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Thursday, September 29, 2016

Up yours! A satanic Kermit takes over a good Lutheran kid in Victory Gardens’ Hand to God

Posted By on 09.29.16 at 11:30 AM

Alex Weisman, Curtis Edward Jackson, and Nina Ganet - LIZ LAUREN
  • Liz Lauren
  • Alex Weisman, Curtis Edward Jackson, and Nina Ganet

Convinced Christians may take offense at Hand to God. Convinced Christians with a sense of humor may find themselves in the odd position of taking offense while laughing.

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Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Guess who’s on this week’s cover and win VIP passes to the Pitchfork Music Festival

Posted By on 07.13.16 at 11:30 AM

  • Jason Wyatt Frederick

Half of humanity might be awkwardly capturing virtual pets on their phones, but we've got a way better game for you to play this week.

Take a good, long look at the Where's Waldo?-style illustration on the cover of this week's issue—our annual Pitchfork Music Festival preview— by Jason Wyatt Frederick. It's full of Chicagoans of varying levels of fame and infamy, plus visual puns of Pitchfork acts.

The person who correctly identifies the most people and music acts will receive a pair of three-day VIP passes to this weekend's Pitchfork Music Festival. To get a better view of who's who, click the image above for a full version. (If you're on a mobile device, click this link to zoom in.)

So hurry up and send your answers, along with your full name, to for your chance to score free drinks,  side-of-stage access, and more at this year's indie-rock party at Union Park. The deadline is 2 PM on Thursday, July 14 so HURRY UP!

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Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Weirdo-electronic label Midwich premieres tracks from locals Hide and Alex Barnett

Posted By on 03.30.16 at 11:00 AM

Seth Sher and Heather Gabel of Hide - COURTESY MIDWICH
  • Courtesy Midwich
  • Seth Sher and Heather Gabel of Hide

To any local music freak with half a brain and basically functioning ear canals, Jim Magas has been an obvious leader of Chicago's "interesting music" vanguard for more than 20 years—my introduction to him was in the mid-90s at the Fireside Bowl, when he was fronting short-lived (and totally excellent) no-wave horror punks Lake of Dracula. If you held a gun to my head today (please don't!) and told me to make a list of the top ten "rock" bands I've ever seen live, I'm pretty sure Lake of Dracula would be on there somewhere. The Reader's Peter Margasak described the Magas of that era as "a genuine maniac" who balanced "confrontational zeal . . . and arrhythmic whooping with propulsive hectoring," which is also an apt description of his present guise as one-man electro party Magas—a project that's been turning out dance floors with screwball MPC-generated thump since 2000.

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Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Dancer-choreographer Ayako Kato tackles the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant disaster

Posted By on 11.11.15 at 03:00 PM

Bryan Saner and Ayako Kato - DANIEL GUIDARA
  • Daniel Guidara
  • Bryan Saner and Ayako Kato

The meltdown of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in March 2011 is still raw in the minds of many. That's partly the basis for Blue Fish II, a conceptual performance piece from Chicagoan and native of Japan Ayako Kato of Art Union/Humanscape. The latest installment of her Blue Fish series takes place November 14 and 15 at the Chicago Cultural Center as part of the third annual SpinOff contemporary dance series, presented by the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events.

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Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Former Smith Westerns front man Cullen Omori makes live solo debut, announces first album

Posted By on 10.21.15 at 11:00 AM

Cullen Omori shows his label a little love. - ALEXA LOPEZ
  • Alexa Lopez
  • Cullen Omori shows his label a little love.

In late 2014, Cullen Omori was unsure where his music career was headed—he just knew he wouldn't be going any further with his longtime band, Smith Westerns. He and bandmate Max Kakacek (who's since formed the group Whitney) weren't seeing eye to eye about songwriting, and Omori felt Smith Westerns had hit a roadblock creatively. "There was no real reason to make the band work anymore," he says.

Smith Westerns formally broke up in late 2014, and even before the split became official, Omori had started writing the material that would form the beginnings of his solo catalog. Earlier this year he signed with Sub Pop Records, and he plans to release his first album under his own name (as yet untitled) in early 2016. He says he's never been happier or felt more at ease with himself as a musician. "Now I can just take an idea and run with it and see what happens," he says. "I haven't felt as confident about my music as I do now since the Dye It Blonde era."

