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Sunday, March 31, 2013

Weekly Top Five: Demystifying cultural roots with spaghetti westerns

Posted By on 03.31.13 at 09:00 AM

Four of the Apocalypse
  • Four of the Apocalypse
Landmark's Century Centre Cinema recently joined the midnight-movie craze. So far, the programming has featured some usual suspects (Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Goonies), but some more inspired offerings include Fargo and, most recently (as in, just a few hours ago), The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, Sergio Leone's classic spaghetti western. The film strikes me as ideal midnight programming (despite its lengthy running time, which kept moviegoers out past three in the morning) because of its status as both a genre classic and a formally advanced piece of bravura filmmaking—in other words, it's great fun.

The screening got me thinking of spaghetti westerns, an early obsession of mine. You can check out my five favorites after the jump.

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Reader's Agenda Sun 3/31: "The Nature of Eating," Easter brunch, and Willy Wonka at the Music Box

Posted By on 03.31.13 at 06:11 AM

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
  • Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
Looking for something to do today? Agenda's got you covered:

The exhibit "Food: The Nature of Eating," at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, details how food goes from "land to market to plate."

Easter is one of the few holidays where brunch reigns supreme. As such, places like North Pond, Sepia, and Feast (and about a thousand other spots) are offering special Easter brunch menus, so you might as well rejoice—regardless of your religious affiliation (or lack thereof).

Not feeling brunch? The Music Box is hosting a special screening of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, preceded by a costume contest and a chorus line.

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

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Saturday, March 30, 2013

Road Tip: Free admission to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Posted on 03.30.13 at 12:00 PM

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
  • Jason Pratt
  • Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
Spring is coming (supposedly) and that means it's tour season. One (of many) reason(s) why midwesterners are badasses is because we have to endure driving through some of the most boring terrain on the planet just to get out of here. If you're headed to the east coast, you'll most likely roll through the not-that-exciting landscape of Ohio, but the state does in fact have some cool things to do. If you're a band on tour, you can get into Cleveland's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum for free. You have to prove you're a touring band, though. You can enter by flashing a tour laminate, but if you don't have that, they'll settle for a piece of merch. And if you don't have merch, just be annoying. Reader associate editor Kevin Warwick claims that his band got in by disarming the gatekeepers with a silver tongue. "We pretty much just wore them down," he says.

While you're there, check out this permanent exhibit that includes fellow midwestern musicians Bob Seger, Prince, and the Coug.

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Reader's Agenda Sat 3/30: Another 90s Party, Golden Horse Ranch Band, and Sky Ferreira.

Posted By on 03.30.13 at 06:08 AM

Sky Ferreira
Looking for something to do today? Agenda's got you covered:

Another 90s Party is hosting a theme night inspired by everyone's favorite Emilio Estevez-hockey-related-Bad-News-Bears-ish Disney movie, The Mighty Ducks. It all goes down at Beauty Bar. Nineties attire is encouraged.

At the Oak Park Public Library, partake in an afternoon of waltzes and square dances care of the Golden Horse Ranch Band, who promise "y'all won't be disappointed."

"Sky Ferreira's breakout single, 'Everything Is Embarrassing,' is a radio-pop song through and through, but its minimalist production and Ferreira's hipster bona fides have made her music one of those places where Pitchfork readers' tastes overlap with Katy Perry's," writes Miles Raymer in Soundboard. Catch Ferreira's set at Schubas, alongside How to Dress Well and High Highs.

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

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Friday, March 29, 2013

Les Rhinocéros brings its proggy, polystylistic hybrids to Township on Monday

Posted By on 03.29.13 at 04:37 PM

Les Rhinocéros
  • Wilson Kemp
  • Les Rhinocéros
Bassist Michael Coltun started his band Les Rhinocéros when he was a high school student in Washington, D.C. Its debut album, recorded in 2009, proved that he possessed a wealth of ideas and technical skill. As I wrote last year about that 2011 release, "Les Rhinocéros mix prog rock with various strains of international music—jacked-up klezmer, West African trance—and emphasizes his concise writing rather than the hollow excess that's unfortunately typical of prog bands, especially when they're young." Coltun has gone through several lineups since recording the debut, and some new conspirators turn up on the trio's forthcoming second album, Les Rhinocéros II (due from John Zorn's Tzadik Records on May 21), and accompany the leader on Monday night at Township.

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This spring Doc Films remembers a creative revolution

Posted By on 03.29.13 at 03:35 PM

Matsumoto Toshios Funeral Parade of Roses (1969) screens this Tuesday.
  • Matsumoto Toshio's Funeral Parade of Roses (1969) screens this Tuesday.
Doc Films kicks off its spring calendar this Monday with Fritz Lang's Scarlet Street, the first in a series titled "Women in Film Noir." There are a number of obvious highlights over the next few months: a rare revival of Agnes Varda's first feature La Pointe Courte (edited by Alain Resnais!), 35-millimeter prints of The Godfather and The Godfather Part II, and an only-at-Doc double feature of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and Repo Man. But the most impressive is the Tuesday-night series, "Art Theater Guild and Japanese Underground Cinema, 1962-1974."

