Wu-Tang's Iron Man has not lost an ounce of his lyrical skill-set, continually spewing poetically formless, detail-dense, quasi-fantasy tails of the urban game. His moody, chopsocky latest, Twelve Reasons to Die, is a collaboration with producer Adrian Younge, who opens the night with his '60s-inspired soul project, Venice Dawn, a cross of Italian soundtracks and French chanson—you know, the stuff of Quentin Tarantino's dreams. Abbey Pub. Fri 26. $20–$25.
2. Johnny Marr
What took the legendary guitarist 49 years to release his debut solo album, The Messenger? Well, he's been rather busy, initially with the Smiths, of course, and more recently as a gun-for-hire in the Cribs and Modest Mouse. Alone, he has a surprisingly lovely voice and a penchant for sturdy Britpop. Naturally, his gift for arpeggiated chords and melancholic jangle remain. Any Anglophilic '90s nostalgist should drool. Metro. Thu 25. $30.
Liverpool's lover of all things cult '60s, Clinic called its latest album Free Reign, and given its progress and evolution over the past 15 years, the description is appropriate, wavering between so many different art-rock poles the movement is practically dizzying. Lovely Canadian shoegazer duo No Joy premieres cuts from its sophomore album, Way to Pleasure. Lincoln Hall. Wed 24. $15.
To suggest that Eleventh Dream Day could have been a contender would be to discount the fact that it was among the greatest bands ever produced by this city. The group’s last album for a major label, El Moodio, was a victim of bad timing as much as anything else. Released in 1993, it should have been the record that rocketed the group to stardom, or at least elevated it to the same level of popularity enjoyed by EDD’s peer Yo La Tengo. Now the group looks to set things right, revisiting the album in full. Hideout. Tue 23. $5.
Much about Bleached feels been-there-done-that: It's a guitar/drum duo, crafting retro garage rock, consisting of blond sisters. Thus, the L.A. act calls to mind Frankie Rose, Vivian Girls, the Kills, et al. But it's debut, Ride Your Heart, is a blast. Saying its punky, '50s-ish pop is going out of style is like declaring the death of blue jeans. NYC's like-minded Hunters worked SXSW hard this year, fueled by the captivating energy of front-woman Isabel Almeida. Subterranean. Sat 27. $10.
KRS-One + Mykal Rose + Sister Carol There's erratic and then there's KRS-One: hip-hop royalty whose reputation has been undercut by lackluster releases and unpredictable behavior. But did we mention he's still hip-hop royalty? Support comes from the great Mykal Rose of Black Uhuru and fellow Jamaican music icon Sister Carol. The Shrine. 8pm. $28.50, VIP $40–$425.
The Armando Diaz Experience In this culty iO staple, a person starts the show with a monologue inspired by an audience suggestion, then the city's top improvisers create scenes around it. Simply put, this is iO doing what it does best. iO Del Close Theater. 8:30pm. $12.
That's Weird, Grandma Want to look cool to your favorite pipsqueak (and adult friends, too)? Introduce them to Barrel of Monkeys’ joyously long-running public show. The troupe conducts writing workshops with CPS grade school students by day, then transforms the kids’ stories into hilarious or heartfelt skits and songs, performed with abandon by a spirited ensemble. Neo-Futurarium. 8pm. $10, kids $5.
ART & DESIGN
"Bob Snyder: Orniphonia 2." Experimental Sound Studio continues its Florasonic series with Snyder's four-channel audio installation, in which electronic circuits generate ever-changing sounds that mimic bird calls. Lincoln Park Conservatory. 9am–5pm. Free.
Purple Rain. Dir. Albert Magnoli. 1984. 111mins. "Prince: the story. The Struggle. The movie" boasts a trailer for the pop star's self-styled feature debut. The struggle, in this case, is "The Kid's" attempt to sort out his personal life and be crowned king of a Minneapolis nightclub. Logan Theatre. 11:45pm. $7.
The Warlocks + Secret Colours + Sisters of Your Sunshine Vapor + The Holydrug Couple. L.A.'s Warlocks headline a night of neo-psych, including Chicago's own entry, Secret Colours, plus Detroit's Sisters of Your Sunshine Vapor and the Holydrug Couple, who come all the way from Chile. Subterranean. 9pm. 17 and older. $10.
Meg Wolitzer reads from her new, much-buzzed-about novel, The Interestings, about a group of lifelong friends whose lives diverge and intersect in striking ways. Women and Children First. 4.30pm. Free.
