Best shows to see: Hellfyre Club, Alaya, Wadada Leo Smith, Sick/Tired | Bleader

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Best shows to see: Hellfyre Club, Alaya, Wadada Leo Smith, Sick/Tired

Posted By on 02.27.14 at 12:35 PM

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  • Sick/Tired
On Saturday the Empty Bottle is putting on Winter Frozen Dancing, a free afternoon concert featuring Marnie Stern, Diarrhea Planet, and Heavy Times that's being held outdoors. It's tough to imagine spending more than a few moments outside considering how miserable the weather's been this week, but if Diarrhea Planet's four guitarists can tear it up outdoors, I can certainly brave the cold to see that happen.

There are plenty of other concerts to see before then. Tonight there's Commander Cody at SPACE and Mickey Avalon at Bottom Lounge. Tomorrow night you can check out Bobby Broom Trio at Jazz Showcase, Knuckle Puck at Subterranean, or Taylor Bennett at Reggie's Rock Club. On Saturday there's Donny McCaslin Group at Green Mill and Bob Mould at Old Town School of Folk Music. On Sunday you can wrap up the weekend with Badfinger at Mayne Stage or Ringo Deathstarr at Beat Kitchen.

If those shows don't strike your fancy, head to Soundboard to see all the concert listings for the weekend, and read on for some picks from Reader critics.

Thu 2/27: Hellfyre Club at Schubas

Hellfyre Club is an eclectic hip-hop collective based in LA, though, as I note in Soundboard, it has some local connections: Open Mike Eagle is from the south side and Milo moved to Chicago in the fall. "They both do some heavy lifting on Hellfyre Club's most recent release, November's pay-what-you-want online compilation Dorner vs. Tookie, and they're part of the core four-man group appearing at tonight's crew performance, alongside original member Busdriver and label founder Nocando. On Dorner vs. Tookie their idiosyncratic perspectives, distinctive forms of charisma, and tics in rhyming style work together to make something bigger than the sum of its parts ('the Megazord,' as they say on Bandcamp). These dudes clearly have a ball making music together, and the MCs fill the tunes with shout-outs to their compatriots (some subtle, some obvious) and endearing little in-jokes that hint at their deep bonds even when you're not in on them. I'm not entirely sure why, say, Open Mike Eagle feels the need to tell Busdriver on 'Apologies' that he's 'sorry I get haircuts you've already had,' but their camaraderie is audible in his voice."

Fri 2/28: Alaya at Cobra Lounge

"This local tech-metal trio spent two years on its debut album, Thrones (due March 24 on Basick), but this definitely isn't one of those cases where you wonder what took so long," writes Monica Kendrick. "Every rise and fall and zig and zag in Alaya's mercilessly progressive music is so impeccably, crisply shaped that it's as startling as coming across a 3-D-printed human organ—you have to ask yourself, What futuristic zone did this come from? Thankfully drummer David Jacob did an interview with Bloody Disgusting where he explains that his bandmates get ideas for lyrics from horror movies, like every other metal mortal; guitarist and front man Evan Graham Dunn also has a piercing, lovely voice, which adds a human touch."

Sat 3/1: Wadada Leo Smith at Constellation

"The last time Los Angeles-based trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith came to town, he brought a jazz combo and a string quartet, and the excerpts they played from Ten Freedom Summers, his expansive and wide-ranging reflection upon America's civil-rights struggle, carried to the far end of Pritzker Pavilion," writes Bill Meyer. "That three-section, 19-piece suite is just as grand and ambitious as it sounds—it was a finalist for the 2013 Pulitzer Prize—but Smith can play even more affecting music in relatively modest settings, such as this trio with two midwesterners. Smith and Minneapolis multi-instrumentalist Douglas Ewart (woodwinds, didgeridoo, electronics) have in common the ability to make a few richly textured notes say more than many musicians can with a whole night of busy playing. They also share a penchant for using the music of other cultures to infuse their improvisations with a ceremonial air. Chicago drummer Mike Reed, who's young enough to be either man's son (Smith is 72, Ewart five years his junior), doesn't make a similar attempt to transcend his jazz roots—his brisk playing grounds and propels his bandmates' sparse explorations, making for music that speaks equally to mind, spirit, and body."

Sun 3/2: Sick/Tired at Township

"In a genre as unrelentingly brutal as grindcore—with its with 50-second shards of blastbeats, grumbles, and shrieks—it's got to be tough to keep the intensity up, even if you've got the physical endurance for it," writes Kevin Warwick. "But local grind/powerviolence outfit Sick/Tired (featuring former members of MK-Ultra and Weekend Nachos) has been ripping it up since 2008—though they did switch vocalists in 2011, when Winters in Osaka's Adam Jennings joined. Sick/Tired recently signed with A389 Recordings, a very legit Baltimore DIY label that's been gaining steam in the underworld of abrasive music, and it plans to drop a Sick/Tired full-length this summer. Expect more of the no-limit destruction laid down on the 2013 album King of Dirt and the band's most recent seven-inch, September's Manufractured (Profane Existence), which is recorded lucidly enough that you can hear the musicianship behind the violent noise."

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