Local rock institution Waco Brothers play their 11th annual Waco Weekend, an end-of-the-year, two-day residency at Schubas. Stick fight opens on 12/27, Amy Gore & Her Valentines on 12/28.
Ever since the mid-aughts, when they were still spinning parties at tiny north-side dive Town Hall Pub, Chicago-born DJ/production duo Flosstradamus have been motivated by a desire to combine rap music’s aesthetics with the energy and inclusiveness of dance-music culture. When they started out, that meant spinning Jock Jams techno alongside Dirty South rap to crowds of hipsters and hip-hop kids, but today, with more than a million followers on Soundcloud, they’re at the forefront of “trap music,” which updates this blend by combining contemporary EDM and the trap sound that’s been dominating southern rap lately. This year they proved their bona fides on both sides, first signing with dance label Ultra Music, home to arena-filling acts Kaskade and Benny Benassi, and then spending a month in Atlanta, trap rap’s spiritual home, recording with local superstars such as Waka Flocka Flame. “Mosh Pit,” the first single from those sessions, matches criminally overlooked Future associate Casino with a twitchy, booming beat that pretty much demands slam dancing. —Miles Raymer Been Trill, DJ Spinz, and Phnm open. Flosstradamus also plays on Tue 12/31. $30
Psych-rock pioneer and former 13th Floor Elevators front man Roky Erickson gets far out with a pair of year-end dates. $30
A five-course traditional Italian menu features osso buco and tagliatelle with lobster. $55, $80 with pairings
From the west side to the lakefront, you can pretty much count on Chicago being a madhouse on New Year’s Eve. Hell, that’s part of the fun for some. Or maybe a night out in a northern suburb is more your speed. Starting in the afternoon, our neighbor to the north hosts First Night Evanston, a family-friendly event with a little bit of everything: a magic show, a poetry slam with Marc Smith, a parade, interfaith meditation, and music from bluesman Corky Siegel, bluegrass master James King, and lots more. $20, $15 in advancehttp://firstnightevanston.org
In 2005 Virginia singer James King released The Bluegrass Storyteller (Rounder), whose title alludes to his preference for compelling narratives rather than personal meditations or questions of faith. King loves a good yarn, which explains why he’s always included traditional country in his live sets and studio sessions. His first new studio album since 2005 is called Three Chords and the Truth (Rounder)—Harland Howard’s famous description of a good country song—and all dozen tracks are hard-core country covers, among them a proto-honky-tonk number by Hank Williams (“The Devil’s Train”), a forgotten gem by Vern Gosdin (“Chiseled in Stone”), and a ubiquitous George Jones masterpiece (“He Stopped Loving Her Today”). Of course, King is hardly the only contemporary bluegrass artist to raid Nashville’s huge repertoire, but few remain so true to bluegrass fundamentals in the process. He and his crack band preserve the soulful melodies and add unflashy instrumental kick, sticking to a bona fide bluegrass lineup—just acoustic guitar, banjo, upright bass, mandolin, and fiddle, with veterans Don Rigsby and Dudley Connell adding harmony vocals. King, who once worked with Ralph Stanley, has a firm grip on the same sort of country phrasing that Jones perfected, in which unexpected dips, climbs, and curlicues inject emotion that goes beyond the meaning of the words. King performs as part of the revived citywide First Night Evanston celebration, and his concert is copresented by Chip Covington of the invaluable Chicago Bluegrass Legends series. —Peter Margasak Eddie Holstein opens, and both acts play two sets. $10-$20, $30 VIP
Beavis and Butt-Head earned international notoriety for promoting teenage stupidity, but they occasionally made some astute observations: while watching the video for “Existence Is Punishment,” from Crowbar’s 1993 landmark self-titled LP, Butt-Head says, “This music is slow and fat.” That record, produced by Pantera’s Philip Anselmo, helped define the southern sludge-metal sound, which in many ways is exactly as Butt-Head described it. On Crowbar, the band even turned Zeppelin’s relatively delicate and introspective “No Quarter” into an earth-cracking plod, each note detonating like a bomb. Singer and guitarist Kirk Windstein has been the only constant member of the band—which celebrates its 25th anniversary at this show—and over the years he’s filled out Crowbar’s roster with players from fellow New Orleans extreme-metal acts such as Pantera, Eyehategod, Goatwhore, and Acid Bath. No matter who backs Windstein up, though, Crowbar’s records have always been punishingly, devastatingly slow and fat. —Luca Cimarusti Thunder Driver and the Ox King open. $40
