With Wavefront over, we now look forward to Pitchfork. (Well, not that this is a down weekend in Chicago music festivals, with AmericanaramA, West Fest and Square Roots all hitting in a couple days.) The indie music smorgasbord returns to Union Park July 19–21. And don't forget the official aftershows. Check out the TOC guide to the Pitchfork festival that includes my top ten picks and the best of the off-site parties. We also have a classic 2012 interview with R. Kelly, one that got a little heated at the end. With Björk, Kelly and M.I.A. all hitting the big stages, we expect the unexpected.
Beginning next week, we at TOC are merging our blogs, Voltron style, into a one-stop superblog, #Chicago.
The staff here is equally interested in music, theater, food, nightlife, film, art and local news, and we know our readers are as well. So, no more pesky blog hopping and multiple clicks to learn about a new doughnut joint opening and the best upcoming weekend club events and a Steppenwolf scoop.
Thank you for reading, and we look forward to serving up more hot, fresh content.
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There's an enormous number of concerts worth seeing this weekend.
Chicago Symphony Orchestra with Yuja Wang
1:30pm, Symphony Center (Orchestra Hall), $24–$208
Finnish conductor Sakari Oramo directs the CSO in its debut performance of Australian composer Brett Dean's epic Amphitheatre, a dramatic scene for large orchestra. Young Chinese pianist Yuja Wang takes the stage for Prokofiev's Third Piano Concerto before the evening wraps up with Carl Nielsen's unconventional Fifth Symphony.
Nick Cave played the sold-out Chicago Theatre on Monday behind the somber new Push the Sky Away, the first Bad Seeds disc since 2008, and the first minus linchpin Mick Harvey. Check out our photos.
The Rolling Stones will be performing in Chicago on May 28. As part of their "50 and Counting" tour, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Charlie Watts and Ronnie Wood will be celebrating their "first 50 years" of music. The Stones will be performing at the United Center, and tickets go on sale April 8. Presale tickets will be available for CitiBank Private Pass cardmembers beginning April 5.
The 30th Annual Chicago Blues Festival will include Shemekia Copeland, Bobby Rush and Jimmy Johnson plus a finale of locals John Primer, Billy Branch, Eddy “The Chief” Clearwater, Lil’ Ed and more. Produced by the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, Chicago's event is the largest free blues festival in the world and will take place June 6–9 in Millennium and Grant Parks. This year's theme is "Rollin' Up the River" and celebrates the blues by musically traveling up the Mississippi River from New Orleans to Chicago. See the full lineup below.
Today the city released the summer schedule for Millennium Park, which brings back to Pritzker Pavilion three free concert series—Downtown Sound, Loops and Variations and Made in Chicago: World Class Jazz—each of which boasts an impressively strong lineup. The once indie-centric Downtown Sound broadens its scope this year, as the series' first concert illustrates, pairing two trail-blazing guitarists with deep ties to the downtown NYC scene: idiosyncratic improviser Marc Ribot and Sonic Youth's Lee Ranaldo (May 27). Indie chanteuse Sharon Van Etten arrives a week later (June 3), while former Frames frontman Glen Hansard of Once fame follows on June 10. Loops and Variations, which finds common ground between Chicago's bustling new-music scene and the increasingly popular world of electronic music, returns in its second year, with inspired bills like Matmos and Fonema Consort (June 27), plus eighth blackbird joined by Wilco's Glenn Kotche (August 28). The Made in Chicago lineup is just as promising, closing out (and opening the Chicago Jazz Festival) on August 29 with iconic drummer and Chicago native Jack DeJohnette, who joins four fellow world-class jazz musicians with local roots: Muhal Richard Abrams, Larry Gray, Roscoe Mitchell and Henry Threadgill. See below for the complete schedule of events at Millennium Park:
Leeds quartet ALT-J sold out the Metro for Thursday's show of irresistible indie-pop stylings. Opening was Hundred Waters, a five-piece from Florida that makes digital folk.
Last summer's promotional wayfarers are on their last leg and, frankly, you miss the smell of vomit-soaked kitty litter in the morning. Good news for you, music-festival fanatic, the Lollapalooza 2013 lineup is here, which means the city's season of outdoor sonic throwdowns is not too far behind. And it seems we're ace at guessing headliners.
