1. Comic Relief Zero: An Everything Is Terrible! Stand-Up Special The Chicago-based video collective Everything Is Terrible!, which mines found VHS tapes and turns them into WTF-flavored viral magic, debuts a new hour-long collection of awful stand-up comedy footage at this live show. UP Comedy Club. Thu 8pm. $15.
2. Fight Girl Battle World Qui Nguyen's She Kills Monsters, about a woman working through her younger sister's death by playing the RPG module she wrote, was the breakout hit of this year's Garage Rep at Steppenwolf. Now InFusion Theatre Company stages another of Nguyen's poptastic plays, a sci-fi comedy about the last human woman in the galaxy. Theater Wit. $25, students and seniors $15.
3. HoZac Blackout Festival The grand garage-rock fête returns, stuffed with ripping psych, crusty bubblegum and power-pop legends. Let's start with the legends. Dwight Twilley cut a forgotten classic of skinny-jeans yearning in 1976, Sincerely. If he plays his baby-Big-Star "I'm on Fire," and he must, you will be happy. Oak Park's Pezband kicked around on the fringes of major-label fame in the Carter era, scoring an indelible hit with "Baby It's Cold Outside." Catch them both on the closing night, May 19. Saturday is for those who want the harder stuff. Chrome, another cult '70s act, revive their killer, screeching, kinda-kraut pysch-punk. Be prepared to party: They don't call it the Blackout for nothing. We're giving away free tickets! Empty Bottle. May 16–May 19 at 8pm. Daily entry $10–$25, four-day pass $70.
4. Masaki Batoh's Brain Pulse Music We're not exactly sure how this is gonna work, but we'll try to explain. Batoh leads Japanese psychedelic king Ghost. He also runs an acupuncture clinic in Tokyo. Last year, the neurologically fascinated experimentalist released the Brain Pulse Music Machine via Drag City. Consisting of a headset and "motherboard," the four-knob device (just a cool $700) picks up brain waves and converts them into sound. It supposedly helps with depression and Asperger's and with touching the wet green tongue of God or whatever. How does all that translate into a concert? Best guess: electronic droning. Bonkers droning. Empty Bottle, Tue 9pm. $15, advance $12.
5. Music + Movement Festival Showcase The Auditorium racked up quite the lineup for its inaugural music and dance fest, which couples live music with original choreography from the city’s best, including last month’s Cuban-inspired collaboration between River North Dance Chicago and the Chicago Jazz Philharmonic. What began with 11 companies has been whittled down to six, a best of the best, so to speak. Catch the sextet, with a special finale from Giordano Dance Chicago. Auditorium Theatre. Wed 7:30pm. $20, student $15.
6. Vintage Garage Shop 100 vintage vendors selling everything from furniture to clothes in a six-story parking garage in Uptown on the third Sunday of every month. The theme for this one is Vintage and DIY. 5051 N Broadway, Sun 9am–5pm. $3.
7. Chicago Symphony Orchestra: Beethoven 6 Those unfamiliar with Toru Takemitsu's oeuvre should track down a copy of the 1964 film Woman in the Dunes to get a taste of film-scoring genius…and then grab a ticket to the CSO's performance of his riverrun. Beethoven's 6th, Villa-Lobos's Amazonas and Smetana's The Moldau, No. 2, are all wonderful listens, but to witness Peter Serkin, the pianist for whom riverrun was written, at the keys is the reason to rush to the Loop. Symphony Center, Thu 8pm; Sat 8pm; May 21 Tue 7:30pm. $24–$208.
8. Cremaster 1 + Cremaster 2 Dir. Matthew Barney. Barney's five-part, six-and-a-half-hour film cycle is about, among other things, gender, the nature of creativity and the amazing versatility of Vaseline. Shot out of sequence (4, 1, 5, 2, 3) over ten years, the cycle has been compared to everything from Star Wars to Wagner. Barney has called the Cremaster cycle a "narrative sculpture," so watch them in any order and look for visual motifs. In 2 (1999, 79 mins) Barney uses the Columbia Icefields (a glacier in the Canadian Rockies) as a piece of sculpture or character in the film, and its creamy, textured surface resonates with the molten Vaseline that Richard Serra scoops and splatters in 3 (2002, 182 mins). In 5 (1997, 55 mins), the rising white doves tethered with ribbons to Barney's testicles (in one of his many guises) chime with the Y-shape of American football goalposts in 1 (1996, 40 mins). Gene Siskel Film Center. Tue 8pm. $11, $7 students, $6 members, $4 students and faculty of the School of the Art Institute, and staff of the Art Institute.