As programmers Junko Yamazaki and Daniel Johnson explain in their series notes, Art Theater Guild (ATG) was formed in the early 60s to distribute art-house movies from other countries but transferred to film production later in the decade. "While partially subsidized by one of Japan's major studios, Toho, ATG was largely free of the commercial and artistic constraints imposed by these studios." Their output included movies by some of Japan's major directors, including Shohei Imamura (whose ATG production, A Man Vanishes, screened at the Siskel Film Center in January) and Nagisa Oshima (represented in Doc's series with The Ceremony on April 16), subversive "pink" films (soft-core genre movies) by Koji Wakamatsu (whose Ecstasy of the Angels screens on April 9), and experimental work like Funeral Parade of Roses, which screens this week.

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Catch this Streetcar if you can

Posted By on 03.29.13 at 02:29 PM

Teddy Tahu Rhodes, Renee Fleming

The remaining three performances of A Streetcar Named Desire at Lyric Opera are "sold out," but you might still be able to score a seat. Try calling the box office, where tickets turn up for resale when the original buyer can't make it.

Or, if you're a lot more flexible than, say, Stanley Kowalski, you could show up early and attempt to snag one from a patron in the outer lobby. There's a good chance that won't work, but if it does, it'll be worth the effort.

Here's why:

There's nothing "semi" about this "semi-staged" production of Andre Previn's opera based on Tennessee Williams's classic play. It doesn't have sets—and doesn't need them. A row of slat-backed chairs, a table, a bed, and a trunk are all it takes for Previn's rich orchestral music and this cast to create the gritty world of delusional Southern "aristocrat" Blanche DuBois; her sister, Stella; Stella's brutal working-class husband, Stanley; and Stanley's work buddy Mitch.

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Easter in Cabrini: Jane Byrne's 1981 PR disaster

Posted By on 03.29.13 at 02:17 PM

Jane Byrne speaks to the crowd.
  • Jane Byrne speaks to the crowd.
In the spring of 1981, facing a barrage of criticism about her administration's policy toward public housing, then-mayor Jane Byrne decided to prove she was committed to increasing safety in the projects. She was so committed, in fact, that she was going to move into an apartment in Cabrini-Green!

The experiment went about as well as one might expect. Some of Byrne's new neighbors suspected her move was nothing more than a publicity stunt and decided to call her out on it in the middle of a community Easter celebration. While Byrne presided over the egg hunt and sang "Easter Parade" with a bunch of cute kids, neighbors marched around with picket signs a few feet away.

Tom Weinberg and Tom Finerty caught the whole thing on film. It's a disturbing example of police brutality. Now Weinberg has posted it on his website Media Burn Archive, which has given us permission to repost it here.

And, yeah, it seemed the protesters were on to something. Jane Byrne lasted a whole three weeks in Cabrini-Green.

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New reissue news from Pussy Galore and Royal Trux

Posted By on 03.29.13 at 01:58 PM

Pussy Galore
  • Pussy Galore
When I woke up today I didn't expect that my inbox would have two promo e-mails announcing new reissues of records by noted rock 'n' roll deconstructionists Pussy Galore and the group's better-known offshoot Royal Trux sitting in it side by side. But life is full of surprises, right?

In my opinion, Pussy Galore remains one of the more underappreciated groups of the 80s proto-indie art-rock scene. A lot of that is the fault of their aggressively confrontational nature, which tends to overshadow the music they made. Then as now, it would be easy to pick up a record that boasts song titles like "Cunt Tease" and "You Look Like a Jew" and decide that it wasn't your kind of thing. But behind the shock tactics, the band was doing interesting work sifting through the ashes of classic rock that punk had left behind and dissecting what they found in fascinating ways, and their postmodern analysis and interpretation of source material like the Rolling Stones' Exile on Main St. would have a huge impact on the underground for years to follow.

Royal Trux was Pussy Galore guitarist Neil Michael Haggerty's attempt to take that broken-down material and put it back together again. Alongside coconspirator Jennifer Herrema, he used trad-rock cliches to reconstruct a noisy, junked-out replica of 70s guitar boogie that refused to be read simply as either a sincere tribute to the original music or an exercise in deep irony—somehow it was both, simultaneously. And it was supergood.

The vinyl reissue of Pussy Galore's 1986 Groovy Hate Fuck EP comes out on Record Store Day, which this year falls on April 20. The Royal Trux's straightforwardly titled 3-Song EP, which they recorded in 1998 to promote a European tour during a phase when Slint alumnus David Pajo was a member, is out now on vinyl and CD, although Drag City's site still says it's out of print. Hit the jump for music from both.

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Bassist and onetime Chicagoan Devin Hoff returns for April

Posted By on 03.29.13 at 01:07 PM

Devin Hoff
  • Bettina Escauriza
  • Devin Hoff
In the two years bassist Devin Hoff lived in Chicago he was a fairly ubiquitous presence around town, playing in countless ad hoc configurations and forming several ongoing projects he's remained part of since leaving for Los Angeles in 2011. In April he'll play with one of those bands, his trio with reedist Dave Rempis and drummer Mike Reed called Days After Next Wednesday, at the Hideout—you can check out a track by the group toward the bottom of this post. That's just part of his wide-ranging monthlong residency here, which will be helmed by Monday-night gigs at the Skylark. The core of his visit comprises four performances (including one in Milwaukee) by a relatively new band, the Devin Hoff Bastet, that includes a couple of strong colleagues (drummer Darrell Green and tenor saxophonist Howard Wiley) from his days in the Bay Area, along with Chicago alto saxophonist Nick Mazzarella.

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