Today marks the beginning of the music leg of the South by Southwest festival. Hundreds of bands will descend on Austin's bars, clubs, hotels and even rooftops to bring disparate strands of rock, pop, hip-hop, metal and more from across the globe. Chicago is well represented at this year's event, with more than 50 acts appearing over the next few days. Here's a guide to local artists playing official showcases, with the caveat that SXSW is notorious for running behind schedule.
Blah Blah Blah, BD Riley's, 1–1:50am
Mikkey Halsted, 404 Austin, 12–12:15am
L.E.P Bogus Boys, 404 Austin, 11:40–11:55pm
Mpulse, 404 Austin, 9:30–9:45pm
Rockie Fresh, The Belmont, 10:35–11:15pm
Recently signed to Rick Ross's Maybach Music, MC Rockie Fresh brings his story to life with every rhyme. The 21-year-old's smooth delivery and clever wordplay set him a bar above other rising rappers. His latest mix-tape, Electric Highway, shows he can hold his own against his new boss.
Fun. is getting all the attention after the announcement that it's headlining Taste of Chicago July 10 (with buzzy opener Delta Spirit), but the local acts deserve notice, too. Kelly Hogan, a former Hideout bartender who made a splash last year with her Anti- debut, I Like to Keep Myself in Pain, will headline the Bud Light stage on July 14. Lil' Ed & The Blues Imperials, frequent presences around town, play July 12, as does hometown soul troupe the Congregation. On July 13, fellow local Canasta performs its kitchen-sink indie, followed by Company of Thieves' hard-hitting rock & roll. More performers will be announced later.
Taste of Chicago runs July 10–14 in Grant Park. Tickets for the fun. show are $25 in the seating area and free on the lawn, and go on sale in May. For more information, see tasteofchicago.us.
So, who's headlining this thing? Lollapalooza and C3 Productions are maddeningly tight-lipped when it comes to spilling the beans. But the world has only produced a couple dozen or so rock bands that can demand a seven-figure paycheck, so it's not too hard to speculate. Plus, taking a peek at summer itineraries for touring acts always provides telling clues. Just look at who's not scheduled a Chicago date yet.
With that in mind, here are the likely candidates:
Big electronic dance music festival producer Insomniac announced the first tier of the lineup for the Electric Daisy Carnival Chicago, which makes its debut at Joliet's Chicagoland Speedway during Memorial Day weekend, May 24–26. Chicago is the latest addition on the road to EDC's June blowout in Las Vegas, which already includes stops in New York, Puerto Rico and Orlando.
The first wave of DJs and live acts announced for EDC Chicago includes big names such as David Guetta and Tiësto as well as critical faves like minimalist Michael Mayer, Welsh drum 'n' bass DJ High Contrast and the multi-talented Tiga. The Speedway festival (perhaps channeling the original Lollapalooza vision) will also feature fire twirlers, aerialists and stilt walkers plus amusement rides and large-scale art installations alongside the DJ stages.
Touring behind her latest record, The Truth About Love, Pink brought her high-flying live show to the United Center on Saturday night. The set found the singer engaging in a series of acrobatic feats between performances of singles like "Blow Me (One Last Kiss)" and "Give Me A Reason." Swedish export The Hives kicked the night off with an energetic batch of their punk-tinged tunes.
This summer's Pitchfork Music Festival is shaping up to be one of the strongest yet. This week we learned that in addition to previously announced headliners R. Kelly, Björk and Belle & Sebastian, art-folk harpist Joanna Newsom will play the Union Park fest along with the Breeders, who are set to embark on a reunion tour celebrating the 20th anniversary of the band's breakout, Last Splash (and no, that doesn't make us feel old at all). Other lineup addictions include the epic, angst-ridden Swans, electronic acts Rustie and TNGHT, hip-hoppers El-P and Killer Mike, synth-pop duo Chairlift, upstart pop singer Sky Ferreira, indie enigma Mac DeMarco, postrock crusaders …And You Will Know Us by the Trail Of Dead, '60s nostalgists Foxygen and Odd Future–affiliated punks Trash Talk, plus two locals: folk songbird Angel Olsen and rapper Tree. A couple dozen more artists have yet to be revealed, so stay tuned. Other concert announcements include Detroit folk hero Rodriguez at the Arie Crown Theater May 17, taking a victory lap after the documentary tracing his unlikely success in South Africa, Searching for Sugar Man, picked up an Oscar, and perennial crowd-pleasers the Shins, who stop by the Aragon a couple days later. Find these and many other new dates below or visit timeoutchicago.com/bookingahead for a more extensive list of upcoming shows.
Thursday night was round number two of Sons of the Silent Age: Chris Connelly's tribute to all things David Bowie. Connelly brought his band on the first round to the packed Metro in January, and decided that another go round was in order.
The Mayne Stage was a perfect fit for this kind of production: nine awesome musicians helping push forward the sound of Bowie in the '70s—songs such as "Station to Station," "TVC 15" and "Look Back in Anger."
If not done right, this kind of performance can easily come off as a karaoke act in a one-star motel lounge in the suburbs, but Connelly personified Bowie in look, voice and fashion.
