The Bleader | Blog + Reader, the Chicago Reader's blog

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Twin Peaks take a victory lap at Riot Fest

Posted By on 09.16.18 at 12:45 PM

Twin Peaks singer-guitarist Cadien Lake James - DANNY O'DONNELL
  • Danny O'Donnell
  • Twin Peaks singer-guitarist Cadien Lake James

Chicago garage-pop wonders Twin Peaks formed in 2010 and debuted at Riot Fest in 2013, the first year it took place entirely in Humboldt Park.  The fest was beginning its rapid expansion, and organizers booked plenty of well-established locals—as well as a few, including Twin Peaks, who were beginning their own rapid rise. At the time, the band's original members were all 19.

This year only 88 artists played Riot Fest, and as that total has dwindled over the past couple years, younger acts have fallen off disproportionately. David Anthony has argued in the Reader that the festival should make a bigger priority of engaging with where punk is going, and Twin Peaks helped make his case: their Saturday afternoon set was one of the strongest I witnessed all weekend, showcasing the new vitality they're injecting into old rock ideas.

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Saturday, September 15, 2018

Pussy Riot use their Riot Fest set to demand justice for a fallen comrade—and for all the oppressed

Posted By on 09.15.18 at 12:06 PM

Nadya Tolokonnikova and Pussy Riot - DANNY O'DONNELL
  • Danny O'Donnell
  • Nadya Tolokonnikova and Pussy Riot

Nadya "Tolokno" Tolokonnikova and the rest of the 14-member Pussy Riot posse marched onstage Friday at Riot Fest wearing frilly white blouses, athletic pants, and DayGlo green balaclavas, holding up a huge sign demanding justice for a fallen comrade: "We will punish those who poisoned Peter Verzilov." Aside from the group's DJ, only Tolokonnikova wasn't wearing the signature Pussy Riot mask—hers sat on top of her head. As such you could call Tolokonnikova the face of the group, but its members clearly included different races, genders, body types, and levels of ability (one woman had come out in a wheelchair).

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Friday, September 14, 2018

Chicago rapper Noname opens all the doors on the new Room 25

Posted By on 09.14.18 at 02:26 PM

Noname at Pitchfork this summer - ASHLEE REZIN/SUN-TIMES
  • Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times
  • Noname at Pitchfork this summer

Noname's fans consider her this generation's "woke" female rapper, but it's a notion that Noname herself rejects. In a recent interview with The Fader, the Chicago rapper otherwise known as Fatimah Warner insists that her music shouldn't be pigeonholed as "real hip-hop" (shorthand for old-school rap, usually invoked by the same people who think the four elements represent the only true hip-hop culture). "A lot of my fans . . . I think they like me because they think I'm the anti-Cardi B," she says. "I'm not. I'm just Fatimah." And with her debut album, the brand-new Room 25 (2016's Telefone was technically a mixtape), Noname achieves a healthy balance between the serious outlook of the conscious poet-rapper her fans have come to know and the sillier, funnier facets of her personality.

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Deadpool jumps from the silver screen to the silver ball thanks to Stern Pinball

Posted By on 09.14.18 at 12:12 PM

STERN PINBALL
  • Stern Pinball

The comic-book hero Deadpool's constant metajokes don't just break the fourth wall—they slice it up and grind it to dust.

It's not exactly surprising, then, that the supermercenary's new pinball game, released this month by Chicago-area manufacturer Stern Pinball, follows suit. While you're busy flipping a silver ball around the playfield, for instance, a digitized Deadpool tries his hand at his own pinball machine on the machine's video display. Much of the rest of Stern's latest is full of that brand of self-referential humor, sometimes to the point of tediousness (I could do without Deadpool mocking me nearly every time I lose).

