Bleader | Chicago Reader

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Best shows to see: DonChristian & Rahel, Otis Clay, Sam Prekop

Posted By on 01.02.14 at 07:38 AM

Otis Clay
  • Courtesy the artist
  • Otis Clay
New Year's Eve has passed, but there are plenty of concerts this weekend to help you keep the celebration going a little longer. Take Ian's Party; the annual fest will flood Township and Quenchers with loads of alternative bands from Friday through Sunday.

There are plenty of other shows going down through the weekend. Tonight Palmer Squares and Martin Sky swing by Tonic Room; tomorrow night Jump Up honcho Chuck Wren celebrates the 20th anniversary of his label's first release, American Ska-thic, at Metro (read more about it in this week's Gossip Wolf); on Saturday Rockie Fresh and Casey Veggies play Lincoln Hall; and on Sunday Evanston-reared folkie Ezra Furman performs at SPACE.

Be sure to jump over to Soundboard for even more concert listings and check out a few more picks from Reader critics after the jump.

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Reader's Agenda Thu 1/2: Bowie Ball, Habitat Conservation Fair, and Story Club

Posted By on 01.02.14 at 06:09 AM

David Bowie
Looking for something to do today? Agenda's got you covered.

At Berlin, Heaven Malone and Stardust host Bowie Ball, the annual celebration of all things Ziggy Stardust, with Robert Byrne and Christ Connelly covering David Bowie classics all night.

The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum hosts the Habitat Conservation Fair, in which members of Illinois Butterfly Monitoring Network and Project Squirrel educate and offer opportunities to become a conservationist and citizen scientist.

Story Club is a storytelling open mike with featured readers Alan Neff, Stephanie Douglass, and Jenna Morgan. This edition’s theme: "Not this again," tales of history repeating itself. Catch the show (and maybe sign up for a reading) at Holiday Club.

For more on these events and others, check out the Reader's daily Agenda page.

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Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Gig poster of the week: Brett Eldredge street

Posted By on 01.01.14 at 07:38 AM

ARTIST: Nathan Roberts
SHOW: Brett Eldredge at Joe's on Tue 12/17

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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Whatever you think of Edward Snowden is probably wrong

Posted By on 12.31.13 at 01:00 PM

Edward Snowden doesnt fit convenient categories.
  • AP Photo/The Guardian, Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras
  • Edward Snowden doesn't fit convenient categories.

Any admirer of moral ambiguity will surely agree with me that the most interesting personality of 2013 is Edward Snowden—though in many minds there is nothing whatsoever ambiguous about him. For instance, the Sun-Times's Lynn Sweet recently reported a conversation she had with University of Chicago law professor Geoffrey Stone on Snowden and the National Security Agency. A couple of comments that follow Sweet's story on the Sun-Times website demonstrate how certain some Americans are of what they think.

Snowden should be lined up in front of a wall and shot.

Followed immediately by:

Long live Edward Snowden, we need several million of him.

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12 O'Clock Track: Why isn't Sparks' "Girl From Germany" in a slow-motion movie scene?

Posted By on 12.31.13 at 12:00 PM

A Woofer in Tweeters Clothing
  • A Woofer in Tweeter's Clothing
A recent discovery getting heavy rotation in my apartment is Sparks' sophomore album, 1972's A Woofer in Tweeter's Clothing. The LP kicks off with its strongest cut, the single "Girl From Germany." A glam-rock strut about generational disconnects that arise from the fallout of World War II, it's the kind of great art-rock song that cloaks a brainy narrative in tough posturing. The song is aided by producer Thaddeus James Lowe, an engineer for Todd Rundgren who makes the songs on A Woofer in Tweeter's Clothing sound like they're recorded onto cassette tape, as if the songs are wearing leather jackets. "Girl From Germany" would be perfect, however, as a soundtrack to a slow-motion scene in a movie, kind of like this, this, this, and this. Don't believe me? Hear it for yourself below.

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Reader's Agenda Tue 12/31: New Year's Eve, First Night Evanston

Posted By on 12.31.13 at 06:00 AM

Kiss Kiss Cabaret, just one of the events listen in our New Years Eve guide
  • Kiss Kiss Cabaret, just one of the events listed in our New Year's Eve guide
Looking for something to do today? Agenda's got you covered.

It's New Year's Eve! If you still don't have plans, check out our guide to tonight's parties, concerts, and dinners.

If the hullabaloo of New Year's Eve isn't your bag of confetti, you can head to the calmer confines of Evanston for First Night Evanston, a family-friendly event starting in the afternoon that includes a magic show, a poetry slam, a parade, interfaith meditation, and a performance by bluegrass master James King.

There are plenty of concerts tonight, but Detroit protopunk trio Death's show at Reggie's stands out. Peter Margasak says the band's 2009 Drag City collection . . . For the Whole World to See "reveals Death's music as a precursor to punk, with more high-speed energy than fellow Detroit pioneers the MC5 and the Stooges."

