Our monthly round-up of store openings includes River North's the 3D Printer Experience, which sounds like a ride at Disney World but is actually a place where you can make your own jewelry and head busts using 3D printers, and Squiggly's Yarn Shop, possibly the cutest store in the history of stores, in Rogers Park. Check out all of our lovely photos.
1. StoryCorps StoryCorps teams up with the Chicago Public Library and One Book, One Chicago to further explore OBOC's year-long theme of migration. Know someone with a great migration story to tell? Chicagoans can stop by 14 library locations from May through October and interview a friend, family member or neighbor. The interview will be recorded by StoryCorps and archived at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. Woodson Regional Library. Sat 11am–2pm. Free.
2. Stages, Sights & Sounds The Chicago Humanities Festival’s annual early-summer slate of family-friendly performance this year includes groups from Scotland, Switzerland and Mexico, in addition to homegrown talent like Theater Un-Speak-Able. May 9–17. Venues, times and prices vary (chicagohumanities.org).
3. Art Institute After Dark The May edition of the museum's popular late-night party gives you a good opportunity to sip cocktails and check out "Picasso and Chicago" before the exhibit closes on Sunday. Modern Wing. Fri 9pm–midnight. $25, $20 members and students.
4. Ian Svenonius With Supernatural Strategies for Making a Rock 'n' Roll Group, Svenonius, music’s most manifesto-friendly frontman, has ostensibly crafted a how-to guide for would-be bands. The book offers advice on practical matters like naming your band, recruiting personnel and sex, but the answers range from the absurd to the sublime (never name bands after mammals; balance membership by Zodiac sign; practice abstinence). The Chain and the Gang frontman reads from his hilarious guide, followed by a DJ set with Calvin Johnson at the Owl (2521 N Milwaukee Ave). Quimby's. Tue 7pm. Free.—Jake Austen
5. Richard 23 and Patrick Codenys of Front 242 Get bodied by some vicious vintage techno. Twenty years after playing the Lollapalooza main stage, Belgian industrial pioneers Front 242 send two of their knob-twiddlers over to show the kids how it's done. Smart Bar. Fri 10pm. $15, before midnight $12, advance $10.
6. Reds and Blue Former TOC music editor Areif Sless-Kitain mans the kit for Reds and Blue. Now that there's no conflict of interest, we can say he's one of the most badass drummers in town. Hideout. Thu 9pm. $8.
7. Dose Market This time around, the monthly food and shopping event focuses on mothers (reminder: this Sunday is Mother's Day). Peruse fashions from Robin Richman, make a floral crown with buds from A Muse, try a bacon flight from Bakin' & Eggs, inhale a raspberry-rose cream puff from Eclair Bakery and much more. River East Art Center. Sun 10am–4pm. $10 advance, $8 at dosemarket.com/tickets.
8. Mother's Day with Mommie Dearest Dir. Frank Perry. 1981. 129wins. Camp Midnight provides running commentary for this special Mother's Day showing of the outrageously bad, compulsively watchable biopic, based on the best-selling book by Joan Crawford's adopted daughter. The event includes a pre-screening brunch at Mystic Celt (11:30am–1:30pm, $30) and a mother-daughter matching outfit contest. The first 100 people seated get their very own wire hanger. Music Box. Sun 2pm. $12.
9. The Art of the Bicycle Trace the 200-year evolution of the bicycle from an 1818 Draisienne Walking Machine replica to sleek two-wheelers of today created with the help of former NASA engineers. Among the restored artifacts from the MSI's collection and contemporary bikes on display are a 1965 Sears Spaceliner, the fully functional Carboard Bicycle and the triathlete baiting 2013 Cervelo P5 model. Museum of Science and Industry. Free with museum admission.
10. Black Moth Super Rainbow + The Hood Internet The kitchen-sink rock of Black Moth Super Rainbow is so all over the place it usually gets tagged psych. The Pittsburgh outfit's Cobra Juicy followed a brief hiatus and several side projects, but the group is back to its old delicious habit of damaged vintage synths, hip-hop beats and eerie masks. Metro. 9pm. $17.
