of a musical for Harvey Fierstein and best score for Cyndi Lauper. A Christmas Story, The Musical, which played the Chicago Theatre in the 2011 holiday season before going on to its Broadway opening last Christmas, picked up three nominations, including best musical and best score for Benj Pasek and Justin Paul.
I’m a music critic. I’m white. And I like funk.
The first 45 I can remember spinning is M’s “Pop Muzik,” a fluke novelty single of the disco era by a kooky British guy. I imaged it was music made by the cute robots of The Black Hole and Buck Rogers. It sounded like the future.
Flash to my elementary school lunchroom. The tables have been collapsed and pushed to the walls. At our third grade talent show in rural Indiana, every girl twirls and hops to “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’.” Or “Beat It.” Anything off Thriller. At the end of the ’80s, my best friend and I wore out a blue cassette of Paul’s Boutique. MCA in the afro wig, throwing the keys to his Coupe Deville at an oil pumpjack, Roger’s “So Ruff, So Tuff” bumping away. Or was that the Commodores’ “Machine Gun”? Or Cameo’s “Shake Your Pants”? Zapp? “Jungle Boogie”? It was all in there, that history lesson of a song and video. Meanwhile, my older sister, always playing Prince, popping open beers in flared pants for tips at a club called Bellbottoms.
OPERA & CLASSICAL
Eighth Blackbird with Shara Worden, Bryce Dessner and Nico Muhly Save that tax refund, because May is going to be lousy with brilliant live music. Bridging the April-May divide are local heroes Eighth Blackbird alongside My Brightest Diamond's Shara Worden, the National's Bryce Dessner and composition/piano paragon Nico Muhly. Other than Philip Glass's Two Pages (1968), the program is comprised entirely of music written in the past five years, including works by Tristan Perich, Steve Mackey, David Lang, Muhly, Dessner and Worden. We are especially curious to hear a world-premiere original by 8bb pianist Lisa Kaplan, scored for piano four hands. Museum of Contemporary Art. 7:30pm. $28, members $22.
ART & DESIGN
"The Sahmat Collective: Art and Activism in India Since 1989" This exuberant exhibition chronicles Sahmat’s fight for freedom of expression in India and against the religious extremism that has caused numerous deaths there since 1989. Works by famous artists such as Vivan Sundaram and Zarina are outnumbered by pieces that reflect Sahmat’s commitment to recruiting non-artists, especially children, and its eagerness to take its projects to the streets. While it’s impossible to convey the vibrancy of most Sahmat actions in a museum setting, the collective’s courage and creativity still inspire. Through June 9. Smart Museum of Art. 10am–5pm.
"Spectator Sports" Fans' identification with athletes, the experience of watching games live, and the issues of nationality and gender are among the concerns shaping works by Jack Goldstein, Michelle Grabner and nine other artists. Museum of Contemporary Photography. 10am–5pm.
The Last Waltz Dir. Martin Scorsese. 1978. 117mins. Documentary. The first and probably still the best of Scorsese's music docs is a model for the modern concert film. Here, Marty captures the farewell performance of the Band, splicing in interview footage of the '70s rock giants and onetime Bob Dylan–backing band. Logan Theatre. 11:15pm.
Joel Paterson & The Modern Sounds Paterson kinda defines who the ideal session guy should be: selfless, musical (i.e., not a technique monger) and born with impeccably good taste. The Madison-born guitarist plays in a variety of settings around town, and each time his sympathetic hollowbody makes the rock, jazz, country, rockabilly or swing he's backing come alive. Andy's. 7:30pm. $5–$10.
I know what you're thinking: Man, I wish Chicago had more music festivals. Fret not! Radio station Q87.7, in the mold of KROQ's Weenie Roast, is launching its first PIQNIQ at First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre on June 29.
And there's good reason to head out to Tinley Park: It's the only local appearance of Yeah Yeah Yeahs, as the trio tours its wonderful new album, Mosquito. Well, unless you count Summerfest in Milwaukee.
Also on tap: Bush (Remember them? If you watch a lot of Blackhawks games, of course you do) and AWOLNATION (You've heard that one song in a commercial, promise. A Marine-like dude shouting "SAIL!" over a dubstep beat). Silversun Pickups, Cold War Kids, Atlas Genius and more fill out the bill.
Oh, and, kids, Q87.7 is a radio station on the FM dial. Ask your parents what that means.
Fans of comics and science fiction headed down to C2E2—the Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo—this weekend to rub elbows with celebrities, nab exclusive collectibles and show off their costumes. While fan-favorite performers like Hellboy's Ron Perlman, and comics Patton Oswalt and Brian Posehn may draw crowds, it's the stunning superhero cosplay that is always the highlight of this convention.
I've always been a fan of pie of the month clubs because...pie...AT YOUR DOOR, but getting a scheduled delivery of more run-of-the-mill needs like nail polish, socks, underwear and razors could eliminate weekend Target runs forever. Other subscription services, like the local men's-only Trunk Club, have style experts picking out clothes for you and sending them to your house. No more dressing rooms! Here's a round-up of our favorite subscription delivery services.