9. Wed Local Expo There's local meat, local cheese, local veggies...and now, local weddings. The Wicker Park Bucktown Chamber of Commerce is hosting this expo to encourage brides and grooms to get their flowers, dress, cake and more from area artisans, and to book their venues in the neighborhood. Vendors include Big Star, Momoko Photography, Pistil & Vine, Alliance Bakery and Salon Blonde. In keeping with the venue, a DJ spins while you peruse the goods. Double Door, Sun 11am–2pm. $10.
10. Marcus Samuelsson Samuelsson visits the Merchandise Mart's Snaidero Showroom with his new memoir, YES, CHEF, about food, family and reality TV (among other things). Ticket includes a reception and copy of the book. Merchandise Mart, Sat 4pm–Sat 6pm. $50.
On Sunday, the CTA will shut down nine Red Line stops south of Roosevelt for a five-month reconstruction project. That's right: You Loop workers can no longer hop on the El for a quick ride to Chinatown for lunch, and all those boisterous Sox fans are going to have to find other means of getting to the Cell. Here's what else you'll be missing.
Something I read on a message board bummed me out. Okay, that's not surprising in any way, but this particular comment really got my goat. Some dude was giving his knee-jerk review of the new Daft Punk, Random Access Memories, our most anticipated album of the summer (well, of the decade, perhaps). The guy said the record was a melting pot of "uncool music" from the '70s. Are we still not over the jockhead mentality of "disco sucks"? Did LCD Soundsystem not fix this? Disco pushed pop forward; Disco Demolition Night set culture back.
Random Access Memories is indeed a Naugahyde-upholstered rocket back to the era of Star Wars and Saturday Night Fever. The decade ran far deeper than the Bee Gees. Daft Punk has already unearthed nasty gems like Breakwater for modern ears. Sci-fi and funk were the rage, often melding in amazing ways, and not just on novelty records by Meco.
To prove my point, I've put together a mix of my favorite trippy disco and cosmic keyboard excursions from the 1970s. As you'll hear with Cerrone and Les Rockets, Daft Punk were hardly the first Frenchmen to add a splash of space to hard dance tracks. Nothing is uncool. Well, Limp Bizkit. Definitely not this. I hope you enjoy. It will tide you over until R.A.M. (probably) streams later today.
Be sure to check out our playlist of space jams from the composer behind Adler Planetarium's upcoming "Cosmic Wonder," too.
As with Nightlife, this week is packed with fantastic concerts. A bunch of them that we highly recommend are sold out—Flying Lotus, Foals, Kurt Vile (who returns in July), MS MR (who also play Monday) and the Shins. If you can find tickets, congrats. I'll steer you to some equally great gigs that are still available.
1. Rodriguez Though the 1970 album has long been a cult must-own among music nerds, Rodriguez's Cold Fact hit a startling level of popularity recently thanks to the Oscar-winning doc, Searching for Sugar Man. The 70-year-old guitarist now rightfully seeks belated fame for his arresting, lightly psychedelic folk-rock songs. Hurry, tickets are going fast. Arie Crown Theater. May 17 at 8pm. $25–$50.
2. Shout Out Louds + Haerts Sweden's answer to the Strokes (or is that now Phoenix?), the Shout Out Louds touch down to celebrate a new album for Merge, Optica—the band's first new music in three years. Haerts glide in first with synth-streaked Fleetwood Mac–isms. Metro. May 16 at 7:30pm. $20.
