Monday, April 21, 2014

Best shows to see: Neil Young, the Knife

Posted By on 04.21.14 at 11:09 AM

The Knife
  • The Knife
Tonight local artist and musician Steve "Plastic Crimewave" Krakow celebrates the ten-year anniversary of his Reader comic "The Secret History of Chicago Music" with a free show at the Empty Bottle. It's headlined by Ono and the lineup is filled out by Valentine & the Velcronics, Bil Vermette & Plastic Crimewave, and Jim Cuomo with Mormos. Also heavy metal band Master is coming to Reggie's Rock Club tomorrow night and White Hinterland is opening up for S. Carey at Lincoln Hall on Wednesday.

More picks from our critics . . .

Mon 4/21 and Tue 4/22: Neil Young at Chicago Theatre

My pick for the week is Neil Young. The rock legend came here in the fall and I'm still floored by how great the show was. In Soundboard I wrote, "Last fall I was lucky enough to catch Young and longtime backing band Crazy Horse at the United Center, and it was magical—without a doubt the best big-arena rock show I've ever seen. He can flawlessly meld 'intimate storyteller' and 'bombastic rock front man' into a single persona—one minute he'll make a stadium feel like a living room, drawing you in with his beautiful guitar and delicate voice, and the next he'll tear down the walls with three-story-high Marshall stacks. On this tour, Young is playing solo, which is arguably the way he shines brightest. Set lists from earlier stops have featured a mind-blowing mix of smash hits, fan favorites, deep cuts, and covers, reaching back all the way to his Buffalo Springfield days in the late 60s. These shows are bound to be moving and awe inspiring." Tickets for the show are pretty pricey, but still available.

Wed 4/23: The Knife at Aragon

Swedish electronic duo the Knife are at the Aragon this week in support of their most recent album. Peter Margasak says, "The Knife poured a lot of sweat and ideas into last year's sprawling two-CD album Shaking the Habitual, their first new album since 2006, and its bold experiments build upon the group's well-established electro-goth sound. Not all of those experiments are easy on the ears: 'Fracking Fluid Injection' is almost ten minutes of dissonant bowed metal and pained vocal sounds, and 'Old Dreams Waiting to Be Realized' is even more of an endurance test, its hovering, beatless electronic drone lasting nearly twice that long. Some are just silly: 'A Cherry on Top,' for instance, mates borderline nonsensical lyrics ('Coffee with girls and a racing team / The Haga Castle evening cream') with shapeless low-end twang. But for the most part the album meets the listener at least halfway, with post-techno beats that render relatively accessible its chilly mix of ominous, pulsing synthesizer, alternately tense and soothing electronic melodies, and hectoring vocals. Karin Dreijer Andersson, who provides those vocals, is as unpredictable as any other element of the Knife's music, jumping from whimsical swoops that make her sound like a street-urchin version of Bjork to a sort of strained rasp with stern, clenched-jaw phrasing; sometimes electronic effects drop her voice into a male range a la Laurie Anderson."

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