The most progressive of the alt-rock megabands of yore is back with a reboot. Seattle foursome Soundgarden continues in full reunion mode. TOC's music critics called its comeback LP, King Animal "scrappy" and "energized." Check out our photos from their show at the Vic.
Going on initial impressions, British crossover songstress Ellie Goulding might seem like an all-too familiar pop music caricature. If American Idol has taught us anything, it’s that those who are all vocals and no personality usually don’t have the staying power to satisfy the changing whims of the mainstream. Yet Goulding deserves more than a once-over. The multi-instrumentalist has got an inherent charm that continues to set her apart from her temporary pop-chart peers, a distinction she made evident at the Aragon Ballroom Tuesday night.
Chalk it up to the vagaries of pop culture fashion, the cruelty of the music industry or a failure of the media to do its job of separating the wheat from the chaff—but at the end of the Darkness show last night one couldn't help but wonder: Why on earth are the Darkness playing a place as cozy as the Vic? I mean, hell, we're lucky to be here, but this band should be absolutely friggin' mega.
Seasoned hip-hop fans know a live show’s official start time is just one element of a complex formula applied to figure out an ideal arrival time: Get there too early and you’ll endure hours of upstart bravado during the opening acts; overestimate the headliner’s expected late start, and you’ll miss crucial parts of the show. But what happens when that headliner is Method Man, a forty-something industry vet and father of four? And what happens when a big chunk of his support base is just a few years behind, fans locked in for life since making 1993’s legendary Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) their infinitely-looped party soundtrack back in college?
Duluth, Minnesota’s Trampled by Turtles swung through town on January 24 for a sold-out show at the Vic, one of many sold-out dates on their current tour. Just on the eve of their 10th anniversary as a band, the Turtles have seen a huge spike in popularity in response to their last two albums, Palomino (2010) and Stars and Satellites (2012). This isn’t an isolated trend either: Mumford & Sons have scored big recently with their bombastic take on American bluegrass, and The Lumineers, a folk group from Denver, released one of the most popular songs of 2012, the achingly sincere “Ho Hey.”
Finally, Trampled by Turtles are in the right place at the right time, armed with a homegrown loyal fan base and an established sound which blends elements of bluegrass with the speed and drive of punk. After witnessing their nearly two-hour set at the Vic, there’s no doubt these guys can play, and fast.
Buddy Guy has been showing off his American blues guitar and singing skills for the whole month of January. He has been perfoming at his popular blues club Buddy Guy's Legends. The 76-year-old performer is a six-time Grammy award winner and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2005. Guy concluded this playing streak on January 27. If you didn't catch him in concert, you are sure to see him at his club overseeing operations or just chilling at the bar.
The fifth annual Winter Block Party for Chicago's Hip-Hop Arts took place on January 26 at Metro. The event included a free daytime schedule of dance battles and video screenings. Performers in the evening included NoName, Psalm One, and Sidewalk Chalk.
Jessie Ware performed at Lincoln Hall on January 20 as part of the Tomorrow Never Knows fest. The British singer's single "If You're Never Gonna Move" has highlighted her strengths as a solo artist. Ware's debut album Devotion is heavy on the downtempo dubstep and torchy confessionals. ON AN ON and Mister Lies also performed that night as part of the winter fest.
Lucero performed at Metro on January 19 as part of the Tomorrow Never Knows fest. The country-punk rock band from Memphis, Tennessee added a bohemian twist to the concert that also featured Matrimony and Houndmouth. Women & Work is their eighth album; Lucero layers their songs with a variety of instruments from the accordian to the pedal steel guitar. They will be performing in Rock Island and Normal, Illinois in April during their tour.
The Joy Formidable blew us away at Lollapalooza a couple of years ago, and now the band is set to clobber us again in support of a new album, Wolf's Law. (An album teaser arrived a few months ago.) A handful of lucky fans got to see the U.K. trio deliver an intimate and undoubtedly intense set to the Metro's Top Note Theater last November, and the group follows that up with a gig at the Vic Theatre April 2. Later that month the Vic opens its doors to another Lolla vet, the Black Angels, out behind a new one, Indigo Meadow. Americana diva Emmylou Harris also has a new disc on the horizon, Old Yellow Moon, on which she shares co-billing with longtime sideman Rodney Crowell. The duo celebrates with a date at Symphony Center March 20, which features an opening turn from British guitar hero Richard Thompson. Sax heavy Joe Lovano visits Evanston's SPACE in April, playing behind Cross Culture, the latest from his combo Us Five. Find these and many other new concert announcements below or visit timeoutchicago.com/bookingahead for a more extensive list of upcoming shows.
There's plenty of concerts to choose from this weekend; now all you have to do is pick one. The Darkness performs at the Vic Theatre to show off their take on heavy metal. Buddy Guy is nearing the end of his string of performances, and Bobby Brown concludes his concerts on Sunday.
Friday January 25
6pm, The Whistler, Free
The former Karate frontman brings his signature guitarwork to the Logan Square cocktail lounge.
Steve Riley & The Mamou Playboys
7pm, Old Town School of Folk Music (Maurer Hall), $20-$22
In lesser hands, Louisiana music can veer toward kitsch, which is what makes Steve Riley’s traditional approach to Cajun folk (often sung in regional Cajun French, no less) that much more impressive. Get there early for free dance lessons!
Eddie Shaw + Joanna Connor
7pm, Kingston Mines, $15
Eddie Shaw probably wasn't the first sax player on the Chicago blues scene, but as a former sideman with Howlin' Wolf, he definitely made that singular sound stick and stay. He's got the personality to front a band as well, scoring high marks as both a singer and songwriter.
