Best concerts of the weekend | July 26-29, 2012
We can't believe it either—July is already drawing to a close, which means there's a mere month left to enjoy summer. Don't let another minute of that time go to waste: Here are our picks for a music-packed weekend.
Made in Chicago: World Class Jazz: Erwin Helfer
6:30pm, The Pritzker Pavilion (Millennium Park), free
Erwin Helfer knows his way around a 12-bar shuffle, but the local boogie-woogie bard isn't averse to bop changes either. Tonight he's joined by John Brumbach on saxophone, Lou Marini on bass, Bugs Cochran on drums and Ma Rainey disciple Katherine Davis as well as Barrelhouse Chuck on vocals.
Andre Williams & The Goldstars
7:30pm, Brummel Park, free
A true survivor, Detroit blues/soul staple Andre Williams followed his success in the '60s with decades of setbacks, including drug addiction. He made a comeback in the '90s, and to our pleasure has stuck around. Tonight he's backed by Chicago's Goldstars. His latest, Hoods and Shades, was released earlier this year on local punk/alt-country stalwart Bloodshot Records.
Refused + OFF!
7:30pm, Congress Theater, $29.50
Never without an agenda, Refused was astute in selecting L.A. hardcore classicist OFF! as support. At last year’s Pitchfork Music Festival, you could feel frontman Keith Morris’s rage toward the saturated state of alternative music. Powers combined, can Refused and OFF! topple the softened throne of rock? The answer is yet to come.
Claudio Roditi Quartet
8, 10pm, Jazz Showcase, $20-$25
Postbop legend Claudio Roditi has been in the mainstream's consciousness since the '70s, when the Brazilian native made the move to New York. A romantic on the trumpet with a deft rhythmic sense, Roditi is far from a frequent traveler these days. See him now—who knows when he'll make it back.
Rick Estrin & The Nightcats
8pm, SPACE, $15-$30
Singer and harmonica ace Rick Estrin has always been the lead songwriter behind Little Charlie & The Nightcats. With the namesake guitarist's recent retirement, Estrin now flies the flag under his own name, as a ferocious album for Alligator, Twisted, attests.
Improvised Music Series: Nick Mazzarella & Fred Lonberg-Holm + Mars Williams + Mike Reed
9pm, Elastic, $7
Heroic alto saxist Nick Mazzarella pairs with cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm while Liquid Soul sax man Mars Williams wails with Mike Reed, the mover and shaker behind several Chicago festivals (Pitchfork, Umbrella et al.) who's a gifted drummer in his own right.
9:30pm, Buddy Guy's Legends, $10
One of this city's finest blues artists, Johnson has been around since the ’50s but didn't release an album stateside until he was in his fifties. His intense vocals and soul-dripping guitar continue to groove after all these years.
10pm, Debonair Social Club, $5
It can't all be credited to punky dubstepper Skrillex, but dance music sure likes a taste of the metal these days. This night features dirty and thrashing DJ sets by residents Andrew Vonn, SWGGRBCK and regular rocker-looking DJ guests, fire-breathing burlesque and go-go dancers.
Best Coast + Those Darlins
7:30pm, Vic Theatre, $20
Bethany Cosentino, indie rock's reigning Queen of Slack, continues her stoner-pop domination tour with Best Coast. She's joined by punky Tennesseans Those Darlins.
Sweet Cobra + Swan King + Electric Hawk
9pm, The Burlington, $7 donation
Swan King's angular indie rock, which veers from metal crunch to tightly wound punk, and Electric Hawk's visceral math rock serve as a fitting lead-in to steady-gigging local Sweet Cobra's tough-guy metallic tension. Better yet: Tonight's show benefits puppies! All proceeds go to A Dog's Day Rescue.
Gold Panda + Mux Mool + Supreme Cuts
9pm, Bottom Lounge, $12
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, remixes and the like. Ghostly International labelmate Mux Mool also brings his sample savvy to the stage.