“The Museum of Poison”
In probably the zaniest bit of performance you’ll see this month, Chicago dancers Sara Zalek, Carole McCurdy and Ginger Krebs dance it out with Seattle’s Helen Thorsen, Mary Cutrera and Lin Lucas. The evening-length concert starts outdoors then heads inside where you’ll watch some über-fancy trapeze stunts and the premiere of Thorsen’s The Museum of Poison, which takes inspiration from the imagery of carnival slideshows and ice caves. Hamlin Park Fieldhouse Theatre. May 10 at 6:45pm. $18.
The Mexican Folkloric Dance Company of Chicago marks 30 years on the scene, and it also happens to coincide with Mother’s Day in Mexico. (The perfect Mother’s Day treat?) The colorful costumes and enthused folk traditions have graced many a stage, including the 2009 Latin Grammy Awards, among others. Harris Theater. May 10 at 7pm. $20–$40.
The blue-collar dudes in Titus Andronicus hit the Metro on Saturday night, Cuatro de Mayo. The New Jersey punks ripped through tracks from last year's Local Business, an album of T-shirt-and-jeans epics, like the young Replacements trying to make "Bohemian Rhapsody." The best part about it? None of it was about the Civil War (unlike The Monitor).
Singer Patrick Stickles sported a Diarrhea Planet shirt. You'll have to trust me when I say that's awesome. Which reminds me: If you missed this and are looking for similar rock & roll kicks, get a load of Diarrhea at Schubas next week. Yes, sorry, I'm 11 years old.
1. Charles Bradley and His Extraordinaires
There's a pain and longing in certain voices that has to be earned. While it's a bummer it took sixtysomething soul belter Charles Bradley decades to release an album, his 2011 debut, No Time for Dreaming, was a stunner. Struggle, death, heartbreak are all debris and dust kicked up by his gale-force pipes. The Daptone crooner returns with an equally great R&B platter, Victim of Love. Metro. Thu at 9pm. $26, advance $21.
Ever wonder what it would feel like if you worked in the Sub Pop warehouse and a box of Nirvana CDs fell on your head? Exuberantly unhinged noise-punk trio Metz blew many minds, if not speakers, at CMJ 2012. The Toronto band, currently supporting a self-titled Sub Pop debut, returns. Anyone who misses the Jesus Lizard should mark the date on on their hand with a Sharpie. Lincoln Hall. Sun at 9pm. $15.
No, not a Pearl Jam cover band! Boyfriend-girlfriend (and another) trio Daughter makes brooding, experimental folk, layering Elena Tonra's Feist-like voice over Igor Haefeli's ghostly soundscapes. The Londoners' debut, If You Leave, was recently released by dream-pop stalwart 4AD. Swimming in echo is a heartache that brings to mind early Cat Power. It's lovely stuff. Lincoln Hall. Thu at 9pm. $14.
4. Patti Smith & Her Band
After winning a National Book Award victory for her memoir, Just Kids, the punk doyenne has not traded denim for tweed, and remains as fiery and abrasive a performer as ever. On last year's Banga, the 66-year-old was as good as she's ever been. Monday's gig is sold out, so go Tuesday. Vic Theatre. Tue at 7:30pm. $37.50.
5. Deer Tick
Probably the first band to play City Winery that could drink the place dry, Deer Tick tours behind its latest, 2011's Divine Providence, a surprisingly unabashed ode to good times and boozy debauchery employing John McCauley's Tom Waits–level growl, Southern-tinged roots, Replacements recklessness and country rollicking. Just how much does the band love the Replacements? Its last release was called Tim. City Winery. Tue , Wed at 8pm. $20–$35.
