Robbie Fulks was a fixture of the Chicago music scene long before he started up a monthly residency at the Hideout—it's become one of the most consistently rewarding standing dates in the city, as well as one of its most stylistically adventurous. "In three years he hasn’t played any song more than once," notes avowed Fulksamaniac Peter Margasak. "It’d hardly be practical to list all the different themes and tribute sets he’s brought to the Hideout stage—he might play the songs of Liz Phair one week and bad 80s music the next, and he’s been joined by guests including alt-country progenitor Jason Ringenberger, jazz violinist Jenny Scheinman, and singer Kelly Hogan—but he never fucks around, except when he’s deliberately fucking around." For tonight's program he'll be interpreting the music of tragic orchestral pop icon Harry Nilsson.
Speaking of residencies, last year's Suite of the East by Omer Avital & His Band of the East was an outgrowth of the quintet's short stint at the New York jazz club Smalls. According to Margasak, the group, which draws on music from the Middle East and north Africa, "had clearly internalized the music during that residency, and they bring a plangent eloquence and easy rapport to the seven pieces, which alternate between delicate, soulful ballads and soaring, high-energy anthems and whose thick ensemble arrangements ratchet up the intensity with every chorus."
Laura Callier is a performance artist, a musician, and one of the coolest people I know in Chicago. On her latest release under her Gel Set moniker, the cassette-only Microsoftcore XXXCell, Leor Galil says, "she takes sparse percussion samples—hand claps, fast and light motorik beats—resounding and gloomy synths, and whispered multitracked vocals and turns it into in a hypnotic pattern that becomes more intoxicating as she subtly toys with the song’s levels." She plays as part of a night of experimental pop music headlined by Magic Key, the new band fronted by Aleks Tomaszewska, formerly of Aleks and the Drummer.