Fang Island + Dinosaur Feathers + Like Pioneers
9:30pm, Beat Kitchen, $12
Fang Island bundles lots of elements together when producing its jagged, catchy punk-pop: loud guitars, chanted verses and jubilant lyrics complemented by feisty guitar licks. Arty Brooklyn trio Dinosaur Feathers delivers skewed yet joyous avant-pop that nods to Animal Collective and Dirty Projectors.
Cursive + Hospital Ships + The Sky We Scrape
10pm, Subterranean, $15
After surviving a breakup and a subsequent hiatus, Cursive wasted little time getting back to business. Its most recent effort for longtime label Saddle Creek, I Am Gemini, was released in February and boasts all the same headstrong blasts on which the group cut its teeth in the '90s. And though its nearly ten years old, we're still banking on moments from seminal record The Ugly Organ, including a rousing scream-along to "Sierra."
Blues Control + Chandeliers
10pm, Hideout, $10
Blues Control has many of the burbling analog qualities associated with another Pennsylvania-based experimental outfit, Black Moth Super Rainbow, though the pair’s Drag City debut, Valley Tangents, provides clarity of sound not present on previous releases.
Dee Alexander's Evolution Ensemble
10pm, Katerina's, $10
Dee Alexander's utility work with everyone from the AACM's large ensembles to straight-ahead trumpeter Orbert Davis shows off an impressive range of skills. Ultimately, that ability may be the workaholic jazz vocalist's calling card. Here she's joined by cellist Tomeka Reid, guitarist Scott Hesse, bassist Junius Paul and drummer Yusef Ernie Adams.
Big Freedia + Big Dipper + Eight Bit Tiger
10pm, Empty Bottle, $14
Step back and gawk at the magnificence of Big Freedia, NOLA's biggest (in almost every sense) star of the ballsy, brassy and bent style known as "sissy bounce." Chicago's king of wacky rap, Big Dipper, will no doubt provide a proper lead-in.
Kalman Balogh Gypsy Cimbalom Trio + Kmang Kmang
7pm, Martyrs, $12
Budapest native Kálmán Balogh and his crew rock the hammered dulcimer with impressive virtuosity. Sharing the bill is Kmang Kmang, the Cambodian-American avant-rock collective led by classically trained guitarist and composer Barmey Ung.
Mint Condition + K'Jon + Avant
7:30pm, Country Club Hills Theater, $35-$55
Mint Condition may still be living in the shadow of Boyz II Men, but this group had success in its own right. Plus, these guys actually play instruments. You've heard their '90s hits "Breakin' My Heart (Pretty Brown Eyes)" and "What Kind of Man Would I Be" (likely via a wedding DJ). Here's your chance to hear them live.
Aesop Rock with Rob Sonic & DJ Big Wiz + Edison + Dark Time Sunshine
9pm, Metro, $19 in advance/$21 at door
Tonight, Aesop Rock unleash introspective, misery-laden rhymes at a relatively intimate rock club. Perhaps the biggest badge of underground pride former New Yorker Aesop can claim these days is that he’s so subterranean, Harlemite Sony signee A$AP Rocky doesn’t even seem to know that his name is a tribute to the indie rap veteran.
The Meatmen + Beer Nuts + Gluttons + Bums Liars and Thieves
9pm, Cobra Lounge, $13-$15
The roots of Touch and Go records go back to Michigan's Tesco Vee, who along with founding the zine that gave the label its name also fronted the Meatmen. The first life of the band spanned nearly two decades before Vee put the Meatmen back together in 2008. Because, well, why not? Sure, we're a long way from 1980, but there's nothing more punk than tenacity.
Tu Fawning + AU + The Cyclist
10pm, Schubas, $10 in advance/$12 at door
Portland’s folky Tu Fawning, featuring chilling songstress Corrina Repp and Joe Haege of 31 Knots, recently released its second album, A Monument. Portland act AU, whose third album, Both Lights, is ambitiously all over the place, also appears.
10pm, Cubby Bear Lincolnshire, $25 in advance/$30 at door
Twista once held the record as the fastest MC in the world, which doesn't mean as much now that most MCs have shifted gears and the rhymes on the radio are so… fucking… slow.