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Sunday, October 18, 2015

What's the right nickname for Schwarber? Vavoom!

Posted By on 10.18.15 at 05:10 PM

Schwar Machine?
  • Schwar Machine?

The Cubs' Kyle Schwarber is the sort of instantly identifiable and prodigiously talented phenom who just seems to demand a nickname. Sun-Times sports columnist Rick Morrissey recognized as much earlier this summer, when he called out for submissions from fans. Yet the dozens of suggestions he got from readers were, by my way of thinking, pedestrian, foremost among them: the Hulk, Smash, Schwar Machine (Morissey's favorite), the Hoosier Hitman (which at least has a classic feel), and Bamm-Bamm, which is actually somewhat akin to what I've been calling the Cubs' slugging catcher-outfielder for a while now.


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Friday, October 16, 2015

How Sicario makes moral ambiguity palpable

Posted By on 10.16.15 at 01:30 PM

  • Sicario

, which is currently playing in general release, is one of the most formally accomplished things at the multiplexes, a triumph of cinematography, lighting, production, and sound design. Taken together, these qualities establish an unsettling atmosphere that goes a long way in giving the movie its power. Sicario tells the story of a group of federal agents who adopt questionable tactics to bring down a Mexican drug cartel. As director Denis Villeneuve puts it in a recent interview with American Cinematographer, the film is less about cartel violence than how the United States has responded to it, entering a moral gray zone that obscures any good intentions our country may have had in fighting the war on drugs. Sicario's atmosphere makes that gray zone palpable—it evokes a state of queasiness that makes one uncertain of how to respond.

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Monday, July 20, 2015

We picked up some honors at the AAN Awards

Posted By on 07.20.15 at 01:38 PM

Mike Sulas cover story from March 6, 2014 took home first place for food writing.
  • Mike Sula's cover story from March 6, 2014, took home first place for food writing.

Every year the Association of Alternative Newsmedia gathers to honor the best work put out by alt-weeklies across the country, and at this weekend's convention, well, the Reader cleaned up nicely.

So while we take a moment to toot our own horn, there's no better time for you to catch up on our award-winning stories from the past year.

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Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Want to win a three-day VIP pass to this year's Pitchfork Music Festival?

Posted By on 07.14.15 at 11:15 AM

  • Jason Frederick

Many of my Reader coworkers know that I have a somewhat amusing, mostly annoying habit of requesting that all our covers should take the form of Mad magazine fold-in covers. When I propose this in editorial staff meetings, it is under the assumption that it will never happen. Well, dreams do come true. This year, local genius Jason Frederick made his annual Pitchfork Music Festival B Side cover a Mad magazine-style fold-in. And if my dream came true, well, yours probably can as well.

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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Lollapalooza 2015: Paul McCartney, Metallica, and stuff for the kids these days

Posted By on 03.25.15 at 09:30 AM

This guy is headlining Lollapalooza
  • Courtesy of Paul McCartney's Facebook page
  • This guy is headlining Lollapalooza
Lollapalooza announced its lineup at 6 AM today, and the biggest name on the bill is also its oldest: Paul McCartney. The Beatle headlines the three-day Grant Park festival alongside Metallica, Florence + the Machine, Sam Smith, Bassnectar, and the Weeknd. It's a far more perplexing list than the tame, underwhelming collection of acts rounded up to close out each night of the megafest last year, but the uneven distribution of talent rests heavily on the two names at the top of the bill. If you subscribe to the idea that millennials are generally clueless about McCartney after the #whoispaulmccartney trend story that followed his first collaboration with Kanye West ("Only One"), then the former's place as the king of the lineup of a fest that skews young is a head-scratcher. But since two of the other biggest music festivals in the U.S. feature acts that appeal to a significantly older crowd than one might expect to see at these kinds of summer jamborees—Steely Dan is set to play Coachella, Billy Joel headlines Bonnaroo—Lollapalooza could be perceived to be staying on top of a trend.

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