17 best concerts this weekend | Jan 3-6
Whether or not your New Year's resolution was to attend more shows, we've put together a compendium of the best concerts going on in the city this weekend. 2013's first weekend includes a bevy of shows from Buddy Guy, who begins a month-long residency at his eponymous blues club Legends; a series of concerts for Revelation Records' 25th anniversary; as well as a whole slew of shows our critics have highlighted.
Thursday Jan 3
Tail Dragger + Flowpoetry & Friends + Hannah Frank Group + Jack Avery's Kin
8 pm, Beat Kitchen, $8
Famed cigar-wagging, hip-grinding, West Side blues genius Tail Dragger makes an appearance at Beat Kitchen to show the kids how it's done.
Buddy Guy + Mike Wheeler
9 pm, Buddy Guy’s Legends, $55
Living legend Buddy Guy kicks off his annual January residency with Mike Wheeler, who's perhaps best known as a former sideman for Willie Kent.
Friday Jan 4
6 pm, The Whistler, free
The former Karate frontman calls Chicago home now, and we can't think of a cozier place for his signature guitarwork than this Logan Square cocktail lounge.
8 pm, SPACE, $20–$40
Singer Susan Werner began her career working almost exclusively in the folk vein, but she’s since expanded her purview to Tin Pan Alley, pop and beyond. Her most recent record, Kicking the Beehive, was made with the great Rodney Crowell, while her upcoming project, Hayseed, is a tribute to her Iowa farm roots. She’s currently raising money to release the latter, with farmers getting some of the proceeds, so chip in.
Rob Mazurek's Pulsar Quartet
9 pm, Sat 8 pm; Green Mill, $12
Rob Mazurek's Pulsar Quartet sprung from the fine cornetist's Exploding Star Orchestra and features that band's bassist, Matt Lux, and drummer, John Herndon, with fantastic NYC pianist Angelica Sanchez. Tonight the foursome celebrates a new release for Delmark, Stellar Pulsations.
Saturday Jan 5
Gorilla Biscuits + Youth of Today + Down to Nothing + Cro-Mags + 32 Frames
8 pm, House of Blues, $33–$100
Through its positive message, and the occasional harmonica solo, the explosive quintet Gorilla Biscuits managed to transcend hardcore’s one-dimensional nature to become one of the genre’s most beloved acts, impressive considering the band’s brief lifespan and limited studio output, consisting of one seven-inch and an album, Start Today. The latter arrived in 1989 and the band called it quits a couple of years after that, but the last decade has seen a handful of reunion gigs, including a trio of shows last summer. Here they play for NYC label Revelation Records' 25th anniversary.
8 pm, SPACE, $15–$35
Gospel-circuit grad Otis Clay evolved in the ‘70s into something more soulful and secular, though as with most soul singers, God's never far removed from the big picture. Tonight he celebrates the release of a new disc, Truth Is.
Vulgar Boatmen + Kerosene Stars
9 pm, Schubas, $12
The Vulgar Boatmen floats as a kind of rock & roll footnote, but the group’s legacy remains impressive nonetheless as one of the few acts able to fuse the chug of the Velvet Underground with the pulse of New Order, part roots-rock traditional and part Feelies frantic.
10 pm, Cobra Lounge, $15
Punk-leaning hardcore act Dead Ending, whose self-titled debut was released on Alternative Tentacles, unites members of Rise Against, Alkaline Trio, Articles of Faith and the Bomb. The quartet serves a punishing platter of no-frills sonic throttle reminiscent of the late-’80s underground.
The Bunker: Derek Plasaiko + Mike Servito
10 pm, Smart Bar, $15, before midnight $12
Repping for New York's revered underground techno party the Bunker, Detroit originators Derek Plaslaiko and Mike Servito kick off a new chapter in the event's legacy with the debut of its Smart Bar residency. As DJs, Plaslaiko errs on the harder side while Servito shows a bit more nuance in his sound, but each are experts in their craft, and regular appearances from them will undoubtedly be a boon for the Chicago scene.
Sunday Jan 6
International Contemporary Ensemble
3 pm, Chicago Cultural Center, free
The outstanding ensemble presents a mash-up concert featuring two musical revolutionaries separated by centuries. Chicago native George Lewis—a trombonist, composer and improv guru with roots in the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians—has two works on the program. His Shadowgraph 5 (1977) and Artificial Life (2007) elevate chamber music to new levels by allowing musicians to find new methods of communication and interaction. Franz Schubert's 1824 Octet also takes listeners on a wild ride, and starts out with understated melodies before rollicking to the finishing line with jolly, rhythmically tricky gestures.
7 pm, SPACE, $15–$35
As if her wildly divergent debut, Get Away from Me, wasn’t clue enough, Nellie McKay has spent the nearly ten years since stubbornly refusing to be categorized. Yes, the whimsy can be exhausting, but her creative energy is inspiring.
Buddy Guy + Samantha Fish
7:30 pm, Buddy Guy’s Legends, $55
Mr. Guy continues to hold down the fort, this time with newbie Samantha Fish, who picked up the Blues Music Award for Best New Artist in May 2012.
The Astronomer + Horse’s Ha
7:30 pm, City Winery, $12
Former Pinetop Seven player Charles Kim delivers haunted, roots-imbued melodies as the Astronomer. The Horse's Ha is a warm, roots-tinged chamber combo pairing James Elkington of the Zincs and Janet Beveridge Bean of Freakwater/Eleventh Dream Day fame. Tonight's performance is available exclusively for City Winery VinoFile members. See citywinery.com for more information.
Texas Is the Reason + Into Another + Sense Field + Popeye
8 pm, House of Blues, $33–$100
Day two of Revelation Records' 25th-anniversary celebration at HOB unearths tuneful, East Coast emo progenitor Texas Is the Reason from a 1997 breakup along with other acts from the hardcore label's roster including Into Another, Sense Field and Popeye.
Breathe Owl Breathe + Jim Becker
8 pm, Schubas, $12
Michigan’s Breathe Owl Breathe has released five albums of its idiosyncratic folk-pop to date. Given that the last one arrived back in 2010, we imagine the band’s immaculately packaged 7” “The Listeners” is a stopgap while the group works on No. 6. Jim Becker of Califone warms up the stage.
Sunday Transmission Series: Mazzarella, Herndon Duo
10 pm, Hungry Brain, $7
Alto saxophonist Nick Mazzarella and drummer John Herndon of Tortoise fame sit in for two sets at the Hungry Brain's weekly event.