The Drive Tour: College + Anoraak + Electric Youth
10:30pm, Lincoln Hall, $15
It may come as a surprise to all of you starstruck with Ryan Gosling, but the cultural caché of Drive extends beyond its lead hunk. A sort of pastiche that put the present day squarely in the '80s (or did it?), the soundtrack focused on electronic acts turning the sights of their future music to the bubbly, Ital and disco era. Mostly composed by rocker-turned-film-scorer Cliff Martinez, it also features French indie-electro act College and Canadian synth-pop duo Electric Youth. While Anoraak fits right in stylistically, it wasn't on the soundtrack, so it seems it's just along for the ride.
The Budos Band + Wayne Montana
10:30pm, Subterranean, $15
The Budos Band is part of the fine Daptone Records roster. The instrumental combo—which came together in an after-school jazz program in Staten Island—points heavily to Fela and often invokes blaxploitation soundtracks from back in the day. Chicago DJ Wayne Montana of the Eternals spins.
Woodstock Mozart Festival
3pm, 8pm, Woodstock Opera House, $30-$52
Notable Chicago pianist David Schrader lugs his own fortepiano to Woodstock to kick off the festival's 26th year. He plays a variety of Mozart's masterworks, including Piano Concerto in C major, K. 246 (No. 8) Lützow, and Piano Concerto in E-flat major, K. 271 (No. 9) Jeunehomme.
5:30pm, Country Club Hills Theater, $15-$45
Motown was, of course, practically a collective—of writers, singers and top-notch session players. But if we were to pit one act against another, we suspect the totality of the Temptations catalog would trump just about all of its labelmates'. Admittedly, the current Temptations lineup is just a fraction of its former self: but man, those songs remain eternal.
Eleni Mandell + Algebro + Henry Wolfe
7:30pm, The Ace Bar, $10
Folk songstress Eleni Mandell is nothing if not prolific. Also a member of supertroupe the Living Sisters, the singer-songwriter chanteuse has crafted nine solo LPs since 1998, the most recent being I Can See the Future, released earlier this year.
Alessandro Cortini + Richard Devine + Lichens + Keith Fullerton Whitman
8pm, Empty Bottle, $15
This showcase of modular synthesizer performances is presented by blog TRASH_AUDIO and features Italian artist Alessandro Cortini, the man behind SONOIO and a member of the Nine Inch Nails lineup from 2005–2008. Aphex Twin remixer Richard Devine and Chicago expat Rob Lowe (Lichens) also get tweaky and knob twisty.
Tennis + Pet Lions
8pm, Lincoln Hall, $15
Husband-and-wife duo Tennis plies what could be easily described as Polaroid pop. The group's songs suggest sunny, vibrant snapshots of ’60s rock and girl-group proclivities, marrying Alaina Moore's vivid vocals to warm-sounding organs and guitars. New record Young & Old, recorded in Nashville with Black Keys' drummer Patrick Carney, hit the Internet in February.
Lil' Ed & The Blues Imperials + Mike Dangeroux + Eric Noden
9pm, Buddy Guy's Legends, $20
Ed Williams is known for his slashing slide work with the Blues Imperials; his live show will leave you sweating.
Rebecca Gates + Archer Prewitt
9pm, Hideout, $10
Rebecca Gates recently hit the road again to promote a new album, The Float, her first in more than a decade, which was backed by a band that includes members of Wild Flag, the Jicks and Blue Cranes. The Sea and Cake guitar/vocalist Archer Prewitt opens.
Transmission Series: Rob Mazurek's Throne of the House of Good and Evil
10pm, Hungry Brain, $7 donation
Tonight's showcase offers a trifecta of local swagger. Local cornetist Rob Mazurek (Exploding Star Orchestra, Chicago Underground Duo) presents two new works: Good Suite #3 and Evil Site #7. Bass player Matt Lux (Isotope 217) and drummer John Herndon (Tortoise) flesh out the sound.