Easy communication and a sharp wit may be the foundations for good improv, but if you want to see what a troupe is really made of, take a look at how they handle a shaky premise. Having watched cast members sustain this Links Hall/Chicagoland Games show while rolling around in Nerf gear to avoid a tyrannosaurus rex made of PVC pipe, I'm pretty sure they've got it. Amiable host Aaron Amendola ushers an audience member through a series of onstage challenges geared toward overcoming a megalomaniac hell-bent on ushering in a dino-apocalypse. The obstacles—which may involve brushing a Wiffle Ball off somebody's shoulder—are too slight to provide any real stakes. It's clear, though, that this crew has the crowd and stage skills to create something special. —Dan Jakes $5
Born in Ethiopia, raised in Sweden, now living in New York, Marcus Samuelsson is one of the nation's most celebrated chefs, and, after the publication of his memoir, Yes, Chef, one of its most celebrated food writers. Join Samuelsson today for a reading, cocktails, and hors d'oeuvres inspired by the stuff he serves up at his own restaurants. $50
Helios Creed, the guitarist, singer, songwriter, and sound artist who’s been the driving force behind all recent incarnations of legendary sci-fi/psych/punk/postpunk band Chrome, didn’t even play on their 1976 debut, The Visitation. But it’s pretty unanimously agreed that the band really took off after he joined, with the superweird 1978 and ’79 masterpieces Alien Soundtracks and Half Machine Lip Moves; since founder Damon Edge died in 1995, Creed has carried the Chrome banner. Busy and productive, he’s kept a solo career going at the same time (which tends to run together with his output as Chrome), and he’s working on new material now; for this show, he’s joined by a five-piece band that includes keyboardist Tommy Grenas (formerly of Pressurehed) and drummer Aleph Kali, both of whom have been with Chrome for 17 years, meaning they were around for the solid late-90s reunion. For me what’s more exciting, though, is that he’s polishing up a double album of unreleased late-70s Chrome tracks—a snafu over bills kept the tapes in limbo for more than 30 years—and plans to release it later this year. Fans who want to support the project can keep up with his progress at DIY funding site pledgemusic.com. This show is part of the HoZac Blackout festival. —Monica Kendrick Wizzard Sleeve with Mr. Quintron, Cop City/Chill Pillars, FNU Ronnies, Verma, and Population open. $25, $70 four-day pass
New York-based Italian drummer Carlo Costa—who recently came to town with the quartet led by bassist Shayna Dulberger—has a trio of his own called Minerva, where he balances composition and improvisation in exquisite tension while maintaining a beautiful restraint. Lots of jazz-related groups make a point of blurring the same line, perhaps hoping it will speak to the level of intuition and rapport within the group, but for Minerva it feels like a secondary concern—the group seems most interested in creating pieces that flow logically and with a discernible shape, no matter the method. On the 2011 album Saturnismo (Between the Lines) Costa, bassist Pascal Niggenkemper, and pianist JP Schlemgelmilch write material that assigns improvisation a support role in navigating composed material: in Costa’s “Noctural Patterns,” for instance, planned silences and stretches of improvisation separate terse composed gestures. “Dream Machine,” on the other hand, is fully improvised, but even then the band focuses on structure: single-note piano flurries (some damped inside the keyboard) and hypnotic arco bass lines seem to coalesce with inexorable logic around Costa’s delicate snare-drum patter. Minerva has the instrumentation of a classic jazz piano trio, but it often feels like a modern chamber ensemble, with Costa using his kit to produce tone colors and abstract melodic lines—though Niggenkemper’s brisk “Let’s Go, I Don’t Know” bears traces of Thelonious Monk and Herbie Nichols, and Schlemgelmilch’s churning “Battle Cry” has the melodic splendor of the Bad Plus. —Peter Margasak A trio of John Gruntfest, Megan Bierman, and John Niekrasz opens. donation suggested
What's the point of knowing every word of 2Pac's "Troublesome '96" if no one knows you know? Make people know how well you spit other people's lyrics (but don't get spit on the mike) at Rap Karaoke at Jerry's, hosted by Psalm One (9 PM, 1938 W. Division, free). Or maybe you're rhyme impaired, in which case Beauty Bar hosts Queerer Park Presents: Spring Cleanin' with DJs Shaun J. Wright (Hercules and Love Affair), Black Gold, and Big Business (10 PM, 1444 W. Chicago, $3). The choice is yours.
Manic Pixie Dreamland is an amazing place with a glitter fountain and unicorn stables and a ukulele tree where quirky young women spend their time doing arts and crafts and live for the summers when they will go out into the world and transform the lives of morose young white men with their magical joy and vivacity and—this cannot be emphasized enough—quirkiness. The term "manic pixie dream girl" was coined by Nathan Rabin to describe this sort of flat movie character, who "exists solely in the fevered imaginations of sensitive writer-directors" (prototype: Natalie Portman in Garden State). This Annoyance production has the potential to be a tired retread of Rabin's essay and the million feminist blog rants that followed, but happily, it's far more inventive than that, and the extremely talented cast's high spirits are infectious. —Aimee Levitt $15-$20
A cabaret style revue that showcases local circus performers. $15