Music and club nights this weekend | February 9-12
Chicago's most consistent crew of disco infiltrators throw Dollar Disco at Smart Bar every Sunday, catering to a new breed of dance-music enthusiasts. Residents Kid Color, Adulture and Michael Serafini are on hand to pump out the disco-themed goodness, and are joined by guest DJs weekly.
The Hunchback Variations Opera
Mickle Maher and Mark Messing’s new opera is driven by questions about the nature of music and sound performance. 8pm, Victory Gardens Biograph Theater, Donation.
Donald Harrison Quartet
Alto saxophonist Donald Harrison cut his teeth as a member of Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers and found his fame in a tight combo with trumpeter Terence Blanchard; in recent years he's turned his attention to exploring the myriad strands of New Orleans's musical heritage. 8pm, Jazz Showcase, $20.
Brokeback + Miracle Condition
Chicago's Miracle Condition features guitarist Mark Shippy and drummer Pat Samson, formerly of U.S. Maple, one of the most genuinely peculiar bands of the ’90s. While that outfit plied slinky, queasy noise rock, this trio favors tranced-out beauty. Shippy's penchant for creepy dissonance remains, but he and guitarist-singer Matt Carson stretch out over Samson's loose-limbed vamps, yielding dreamlike yet ominous textures. Sharing the stage is Brokeback, the Morricone-esque vehicle of Tortoise/Eleventh Dream Day fixture Douglas McCombs, now a quartet including members of Pinebender, Tight Phantomz and the Zincs. 9pm, Hideout, $8.
A renowned local bluesman who has played behind the likes of Otis Rush, Junior Wells and Son Seals, Carlos Johnson grafts his sizzling guitar riffs to funky Albert King—style grooves. 9pm, Buddy Guy’s Legends, $10
Get Physical with FLOF
Svelte DJ and dance posse the Fabulous Ladies of Fitness work it out from the main stage at Cole's once a month with their patented mix of light rock, ’80s and ’90s sing-along jams, and vintage hip-hop. Each installment has a theme, and for this one, it's Pat Benetar's "Love is a Battlefield" for V-Day. There's no excuse to avoid this night of upbeat R&B and hip-hop jazzercising. 9:30pm, Cole’s, Free.
Going late into the night, the Spy Bar DJ family keeps the house beats rolling with what's shaping up to be a fixture at the club and one hell of a time. Look for sets from a cast that includes Alex Peace, Nathan Scott, Skyler Mendoza, Tony Tone and more weekly. 10pm, Spy Bar, $20, in advance $10 through clubtix.net.
Wasted Bass Thursdays
K.D.M. freshens up your party regimen, giving a new spin to its Let's Get Weird weekly at late-night hot spot Evil Olive. It mixes eclectic residents like Johnny Walker and Disco Death Threat with heavy-handed guests on the regular. True to its name, the goal is to showcase moombahton, dirty Dutch house, electro, dubstep, bassline and pure bangers. 10pm, Evil Olive, $5, free before midnight.
Rarely outside of the constantly hip confines of New York City do we see a party as unorthodox as this one, but that's only part of the charm. Setting up shop in the wide-open space of a Wicker Park Vietnamese restaurant, Pho Disco offers vegetarian-friendly late-night eats paired with cheap drinks and an eclectic discoid soundtrack courtesy of resident Le Sprite, who mixes up new and old disco, house and techno alongside DJ friends. 10pm, MC Restaurant, Free.
Scott Cramer's freaky party goes late and features superstars from the past and present of nightlife. Cheap drinks abound and the regulars come to dance, so if either sounds appealing to you, then you know what to do. On Thu 9, the mystical Pyramids of Pluto recommence with sets from Jean Shorts and Jordan Z. On Thu 16, '80s dance revivalist Pictureplane tops the bill for another edition of CULT with residents Teen Witch and Baby Bamboo. 10pm, Berlin, $5.
