Quebec-based technical death-metal band Gorguts (largely the brainchild of front man Luc Lemay) formed in 1989 and have been granted legendary status in the scene thanks to their third album, 1998’s Obscura—it took a quantum leap into a realm of philosophical torment and rhythmic convolution that no one had envisioned in quite that way before. Like the new Colored Sands (Season of Mist), Obscura ended a hiatus for the band, but in that case it was only five years—Colored Sands is the first new Gorguts studio album since 2001. It might not have happened at all if guitarist Steeve Hurdle (whose group Negativa featured Lemay) hadn’t persuaded Lemay to re-form Gorguts for its 20th anniversary. Hurdle died in 2012, and his contributions are sorely missed, but the lineup on Colored Sands is a supergroup of sorts, featuring guitarist Kevin Hufnagel and bassist Colin Marston (both of Dysrhythmia) and drummer John Longstreth of Origin (replacing Steve MacDonald, who committed suicide in 2002). And they take another massive leap with Colored Sands—a concept album about Tibet, more or less, it’s as painstakingly constructed as the sand mandalas it references. (Even the string-ensemble piece, “The Battle of Chamdo,” doesn’t seem gratuitous.) With its relentlessly inventive energy, it sets up a rich, uneasy tension between meditation and mutilation. —Monica Kendrick Origin, Nero Di Marte, Morgue Supplier, and Air Raid open.
Kanye West’s sixth solo LP, Yeezus (Roc-a-Fella), is a messy pile of contradictions: a rap record that sounds like industrial music, it vacillates between enlightened political consciousness and garish celebrity complaints, between self-aggrandizement and self-loathing, and between snarling noise and hooky pop. Created with help from a broad range of collaborators, including Daft Punk, Chief Keef, Justin Vernon (aka Bon Iver), and an entire squad of underground electronic musicians, it’s a harsh, sharp-edged album that inverts the sumptuous, hyperluxurious sound of his 2011 Jay Z collaboration, Watch the Throne; that prickly sound, combined with Kanye’s occasional foul-ball lyrics (“Eatin’ Asian pussy, all I need was sweet-and-sour sauce”) has helped make it one of the most polarizing recordings in recent memory. But Yeezus’s sonic aggression makes for a bracing listen, and for all the self-absorption and self-contradiction in the self-portrait that emerges out of the chaos, it’s also a sui generis work on par with Dylan at his most turbulent. Kanye is on an outside-the-lines creative tear, and it extends to the production of his Yeezus tour, which features couture-level costuming, mountainous stage sets, and a segment where he interacts onstage with a Jesus impersonator. —Miles Raymer Kendrick Lamar opens. $39.50-$199.50
Trap Door Theatre had a big, improbable hit in 1996 with Rainer Werner Fassbinder's unenjoyable antiplay about Phoebe Zeitgeist, interstellar emissary sent to earth stark naked to study human democracy, despite understanding no human language. That production ran for six months at the Trap's cramped space, then upgraded to the 292-seat Mercury Theater, where hardly anyone came—"I got a little ahead of myself," artistic director Beata Pilch says now with a laugh. Pilch's remount benefits greatly from Simina Contras's coy turn as Phoebe, an inscrutable, murderous Kewpie doll turned sexpot. The rest of the cast's performances range from masterfully grotesque to psychologically empty. Yet the stylistic confusion fittingly makes Fassbinder's sordid, chaotic world all the more unstable. —Justin Hayford $20-$25
When I told my wife (and yes, I told my wife) that I was going to see a zombie-themed strip show called Boobs of the Dead, she made a face and laid out a picture for me of gray, rotting dugs without so much as a hint of perk. Well, that's not how it turned out. This parody of the Walking Dead franchise features eight remarkably healthy-looking infectees. In fact, as a lab-coated scientist points out, the zombifying process actually makes them sexier, magically clothing them in bustiers and fishnet stockings. Even a bearded old codger gets transformed. Gorilla Tango burlesques are always smart and playful, but this edition shows a developing sophistication. The dancers are more confident, Erica Reid's choreography is more resourceful (starting with an awfully sexy reverse strip and culminating in a full-out production number), and, um, standout performances are getting more common. —Tony Adler $28-$35
A retrospective of the Chicago native's work.
The House Theatre's gorgeous, arresting annual holiday show bears only a faint resemblance to Tchaikovsky's ballet. Instead of bratty kids and sugarplum fairies, Jake Minton and Phillip Klapperich's tightly spun book introduces a family wracked by tragic loss. But magic still abounds, and in quantities that will bring a tear to the eye of even the stingiest Grinch. Though it isn't dance in the traditional sense, director Tommy Rapley's dazzling choreography infuses every scene. The show's one weakness might be the musical numbers, which are mercifully brief and few. But in plotting, performance, and visual design, it's a nearly flawless, truly essential all-ages holiday show. In a world of treacle and dross, that such a thing exists is a Christmas miracle of its own. —Keith Griffith $25-$45http://thehousetheatre.com
Hug City presents a showcase.