1. Gold Panda
Gold Panda's debut LP, Lucky Shiner, was released in 2010. And as one might expect from any electronic producer and sampling savant, Panda (real name: Derwin!) has already moved on with a series of EPs, a DJ Kicks comp, remixes and the like. His latest short play for Ghostly, Trust, offers the same hypnotic melange of phonogram crackles, rooftop rain, opium-den chimes and subterranean bass. The Mid. Fri at 10pm. $10.
2. Richard 23 and Patrick Codenys of Front 242
Get bodied by some vicious vintage techno. Twenty years after playing the Lollapalooza main stage, Belgian industrial pioneers Front 242 send two of their knob-twiddlers over to show the kids how it's done. Smart Bar. Fri at 10pm. $15, before midnight $12, advance $10.
On his recently released third album, Treat Me Right, Manchester's Trus'me moves beyond the dusty disco samples of his earlier work for a harder techno sound that manages to maintain the nocturnal soul vibe. The Prime Numbers label owner hits Chicago for an underground gig. Visit Spy Bar on Facebook or Resident Advisor for tickets. TBA. Sat at 11pm. $10.
4. Kill Paris
Yes, there is variety to American dubstep. And, yes, we'll even endorse it. OWSLA records' Kill Paris blends booming electro and the label's trademark drops with funky slap-bass. Tons of slap-bass. Smart Bar. Thu at 10pm. $12, before midnight $10, advance $8.
5. Mercury Soul @ Metro
The Chicago Symphony Orchestra's cutting-edge hybrid of classical, multimedia and electronica carries on at the rock club. DJ Masonic (a.k.a. CSO Mead composer in residence Mason Bates), Searchl1te, director/designer Anne Patterson and conductor Benjamin Shwartz share the stage with members of the CSO. Put some brains in your bounce. Metro. Fri at 9pm. $20.
ART & DESIGN
"The Artist and the Poet." "Picasso and Chicago"—and Picasso's love of poetry—inspire this survey of 20th-century works on paper in which artists including Henri Matisse, Ellsworth Kelly and David Hockney respond to Stéphane Mallarmé, Wallace Stevens and other poets. Art Institute of Chicago. 10:30am–5pm.
La Dolce Vita This new weekly 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.
The Armando Diaz Experience In this culty iO staple, a person starts the show with a monologue inspired by an audience suggestion, then the city's top improvisers create scenes around it. Simply put, this is iO doing what it does best. iO Del Close Theater. 8:30pm. $12.
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.
Bill Callahan Ask a contemporary songwriter about who their favorite working songwriters are, odds are good that Bill Callahan will be on their list. The indie vet, who formerly performed as Smog, plays typically lovely, unsettling and subtly funny tunes in the rare verdant setting of Horticulture Hall. Garfield Park Conservatory. 7pm. $25.
Cinco de Mayo Festival Go loco during this fete commemorating the Mexican army's victory at the Battle of Puebla in 1862. Celebrate Mexican culture and check out the live music, crafts and Mexican eats. 26th St and Kostner Ave. 2pm–11pm.
ART & DESIGN
"Commonwealth: New Work by Neal Vandenbergh and Latham Zearfoss." Two Chicago-based artists consider power as an invisible force in our lives. Zearfoss creates an imaginary poll asking residents of a Midwestern town to assess their power to affect change, both publicly and personally. Vandenbergh incorporates materials of authoritative control—i.e., yellow construction-grade paint and reflective vinyl—into his large-scale monochromatic panels. Roxaboxen Exhibitions.
GAY & LESBIAN
MadonnaRama It's a huge lovefest set to the music and videos of Madonna that somehow manages the hysteria of a live show. And if you think there's a gayer night on the town somewhere else, newsflash: There isn't. Berlin. 9pm. $5.
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 a honest soul record with vintage touches. Released on Julian Casablancas's Cult Record, the album features Strokes drummer Fabrizio Moretti. He may have his tongue permanently in cheek, but the vocal pipes underneath are on point. Empty Bottle. 8:30pm. $12, advance $10.
