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

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

America is a junkyard on the gig poster of the week

Posted By on 09.19.18 at 06:00 AM


ARTIST: Dan Black
SHOW: Childish Gambino at United Center on Sat 9/8

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Lillie West tells secrets but keeps them on Lala Lala’s lucid, cryptic new The Lamb

Posted By on 09.19.18 at 06:00 AM

Lillie West of Lala Lala - ALEXA VISCIUS
  • Alexa Viscius
  • Lillie West of Lala Lala

Lala Lala were the first band I saw after I moved to Chicago in 2015. I was 18 and nervous, camouflaged under the low ceiling of Humboldt Park basement venue Pinky Swear in what I hoped was the universal cool-kid uniform, right down to the scuffed low-top Dr. Martens and can of PBR. In the abrasive guitar and intricately coded autobiographical lyrics of Lala Lala front woman Lillie West, I found a pocket of the Chicago underground rock scene that I could see myself in—I've been a fan ever since.

The band will probably never lose their affection for basement shows, but these days they can play legitimate clubs too—in fact they're headlining the Empty Bottle on Friday, September 28, to celebrate the release of their second full-length, The Lamb, via Sub Pop offshoot Hardly Art.

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Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Chicago’s first Red Bull Music Festival is all over the map, with Pusha T, Makaya McCraven, Merzbow, and more

Posted By on 09.18.18 at 10:00 AM

Jazz drummer Makaya McCraven will perform with an 11-piece ensemble on November 29 at the South Shore Cultural Center. - IMAGE VIA MAKAYA MCCRAVEN'S FACEBOOK
  • Image via Makaya McCraven's Facebook
  • Jazz drummer Makaya McCraven will perform with an 11-piece ensemble on November 29 at the South Shore Cultural Center.

Festival season ain't over till Red Bull says it is. The energy drink's music operation has so far thrown six festivals in New York and one in Los Angeles, and in November it'll host a similar event in the midwest for the first time. (Last year's 30 Days in Chicago—one big show every night, with Red Bull's muscle and money allowing for relatively inexpensive tickets—was a different beast.)

Red Bull Music Festival Chicago will present sprawling concerts, curated showcases, and a handful of lectures and panels across the city throughout November. Thankfully the events won't be happening every night (making it somewhat more plausible for normal humans to attend the majority of them), and even better, they focus more on local artists. The fest begins Saturday, November 3, with a showcase by Kanye West's GOOD Music label, and ends Friday, November 30, with a celebration of Jamila Woods's breakout debut, Heavn.

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Hotel workers' strike now in its second week with no end in sight

Posted By on 09.18.18 at 06:00 AM

Picketers in front of the Palmer House Hilton. The strike started on September 7. - BRITA HUNEGS
  • Brita Hunegs
  • Picketers in front of the Palmer House Hilton. The strike started on September 7.

On Monday the largest hotel workers' strike in Chicago history entered its second week with negotiations still under way and many hotel beds still left unmade. Thousands of members of Unite Here Local One, which represents more than 15,000 area hospitality workers, are picketing around the clock at 25 local hotels (a full list is here). The union is calling for year-round health care for workers as part of its new contract. Currently workers laid off for the off-season lose their health care benefits. Meanwhile the workloads of others increase to compensate for their absence.

"There are just certain times of the year they say, 'Hey we're going to cut back,'" says Roushanda Williams, a bartender with Hilton Hotels for 18 years. "There's no real rhyme or reason as to when and how. If you're laying people off and the occupancy rates at the hotels are still high, somebody still has to do that work. Most times, it falls on the employees that are still working."

"We don't feel like people should be punished for Chicago being cold in the wintertime," says Sarah Lyons, a research analyst for Unite Here, which represents workers in the hospitality industry and a range of other service industries. "Everyone should be able to take themselves and their child, a sick child, to the doctor."

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Monday, September 17, 2018

Screw nostalgia—the Avengers and Blondie made punk as relevant as ever at Riot Fest

Posted By on 09.17.18 at 03:23 PM

Avengers vocalist Penelope Houston - DANNY O'DONNELL
  • Danny O'Donnell
  • Avengers vocalist Penelope Houston

Outdoor music festivals tend to wear out their own fans. There's only so much hot sun, crowd congestion, and spider-infested porta-potties you can take before you ask yourself, "What the hell am I doing here?" If a fest runs three days, as Riot Fest has for several years now, by the third nearly everyone will have reached that point. Even the teenagers will be dragging. But there were plenty of reasons to trek to Douglas Park for the last day of Riot Fest 2018. Run the Jewels played a transformative headlining set (I'm now a superfan, at least), and Sunday's schedule also included two iconic bands that emerged on opposite ends of the country during the first wave of American punk: the Avengers and Blondie.

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Riot Fest 2018 Sunday [PHOTOS]

Posted By on 09.17.18 at 02:47 PM

Run the Jewels closed out Riot Fest 2018.  We have the live photos and a review by Jamie Ludwig of Sunday sets from Blondie and The Avengers.  Photos by Danny O'Donnell

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Riot Fest 2018 Saturday [PHOTOS]

Posted By on 09.17.18 at 02:00 PM

Day two of Riot Fest saw a range of acts from hometown, garage pop wonders Twin Peaks to iconic Elvis Costello.  Check out the highlights of the Saturday performances from photographer Danny O'Donnell. 

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Riot Fest 2018 Friday [PHOTOS]

Posted By on 09.17.18 at 01:42 PM

The first day of Riot Fest 2018 included calls for justice from Pussy Riot.  Here's a look back in photos by Danny O'Donnell. Saturday here.  Sunday here.

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Raya Martin discusses Filipino cinema and his latest film, the crime drama Smaller and Smaller Circles

Posted By on 09.17.18 at 06:00 AM

Smaller and Smaller Circles
  • Smaller and Smaller Circles
One of the more welcome film series in town, Asian Pop-Up Cinema (now in its seventh season) presents recent work from east Asia that might not have reached this city otherwise. Case in point: this Wednesday at the River East 21 at 7 PM, it will present Smaller and Smaller Circles (2017), the latest feature by Filipino director Raya Martin, with the filmmaker scheduled to appear for a postshow discussion. Martin’s work has received much attention over the past 15 years—some of his films have played at Cannes, and he’s been the subject of retrospectives in New York and Paris—but his movies rarely play in Chicago. Perhaps this screening will mark the beginning of a belated local discovery of his filmography.

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With Bill Daley running for mayor, it’s good to remember what happened the last time we turned Chicago over to the Daleys

Posted By on 09.17.18 at 01:09 AM

  • James Foster/Sun-Times
  • Bill Daley

Just when I thought the mayor's race couldn't get any weirder, into the fray jumps a Daley.

William M., to be exact. As opposed to—well, I'll get to the Daley clan in a bit.

There were already 11 announced candidates when, on September 4, Mayor Emanuel dropped a "Rahm-Shell," as the Sun-Times headline put it, announcing he wouldn't seek reelection.

Now 20 or so relatively high-profile pols—including Toni Preckwinkle, Susana Mendoza, and Jesus "Chuy" Garcia—are talking about running.

If this keeps up, the Tribune may have to rewrite its recent story about how tough it is to run Chicago. If being mayor is so "grueling," how come so many want to do it?

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