Father's Day is Sunday, and let me guess: You have nothing planned, right? We're here to help with our Father's Day guide: 50 gift ideas for less than $50, great restaurant options so he doesn't have to do the grilling himself (again), fun outings he'll acutally enjoy and more dad-themed stuff we'll be adding all week.
Jagwar Ma Howlin'
The clubs in King's Cross, the dark party district of Sydney, don't heat up until 2am. Australians like to dance, hard. The DJs Down Under are also typically—bizarrely—accompanied by a wailing horn player. Point being, most bands that come out of Australia, while ostensibly rock, are dance acts—and the grooves tend to get a little trippy. You can hear it in Cut Copy, Empire of the Sun, Midnight Juggernauts and now Jagwar Ma. Howlin' begins in a trance, at a rave, schmearing a frosting of '60s pop harmonies on muggy dub disco. In the fine tradition of hippies playing house on ecstasy, frontman Jono Ma follows in the pioneering footsteps of Primal Scream and the Beta Band. After a spell of psychedelic pop, the duo's debut heads into the jungle for more tropical foot-stomping.
Speaking of which, I can't get through summer without a dollop of Tropicalia. Not that anyone will confuse São Paulo's CSS with Gilberto Gil. Still, the Brazilians are dumb summer fun. Planta recaptures the slapdash, don't-think-about-it-too-hard charm heard on the debut of the group—now an all-female quartet. It's thankfully stopped trying to be a punk band. Producer Dave Sitek adds a heatwave haze to the hammock-slack digital reggae. Lovefoxxx can't sing a lick, but her ESL sprechstimme is part of her allure. She gets by on charisma and Lycra. Though her highlight comes when she finally slips into Portuguese on "Frankie Goes to Hollywood." More of that, por favor.
African Diaspora Film Festival The fest opens at Alliance Francaise on June 13 with The Pirogue (2012, 87mins), in which a fishing captain leads a group of African migrants on dangerous journey aboard a small boat. University of Chicago grad Tukufu Zuberi's talking-heads doc African Independence (2013, 120mins) takes a broad look at the continent's distinct countries and their relationship with the world. Here We Drown Algerians (2011, 90mins) examines one of the darkest days in the war for Algergian independence, October 17, 1961, in which Paris police killed dozens of demonstrators. Facets’ annual festival, in its 11th year, encompasses titles from the U.S., Canada, France, Madagascar, Malawi, Senegal, Sweden, Switzerland and Venezuela. Alliance Francaise Chicago and Facets Cinémathèque. Jun 13–20. Various times. $7 at Alliance Francaise; $9, opening night at Facets $15, weekend pass $50.
CAKE: Chicago Alternative Comics Expo CAKE rules. The dessert, yes, but also the Chicago Alternative Comics Expo, which debuted last year and provided a welcome, well, alternative to the more sprawling, commercial and superhero-strewn C2E2. The weekend-long fest, held this year at the Center on Halsted, celebrates independent comics of all varieties with workshops, exhibitions, panel discussions and a comics fair featuring artists, small presses and publishers from Chicago and beyond. The real icing on the CAKE is a stellar lineup of special guests, including Chris Ware, Kim Deitch, Deb Sokolow, Jason Shiga, Phoebe Gloeckner, Michael DeForge, Oily Comics and Collective Stench. For a complete schedule, visit cakechicago.com/2013-expo. Center on Halsted. Jun 15–16, 11am–6pm.
Almost three years after they captured the city's (and country's) attention with their quirky BYO Ruxbin, chef Edward Kim and crew (Vicki Kim, Jenny Kim and Nate Chung) are gearing up to open their second restaurant, Mott St, tomorrow.
As we've written about before, Mott St is Ruxbin's Night Market–inspired, more casual sibling. "It has the same spirit and soul as Ruxbin," says Vicki Kim, "but the food will be more simple, more rustic in preparation." Instead of Ruxbin's traditional appetizer-entrée-dessert format, Mott St's dishes are meant to be sharable and approachable: "It's more just: Have at it," says Kim. "It's very visceral; you can just go at it with your hands. The environment is meant to be a place where you can just nosh."
And some of the things you might be noshing on are: stuffed cabbage ("You can think of it like a kimchi lasagna") with pork butt and sticky rice; whiskey-marinated pork neck with nam jim jaew, a Thai–Vietnamese–influenced sauce with tiny shrimp, lime and cilantro; crispy "Everything" wings glazed with soy and tossed with sesame and poppy seeds; steamed dumplings stuffed with pork, ginger and green onions; udon noodles tossed with spicy marinated cod roe; and crab-brain fried rice with Chinese sausage.
In contrast to Ruxbin's hyper-designed space, Mott St is "definitely DIY," says Kim. With most of their resources caught up in infrastructure, the team got resourceful with the remaining budget, sourcing chairs and tables from everywhere from Salvage One to Craigslist. The resulting look is "utilitarian," says Kim, with 64 indoor seats—10 at the bar and the rest at big, long communal tables—and 40 outdoor ones.
The outdoor area will launch serving drinks only, with food following soon. Which brings us to one of the key differences between Mott St and Ruxbin: alcohol. The crew brought on Chad Hauge, formerly of Longman & Eagle, to oversee the beverage menu, which Kim explains is "meant to go with the food, but also with the seasons." As such, selections—wine, cocktails, sake, beer—are categorized with terms like "Daily," "Seasonal" and "Always." Cocktails range from the "Storm in Spring" (a cucumber-grapefruit-ginger ode to this year's "funky" weather) to the "Extra Mart," which plays on the briny flavor of a dirty martini by incorporating water kimchi. Cheers!