Megadeth + Motorhead + Volbeat + Lacuna
After a cathartic reunion with his old bandmates in Metallica at their recent run of 30th-anniversary gigs, Megadeth frontman Dave Mustaine shifts his focus to the 2012 Gigantour, which also features turbo-rock legends Motörhead, country-punk-metal fusionists Volbeat and gothy Italians Lacuna Coil. Megadeth's vitriolic art thrash sounded as severe as ever at last year’s Big 4 gig, and unfortunate title aside, recent LP Th1rt3en contains a number of ready-made anthems worthy of sharing a set list with ’deth chestnuts like “Hangar 18” and “Symphony of Destruction.” Lacuna Coil drops by Cobra Lounge afterward for an acoustic set. 6:30pm, Aragon, advance $45, day of show $50, all ages.
Nellie McKay: I Want to Live!
One of the best young singer-songwriters to come out of New York City, the fearless Nellie McKay hits Elgin with a thoroughly ironical, highly theatrical and completely bonkers new show, which refracts a 1958 death-row film drama through songs ranging from Irving Berlin to Jimi Hendrix. If you don't mind getting your gast flabbered, it's pretty terrific. 8pm, Elgin Community College Arts Center, $20-$25.
Cowboy Mouth + Miles Nielsen & Rusted
New Orleans's Cowboy Mouth is a hardworking, hard-playing collective of ’80s alt-rock survivors, with a dedicated fan base that's kept the group going for more than 20 years. 9pm, House of Blues, advance $25, day of show $28, 17 and older.
Rabid Rabbit + Picastro + Jonathan Krohn
Postmetal brutalist Rabid Rabbit plays behind an impressive new slab of avant-doom, Czarny Sen, which features guests drawn from across the local metal and jazz spectrum. 9pm, Township, $5.
Quinceañero Banger Vol. 2
The guys behind three of the city's top world-music dance parties join forces on this one. DJ duo Soulphonetics, Sound Culture Chicago's David Chavez and FEx's DJ Newlife spin all manner of global beats alongside Brazil's funk carioca siren Zuzuka Poderosa and local hip-hop outfit Preston and Joey Purps. 9pm, Beauty Bar, $5.
Judson Claiborne + Eiren Caffall + The Counterpane
The bucolic and mysterious folk-rock of Judson Claiborne shares a bill with singer and lap steel player Eiren Caffall, who keeps things rustic, stark and slightly weird. 10pm, Hideout, $10.
With nothing more than a healthy bit of sweat-drenched dancing as his goal, DJ Greg Haus steps into the booth every Saturday to mix it up with dance tunes of every flavor, giving hipsters, freaks and club kids alike something to get excited about. 10pm, Berlin, $5.
Netherfriends + Secret Colours + Vamos
Tribal percussion! Dreamy vox! Afro-pop cribs! Netherfriends' undeniable resemblance to a who's-who of fashionable indie aside, we half admire main ‘Friend Shawn Rosenblatt's further desire to go aggressively high-concept. The group's upcoming Middle America offers a geographically unified selection of the tracks Rosenblatt constructed after promising to write and record a song in and about each state. The first single, for example, is called "Bloomington, IN." Support includes the mild psych of Secret Colours, whose self-titled debut hit all the familiar/necessary beats, and Vamos, reportedly with new songs in tow. 10pm, Empty Bottle, $8.
Electric Muse Cabaret
Lady Jack, one of the city's leading neo-burlesque performers, expands on her former Electricitease night at Debonair. In addition to her progressive routines, she's adding male performers and traditional cabaret song and dance from the Lady herself and pianist and vocalist Isaiah Robinson. Guests abound. 10pm, Underground Lounge, $15, in advance $10 at fanfueled.com.
Bonerama + The Jesters
Fronted by trombone proponent and Harry Connick Jr. band vet Mark Mullins, New Orleans's Bonerama stands way out among contemporary brass ensembles. Sure, the band plays the usual second-line funk standards, but it also strays to covers like Zeppelin's "Moby Dick" and Edgar Winter's "Frankenstein." That's not to mention the visual thrill of a five-'bone frontline and the whoop-whoop of the sousaphone. 10pm, SPACE, $18-$30.
