Best concerts this weekend | Jan 25-27
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."
8pm, Double Door, $29.50-$100
Method Man is one of the most electric and far-reaching live performers in hip-hop today. After cutting his teeth with the Wu-Tang Clan, the ace lyricist went on to a successful career as a duo with (unofficial, but who cares) Wu collaborator Redman, as well as nabbing a Grammy for the tune "I'll Be There for You/You're All I Need to Get By," with Mary J. Blige. Oh, and did we mention his acting career? If you don't know him as "Cheese" from The Wire, then you might recall his ode to weed, How High. There was also that silly sitcom, Method & Red, but we're sure he'd rather not (and might actually not, given the ganja intake) remember that one. In short: The guy's a total badass and any hip-hop fan with half a lick of sense should rush to catch this intimate performance.
Circuit des Yeux + Rabid Rabbit + These Wonderful Evils + Nad Navillus
8pm, The Burlington, donation $10
Circuit des Yeux is the nom de rock of songwriter Haley Fohr, who recently relocated to Chicago from Bloomington, Indiana. Her 2011 Sub Pop release, Portrait, moved away from the project's lo-fi roots (without compromising her stark vision, natch). Here she plays behind a new single, CDY3, released earlier this month. Postmetal brutalists Rabid Rabbit, These Wonderful Evils and Nad Navillus support.
8pm, The Shrine, $22.50-$37.50
Returning to, hopefully, unload an arsenal of the best yo mama insults ever ("Yo mama got a peg leg, with a kickstand!") is the Pharcyde. Okay, so it's not the complete lineup—but it's damn close with MCs Fatlip and SlimKid3 plus J.Sw!ft (whose tragic decline and resurrection was documted in the film 1 More Hit) and L.A. Jay, who both have producer credits with the South Central collective. But the question remains: Whose mama can actually get down with 22 burritos?
Expo '76 featuring Renaldo Domino + Black Umbrella Brigade
8pm, Red Line Tap, $10
Renaldo Domino (named so because his voice is as sweet as Domino sugar) is a Chicago soul vet unearthed by the crate diggers behind the Numero Group in the late aughties.
Bobby Broom Trio
8pm and 10pm, Jazz Showcase, $20; students $15
You might recognize Bobby Broom from the Green Mill, where he held the guitar chair in the Deep Blue Organ Trio for more than a decade, floating soulful voicings over Chris Foreman’s soothing organ. He plays the Showcase behind his latest solo effort, Upper West Side Story, a nine-song salute to his hometown composed of originals, which was released last year.
Al Rabee Band
8:30pm, Old Town School of Folk Music (Szold Hall), $10
This group features a lineup of Middle Eastern musicians with impressive résumés, including the former leader of the Jordanian National Orchestra, violinist Antoun Shamoon.
Patricia Barber Quartet
9pm, Green Mill, $15
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. Tonight she presents a new disc, Smash, which features John Krigor on guitar, Larry Kohut on bass and Jon Deitemyer on drums. As with classic Barber, the new LP's steeped in fiery tales of love affairs and loss with a few moments of whimsy, like Gertrude Steinesque track "The Swim," made up of a series of two-syllable lines.
9:30pm and 11pm, Andy's, $15
Wilkes has broad tastes, playing in both the avant-garde Art Ensemble of Chicago as well as more smooth-jazz-oriented affairs. In either scenario, the trumpeter's got chops to spare.
Ava Luna + Summer Girlfriends + Celestial Shore
9:30pm, Empty Bottle, $7
If you like your indie soul arty, hectic and ultra polished, try New York's Ava Luna, which matches prismatic harmonies with big, earthy beats. Summer Girlfriends describes itself as dedicated only to making fun music, eating pizza and being good friends, which can easily translate to insufferable. Fortunately, the band's lady-rock isn't laced with too much saccharine.
Ultraista + Prefuse 73
10pm, Lincoln Hall, $18
Nigel Godrich is known to music geeks as a recurring name in liner notes more than a musician per se, a producer whose career has been defined by his most loyal client, Radiohead. But in the last couple of years he’s begun to break out of that box, establishing himself as a live performer as a member of Thom Yorke’s Atoms for Peace and more recently Ultraísta, which combines Godrich’s gift for isolating incandescent sounds with entrancing loops, glowing synthesizers, stuttering rhythms and sublime vocals. Glitchy, gurgling producer Prefuse 73, who recently remixed Ultraísta's "You're Out," supports.
James Murphy (LCD Soundsystem)
10pm, The Mid, $25 day of show, advance $20 at clubtix.com
When we first covered James Murphy and his DFA Records, it was as dance insurgent, bringing a punk attitude, broad music knowledge and hard-won studio chops to bear on a new fusion of dance and rock. Years later, Murphy's LCD Soundsystem has had its say and ripple effects far beyond the dance charts. Murphy divides his time between the studio and DJ bookings such as this where he shows both his enthusiasm for Loft/Larry Levan-style soulful disco, nu disco, Balearic beats and oddball rock jams—always heavy on the percussion. He's joined by young hopefuls the Redux DJs, Tim Zawada, Mike Petrack and Aran Daniels. We've never been anything but fully satisfied by a Murphy set—file under not to be missed.
Saturday January 26
Teith + Trevor de Brauw + Yixi Nama
2pm, Empty Bottle, Free
Pelican guitarist Trevor de Brauw presents his latest project, Teith, an art-damaged post-rock quartet that celebrates the release of its debut, Humboldt Park, at this daytime listening party. De Brauw and Teith's Josh Grubman (a.k.a. Yixi Nama) open with solo sets before giving attendees a spin of the new record.
