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Thursday, February 9, 2017

Dissecting Sublime Frequencies with the folks behind a recent book on the label

Posted By on 02.09.17 at 04:25 PM

The 2016 Sublime Frequencies compilation Burkina Faso: Vol. 2
  • The 2016 Sublime Frequencies compilation Burkina Faso: Vol. 2

On Saturday afternoon at 2 PM, Corbett vs. Dempsey hosts a series of readings from and a panel discussion about the recent book Punk Ethnography: Artists & Scholars Listen to Sublime Frequencies (Wesleyan). Sublime Frequencies is an influential record label founded by Alan and Rick Bishop (both of Sun City Girls fame) and their friend Hisham Mayet, and since its launch in 2003 it's released a fascinating array of previously hard-to-find music from around the globe. Mayet and the Bishops collected many of the recordings released early in the label's history while on their frequent international travels—they would tape stuff from local radio stations, make field recordings of performances, and stockpile regional music found in makeshift kiosks. They often cast light on sounds from the Arab world and Asia that rarely surfaced in the West, and many collections focused on regional pop styles usually passed over by the ethnographic labels Sublime Frequencies cited as inspiration, such as Folkways and Ocora.

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Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The Chicago Dancing Festival is fully booked, but there are still free shows to see

Posted By on 08.23.16 at 12:03 PM

Rennie Harris Pure Movement at Chicago Dancing Festival 2014 - CHERYL MANN
  • Cheryl Mann
  • Rennie Harris Pure Movement at Chicago Dancing Festival 2014

Every summer since 2006, the Chicago Dancing Festival has tried to put dance within reach of everyone. The citywide extravaganza, on the cusp of its tenth anniversary, is billed as "the nation's largest dance fest" and remains entirely free. It's come a long way from a decade ago, when cofounders Jay Franke and Lar Lubovitch didn't know if the concept would make it past year one.

"Lar and I used to turn to each other at the end of every festival and say, 'Are we doing this again?' " says Franke. "We obviously said yes. I'm not sure where the ten years have gone."

The same could be said about this year's advance ticket reservations, most of which have been snapped up.

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Monday, November 9, 2015

Boiler Room celebrates Chicago and Detroit's electronic legacy

Posted By on 11.09.15 at 02:00 PM

The full lineup for Boiler Room's "Chicago vs. Detroit" party. - BOILER ROOM
  • Boiler Room
  • The full lineup for Boiler Room's "Chicago vs. Detroit" party.

International pop-up party Boiler Room has enlisted some of the best producers and DJs to play RSVP-only parties in intimate spaces; the performances are then broadcast around the world. If you haven't made it out to one of Boiler Room's shows just yet you can get a sneak peek of the hubbub and easily lose several hours by scrolling through archival footage of past performances from heavy hitters such as Frankie Knuckles and Teklife masters DJ Rashad, DJ Spinn, RP Boo, and Manny. Boiler Room celebrates its five-year anniversary Wednesday with five parties spanning the globe . . . but none of those gatherings are in Chicago. Fortunately our city hasn't entirely been forgotten. Tomorrow night Boiler Room launches "Chicago vs. Detroit," a small flurry of shows descending upon our city and, yes, Detroit.

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Thursday, October 8, 2015

The Owl doesn't seem bothered by the band named Cuntz

Posted By on 10.08.15 at 02:00 PM

Force the Zone by Cuntz
  • Force the Zone by Cuntz

The last time Australian band Cuntz were in town was two years ago, and when I wrote about their shows that weekend I slightly complained about their silly name, but here we are in 2015, and that moniker is getting them into a much deeper trouble now: a promoter canceled their upcoming Seattle gig because he found it offensive. Maybe it is offensive, but not enough to bum out the people who run the Owl, because the noise-rockers are all set to play a free show at the after-hours spot tonight. Cuntz are touring the states on their brand-new LP Force the Zone (Homeless Records), a record which takes the tangled, knotty, complex noise-rock from their last LP and stretches it out into a concentrated mixture gross, sludgy grime. Cuntz is a loud and heavy blast onstage, so attendance to this show is highly recommended. Locals Wad and Heavy Times open the show and aren't offended by the band's name either. Check out "Nah Man" from Force the Zone below.

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Thursday, September 10, 2015

Self-described 'outsider torch singer' Mary Ocher performs at Analogue tonight

Posted By on 09.10.15 at 12:00 PM

Mary Ocher is about to evolve into her final form. - HADAS HINKIS
  • Hadas Hinkis
  • Mary Ocher is about to evolve into her final form.

Born Mariya Ocheretianskaya in Moscow in 1986, Mary Ocher (pronounced "Oh-chur") moved to Israel with her family at age four, then to Berlin at 20. In 2011 she caught the attention of the inimitable King Khan at a karaoke bar (he also lives in Berlin), and she recorded what's still her most recent full-length of new material, 2013's Eden, at his Moon Studios.

He's not her only famous fan either: Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs contributed a quote to Ocher's press kit. "Mary Ocher gives me the chills," she says. "She frightens me with her feral soul. Her sound is of a true outsider artist, immaculately self-possessed. Was this recorded this century? Or out of a basement that's she's been imprisoned all her life?"