For more on these events and others, check out the Reader's daily Agenda page.

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Monday, December 30, 2013

The year in nausea

Posted By on 12.30.13 at 04:55 PM

Kim Nguyens War Witch played at the Music Box in March.
  • Kim Nguyen's War Witch played at the Music Box in March.
"Good is not real, but evil exists!" shouts the protagonist of Alexander Sokurov's Faust (which recently played at the Music Box), but that line could have been uttered in quite a few other movies this year. The Act of Killing, Bastards, Heli, The Missing Picture, Narco Cultura, Pain & Gain, A Touch of Sin, 12 Years a Slave, and War Witch all center on acts of dehumanizing violence—evil, if you believe there's such a thing. These movies are concerned not only with atrocities, but with the amoral mindset that allows people to carry them out. (This is also true of Martin Scorsese's The Wolf of Wall Street, even though it doesn't contain any murders.) They vary in the explicitness of their violence, but they seem unified in the mission to confront these subjects head-on. It was a more draining year than usual at the movies—I wonder how that affected concession sales.

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Flosstradamus talks trap and the power of second chances

Posted By on 12.30.13 at 02:45 PM

  • Flosstradamus
During the first wave of post-electroclash hipster club culture Flosstradamus—the duo of Josh "J2K" Young and Curt "Autobot" Cameruci—were mentioned in the same breath as DJs like Diplo and A-Trak. But while some of their contemporaries set off on career paths that were as smooth as they were steeply rising, Young and Cameruci's stalled. For a few years there they seemed destined to become a footnote, best remembered for their legendary parties at the Boystown dive bar Town Hall Pub and for combining Lil Jon with arena techno. But the pair stuck with it. After reconfiguring their hybrid of hip-hop and EDM they suddenly became bigger than ever, making major appearances on the global festival circuit and accumulating over a million followers on SoundCloud while making eccentric moves like releasing a mixtape on a combination flash drive and portable electronic vaporizer. For, you know, "aromatherapy."

After spending most of the year on the road they're closing out 2013 with a pair of big hometown shows tonight and tomorrow at the Riviera, both of which are now sold out. Earlier this month I talked with them at the hangar-like venue Terminal 5 in New York City before they packed it full of turned-up rave revivalists.

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Beer and Metal's year in review

Posted By on 12.30.13 at 02:00 PM

A few fallen soldiers from the campaign of 2013
  • A few fallen soldiers from the campaign of 2013
Not counting this one, I wrote 42 Beer and Metal posts in 2013. It'd be impossible for me to pick my favorites—I love all my babies equally!—but I can certainly tell you which were the most popular. Google Analytics knows more about these posts than Santa Claus knows about naughty kids.

Just missing the top ten were my columns on fledgling botanical brewers Forbidden Root, the debut of Gary's 18th Street Brewery, Off Color's "Mischief" pop-up bar, and Oktoberfest-style beers from Metropolitan, Revolution, and Two Brothers.

Here, without further ado, are the most read Beer and Metal posts of 2013:

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Anarchists eating Gettysburgers: Farewell to a supremely strange restaurant

Posted By on 12.30.13 at 12:48 PM

So long, Abe
  • So long, Abe
It hasn't received the same kind of love as, say, Ina's Restaurant—not by a long shot—but the year-end closing of the Lincoln Restaurant has drawn a certain amount of nostalgic farewell coverage. It's the kind of place you think will be there forever: the Greek coffee shop with an improbable historical-Americana theme and "country" decor. A place where the hostess has bouffant hair like she's on The Lawrence Welk Show, and the dishes hilariously bear Civil War names like "Gettysburger" and "Saratoga Sandwiches" (prompting smart-asses like me to make jokes about "Hooker specials" and sitting in the "John Wilkes booth"). As blogger Kim Strickland noted, "I mean, in Chicago, if you can't count on taxes, potholes, and the Lincoln Restaurant always being there, then what can you count on?"

But, in fact, the big-haired hostess, co-owner Loula Athans, died in 2011, and places like this have been quietly vanishing for a long time. As Eleven City Diner owner Brad Rubin noted to me of the genre, old coffee shops "used to be on every corner and they're about gone. I think it's a generational thing—the parents did it, maybe they owned the building, but they worked seven days a week, and the kids look at that and they don't want to work that hard . . . they sell the place and it becomes a bank or a Starbucks." It's also true that people don't want to eat that style of food any more. They'll eat a hipster take on the style—see the Little Goat or Au Cheval—but not the real deal in a place that kind of feels like an old-folks home.

So a lot of people hit that note of "somebody ought to be keeping this alive, even if it's not me" (or in the case of the Reader's Michael Miner, "somebody ought to be keeping alive journalism that's capable of covering such closings"). I have a different, stranger take that involves the farm-to-table movement, anarchists in the early 20th century, the recent opening of the Dawson, and being an ad guy. Come along with me for the ride on (a no-longer-operating stretch of) the #11 Lincoln bus.

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