The show was a fan's set list, delving into the fertile period of mid- to late-'70s Bowie, with meticulous focus on creating the sound, the look and the feel.
The band, tight as ever, pushed the spine-tingling versions of Bowie songs front and center, leaving no stone unturned with "Queen Bitch," "Under Pressure," "Let's Dance" and finally closing with "Heroes."
Listening to Low's latest record, The Invisible Way, it's difficult to fathom that its inception was essentially a matter of chance. After numerous invitations, the band finally stopped by Wilco's studio last year and witnessed Jeff Tweedy at work on the next Mavis Staples album. Hearing the intimacy and warmth of these recordings, the Duluth-based group was inspired to book some time in the Loft, with Tweedy acting as producer. Last night's monthly Off the Record event at Saki homed in on the inspirations and process behind Low's new album, culminating in a lengthy Q&A session with the band and Tweedy.
This weekend offers a busy slate of great concerts, including Buddy Guy, My Gold Mask and the annual SXSW Send Off Party.
Dillon Francis + Flosstradamus
8pm, Congress Theater, Sold Out
Championed by Mad Decent tastemaker Diplo, L.A. beat maker Dillon Francis quickly took over the scene with his infectious moombahton and dubstep productions. You'd also think he had a second home in Chicago, he plays here so often. Tonight, he heads up the cavernous Congress with local heroes Flosstradamus doing their genre-busting, bootie-quaking thing.
After seeing Tame Impala at the Vic Theatre last night, listening to their music over headphones or crummy laptop speakers just seems like a waste of time. Kevin Parker and his psych-rock quintet added plenty of studio flourishes to both Innerspeaker and 2012’s Lonerism, giving them more dimension than most contemporary rock albums, but this is a band to see live. Most of the capacity crowd seemed to know that already—the band also sold out the smaller Metro last fall.
Due to space limitations, we couldn't print our entire interview with NYC's the Crystal Ark. Here you can read our Q&A with the group's lead vocalist Viva Ruiz, an actress, artist and filmmaker whose other projects include arty dance act Escandalo. The band's Thursday March 7 show at Elbo Room has sold out, but the Ark just announced a guest DJ set at an after-party at Berlin.
The Crystal Ark is a rather big group. Isn’t technology supposed to make a band more compact?
Ben Harper and Charlie Musselwhite joined forces Sunday at the Riviera Theatre behind their new collaboration, Get Up! Check out our slideshow from the concert.
Minus the Bear’s records are so well-produced that the band could suck live and get away with it. It could refrain from extensive touring and maintain a fan base through Matt Bayles’s production and Dave Knudson’s technical virtuosity alone. But lucky for us, Minus the Bear’s live chops on Sunday at the Metro were as impressive as the studio material—a rare feat for a group whose distinctive sound is this contingent on layers of effects. But it’s this capacity for live replication that sheds light on Minus the Bear’s unsung heroes (read: men not named Dave Knudson).
DJ-slash-producer Diplo and friends brought his Jamaican-influenced collaborative project, Major Lazer, to the Congress Theater this weekend, complete with lady dancers and a human-sized hamster ball. Major Lazer's upcoming sophmore album, Free the Universe, will be released March 12 on Mad Decent.
A cursory listen to the Gaslight Anthem’s new album, Handwritten, might lead you to think that the band is made up of Luddites in punk garb. Starting with the lead single “45” (as in RPM) and continuing through the title track, Brian Fallon and company are vocal about their commitment to outdated technology. This attitude is nothing new for fans—the band’s breakthrough 2008 album was called The ’59 Sound, and on it, Fallon dealt in the bygone American imagery of greasers, fast cars and hazy film references. But on Handwritten, Fallon sounds as if he’s purposefully defining himself against contemporary culture.
On its latest record, Ra Ra Riot traded in its formerly string-heavy compositions in favor of a shiny, new synth-pop sound. At the Friday night performance at the Metro, this new direction took center stage, as glowing tubes of light flashed to the rhythms of the band's dance-friendly beats. Fellow synth enthusiasts Pacific Air provided support, proving that these days, even the indie kids just want to bust a move.
It’s been nearly three years since Dirty Projectors played a proper club show in Chicago, which is why the arty, harmony-bending outfit is treating local fans to two cozy sets at Lincoln Hall June 13, “’60s style,” as frontman Dave Longstreth describes it. Earlier that month Faith No More guy Mike Patton's sorta supergroup Tomahawk visits the Vic, while charming Malian duo Amadou & Mariam head to the Park West June 29. May sees the reunion of NYC hip-hop duo Mobb Deep at the Double Door, plus a newly added Vic Theatre date from boho icon Patti Smith. Find these and many other concert announcements below or visit timeoutchicago.com/bookingahead for a more extensive list of upcoming shows.
Indie cult band the Eels dropped into the Vic Theatre Saturday to play from their new album, Wonderful, Glorious, which sounds exactly as if was meant to be played live. See our photos from the show.
Passion Pit was supposed to tour over the summer behind its Gossamer album, but frontman Michael Angelakos had to cancel because of mental health issues. So Chicago was more than ready for the Massachusetts synth-pop sensation on February 22. Joining Passion Pit was bubbly NYC duo Matt and Kim.