3. Youth Lagoon + Majical Cloudz A signee of the rapidly diversifying Fat Possum roster, Youth Lagoon—the one-man project of 23-year-old Boise, Idaho, singer-songwriter Trevor Powers—fashions an eerie appeal out of reedy vulnerability, nostalgic pop hooks and hazy, dreamlike distance. Tonight you can expect to hear from his eagerly awaited, just-released sophomore album, Wondrous Bughouse. Canada's Majikal Clouds sing sad baritone blues over electric piano. The Montreal duo just released the powerfully downer Impersonator on Matador Records and should steal the show. Metro. May 15 at 9pm. $18.
4. HoZac Blackout Festival The grand garage-rock fête returns, stuffed with ripping psych, crusty bubblegum and power-pop legends. Let's start with the legends. Dwight Twilley cut a forgotten classic of skinny-jeans yearning in 1976, Sincerely. If he plays his baby-Big-Star "I'm on Fire," and he must, you will be happy. Oak Park's Pezband kicked around on the fringes of major-label fame in the Carter era, scoring an indelible hit with "Baby It's Cold Outside." Catch them both on the closing night, May 19. Saturday is for those who want the harder stuff. Chrome, another cult '70s act, revive their killer, screeching, kinda-kraut pysch-punk. Be prepared to party: They don't call it the Blackout for nothing. We're giving away free tickets! Empty Bottle. May 16–May 19 at 8pm. Daily entry $10–$25, four-day pass $70.
5. Lady Lamb the Beekeeper + Xeniz Rubinos Not nearly as batshit as the name would let on, Lady Lamb the Beekeeper brings to mind Andrew Bird (the fiddle-flecked art Americana) and Regina Spektor (the crisp vocal bits). Xenia Rubinos executes breathy vocal acrobatics over electric-jolts keyboard and the monster drums of Marco Buccelli on the new Magic Trix. Quirky and cool women in abundance. Schubas. May 14 at 8pm. $10.
You're going to want to go ahead and take a personal day on Friday. Trust me. This week is stuffed with monster sets, so much that we couldn't squeeze in a couple of top-notch rock-dudes-DJing sessions from Foals and the Rapture. Even with Flying Lotus sold out, there are plenty of options. If you're as high on the new Daft Punk as we are (and why wouldn't you be?) sets from Digitalism and Dan Ghenacia should help you get over the fact that the French robots are not touring any time soon.
1. Four Tet Since the late '90s, Four Tet has set himself apart as one of electronic music's architectural bad boys. Defying conventions and even marrying his abstract beats with jazz, post-rock and an array of disparate sounds, he's challenged ears and rocked dance floors with equal aplomb. Last week marked the tenth anniversary of his stellar Rounds, and there's an anniversary reissue to celebrate. Expect the wayback machine to dial in to 2003. That's okay, it still sounds like the future. Smart Bar. May 16 at 10pm. $13, before midnight $10.
2. Loco Dice German techno slinger Loco Dice (formerly a hip-hop DJ) was on the leading edge of the minimal techno wave a few years ago with residencies in Ibiza and Düsseldorf. We're confident he can show us what's new and classic in techno without breaking a sweat. Spy Bar. May 16 at 10pm. $20.—John Dugan
3. Digitalism The Hamburg duo brings its rock-inspired live electro to America once again, which figures as it is now based in new EDM capital Los Angeles. It should be a good appetizer before the sonic wunderkinds finish their next full-length. Highly recommended. Bottom Lounge. May 15 at 9pm. $20.—John Dugan
4. Dan Ghenacia With Daft Punk the inarguable pop culture phenomenon of the moment, all eyes and ears are focused back on Paris. The man holding down the house in Paris is Dan Ghenacia. Founder of both the Freak N'Chic and Appollonia labels, Ghenacia released early works by deep house gurus Shonky and Jamie Jones. His work is heavy, simple and funky. In other words, the while Daft Punk may have gone organic disco, somebody is still doing their Homework. Spy Bar. Sat 18 at 10pm. $20, advance $15.
5. Imran Khan Legend of Punjabi hip-hop, Desi music and pop, Dutch-born singer Imran Khan (his "Ni Nachleh" is a monster jam) headlines tonight with support from DJ Kamran and Naveen Kumar. Definitely dress to impress at this international event or you won't get in. Nikki. May 16 at 10pm. $20.—John Dugan
Wayward Productions, whose biker-gang take on Shakespeare's Richard III was well-received earlier this spring at Underground Wonder Bar, announced last week that the show would get a remount at the Den Theatre May 24–June 29. Now the company's revealed complete casting for the remount, with a slew of top-notch storefront talent.