EATING & DRINKING
Earth Day, bitches. This holiday gets real at Sandwich Me In, which hosts events all day long. Learn how to make bread, how to garden, how to can, how to sustainably raise hogs (we told you it was going to get real!) and more. 3037 N Clark St (773-250-0286). 11am–8pm. Free.
CIMMfest: The Source Family. The festival closes with another “band” championed by Drag City, Ya Ho Wa 13, the psych-rock arm of the health food restaurant/commune/cult known as the Source Family in the early ’70s. In advance of its theatrical run in June, the mind-blowing documentary The Source Family premieres here. Constellation. 7pm. $15.
Black Playwrights' Festival. Black Ensemble Theater's 8th annual festival ends tonight. It features new works by playwrights including Jill Ross, Jarrin Davis, Katrina Miller and more. See blackensemble.org for the full schedule. Black Ensemble Theater. 7:30pm. $15.
SHOPPING & STYLE
Happy Record Store Day! Here are four stores putting a fresh spin on the annual event.
Bring your passport to Let Them Eat Chaos. In the Second City's 101st Mainstage revue, an ensemble consisting of veteran performers Edgar Blackmon, Holly Laurent, Katie Rich and Steve Waltien and Mainstage newcomers Ross Bryant and Tawny Newsome leaves Chicago behind in favor of a space- and time-bending revue that loops in Vienna circa 1819, the opening of the Panama Canal, the distant future and more. Second City. 8pm, 11pm. $23–$28.
The Lady from Shanghai Dir. Orson Welles. 1947. 87mins. Welles does noir, fantastically. The plot, involving a boat ride and a murder scheme, is just an excuse for the actor-director to wrap his tongue around some flavorful tough talk and trade steamy stares with then-wife Rita Hayworth. Oh, and stage one hell of a climax: the oft-referenced shootout in a house of mirrors. Music Box. 11:30am. $9.25, first show $8.25.
For four albums now, Montreal's majestic Besnard Lakes have flown just under the radar. In an ideal world, the new Until in Excess, Imperceptible UFO would change that. Up first is the drone-inclined art-pop of fellow Montreal act Suuns. Schubas. 10pm. $17.
Bonobo (DJ set). Simon Green's productions transcend stereotypical categorization. Soulful, melodic, fully realized songs—that flirt with jazz, world rhythms and downright stoner beats—distinguish his work from the background wallpaper produced by so many who share his genre tags. If you can't swing tickets to the live gig, never fear, in the DJ format Bonobo excels at creating that transformative state that lets chill beats, jazz-fusion excursions and lush instrumental hip-hop blend seamlessly. Gun Love and Steve Gerard spin, too. Primary. 10pm. $20, discounts in advance at clubtix.com.
At the NBA All-Star Game this past February, Alicia Keys delivered a mess of a halftime show in which she didn't sound the least bit on her game. "More like Alicia *Off* Keys," one viewer tweeted. (Swisssh!)
So my state of mind going into her show last night at the United Center was one of mild skepticism. It was dubbed the "Set the World on Fire Tour," but given her recent inconsistency as a live performer, would the night go down in flames?
My fears were extinguished, as the Manhattan native showed impressive vocal command and range—whether belting out a big number (e.g., "Empire State of Mind") or delivering a breathy ballad (e.g., "Brand New Me"). And she never strayed noticeably from the pitch.
"Her voice is so soothing," the middle-aged woman behind me said wistfully. "I could listen to it all day."
I was thinking the same thing, as Keys reached into the upper registers of her smoky contralto to deliver the wispy "Like I'll Never See You Again" on a stage bathed in blue light, and when she nailed the melisma-laden "Fallin'," backed by a powerful trio of backup singers.
"Sing it, girl," Ms. She's So Soothing shouted.
But throughout the 105-minute show I couldn't escape the thought that portions of her performance were too languid, not so much setting the room on fire (to overuse the metaphor) as lulling us to sleep. The popular title track from Girl on Fire, and jazzier R&B numbers such as "Listen to Your Heart," might be better classified as Rhythm & Snooze.