4pm, Saki, Free
Pink Frost (formerly Apteka) pairs psych-drenched guitar with pounding drums to surprisingly cool and fruitful effect.
Jenny Owen Youngs + Dan Henig + Felix & Lyons
6:30pm, Beat Kitchen, $12
Singer-songwriter Jenny Owen Youngs's shining indie-pop tugs at your heartstrings at the first listen. Here, the New Jersey native, a protégé of Regina Spektor, brings her infectious melodies and relatable narratives to life, switching between ukulele and acoustic guitar.
Sera Cahoone + Ryan Jeffrey
7pm, Schubas, $10
Seattle's Sera Cahoone is a drummer-turned-accomplished acoustician whose dusky folk-pop and country-tinged ditties are both lovely and understated. The 37-year-old returns with her newly released third record, Deer Creek Canyon.
Morrissey + Kristeen Young
8pm, Chicago Theatre, $39.50-$79.50
Oh, this charming man! British national treasure Morrissey brings his Smiths and solo hits as well as new, unreleased material to the Chicago Theatre, reminding fans that the one and only Mozzer is still a swaggering force to be reckoned with. Support comes from Kristeen Young, who was allegedly fired from at least one stint opening for Morrissey but who has apparently mended relations. This show was rescheduled from Oct 27.
Paper Mice + Trin Tran + Grant Wallace Band
9pm, The Burlington, donation $7
Spastic local three-piece Paper Mice are appropriately signed to Three One G, Justin Pearson of the Locust's San Diego–based label, and deftly exhibit all the snotty, wild-yet-abbreviated explosiveness of the imprint's heyday.
The Casket Lottery + Maps for Travelers + Sweet Cobra + Jar'd Loose
9pm, Ultra Lounge, $10
Kansas City post-hardcore quintet the Casket Lottery (ex-Coalesce) reunited in 2011 to record new material, which it released last year in the form of two 7" records, "The Door" and a split with Touché Amoré. Maps for Travelers also hit town from KC with an arsenal of ’90s post-hardcore-influenced rippers. The Chicago acts on the bill fit right in: steady-gigging aggro bros Sweet Cobra and the sludgy Jar'd Loose.
Chicago Afrobeat Project + Nick & The Ovorols
9:30pm, Martyrs', $10
Fela Kuti envisioned Afrobeat as an almost revolutionary force, and while it never quite achieved that ambitious goal, years after Fela's death the music he pioneered remains as vibrant and exciting as ever, as channeled by bands such as the Chicago Afrobeat Project, who celebrated its tenth anniversary and a fantastic new record, Nyash Up, in December.
Kopecky Family Band + The Eastern Sea
10pm, Schubas, $12
Nashville's likably melodramatic Kopecky Family Band headlines with kitchen-sink indie. Rising Austin seven-piece the Eastern Sea does its quietly lush, folky thing in the supporting slot. The band released its debut LP, Plague, last summer.
Sunday January 27
2pm, Civic Opera House, $34-$244
Puccini's classic and beloved opera returns to Lyric in a new-to-Chicago production owned by the San Francisco Opera Association. Puerto Rican soprano Ana María Martínez stars as Mimi, alongside tenor Dimitri Pittas, who makes his Lyric debut as her lover, Rodolfo. Set in the vibrant Latin Quarter of mid-19th-century Paris, the plot revolves around the antics of the artistic community and beautifully straddles the divide between comedy and tragedy. The perfect opera for first-timers.
Action Bronson + Calez + Alex Wiley + The Impala Sound Champions
6pm, Reggie's Rock Club, $20-$22
While white rappers tend to be maligned, Action Bronson's dopeness transcends race, and he's steeped in New York hip-hop culture in a way that few are. The 315-pound, nasal-voiced Albanian-American gourmand plays with a real sense of joy.
Buddy Guy + Eric Davis
7:30pm, Buddy Guy's Legends, $55
Buddy Guy's nearing the tail end of his annual January residency at the club that bears his name, so stop twiddling your thumbs and get to one of the remaining gigs.
The Darkness + Hell or Highwater
7:30pm, Riviera Theatre, $30
The Darkness debuted as a big, dumb joke, which might have been funnier had the band itself not taken its role as hair-metaller-cum-glam-revivalist so seriously. Which is to say, the lack of a punch line was the punch line, with barely a wink as the group anachronistically embraced spandex, guitar solos and bombast with seamless aplomb, appropriating the best (which means the worst, too) of the likes of Queen, Slade and other masters of over-the-top rock.
8pm, Rainbo Club
Doug McCombs of Tortoise and Eleventh Dream Day has helmed instrumental ensemble Brokeback since the mid-’90s, and his writing for the group has always had a panoramic quality. Brokeback and the Black Rock, the band's latest for Thrill Jockey maintains that cinematic scope. The grand melody on the record's closer, “Colossus of Roads,” begs you to look up, the better to see the towering beat kept by bassist Pete Croke and drummer James Elkington. McCombs and fellow guitarist Chris Hansen take detours off the tune’s main route that are so stirring you might book a road trip just to find matching scenery.
Lucinda Williams + Doug Pettibone + Kenneth Brian
8pm, City Winery, $65-$85
Celebrated singer-songwriter Lucinda Williams hits Chicago for a three-night, two-venue tour behind 2011's Don Was–produced LP, Blessed, widely acclaimed as one of the benchmark releases of her illustrious career. She plays two shows at City Winery before heading to Evanston for a turn at SPACE.
Boom Boom Room
10pm, Dolphin, $10
This legendary, polysexual Chicago house night is back to Dolphin, settling on a Sunday night spot, rather than the Monday it used to call home. It remains an awe-inspiring blend of clubbers and regular city folk who like to party, and it's a Chicago institution.