Tale of Us + Garrett B + Nique
Europe's newest purveyors of new wavey and techy sounds, Tale of Us, are weaving a new story in deep house, and it's one you're going to be hearing more about in the months to come. Between releases on Visionquest's seminal new label and opening sets for the likes of Art Department, the pair has already landed the top spot here at Spy Bar, and it's well deserved. Club staples Garrett B and Nique are on warm up duties. 10pm, Spy Bar, $20, free before midnight with R.S.V.P. at clubtix.com.
Frankie Knuckles + Michael Serafini + DJ Spinn + DJ Rashad
Red Bull Music Academy kicks off its 2012 application drive with none other than the godfather of house music, Frankie Knuckles, leading the way. Knuckles is known as the DJ who brought the sounds of Manhattan's underground to Chicago's Warehouse club in 1977. Here, the legend re-creates that vibe for generations that weren't able to be there the first go-around. Chicago's hardest-working DJ and record-shop owner, Michael Serafini, and South Side juke staples DJ Spinn and DJ Rashad round out this Chicago-centric party. 10pm, Metro, $10, in advance $5, 18 and up.
Patricia Barber's fans get a kick out of hearing the dusky-voiced singer-pianist wade neck-deep in arch romanticism, and she's found a way to make cocktail music that's as fetching as it is strange. With a new live album available on her website and a DVD on the way, Barber previews material from another forthcoming album, titled Synchronicity. 5pm, 7pm, PianoForte Chicago, Fine Arts Building, $20, students $10.
The Isley Brothers + Chrisette Michele
Few acts have straddled as many decades—and styles—as the Isley Brothers, one of the linchpins of soul whose catalog ranges from doo-wop to hard funk. Given the band's tenure, it's no surprise the Brothers are down to just Ronnie and Ernie, but thankfully they're not prone to playing around. This is, rather, the real deal. Setting the stage is solid R&B singer Chrisette Michele, who's held her own alongside the likes of Rick Ross, the Roots, Nas and Drake, among many collaborators. 8pm, Chicago Theatre, $59.50-$99.50.
Chicago Symphony Orchestra with Riccardo Muti
It's Muti's final week before he takes the CSO to California. He pairs Schubert's Entr’acte No. 3 from Rosamunde and Symphony No. 9 with a piece by Mead composer-in-residence Anna Clyne. Her Night Ferry was inspired by Dante. 8pm, Symphony Center, Orchestra Hall, $29-$138.
Trey Songz + Big Sean
Judging by his promotional artwork, Trey Songz does not own very many shirts. Don't hold that against the R&B crooner, who makes subtly complex '90s throwbacks that do justice to greats such as Aaliyah and Ginuwine. Kanye protégé Big Sean opens, supporting his commercial debut, Finally Famous. 8pm, Auditorium Theatre, $48-$78.
Michelle L’amour’s Big Sexy Show
Taking to the historic Music Box Theater with more than 25 dancers and performers, burlesque mama Michelle L'amour puts her big heart (and the rest of her bod) on display with two shows this Valentine's weekend. She shares the stage with her Chicago starlets, comedy duo Parker and Seville, and beat-box artist Yuri Lane at this vaudeville-inspired night dedicated to love. 8:30pm, Music Box, $30, in advance $25.
Lil’ Ed & The Blues Imperials + Tommy McCracken
Ed Williams is known for his slashing slide work with the Blues Imperials; his live show will leave you sweating. 9:30pm, Buddy Guy’s Legends, $20.
Rego + Elsinore + Algebro + MB
Seconds, the fourth album from Rebecca Rego's namesake band, features chirpy singsong vocals set against dreamily evocative folk-rock, part coffeehouse, part chamber-pop. Support includes Elsinore, whose Life Inside an Elephant EP is indie-pop with all the trimmings. And quirky ticks. Also opening is Georgia's Algebro, led by Thom Cathcart, whose music (and mustache) scream "whimsy" but who definitely deserves an honest listen. 9:30pm, Lincoln Hall, $10, 18 and older.