Here's a complete look at the snoozers (Mumford & Sons, Vampire Weekend, the Killers), surprises (the Cure) and everything in between, including solid picks such as Jessie Ware (!), Death Grips (!!) and Kendrick Lamar (!!!) and excellent locals Wild Belle, the Orwells, Supreme Cuts and Chance the Rapper.
Schubas was calm Saturday, March 30, as Sky Ferreira rolled into town with How to Dress Well and High Highs. The sold-out crowd was still, clad in the leather jacket uniform many have come to love and more have come to loathe. The only light from the stage were lights wrapped around the microphones on stage as High Highs lead singer Jack Milas crooned over Oli Chang's conjured keys and Zach Lipkins's simplistic percussion. The band's hush-laden harmonies were captivating, keeping the crowd cool as the fans above began to fail. The set was short but sweet, as the band's mellow lullabies with bite made an impact.
The Pitchfork Music Festival has released the rest of its completely bonkers 2013 lineup. Previously announced headliners R. Kelly, Björk and Belle & Sebastian, and top tier guests such as Joanna Newsom and the Breeders, are now joined by button-pushing singer M.I.A., postpunk forerunner Wire and indie-rock heroes Yo La Tengo in addition to Beyoncé's hipster sister Solange and her pal, budding producer Dev Hynes, who appears as Blood Orange. Buzzy, all-female, postpunk combo Savages and hip-hop oddball Lil B will also leave their mark on what's shaping up to be the strongest Pitchfork lineup yet.
The three-day fest, which returns to Union Park July 19–21, is now guaranteed to sell out quickly. Weekend passes are available for $120 at Ticketweb while single-day tickets go for $50 each. Find the full lineup below:
New Yorkers traipsing through MoMA last weekend can boast they saw Tilda Swinton napping in an aquarium. Chicago may have lost that round of the Marina Abramović Pastiche Olympics, but those lucky enough to have queued up early at the Museum of Contemporary Art tonight were treated to something far more memorable and exhilarating. As the final offering on the MCA's artistically fertile Face the Strange series, Kim Gordon drew an impressive loop of freezing, wind-slapped fans around the museum. With Sonic Youth's schedule indefinitely blank after Gordon's split with bandmate Thurston Moore, devotees were eager to get their hands on one of the very limited, very $0.00 tickets and see what new paths this sonic vanguard is embarking upon.
There are quite a few good concerts this weekend, including the next Sunday Transmission Series, Maxi Priest and a chance to hear Blake Shelton.
Chicago Symphony Orchestra with Mitsuko Uchida
1:30pm, Symphony Center (Orchestra Hall), $28–$243
The phenomenal Uchida makes her highly anticipated annual appearance at Symphony Center as both conductor and pianist in Mozart's Piano Concertos Nos. 17 and 27. CSO concertmaster Robert Chen leads the orchestra in Mozart's lovely serenade Eine kleine Nachtmusik.
Scott Hutchison and the rest of Frightened Rabbit brought their Scottish pop to the Riviera Theatre on Saturday. The group played behind its fourth full-length, Pedestrian Verse.
Lollapalooza tickets go on sale today here at 10am. These are $200 early-bird, three-day passes. The lineup is reported to include the Killers, Mumford & Sons and Vampire Weekend, but the official lineup will be announced April 9. Regular three-day passes, for $235, will go on sale after the early-bird tickets sell out. There are also VIP Lolla Lounge tickets, Platinum passes and travel packages available on the Lolla website.
Lollapalooza takes place August 2–4 in Grant Park.
Update: Three-day passes are sold out. Single-day passes go on sale April 9 at 10am. VIP Lolla Lounge tickets, Platinum passes and travel packages are still available.
Rihanna famously ran out of fucks to give last April and that insouciance has been her modus operandi over the past few years. It’s endeared her to fans but her effortless indifference means her live performances are typically lacking. Her singing, never much to boast about, sounds especially shaky live and her dancing—a tap of the nether regions here, a tap of the nether regions there, is usually uninspired.
L.A.’s Local Natives have come a long way from their break onto the indie scene in 2010 with Gorilla Manor, an album of massive Arcade Fire–esque sing-alongs, wiry guitars and harmonies everywhere. Thursday, they sold out the Vic (on guitar player Ryan Hahn’s birthday, no less), touring in support of their new album, Hummingbird.