Luckily the game itself is more than good enough to make up for the minor annoyances. I became addicted after playing five rounds of it early this week at Logan Arcade, which hosts the premiere party for the new game tonight. For the casual player like me, it's relatively easy to unlock the frantic multiball mechanic and send a ball careening down the katana-shaped ramp. But there's plenty for more hard-core players to attempt—for example, they can take on virtual X-Men villains like Juggernaut and Mystique. 
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The pinball game favors the comic-book version of Deadpool over Ryan Reynolds and the silver-screen version of the "Merc With the Mouth," as the character's called, and the cartoonish art—hand-drawn by a freelance artist who goes by the moniker Zombie Yeti—appropriately feels like it's ripped from a graphic novel. My favorite little touch is a guest appearance by Dazzler, the much-derided but beloved disco-themed superheroine.

If you manage to get your hands on the premium and limited editions of the machines, they feature a mini disco ball with illumination effects. To get your own, you might need Ryan Reynolds's salary—the premium costs $7,599, and the limited edition is $8,999. Personally, I'll be sticking to Logan Arcade to play.

Deadpool Pinball Launch Party Fri 9/14, 7-10 PM, Logan Arcade, 2410 W. Fullerton, free

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Riot Fest and more of the best things to do in Chicago this weekend

Posted By on 09.14.18 at 06:00 AM

Atmosphere plays the Radicals Stage 9/13 at 6:45 PM. - COURTESY OF ARTIST
  • courtesy of artist
  • Atmosphere plays the Radicals Stage 9/13 at 6:45 PM.

There are plenty of shows, films, and concerts happening this week. Here's some of what we recommend:

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Warped for life by Fanny and Alexander

Posted By on 09.14.18 at 06:00 AM

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My parents took me to see Ingmar Bergman's Fanny and Alexander when it was released in the United States in 1983, and it warped me forever. I don’t recall what month we went to see it, but I was either about to turn 13, or had just turned 13. I do remember that we saw it at the Nickelodeon Cinema, just off Commonwealth Avenue, located in between buildings belonging to Boston University. That movie theater is long gone, as are many other landmarks of my Boston youth, but memories from those years linger and are reactivated often. Especially when I revisit a movie or book from long ago. The Siskel Film Center's celebration of Bergman has provided a great opportunity to plunge into my own past.

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Thursday, September 13, 2018

How women came together to take down the Orwells

Posted By on 09.13.18 at 03:56 PM

The Orwells - SUE KWONG/ORIGINAL PHOTO BY KELLY PULEIO
  • Sue Kwong/original photo by Kelly Puleio
  • The Orwells

Content warning: sexual assault

For years, women in Chicago had been warning each other to steer clear of the Orwells. Ugly rumors about the local garage band traveled mostly along back channels, fueled by whispers at DIY shows and graffiti in the women’s room at Cole’s. On August 26, private talk finally led to concerted public action when former Orwells fan Riley Kmet, who now lives in Ohio, created a Google Doc where she and several other women collected and posted specific but anonymized allegations of sexual assault, sexual abuse, rape, misogyny, homophobia and violent behavior against three of the five members of the Orwells: front man Mario Cuomo, drummer Henry Brinner, and bassist Grant Brinner.

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Pro tip for mayoral hopefuls: Don't govern by press release, do sweat the small stuff

Posted By on 09.13.18 at 06:00 AM

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel speaking about gun violence in Washington, D.C., 2013 - SAUL LOEB/AFP/GETTY IMAGES
  • Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images
  • Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel speaking about gun violence in Washington, D.C., 2013

This story was originally published by ProPublica Illinois.

The day after Mayor Rahm Emanuel rocked the city's political establishment by announcing he wasn't running for reelection, Chicago police officer Ray Tracy opened the September community meeting for police beats 815 and 821 the way he does every month, by going over the good news and bad news in the area's recent crime statistics.

It was just hours after jury selection began in the first murder trial of a Chicago police officer in decades. Although neither of those topics came up at the meeting, it was held not far from where CPD officer Jason Van Dyke shot and killed teenager Laquan McDonald four years ago—a case that continues to roil Chicago and surely contributed to Emanuel's decision.

Tracy noted that crime in the two beats, which make up much of the Archer Heights and Brighton Park neighborhoods on the city's southwest side, remains relatively low.

But the totals had ticked up in a number of areas, Tracy told the 20 residents gathered in a Catholic school classroom, many sitting in kid-size chairs. Several garages had been burglarized. And in the second half of August, there had been three shooting—none fatal, though still troubling.