The Secret Night of Sound
Giving downtown a regular dose of proper beats, residents Moppy of Cutz on Cuts, Rude One and Push Beats' Raj Mahal spin quality hip-hop and left-field beats in the basement. For this month's installment, they make way for turntablist Total Eclipse of the world-famous X-Ecutioners DJ crew. 10pm, Underground Wonder Bar, $10, women $5.
With a track record stretching back to 1994, Dave Roberts Planet Earth night is a Chicago staple. His new wave selections have taken him from Club Foot to Exit to Neo. It's now found a permanent home here. 10pm, Late Bar, Free.
As soon as Carter was old enough to drive, he was sneaking into the city to immerse himself in Chicago’s rich house-music culture. Before he knew it, he was contributing as much to it as he was taking in. An integral part of the second wave of house DJs spawned in the city, Carter is a legend in his own right, and his live sets are as potent as they've ever been. He's back at Smart Bar for his Classic label residency. 10pm, Smart Bar, $15, before midnight $10.
Chicago a cappella
A program of African-American spirituals, "Wade in the Water," includes the premiere of a new cycle, Old Testament Spirituals. "Daniel, Moses, Joshua" pushes the art form forward by layering three spirituals. 4pm, Pilgrim Congregational Church, $28-$35, seniors $22, students $12.
The enigmatic Leon Redbone posits himself a man of a different era, performing vaudeville, ragtime, Tin Pan Alley and other pre–rock & roll-infused numbers that only heighten the mystery, as did a left-field duet with Zooey Deschanel on the Elf soundtrack, singing "Baby, It's Cold Outside." That was back in 2003, and he hasn't really done anything new since then, which sort of fits the profile. 7pm, FitzGerald’s, advance $20, day of show $25.
Chicago Chamber Musicians
With "Twilight Music," CCM showcases two of its founding members, hornist Gail Williams and violinist Joseph Genualdi. It starts with Franz Schubert's Rondo in B minor, D. 895, Op. 70. John Harbison's trio Twilight Music and Mozart's Divertimento No. 17 in D major follow. 7:30pm, Northwestern University, Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, $25-$45, students $10.
Dee Alexander Quartet
Vocalist Dee Alexander's utility work shows off an impressive range of skills—with everyone from the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians' free-associative large ensembles to straight-ahead trumpeter Orbert Davis. Ultimately, that chameleonic ability may be the workaholic jazz vocalist's calling card. 7:30pm, Room 43, $5-$10.
Chicago's most consistent crew of disco infiltrators throws this party weekly, catering to a new breed of dance-music enthusiasts. Residents Kid Color, Adulture and Michael Serafini are on hand to pump out the disco-themed goodness, and are joined by guest DJs weekly. On Sun 5, DJ Jean Shorts of Berlin's Pyramids of Pluto night brings his mutant disco vibes to Dollar Disco. On Sun 12, Chicago house turntablist DJ Flik spins. 10pm, Smart Bar.
Witty MC Hollywood Holt, DJ Matty Boy White and tattoo-artist-turned-party-guy Jason Hoodrich hold it down every Sunday with a potent mix of gangsta rap and hardcore rock. If you're after a relaxing weekend wind-down, this isn't it. 10pm, Three Aces, Free.
Mike Reed Trio + Jacob Garchik Trio
Trombonist Jacob Garchik leads his engrossing trio with pianist Jacob Sacks and drummer Dan Weiss—a band that exhibits an airy intimacy not so far removed from the spacious drift of Jimmy Giuffre's early-’60s combo with Paul Bley. The NYC threesome's followed by a local cast led by drummer Mike Reed, flanked by trombonist Jeb Bishop and guitarist Matt Schneider. 10pm, Hungry Brain, $7.