The story of Detroit protopunk trio Death is a good one—though not quite good enough to support the full-length 2012 documentary A Band Called Death—and it’s been told many times since 2009, when Drag City released a collection of the group’s 1975 studio recordings called . . . For the Whole World to See. The Hackney brothers were surrounded by the sounds of Motown during their formative years, but in the early 70s, when singer and guitarist David got hooked on hard-rock bands such as the Who and the Stooges, he convinced his brothers Dannis, who played drums, and Bobby, who played bass, to follow him down the same path. As Death they found no real success in their day, releasing only one scorching single, “Politicians in My Eyes” b/w “Keep on Knocking,” on a small regional label. That record came out in 1976, and a few years later the Hackneys—bitter after Columbia Records rejected them for refusing to change the band’s name—moved to Burlington, Vermont, where they became the Fourth Movement and began playing gospel rock. The Drag City release, which augmented the single with tracks made around the same time, reveals Death’s music as a precursor to punk, with more high-speed energy than fellow Detroit pioneers the MC5 and the Stooges—their style came closer to the jackhammer rhythms of Bad Brains. In 2011 Drag City scraped the barrel to release Spiritual-Mental-Physical, a collection of ten tracks recorded in the band’s home studio; the sound quality is rougher and the material isn’t as strong, but a couple of loose, jazz-informed jams make the Hackneys’ love of Jimi Hendrix clear. When the reconstituted Death played the Empty Bottle in September 2009, they fleshed out the set with material from Dannis and Bobby’s reggae band, Lambsbread—whose guitarist, Bobbie Duncan, has replaced the late David Hackney. I assume this concert, their first in Chicago since then, will include tracks from the 2011 collection. —Peter Margasak Rabble Rabble, Le Tour, and El Mejor open. $25, $20 in advance, $50-$80 for VIP
Brooklyn-based bear MC Big Dipper first got my attention a couple years ago, when he still lived in Chicago, by releasing a video for his raunchy party-rap track “Drip Drop.” It’s the kind of funny, tightly edited clip Eminem used to make, except that Big Dipper doesn’t insert himself into the Brady Bunch title sequence—he dresses up like Tiger Woods or the Hulk while dropping silly rhymes about man-on-man action. Since then the MC has put out a couple more videos (“Summertime Realness,” “Meat Quotient”) whose make-you-blush dirty fun tends to overshadow the music—not by much, to be fair, but I tend to want to play those songs through YouTube instead of iTunes. Big Dipper has grown swiftly as a rapper, and the tight, balanced flow he displays on his recent debut full-length mixtape, Thick Life—he sounds like a smart, talented MC with a taste for goofy, lascivious rhymes and dance-friendly pop beats, instead of like a smart, talented pop artist who’s decided to rap. On the Sade-sampling “Loverboy” he asks, “You think I’m smooth?,” and though in one obvious way he’s not (“Well, I ain’t / I’m covered in hair from my head to my taint”), his rapping is relaxed, comfortable, and almost suave. —Leor Galil Baathhaus headlines; Big Dipper opens, and Jane Beachy hosts. $15
In April 2012, when Gossip Wolf made the first proper mention of Girl Group Chicago in the pages of the Reader, the band had yet to perform: vocalist and manager Shana East anticipated a debut that summer, “once its costumes, choreography, and sets are finished.” No way is it an easy task to coordinate anywhere from 15 to 30 musicians (including the crowd of instrumentalists, sometimes a dozen strong, that makes up the group’s backing band) for full-band rehearsals as well as sectionals, to say nothing of devising new arrangements for just the right blend of 60s girl-group numbers. But East had a vision, and that vision has culminated in a proper spectacle. Decked out vintage style, with elaborate hairdos and the sort of turquoise dresses you’d find at an American Graffiti shake shop, these ladies don’t so much work the stage as commandeer it—even when they’re just doing a simple sway-and-swim routine behind soulful renditions of “You Don’t Own Me” or “Last Minute Miracle.” —Kevin Warwick The Yolks open. $20
Local one-man band Jimmy Whispers has the sentimental heart of a Brill Building composer and the confrontational philosophy of G.G. Allin, albeit (thankfully) sans the fixation on bodily fluids. During a typical show Whispers stage dives, pours cans of beer over himself, wraps his body in the American flag, and pushes together couples (frequently strangers) to slow dance to Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World.” In the process, he spends more time in the crowd than onstage. Singing along to an instrumental backing track consisting of vintage organ recorded on an iPhone, he plunges headfirst into postwar American pop and grabs on to the era’s almost tragically naive notions of romantic love, holding them up as some kind of shield against the encroaching darkness that surrounds us all. And the funny thing is, it works—at least for the duration of his shows, which tend to leave the crowd smiling, palpably more connected to one another than when they walked in, and possibly thinking that if this guy ever starts a cult there would be worse things you could join. —Miles Raymer Oozing Wound headlines; Magic Milk and Jimmy Whispers open; DJ Mike Lust spins. $20, $10 in advance
Psych-rock pioneer and former 13th Floor Elevators front man Roky Erickson gets far out with a pair of year-end dates.
Chef Ryan McCaskey presents a five-course dinner with the theme "1889 Cabaret, Paris, France," featuring lobster thermidor, beef Wellington, and opera cake; seatings at 5:30 and 9 PM are $125 and $175, respectively ($200 and $280 with wine pairings). The night includes surprise performances, music by DJ Lords and Ladies, champagne, and an afterparty from 12:30 to 3:30 AM.
"Vinyl & victuals with Zoe Schor" features the chef's music picks and a five-course prix fixe menu with seatings at 6:30, 7, and 7:30 PM ($78 per person, $52 at the bar) and 9, 9:30, and 10 PM ($104, $78 at the bar); a vegetarian option is available, as is an additional starter of oysters and champagne for two ($75).
Chef Perry Hendrix's five-course Mediterranean prix fixe includes paella and a Sicilian cassata for dessert. $65, $105 with pairings