1. The Polish Ambassador + Project Aspect + PHNM
On Polish Constitution Day (May 3), the Polish Ambassador and sidekick video artist Liminus perform their road-tested audio-visual show (spacey dub, new school reggae, oddball hip-hop) for the herbalized euroclubbers. Project Aspect, Raj Mahal and PHNM are on the bill, too. The Mid. May 3 at 10pm. $20.
2. Nü: Tiffany Roth
Guest Tiffany Roth of NYC cosmic disco act Midnight Magic drops in for the Nü: The Outer Space Disco Dancing Society of Chicago's anniversary party. Residents Mörk, Alinka, Trancid, Ryan Paradise and Chris Grant toast numero uno with mid-tempo boogie and spacey dance. Neo. May 3 at 10pm. $10, before midnight $5.
3. Stardust presents: Twirl
Scott Cramer's freaky party goes late and features nightlife superstars from the past and present. It's a bit like Warhol's Factory resurrected. Cheap drinks abound, and the regulars come to dance and schmooze with host Trannika Rex. On May 9, guest New Yorkers Avan Lava and the Carry Nation (DJ Nita and DJ Will Automagic) drop in for a special edition of the Thursday hipster party. Shaun J. Wright of Hercules & Love Affair fame, Mr. White and Alinka complete the well-rounded get-down. Berlin. May 9 at 10pm. $5, with R.S.V.P. free.
4. Richard 23 & Patrick Codenys of Front 242
Those who long for the days when industrial music ruled underground clubs will delight in hearing two men from legendary Belgian outfit Front 242 take over the decks for some hard-edged "electronic body music." Chicago industrial lifer Greg Haus gets some beats in, too. Smart Bar. May 10 at 10pm. $15, before midnight $12, advance $10.
5. Imran Khan
Legend of Punjabi hip-hop, Desi music and pop, Dutch-born singer Imran Khan (his "Ni Nachleh" is a monster jam) headlines tonight with support from DJ Kamran and Naveen Kumar. Definitely dress to impress at this international event or you won't get in. Nikki. May 16 at 10pm. $20.
6. Loco Dice + Robert Dietz + Chuck Flask
German techno slinger Loco Dice (formerly a hip-hop DJ) was on the leading edge of the minimal techno wave a few years ago with residencies in Ibiza and Düsseldorf. We're confident he can show us what's new and classic in techno without breaking a sweat. Spybar. May 16 at 10pm. $20.
7. Vito & Druzzi (The Rapture DJs)
Dance punk insurgents the Rapture might have slowed down in recent years, but we haven't forgotten how good their DJ sets in Chicago have been over the years. Tonight, Vito and Druzzi spin with help from Studio Casual and Adam Rowe of the Stripped & Chewed label. Beauty Bar. May 17 at 9pm. $5, limited advance tickets available for guaranteed entry.
Among his many non-rock pursuits, former wrestling script writer Bob Mould (Sugar, Hüsker Dü) formed DJ outfit Blowoff with Richard Morel while living in Washington, D.C. They've issued an album and various remixes, but Blowoff is best known as the polysexual dance party they popularized in Chocolate City. As per tradition, Mould hits town for International Mr. Leather weekend. Metro. May 25 at 11pm. $16.
9. Kastle + XXXY
Barrett Richards has dabbled in dead ends like happy hardcore and breaks. Now, as Kastle, he's mining gems of every ilk. An eponymous new album, released in April, drifts through shadowy mist of R&B, trap, dubstep (of the preferred U.K. sort), bass, house and garage. Sirens Ayah Marar and Reva DeVito and bedroom crooner JMSN lure you into soulful, crushing grooves. In other words, it's what Burial might sound like if he hung out in strip clubs. Manchester's mesmerizing XXXY is both nostalgic for '90s divas and looking to push house into the future. Lincoln Hall. May 22 at 9pm. $20, advance $15.
10. Four Tet
Since the late '90s, Four Tet has set himself apart as one of electronic music's architectural bad boys. Defying conventions and even marrying his abstract beats with jazz, post-rock and an array of disparate sounds, he's challenged ears and rocked dance floors with equal aplomb. It's the tenth anniversary of his landmark Rounds LP. Smart Bar. May 16 at 10pm. $13, before midnight $10.
Considering all his stunning piano balladry, it's oddly easy to overlook that, first and foremost, Blake is a master technician of pretty, minimalist dubstep. Expect him to aim for the gut here after shooting for the heart at his upstairs Metro gig. Smart Bar. Thu at 10pm. $12, after midnight $15, with Metro wristband $5.
Can you image how hard people would have raged if EDM existed in the late 18th century? On May 3, 1791, Poland adopted its constitution. To celebrate the 222nd anniversary, Oakland's Polish Ambassador and sidekick video artist Liminus perform their road-tested audio-visual show (spacey dub, new-school reggae, oddball hip-hop) for the herbalized euroclubbers. Project Aspect, Raj Mahal and PHNM are on the bill, too. Four bucks for zimne PBR. The Mid. Fri at 10pm. $10.