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Friday, August 28, 2015

Kenny Rasmussen's library shows head to West Town this weekend

Posted By on 08.28.15 at 12:00 PM

Path IV
  • Path IV

Kenny Rasmussen started hosting free, all-ages, daytime punk shows at the Bridgeport Library back in January for people who typically can't make it out to bars and clubs to see great, local live music. Since then, his library gigs have picked up steam and have started popping up at other branches around town. This weekend his series will make its first appearance at the West Town Branch Library, and will feature the harshest lineup yet: noise-rockers Den headline, with support from hardcore band Rumores and crusty screamo trio Cracked Vessel, whose "Effigy Vessel," off of last year's Path IV cassette, is today's 12 O'Clock Track. The band throws together a dizzying, black-metal-flavored blast-beat fury on their tapes, and this ripper is a prime example of the darkness they bring. These bands should be a riot to catch in a low-key library setting. As always with these shows, things kicks off at 2 PM, are free, and all ages are welcome. Check out "Effigy Vessel" below.

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Thursday, August 20, 2015

Vivian Girls singer Cassie Ramone headlines a mellow night of solo sets at the Owl

Posted By on 08.20.15 at 02:00 PM

  • Courtesy Log Lady Records
  • Cassie Ramone

Continuing their excellent programming of underground-rock acts, tonight the Owl will host a show of all-female solo sets, headlined by singer Cassie Ramone (of the now-defunct Vivian Girls). The program's aim is to take these ladies away from the loud punk bands they front and let them play mellow, acoustic, and stripped-down music—Ramone's solo material is soft and pretty, with the focus on her awkward vocal melodies and simplistic guitar strums. Opening the show are three local singers, Lillie West of Lala Lala, Jessica Risker of Deadbeat, and Miranda Winters of noise-pop powerhouse Melkbelly. As always with Owl shows, things kick off around 10 PM and admission is free.

Check out Ramone's single "I Don’t Really Wanna Go" below.

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Thursday, August 13, 2015

Memphis weird punks Nots play a free show at the Owl tonight

Posted By on 08.13.15 at 12:00 PM

Three out of four Nots: Synth player Alexandra Eastburn, bassist Madison Farmer, and guitarist and front woman Natalie Hoffman - COLE WHEELER
  • Cole Wheeler
  • Three out of four Nots: Synth player Alexandra Eastburn, bassist Madison Farmer, and guitarist and front woman Natalie Hoffman

Natalie Hoffmann used to play bass with nihilistic Memphis punks Ex-Cult, but in spring 2014 she quit to focus on fronting Nots, her longtime collaboration with drummer Charlotte Watson. After releasing a couple seven-inches, they arrived at their present lineup—with bassist Madison Farmer and synth player Alexandra Eastburn—in time for their debut LP, We Are Nots, which came out last fall. My colleague Luca Cimarusti described it thusly: "Hoffman doesn't sing so much as holler—she sounds like someone telling you really, really loudly how annoyed she is with you—and the band smashes away relentlessly behind her, brimming with no-frills bad-vibes riffs and paranoia-inducing sci-fi synthesizer."

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Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Dispatches from Olive Garden's #BreadstickNation

Posted By on 07.21.15 at 04:34 PM

  • Gwynedd Stuart

Waiting in a line roughly 50-people deep for a free half sandwich is one of the least dignified things I've done recently (that I can remember). 

That said, I don't have all that much dignity to begin with and an Olive Garden breadstick sandwich isn't just any sandwich—it's a sandwich on a breadstick. OG rolled into Chicago last week and over the weekend for a series of events during which they parked a big brown food truck someplace, belched some marinara smells into the air, and waited for the salivating hordes to come a-running for a sample of the chain's newest lunch item.  

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Thursday, April 9, 2015

Fashion and two-for-one tix for Steppenwolf's Marie Antoinette tonight only

Posted By on 04.09.15 at 01:49 PM

Alana Arenas with Tim Hopper as Louis XVI

Steppenwolf's production of David Adjmi's Marie Antoinette plunges you into the experience from the moment you hit your seat: two wide projection screens take you on a bird's-eye tour of Versailles, swooping in and out over the colossal structures a la the opening credits of Game of Thrones. The play's performed in the round in the intimate upstairs theater, the audience lined up on two sides as if we're spectators at a tennis match (quite appropriately, given the Tennis Court Oath). If you're taking it all in, you may not notice at first that two footmen have taken their own places and are sitting at attention, one to the side of each end of the stage. They're the dressers for the eye-popping runway show to come, set to a thumping electronic soundtrack and including the de rigueur entourage.

As Marie Antonia Josepha Johanna Antoinette, the frankly amazing Alana Arenas sweeps in with two ladies in waiting like Destiny's Child-era Beyonce. Marie and her attendants wear elaborate wigs, Marie's a beehive to rival Marge Simpson's. The bodices of their gowns are embroidered with rhinestones; the queen's, naturally, reads "Boss."

Director Robert O'Hara (who's also African-American) says in the program notes that he actually hadn't considered Arenas's being black until after he'd cast her as the Austrian princess: "I just wanted to do the play because it's period and funny and big and outrageous." But that's not to say the casting choice doesn't have meaning within the context of the play, he acknowledges. "I don't want people to come into the theater and think they're in 18th-century France," O'Hara says. "I would like them to think they're watching something that is speaking to them right now." One aspect of this is that "we don't see black royalty. And when we do it's because they've created an R&B song, or a hip-hop song."

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Somnium Catherine Edelman Gallery
March 03
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Blek Le Rat: Ratical Vertical Gallery
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