"We're on it," he said.

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Wednesday, September 12, 2018

See the world’s largest Pez sculpture on the gig poster of the week

Posted By on 09.12.18 at 06:00 AM

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ARTIST: Trek Matthews
SHOW: Andrew Bernstein, Timeghost & John Bender, and Kohl/Long/Clinkman at the Hideout on Wed 9/12
MORE INFO: trekmatthews.com

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‘The Lubitsch touch’ on FilmStruck this week

Posted By on 09.12.18 at 06:00 AM

Ernst Lubitsch's The Oyster Princess
  • Ernst Lubitsch's The Oyster Princess
The great German, then American, director Ernst Lubitsch is currently featured as FilmStruck's "director of the week," and they have a generous selection of his films spanning most of his career. A master of deft and witty romantic comedies, his legendary "Lubitsch touch" began in the teens and graced a wider range of films than his celebrated comedy films.

The Oyster Princess
Lubitsch's first feature-length comedy (1919), about an American millionaire trying to acquire a noble title for his daughter by marrying her off to a Prussian prince, is an unalloyed delight—a perfect rejoinder to those critics who maintain that the director only found "the Lubitsch touch" after moving to Hollywood in the 1920s. The satire is sharp, and the visual settings are sumptuous and gracefully handled. With Ossi Owalda, Harry Liedtke, and Victor Janson. 60 min. —Jonathan Rosenbaum

Sumurun
One of a series of historical epics that the young German director Lubitsch concocted for star Pola Negri—a series that eventually landed Hollywood contracts for both. This 1920 film is an adaptation of Max Reinhardt's stage production Sumurun, with Negri as an ambitious dancing girl courted by a lascivious sheikh and the pathetic hunchback (played by Lubitsch himself) who is the leader of her troupe. 75 min.
Dave Kehr

The Merry Widow
The last and finest of Lubitsch's musicals (1934), based on the Franz Lehar operetta and retooled with lyrics by Lorenz Hart. Maurice Chevalier, in his last good role, is the prince; Jeanette MacDonald, on the brink of her fateful meeting with Nelson Eddy, is the widow. MGM hired the Lubitsch-Chevalier-MacDonald team away from Paramount, and apparently went all-out on this production to show up the competition. Lubitsch brilliantly exploits Cedric Gibbons's opulent sets, but his genius is most evident in the film's final poignancy—a farewell to the genre he helped to create. Also known as The Lady Dances. 99 min. —Dave Kehr

The Shop Around the Corner
There are no art deco nightclubs, shimmering silk gowns, or slamming bedroom doors to be seen, but this 1940 film is one of Lubitsch's finest and most enduring works, a romantic comedy of dazzling range that takes place almost entirely within the four walls of a leather-goods store in prewar Budapest. James Stewart is the earnest, slightly awkward young manager; Margaret Sullavan is the new sales clerk who gets on his nerves—and neither realizes that they are partners in a passionate romance being carried out through the mails. Interwoven with subplots centered on the other members of the shop's little family, the romance proceeds through Lubitsch's brilliant deployment of point of view, allowing the audience to enter the perceptions of each individual character at exactly the right moment to develop maximum sympathy and suspense. With Frank Morgan, Joseph Schildkraut, Sara Haden, and Felix Bressart. 97 min. —Dave Kehr

Heaven Can Wait
Lubitsch's only completed film in Technicolor (1943), the greatest of his late films, offers a rosy, meditative, and often very funny view of an irrepressible ladies' man (Don Ameche in his prime) presenting his life in retrospect to the devil (Laird Cregar). Like a good deal of Lubitsch from The Merry Widow on, it's about death as well as personal style, but rarely has the subject been treated with such affection for the human condition. Samson Raphaelson's script is very close to perfection, the sumptuous period sets are a delight, and the secondary cast—Gene Tierney, Charles Coburn, Marjorie Main, Eugene Pallette, and Spring Byington—is wonderful. In many respects, this is Lubitsch's testament, full of grace, wisdom, and romance. 112 min. —Jonathan Rosenbaum

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September 19
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BigMouth Chicago Shakespeare Theater
September 18

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