Music of the Baroque
7:30pm, Harris Theater, $27-$75
It's a double celebration for Music of the Baroque as the ensemble gives kudos to its maestra, Jane Glover, for ten years on the job as well as honoring Mozart on his birthday. Vladimir Feltsman and Arianna Zukerman are the featured soloists in the all-Mozart program.
7:30pm, University of Chicago (Mandel Hall), $35; students $5
Don't miss this chance to catch one of the country's most adventurous and dynamic young quartets. Known for their eclectic choice in repertoire, the NYC-based gents make their "University of Chicago Presents" debut with a versatile program that includes Mendelssohn's early String Quartet No. 1 in E-flat major, Op. 12, and a recap of wildly imaginative works from the "Brooklyn Rider Almanac."
Going head-to-head with the double bill of the Walkmen and Father John Misty down the street at the Vic, the programmers of this year's Tomorrow Never Knows festival stacked Schubas' Friday night lineup with four disparate groups—striking upon a combination that managed to draw a sold-out crowd. The native Chicagoans of Wedding Dress kicked off the night, digging into a collection of earnest tracks that prominently featured members of Maps & Atlases and Joan of Arc. Shortly after, Canadian indie pop outfit Boats lived up to its buoyant name with an assortment of upbeat, synth-ridden odes anchored by Mat Klachefsky's exaggerated vocal stylings.
The Walkmen just can’t get enough of Tomorrow Never Knows. They played a sold-out gig at the Metro last year as a part of the festival, and this year they sold out the Vic with ex-Fleet Foxes drummer Joshua Tillman, who now tours as Father John Misty.
Tillman recorded FJM’s debut Fear Fun after moving from Seattle to L.A. and shedding some of the mystic folkie aura that surrounded him as a Fleet Fox. Last night, his opening set drew heavily from that album, a mix of rambling country rock and back porch folk fronted by newly funny lyrics. FJM played a loose, punchy set that fit their sound much better than the recordings do on Fear Fun, which still sounds a little buttoned up for the music. The clear highlight of FJM’s set was the morbid single “Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings,” which included a noisy interlude where the lithe Tillman pretended to choke himself with the mic stand. If this hadn’t been preceded by a whole set of him parading around the stage and trying to goofily dance like a pop singer, I would have been more concerned.
Booking Ahead | Electric Daisy Carnival Chicago, Chicago Jazz Festival, Animal Collective and Bad Religion
Last week we learned the dates of the Spring Awakening Music Festival and now another fest devoted to EDM has announced its foray into the Chicago market. Promoted by L.A.-based Insomniac, the Electric Daisy Carnival Chicago takes place Memorial Day weekend—less than a month before Spring Awakening—at Joliet's Chicagoland Speedway, a venue known for NASCAR more than music. That's a bit of a hike for city dwellers, though a camping pass is being offered. Earlier today the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events revealed some details about the Chicago Jazz Festival. As in the past, the event is free and takes place Labor Day weekend, however this year's event moves from its longtime base of Grant Park to Millennium Park, with select performances taking place at the Chicago Cultural Center. The festival, now in its 35th year, will continue to offer programming on multiple stages, with brilliant percussionist Hamid Drake serving as this year's Artist-in-Residence, though no other artists have been revealed yet. Other new calendar additions include Animal Collective, who visit the Riv March 16 behind last year's Centipede Hz, and Bad Religion, who play from the new True North at the Congress Theater April 5. Find these and many other new concert dates below or visit timeoutchicago.com/bookingahead for a more extensive list of upcoming shows.
Tampa, Florida trio Merchandise has been generating a good deal of buzz for the past few months, largely thanks to favorable reviews from the tastemakers at Pitchfork. Rightfully so: their 2012 release Children of Desire beautifully merges guitar noise and drum machines with Carson Cox’s almost anthemic songwriting and Morissey-esque croon. It’s an unlikely mix without one good genre tag, though punk tends to be what most writers talk about because of the trio’s DIY punk and hardcore roots.
There's a full list of so many great concerts coming up that we had to start our weekend early. Everything from the Tomorrow Never Knows winter fest to orchestral pieces and dance parties. If you can bear the cold, these shows are worth seeing.
Friday January 18
6pm, The Whistler, Free
The former Karate frontman brings his signature guitarwork to the Logan Square cocktail lounge.
Baroque Band with Piers Adams
7:30pm, Music Institute of Chicago (Nichols Concert Hall), $35; seniors $30; students $15
Early music legend Piers Adams, a top-notch recorder player and member of British baroque crew Red Priest, joins Baroque Band in its continuing series inspired by classic movies. Gone with the Wind features some of the recorder repertoire's most dazzling and stormy pieces: Telemann's Recorder Concerto in C, Sammartini's Recorder Concerto in F and Vivaldi's Recorder Concertos in C major and C minor.
Nightclubs, even the popular ones, need periodic revamps to stay au courant and on the clubber's go-to list. This Friday the venue once known as Green Dolphin Street unveils a new look, which may seem like a risky investment in a city fairly well-stocked with dance rooms. But it also feels like a now-or-never proposition considering the current boom of interest in EDM. Curious about the plan for the club, I pressed music director "Just Joey" Swanson for more details.
How did the Dolphin makeover come about?
The remodel was something we had been kicking around for several years and about a year ago we had several building code issues we had to address, so we decided to go all the way with the revamp.
Christopher Owens, formerly of San Franciso-based pop group Girls, is now performing solo and marching to the beat of his own drum. His album Lysandre was released on Tuesday; in performance, an acoustic guitar has replaced his Rickenbacker.