The show's director, Carlo Lorenzo Garcia, will also step into the title role; other new additions include Hilary Williams as Lady Anne, Layne Manzer as Richmond, Sadie Rogers as Rivers, Jude Roche as Buckingham, Brian Hurst as Clarence, Gaby Labotka as Grey, Alex Farrington as the Sergeant At Arms and Paul Krick as Prince Edward (at Saturday performances only).
Cast members returning from the original production include Brittany Ellis as Queen Margaret, Natalie DiCristofano as Queen Elizabeth, Ashley Rose as Mistress Shore, Charlesanne Rabensburg as Duchess of York, Christopher Marcum as King Edward, Gavin Robinson as Tyrell, Maximillian Otto Lapine as Ratcliffe, Eric Louglin as Stanley, Spencer Smith as Hastings and Bill Daniels as Prince Edward (except on Saturdays). Read our three-star review of Richard III at Underground Wonder Bar.
As part of its ongoing attempt to revitalize the Taste of Chicago, the city has announced that it will be continuing the "Mazda6 Celebrity Chef du Jour" program, in which big-name Chicago chefs cook three-course meals in an air conditioned pavilion on site. The sit-down meals cost $40, and tickets go on sale this Wednesday, May 15, at 10am at tasteofchicago.us. Dinners take place at 6:30pm and brunch/lunch on Saturday and Sunday at noon.
This year's schedule of chefs is:
Wednesday, July 10 (dinner): Rick Bayless (Frontera, Topolobampo, XOCO, etc.)
Thursday, July 11 (dinner): Carrie Nahabedian (Naha, Brindille)
Friday, July 12 (dinner): Giuseppe Tentori (BOKA, GT Fish & Oyster)
Saturday, July 13 (brunch): Gale Gand and the Hearty Boys
Sunday, July 14 (lunch): Paul Kahan (Blackbird, Avec, Publican, Big Star, etc.) with the Publican's Brian Huston
The Taste of Chicago 2013 takes place July 10–14 in Grant Park. Find more details in our Taste of Chicago guide.
Printers Row: Kevin Powers Michener Fellow in Poetry Kevin Powers discusses his spare, lyrical war novel, The Yellow Birds, recently released in paperback. Tribune Tower. 7pm. $15.
Porn and Chicken Chicago loves throwing the word rage around when talking up rock-fueled DJ parties. It also likes throwing said parties on Mondays (see Rehab). Tatted-up residents Phives, Dan Dwyer and Orville Kline keep the raging Monday tradition alive, spinning banging electro and bass music while revelers gnaw on chicken wings and ogle skin flicks. Evil Olive. 10pm. $5.
ART & DESIGN
"Irving Penn: Underfoot." Photographer Penn (1917–2009) transformed the concrete, cigarette butts and gum he found on Manhattan's pavement into fascinating black-and-white abstractions. Art Institute of Chicago. 10:30am–Sun 5pm.
Mother's Day with "Mommie Dearest" Dir. Frank Perry. 1981. 129mins. Camp Midnight provides running commentary for this special Mother's Day showing of the outrageously bad, compulsively watchable biopic, based on the best-selling book by Joan Crawford's adopted daughter. The event includes a pre-screening brunch at Mystic Celt (11:30am–1:30pm, $30) and a mother-daughter matching outfit contest. The first 100 people seated get their very own wire hanger. Music Box. 2pm. $12
StoryCorps@ Your Library StoryCorps teams up with the Chicago Public Library and One Book, One Chicago to further explore OBOC's year-long theme of migration. Know someone with a great migration story to tell? Chicagoans can stop by 14 library locations from May through October and interview a friend, family member or neighbor. The interview will be recorded by StoryCorps and archived at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. Woodson Regional Library. 11am–2pm.
The Late Live Show This culty, late-night gabfest winds down with one final season of talk-show tomfoolery starring comedian (and Impress These Apes winner) Joe Kwaczala and local guests ranging from musicians to stand-ups. iO Del Close Theater. 11:59pm. $5.