Thursday, July 26, 2012

Shows to See: Off!, Blues Control, Rebecca Gates, and more

Posted By on 07.26.12 at 09:00 AM

Rebecca Gates
  • Rebecca Gates
Another summer weekend in Chicago, another big street fair. This weekend Wicker Park Fest returns with three stages of indie rock of all stripes and sizes. Cursive and the Budos Band are the big names on Saturday and Sunday, respectively, and other acts include the Baseball Project (with former Young Fresh Fellow Scott McCaughey, R.E.M.'s Peter Buck, and the Dream Syndicate's Steve Wynn), Foxy Shazam, Screaming Females, and Tim Fite. Another happening festival this weekend is Celebrate Clark Street, which features great international acts both days—among them SMOD and Sarazino on Saturday and Janka Nabay and Morikeba Kouyate on Sunday. Of course, there are also plenty of opportunities to see music in less unpredictable conditions—like a club with a roof and an air-conditioning system. Some of the highlights from this week's Soundboard are waiting for you after the jump.

Thu 7/26: Off! at the Congress

This band of LA punk veterans—here opening for reunited Swedish hardcore favorites Refused—released its debut full-length earlier this year, with 16 songs clocking in at just about as many minutes. Though the world certainly isn't suffering from a shortage of hardcore bands, Off! singer Keith Morris, who cut his teeth in Black Flag and found success with the Circle Jerks, has the kind of voice and presence all too lacking in most: "These days he's proved himself equally adept at doing the same thing with more-focused adult radical-left rage," writes Miles Raymer.

Fri 7/27: Blues Control at the Hideout

The duo of Russ Waterhouse and Lea Cho (aka Blues Control) moved from New York to relatively rural Coopersburg, Pennsylvania, before making their latest entrancing album, and it shows. As Kevin Warwick writes, "Their piano-driven instrumentals still combine new age music, Krautrock, and classic rock, and on most of the new Valley Tangents, especially 'Opium Den/Fade to Blue,' you can hear the influence of their pastoral environment: it's got a kind of backwoodsy Cluster aesthetic, emphasizing meditative noodling and rolling rhythms that make you wish for a hammock, damn it."

Sat 7/28: Aesop Rock at Metro

Aesop Rock helped put a new strain of underground hip-hop on the map at the turn of the century, using his nerdy, nasal flow to deliver compelling, absurdist narratives that might leave you scratching your head if you weren't too busy moving your feet. Now he's back, five years after his previous solo record, with the new Skelethon. Its relatively sparse sound "might come as a bit of a shock if you haven't heard anything from him since None Shall Pass," writes Leor Galil, "but Bavitz's surreal lyrics and rollicking, seesawing swagger remain intact."

Sun 7/29: Rebecca Gates at the Hideout

Former Spinanes singer and songwriter Rebecca Gates was once a Chicago music-scene fixture and produced some of her finest work here in the late 90s. After 11 long years without a new record she's finally back with a terrific new album called The Float, recorded here as well as in Montreal and in her hometown of Portland. As I write about the record, "Gates sounds more soulful than ever, and her graceful, sturdy melodies are of a piece with most of what she's done since the early 90s—catchy and unstudied, with a lived-in feel—but also more sophisticated and patient." I have a feeling this show could turn into a mini Chicago scene reunion.

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