Chicago Flea MKT Peruse 50 Midwest artisans' wares, from jewlery to vintage dresses to sweets (such as marshmallows at 240sweet, pictured), on the 40,000-square-foot playground of Wicker Park's A.N. Pritzker Elementary School. Fuel up with fare from food trucks such as the Slide Ride and 5411 Empanadas. A.N. Pritzker Elementary School. 10am-5pm.
Global Cannabis March With legislators in Springfield making moves toward okaying marijuana for prescriptive medical use, NORML Illinois is looking to ride the momentum of trailblazing pot legalization in Colorado and Washington state. Don your favorite legalize-it attire (your alien-smoking-a-joint hoodie?) to hear speakers including Illinois NORML director Dan Linn, Reader sleuth Mick Dumke, the Heartland Alliance's James Kowalsky and Northwestern Students for Sensible Drug Policy co-prez Frances Fu. Daley Plaza. Noon–Sat 3pm.
The Wake of Fallon McPhael Via poetry, music and burlesque dance, the life of a fictional poet (Fallon McPhael) is celebrated. Mourners include Kathleen Rooney, Fred Sasaki, Larry Sawyer, Lina Vitkauskas and others. Charnel House. 7pm. $5.
GAY & LESBIAN
Chances Dances It's a night of out-of-the-way gay as queers of all stripes storm the Hideout for sweaty and ecstatic good times. Hideout. 11:30pm. $5.
Tom Odell Like Jack Bugg, Tom Odell is a precocious Brit throwback, barely above drinking age and nostalgically looking back to the golden era of the '60s—Dylan, Buckley, Beatles. He's signed to Columbia, who did pretty dang well with Adele, you know. Schubas. 10pm. $15, advance $12.
Completeness Itamar Moses’s academic romcom deftly blends relationships with research. Elliott (Matt Holzfeind) and Molly (Kristina Valada-Viars) are graduate students at the same college. When the two meet-cute in a campus computer lab, Elliott offers to build Molly an algorithm to help refine her data for a research project. Jeremy Wechsler’s smart, handsome staging, with a sleek set by Joe Schermoly and video design by Michael Stanfill, rides the line between sensual and cerebral. The charismatic Holzfeind and Valada-Viars parlay higher math and genome mapping into persuasive pillow talk, demonstrating proficiency in yet another scientific discipline: chemistry. Theater Wit. 8pm. $18–$36.
When Andrea Pitzer first read Nabokov as a college student, she wasn't an immediate fan. "I didn't mind violence, or sex, or protagonists who were not nice—I didn't even need them to reform," she writes in the introduction to her first book, The Secret History of Vladimir Nabokov. "But I wanted the events and the people in his books to matter."
Nabokov escaped Bolshevik Russia, Nazi Germany (with his Jewish wife and son) and then Occupied France. He witnessed unimaginable violence and tragedy in his lifetime (1899–1977). Even while he's praised for being a brilliant prose stylist, he's criticized for his indifference to these political atrocities.
But what if the Lolita author folded hidden layers of meaning into his books—stories that "have something profound to teach us about being human and our very way of interacting with art"? That's what Pitzer finds in The Secret History, drawing on information from court cases, FBI files, Red Cross records and other forgotten or newly declassified documents. I recently spoke with the D.C.-based writer about her revelatory new book.
You talk about being drawn to Nabokov's writing when you were 18. Did you have the sense, even then, that there was more to his books than gorgeous sentences?
When I first encountered his work when I was young, it was, Wow, this guy really knows how to write, but he's freaking me out. I really identified with Lolita the character, but what happened to her seemed so horrific that, while I appreciated the skill that went into [the novel], I didn't want to immerse myself too fully in it. The second time, I thought, This language is really so incredible. Let me give it more of a chance. As I read more and more, I sensed there was more to his books, but it was a really long time before I went back to find out what that was.