While most of Chicago's football-happy citizens are focused on the NFL Bears, the scrappy Northwestern Wildcats open their season of pigskin today against the University of California Golden Bears. Coming off a season that imploded five games in, the Wildcats might just be a dark horse. And if you don't like football but have interest in labor rights and unionization, show your support. $12-$108http://northwestern.edu
On last year’s Small Constructions (Sunnyside), a baroque and airy duo album with Kneebody reedist Ben Wendel, pianist Dan Tepfer offers the most convincing demonstration yet of his versatility. The program mixes original material with themes by Monk, Tristano, and Handel, and the high-level interaction and easy balance of the performances make jazz, classical, and pop feel less like mutually exclusive categories than complementary choices. In most settings, though, Tepfer plays in one particular bag; on the recent First Meeting: Live in London, Volume 1 (Whirlwind), for instance, he provides crisp postbop accompaniment for Lee Konitz. Tonight Tepfer works in another of those bags, revisiting his ingenious take on Bach’s Goldberg Variations: he follows each of the 30 short pieces with an improvised elaboration that works within the chords and rhythmic feel of the original. It’s a great new way to hear the Goldbergs. —Peter Margasak $10
There's no telling what an evening with the Smashing Pumpkins front man entails, but there's sure to be some good fodder for live tweeting.
Muse of Fire's newest production is an apt response to Ira Glass's recent Twitter-diss of Shakespeare as not “relatable.” Director Jemma Alix Levy’s dynamic staging of the tale, played in Evanston's shady Ingraham Park, finds relevance in perhaps his most famous story of love and violence and features cross-gender, cross-racial casting. Heather Chrisler plays Juliet with a bold, athletic exuberance, matched perfectly by Benjamin Ponce's whiny drama-queen Romeo, who suffers with a properly teenage lack of perspective. Yes, love is madness, but so, too, is the weight of longstanding, intergenerational violence in feud-filled Verona (Chicago? Evanston?). As Friar Laurence (Reggie Robinson Jr.) advises the young lovers, “violent delights have violent ends.” "Relatable" or not, this is the story Levy wants to tell. —Suzanne Scanlonhttp://museoffiretheatre.weebly.com