Best shows to see: Anne La Berge, Cass McCombs, Immortal Bird, MellowHigh | Bleader

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Best shows to see: Anne La Berge, Cass McCombs, Immortal Bird, MellowHigh

Posted By on 12.05.13 at 10:51 AM

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Immortal Bird
  • Immortal Bird
The dry season for live music is about to set in, but you wouldn't necessarily know it by looking at the abundance of show offerings this weekend. Tonight Geoff Farina's Unnamed Band makes its debut at Township and Chuck Inglish plays Reggie's Rock Club. Tomorrow night you can see Rudresh Mahanthappa Quartet at the University of Chicago Logan Center for the Arts, former Secret History of Chicago Music subject M&R Rush at Beverly Arts Center, or Pete Tong at the Mid.

On Saturday there's Rubblebucket at Lincoln Hall, Dave Douglas Quintet at Green Mill, and Inspector Owl at Beat Kitchen. On Sunday you can take in sets from Leo Kottke at SPACE or Liza Day at Schubas (for more information about that show check out this week's Gossip Wolf). There are plenty of other concerts happening this weekend—scroll through Soundboard for every musical event you need to know about this weekend and read on for some picks from Reader critics.

Thu 12/5: Anne La Berge at Elastic

"When flutist Anne La Berge left the U.S. for Amsterdam in 1989, she put aside her aspirations as a composer and set out on a circuitous path that would lead her to a niche in the netherworld between improvisation, electronics, and noise," writes Peter Margasak. "On the 2011 album Speak (New World), she augmented her flute with text and computers; 'Drive' combines a fictional interview with Mary Anderson (an Alabama woman who invented the windshield wiper after riding a New York trolley whose driver had to stop and get out to clear snow off his windows) with sputtering digital clicks, distorted flute, ominous industrial drones, and sampled discussions of the female reproductive system. The heart of La Berge's practice is improvisation, though, and she's been an important part of the Amsterdam scene for years; she not only founded the wide-open Kraakgeluiden series with Steve Heather and Cor Fuhler, but she also plays in the latter's shape-shifting Corkestra."

Fri 12/6: Cass McCombs at Empty Bottle

"Nomadic singer-songwriter Cass McCombs has built a decade-long career by mining that short period in the 1970s when erstwhile folk-rockers discovered an arguably perfect balance of blues, country, pop, and bong hits—which says a lot about how fertile the formula is," writes Miles Raymer. "His seventh and most recent album, Big Wheel and Others (Domino), is dark and moody, with some of the same slow burn as one of Dylan’s nervous-breakdown records; its studied restraint occasionally buckles just enough to let a little crazy through. Throughout its sprawling 22 tracks it alternates between delicate pastoral pop and bluesy dirges, and McCombs animates it with a plethora of biblical allusions and outre come-ons, as well as by calling out people who make 'shitty songs, shitty art, shitty poems,' giving the album a weird cultish energy." Arbouretum open.

Sat 12/7: Immortal Bird at Cobra Lounge

Chicagoan Rae Amitay keeps pretty busy drumming in blackened folk-metal band Thrawsunblat, but that's not all she's been working on. "In between Thrawsunblat tours in support of their terrific second album, Wanderer on the Continent of Saplings, Amitay found time to start her own group, Immortal Bird, and create the EP Akrasia," writes Monica Kendrick. "Originally intended to be a studio-only project, it's now a full-fledged live band (with Novembers Doom drummer Garry Naples freeing up Amitay to be a full-time front woman), and Akrasia is sick and greasy black metal that does an admirable job inventing the sound of a mind tearing itself apart."

Sun 12/8: MellowHigh at Subterranean

"Most of the attention paid to the Odd Future collective goes to Tyler, the Creator and Earl Sweatshirt, but subgroup MellowHigh (aka producer Left Brain and rappers Hodgy Beats and Domo Genesis) comes closest to making music that embodies the unruly punk image at the core of the OF brand," writes Miles Raymer. "Their better-known partners are conservative at heart, and still favor the warm boom-bap that California rap has been using for decades, but MellowHigh’s new self-titled debut on Odd Future's in-house label (Left Brain and Hodgy have previously released music together as MellowHype) is very much a record of the moment—its construction nods to the synthy minimalism that's de rigueur in rap this year, but infuses it with a manic edge that the group's more mannered peers lack."

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