That's not to say Keys needs to Beyonc-ify her live act and incorporate complicated choreography, tons of costume changes and other bells and whistles. On this tour, she sticks to the same outfit—a plunging, sparkling red top and tight black pants—until the encore (when she changes into a sparkling red dress). And she doesn't so much dance as kind of slink stiffly around the stage. I just wish Keys stuck to what she does best: singing soulful piano ballads—raw, expressive, just her and a grand piano. Nowhere was that more clear last night than "If I Ain't Got You," from 2003's The Diary of Alicia Keys, which remains as gorgeous as ever.
"All I've got is time," Marnie Stern told the crowd at the Empty Bottle on Wednesday night, repeating a line from her bouyant, slightly frantic anthem "Hell Yes" (off her latest effort for Kill Rock Stars, Chronicles of Marnia). "It's really true. I haven't had sex in a thousand years."
The New York–based singer/songwriter/guitarist—whose stage banter is made all the more great due to her high-pitched Coffee-Talk-with-Linda-Richman accent—had a lot to say about her dissatisfying sex life.
Last weekend, the Mac attacked the United Center. Buckingham, Nicks, Fleetwood and McVie (John, that is; Christine hasn't toured with the group in ages) speed-plucked and harmonized through their back catalog of California radio gold. They're sporting a couple of new tunes, too.
In case you missed it: Some of our favorite local musicians selected their favorite Fleetwood Mac songs for us. Check out the deep cuts dug by Kelly Hogan, John Stirratt of Wilco and more. Hogan never fails to deliver a killer anecdote. Love her.
Zabriskie Point Dir. Michelangelo Antonioni. 1970. 110mins. Having diagnosed the sick soul of Europe, Antonioni travels to America. As if discovering a new planet, he gazes on endless highways, crass commercialism, Death Valley lovemaking and comfy consumer lifestyles (the latter memorably exploded in the finale). Dismissed by many on initial release, Zabriskie Point today epitomizes Antonioni's formal mastery. Gene Siskel Film Center. 6pm. $11, students $7, members $6, School of the Art Institute students and faculty $4.
NBC 5 Chicago’s Mary Ann Ahern relays tales of workplace shenanigans, then a Second City improv team reenacts them in Newsprov for the Arts. All proceeds benefit Chicago Lights, a nonprofit org that works with low-income families. Fourth Presbyterian Church, 126 E Chestnut St (chicagolights.eventbrite.com). 8pm. $20, advance $15.
Local publisher Curbside Splendor launches a new series of readings, discussion and live music at Billy Corgan's Highland Park tea house. James Tadd Adcox, Okla Elliott and Kathleen Rooney read work on the theme of "origins" and Jacob S. Knabb provides live music. Madame ZuZu's. 8pm. Free.
Doughy, pale, lovable oaf Jim Gaffigan has moved on from Hot Pockets to enriched wheat flour for his Wonder Bread Tour. You know the drill: silly voices, the sweatpants lifestyle, junk food. Chicago Theatre. 7, 9:30pm. $39.75–$49.75.
"In here, we are whole." As an extension of the monthly works-in-progress series, "Fraction," four emerging Chicago choreographers—Francesca Bourgault, Ashley Deran, Lauren Warnecke and Jessie Young—present seven distinctive pieces. Links Hall at Constellation. 8pm. Donation $10–$20.
Since a Terrence Malick/Rob Zombie/Tom Cruise collaboration will never, ever happen—although it's fun to envision the hypothetical results—you'll have to make do with the three rubbing shoulders in our just-posted crop of new Film reviews:
In To the Wonder, Malick discovers fast food.
With The Lords of Salem, Zombie becomes a sensitive director of actors. Really.
Cruise destroys the world in Oblivion.
Journalist Juan González serves as a guide to an illustrated version of his book in Harvest of Empire.
A catastrophe in L.A. is only the beginning in It's a Disaster.
No Place on Earth: A caver unearths a Holocaust story in Ukraine.
Friday, Apr 19
One net positive about the imminent Red Line construction south of Roosevelt? No more inebriated White Sox fans clogging up the train. Until May 19, though, you and the rest of the rowdy bunch can hop on the El to watch the South Siders. Today, they take on the Minnesota Twins. U.S. Cellular Field, 333 W 35th St (312-674-1000). 7:10pm; $5–$85.
NBC 5 Chicago’s Mary Ann Ahern relays tales of workplace shenanigans, then a Second City improv team reenacts them in Newsprov for the Arts. All proceeds benefit Chicago Lights, a nonprofit org that works with low-income families. Fourth Presbyterian Church, 126 E Chestnut St (chicagolights.eventbrite.com). 8pm; $20, advance $15.