Mott St (1401 N Ashland Ave, 312-200-0000) opens to the public tomorrow, Wednesday, June 12, and will be open Tuesday–Saturday from 5:30–10pm.
RECOMMENDED: photo preview of Mott St
1. TBS Just for Laughs Chicago 2013
We could've renamed this week's list "50 comedy shows to see this week." Between the fifth annual massive fest and plenty of non-fest shows smartly timed to share its spotlight, this is an overwhelming next few days for comedy fans. Start with our complete Just for Laughs guide. Chicago Theatre, Vic Theatre, Park West, UP Comedy Club, Constellation, Jokes & Notes and Stage 773. June 11–16. Showtimes and prices vary.
2. Showcase Chicago
Speaking of which, the Laugh Factory is touting this week of local comedians as counterprogramming to the out-of-town names headlining Just for Laughs, even though many of the local comics on the Showcase Chicago bills—including the likes of Martin Morrow, Megan Gailey, Mike Lebovitz, Liza Treyger, Brian Babylon and Saurin Choksi—are also making appearances as part of JFL. Whatever, we'll just chalk it up as a hell of a week for stand-up in Chicago. Laugh Factory. June 12–16. 8pm. $10 suggested donation.
3. Patti Issues
New York theater gadfly Ben Rimalower's well-received solo show details his lifelong identification with Broadway diva Patti LuPone alongside his fraught experience of his father's coming out. Mary's Attic. June 13, 14. 8pm. $20.
4. Damn It, Janet
That's the way laughs go? Sketch group Hot Bologna Roll-Ups takes us behind the velvet rope and on an escapade into their pleasure principle—comedy inspired by the work of one Ms. Jackson, if you're nasty. Donny's Skybox. June 14–July 12. Fri 11:59pm. $12.
5. Queer Queens of Qomedy
Poppy Champlin, Gwen LaRoka and Dawn Austin take the stage for this showcase of lesbian stand-up comics. Mayne Stage. June 14. 8pm. $25–$35.
Bike to Work Week Even if you don't pedal to work during this week devoted to car-less transportation, there's still plenty to do: Try outdoor Spinning classes in front of Cloud Gate. Millennium Park. 6:30, 7:30am.
ART & DESIGN
"Not About Bombs." Five Iraqi women artists offer fresh perspectives on the war on terror. National Veterans Art Museum. 10am–5pm.
As someone who takes in live music on a regular basis, I often find myself anticipating a very specific moment during each band's set: a particularly cohesive verse, chorus or song. It's an elusive phenomenon that many groups can't quite manage to achieve, thanks to jockeying egos and the delicate nature of live sound. Sunday night's bill at Lincoln Hall presented two bands that pulled off this feat throughout their respective sets, commanding the attention of the sold-out audience.
First to the stage was Phox, a seven-piece band from Madison, Wisconsin, that specializes in the kind of moody, melancholic balladry that seems to flow freely from its corner of the midwest. The group's expansive songs were filled out with banjo strums, clarinet flourishes and blasts of trumpet, recalling the meticulously-composed chamber pop of Sufjan Stevens and Bon Iver. It was all held together by the powerful voice of Monica Martin, a woman who sounds like she's singing even when she's just speaking to you.
Backed by a towering image of a fawn, José González and his band Junip wasted no time delving into some of the most compelling entries in the group's catalog. Harnessing a deft blend of folk-rock and synth-fueled psychedelia, tracks like "In Every Direction" and "Suddenly" contrasted precise rhythms and subtle electronic tones with González's gentle guitar chords. Though the core trio was backed by three additional auxiliary players, the compositions retained a minimalistic quality, showcasing González's lyrics and keyboardist Tobias Winterkorn's Moog melodies. "You notice it matters / Who and what you let under your skin," González sang against the driving strains of closing track "Line of Fire." He could have been referring to a relationship, but I'd like to think he was acknowledging the affecting quality of a great performance.
Born in Chicago but now based in L.A., dubstep trio Krewella is currently working on its debut album for Columbia Records. When Krewella hits the main stage (er, "Da Main Stage") at Spring Awakening on Sunday, June 16, it will be facing the biggest audience of its career. At last year's Spring Awakening, the band was relegated to a tent. Now it warms up Soldier Field for Porter Robinson and Calvin Harris.
I spoke with Yasmine, 21, and Jahan, 23, by phone last month about Krewella's roots in the local warehouse scene, rave accessories, Vegas and Pakistani food. Read the interview.
One of the sure signs that summer has officially kicked off is always Andersonville's Midsommarfest. By this summer's standards the weather was warm and the streets were packed with people enjoying the usual street festival suspects of fried foods, music by Sixteen Candles (is it even officially a street fest if they aren't playing?) and vendors peddling their goods.
NSFW rules have never really applied here at TOC. It's part of the job to check out burlesque, nude reviews and bike rides that are full in the buff. Jerry Seinfeld noted that there's good naked and bad naked. A lot of what you'll see above falls firmly into the first category. One tip: If you start painting "JUST LIKE HERPES" on your back, make sure the rest of the message is loud and clear, too. Our favorite? The Trekkie who goes where no Trekkie has gone before: full body paint. Ok, some kinky nerd has probably already done that.