Though long overlooked in music-history books, Milwaukee’s Die Kreuzen were a crucial part of the posthardcore puzzle. Formed in 1981, they released their self-titled debut, which laid out the connections between hardcore and metal, in 1984—by which time labels such as SST, Touch and Go, and Homestead were all releasing records by independent bands that had emerged from punk but bucked its limitations. Die Kreuzen played with a punk ferocity and velocity—bassist Keith Brammer and drummer Erik Tunison formed a precise, heavy rhythm section—and the combination of Brian Egeness’s metallic, serrated guitar and Dan Kubinski’s scorched howl seemed to anticipate the tortured, brutal screech of death metal, which was coming around the bend. Starting with their next album, 1986’s October File, Die Kreuzen began easing up on the tempos and moving into an arty hard-rock sound, with Kubinski mastering a proto-metal cry and Egeness finessing an almost prog-rock tone. The band went on to make a couple more albums (like the others, for Touch and Go), but after Egeness left in ’92, Die Kreuzen’s days were numbered. Last year the group reunited—with former Couch Flambeau guitarist Jay Tiller replacing Egeness, who declined to participate—and they’re bringing their career-spanning show to Chicago for the first time in more than two decades. —Peter Margasak We Are Hex and Canadian Rifle open. $17
The two comic book artists discuss and sign copies of their respective work.
A group show featuring several students from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, including curator Peyton Rack. Viewing by appointment only. Reception Fri 5/10, 5-10 PM.
Chicago Danztheatre Ensemble presents two new lyrical pieces inspired by Persian poet Rumi. $15-$20
The tale Chris Bower tells in this one-hander, about an unhinged father determined to make his son into a high school football star, could stand on its own as a fascinating short story. But brought to the stage by director Kevlyn Hayes and actor Matt Test, the piece is powerful, darkly funny—and ultimately sad. Test plays a computer repair guy who's allowed his inner demons to rule, and ruin, his life. Estranged from his son and forbidden by court order to be near his wife—who goes to all the football games—he's drawn inexorably to repeated self-destructive encounters with them, and with the authorities. Hayes's clever, graceful staging finds myriad onstage metaphors for the protagonist's disintegrating mental state. —Jack Helbig $15
It's no mean feat to distill the Faust legend into a jointly created, mostly wordless (words in English, at least) movement-theater piece that clocks in at just an hour. Yet in Trap Door Theatre's compassionate Core of the Pudel, director Thom Pasculli does no mean job. Creating a wounded, splintered Faust played by six performers—an Everyman and Everywoman—he suggests that we damn ourselves every day with small decisions driven by arrogance and a wish for transcendence. As the Devil, the charismatic Pasculli convincingly seduces Faust; Cortney McKenna, subtle yet affecting, is persuasive as Faust's victim. For me, all the tortured faces and acrobatic movement, more symbolic than dramatic, wore thin. But delicious homemade touches—puppetry, an onstage violinist, simple but evocative props, the performers' musical contributions—won me over. –Laura Molzahn $20-$25
The second of L. Frank Baum's 14 Oz books follows the adventures of an orphan named Tip and his two traveling companions, the Saw-Horse and Jack Pumpkinhead. After escaping the clutches of an evil sorceress, these three wind up helping the Scarecrow and the Tin Woodman restore control of the Emerald City to its rightful sovereign, Princess Ozma. Anthony Whitaker's thoroughly charming musical adaptation stays faithful to Baum's vision yet maintains a spunky sense of humor—all without sliding into camp, schmaltz, or sarcasm. His staging for New American Folk Theatre has an off-the-cuff vibe and an arts-and-crafts aesthetic; it features a lively, likable cast and several inventive puppets (also designed by Whitaker) standing in for the more fantastical creatures. —Zac Thompson $15-$20
Hand-woven and screen-printed textiles by Chicago design duo Sonnenzimmer. Reception Fri 4/12, 7-10 PM.
Sanford Biggers's window installation Ago has a formal decorativeness that belies its provocative intentions. It combines a number of mediums (fabric, spray paint, wood, light boxes) and cultural references (quilt making, graffiti, Japanese woodblock prints, landscape painting) to put a twist on manifest destiny and America's coded—and not-so-coded—racial histories.
The starting point is a reference to a widely distributed 1863 picture of a runaway slave, Gordon, that showed his back heavily scarred by repeated whippings. Taken by the photographer William McPherson and his partner, Mr. Oliver, the image helped expose the horrors of slavery and has been credited with galvanizing the abolitionist movement. Continue reading >>
Kate Levant's first solo show in her hometown is on the gendered nature of objects. Reception Sat 4/13, 4-7 PM.
Sing, dance, and enjoy the scenery with Cinderella and Snow White in this family-friendly interactive show. $30