Guest Tiffany Roth of NYC cosmic disco act Midnight Magic drops in for the Nü: The Outer Space Disco Dancing Society of Chicago's anniversary party. Residents Mörk, Alinka, Trancid, Ryan Paradise and Chris Grant toast numero uno with mid-tempo boogie and spacey dance. Neo. Fri 3 at 10pm. $10, before midnight $5.
4. Gerd Janson
German ace Janson helped drag jungle into Deutschland at Milk Club. These days, he's pumping out techy house for the Red Bull Music Academy and his label, Running Back. And, yes, he can get krautrock, too, as shown on his recent robotic road-funk compilation, Musik for Autobahns. Smart Bar. Fri at 10pm. $10, after midnight $13, students or before midnight with R.S.V.P. $5.
5. Robert Henke
On the brainy end of the spectrum, Berlin-based sound artist and professor explores static and white noise in "Dust." The work melds waves, coffee machines, weather turmoil and vinyl record pops into a dense computer symphony. Northwestern University, Lutkin Hall. Sat at 9pm. Free.
1. Big Boi + Killer Mike
Playing the Pitchfork Music Festival messed with his steez. Big Boi, who has been setting hip-hop trends for ages with Outkast, suddenly got the notion to inject indie flavors-of-the-month into his clever Southern bounce. Last year's Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors stuffed its guest list with middle-tier festival acts like Phantogram, Wavves and Little Dragon to varying degrees of success. Still, he remains one of the great voices in the game and his live show is on point thanks to those big festival stages. Add fellow ATLien "Killer" Mike Render and his Ice Cube–like flow and you have a must-see rap gig. Park West. Wed at 8pm. $27.
2. Palma Violets
Named after an old-fashioned British candy, the members of this wildly buzzed-about indie-rock four-piece from southeast London look like they’d blow their first paycheck on Clearasil and cigarettes—so far, so Arctic Monkeys. But Palma Violets do have a sound all their own, even if it has been stitched together from their favorite records. The band’s debut single, "Best of Friends," featured Spiritualized-style organ, plus drum thwacking and background shouting that recalls the Libertines, and a little bit the Walkmen. The songs get their sturdiness from the surprisingly deep, boomy tones of frontman Sam Fryer, his voice a pleasing blend of Birthday Party–era Nick Cave and Joe Strummer. The band signed to Rough Trade for its 2013 debut, 180. Schubas. Wed at 9pm. $14.
3. Har Mar Superstar
Ron Jeremy look-alike Sean Tillmann, a.k.a. Har Mar Superstar, is branded as a joke funk man, but his latest album, Bye Bye 17, is an honest-to-God soul record with vintage touches. Released on Julian Casablancas's Cult Records, the album features Strokes drummer Fabrizio Moretti and a touch of that taut garage rumble. He may have his tongue firmly in cheek, but the vocal pipes underneath are on point. Empty Bottle. Sun at 8:30pm. $12, advance $10.
4. Oh Land
Oh Land has been likened to Björk, Florence and the Machine, Kylie Minogue and Portishead. In truth, the Dane's none of the above, but those names give you a sense of her stylistic tics, as well as her massive potential. Lincoln Hall. Fri 3 at 7pm. $15.
5. Zoë Keating
With thrasher Helen Money, a.k.a. Alison Chesney, not slated to play (hometown) Chicago until June, addicts of the solo electric cello can spike a vein with the endpin of looper Zoë Keating. Radiolab listeners will recall the Canadian's alluring hooks from the "Quantum Cello" episode of the show, but we're intrigued to see Keating building her sonic layers live in the intimate confines of Old Town. Old Town School of Folk Music. Fri at 7, 9pm. $22, members $20.
Keith Koeneman “I went looking for a book about Richard M. Daley and was shocked to find out none existed. I considered writing one, then got sidetracked. But ten years later, when there still hadn’t been anything written about him, I decided I had to do it myself,” Koeneman told TOC. The author discusses his recently released First Son: The Biography of Richard M. Daley. Unabridged Books. 7pm.
ART & DESIGN
"Lossless: an analog investigation of a digital ideal." Collages by Jordan Martins, Matthew Schlagbaum's sculptures and Theo Darst's prints explore the ways images and other bits of digital information degrade as they're passed around. Chicago Artists' Coalition. 9am–5pm.
GAY & LESBIAN
Salonathon Jane Beachy invites the city's strangest and queerest performers and provocateurs to take over West Town. Folks like Big Dipper, Jyldo, DAAN and Trandroid have so far kept this party weird and wonderful. Beauty Bar. 9pm.
Robbie Fulks + The Hoyle Brothers Now here's an ace pairing: Robbie Fulks and the Hoyle Brothers, kings of the hip happy-hour scene, join forces to spin a few twangy tales. Hideout. 7pm. $10.
La Dolce Vita This new weekly party explores the cool corners of '60s European hip, not the cliché version from the last decade. Los Inmortales de Chicago (featuring Frank Orral as Dandy Jack and Gilles Aniorte) will play live, and Joe Bryl, Clark Quente and Orral will spin jazz, jive, bossa, rhumba and more. La Sirena Clandestina. 9pm.