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Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Jazz bassist Matt Ulery blends styles and scenes with his multifarious new project

Posted By on 10.16.18 at 03:57 PM

Bassist and composer Matt Ulery - HARVEY TILLIS
  • Harvey Tillis
  • Bassist and composer Matt Ulery

For all the contributions that bassist and composer Matt Ulery makes to the Chicago jazz scene—whether via his own music or via platforms he creates—he rarely pats himself on the back. He's not a gratuitous self-promoter either, preferring to let his music speak for itself. And there's a lot of it to speak: the brand-new Sifting Stars is Ulery's eighth album as a bandleader since his debut in 2008. He also plays as a sideman in uncountable groups (ad hoc as well as established), leads weekly jams at the Whistler with drummer Quin Kirchner, and runs his own label, Woolgathering Records.

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Monday, October 15, 2018

German pop princess Kim Petras gets dark and campy with a Halloween-themed mixtape

Posted By on 10.15.18 at 05:38 PM

Earlier this month, Kim Petras released Turn Off the Light, Vol. 1. - THOM KERR
  • Thom Kerr
  • Earlier this month, Kim Petras released Turn Off the Light, Vol. 1.

German pop princess Kim Petras first got famous for something unrelated to her music: at the unusually young age of 12, she began hormone replacement therapy, at 14 she was officially registered as a girl, and by 16 she'd received gender confirmation surgery. But she's said in an interview with the New York Times that she doesn't care about being the first transgender teen idol. Petras, now 26 and based in Los Angeles, wants to be known as an artist.

Petras began her music career in earnest in 2017, and on October 1, she dropped her biggest release yet, the Halloween-themed mixtape Turn Off the Light, Vol. 1. It explores the darker side of her 80s-influenced sound, shifting from her trademark bubblegum pop to something moodier and more gothic. The mixtape's spooky electronic dance tracks ("Close Your Eyes," "Tell Me It's a Nightmare") are linked by largely instrumental breaks ("Omen," "Boo! Bitch!") with only occasional hushed vocals—and these passages carry you into the next song so smoothly that you might not even notice until you're halfway through it. Compared with the bright pop of her earlier work, Turn Off the Light, Vol. 1 is spookier and sexier, with darker lyrics and thickly stacked synth chords that evoke the creepy organ sounds in pulpy old horror movies.

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Friday, October 12, 2018

Indigo Nation Denim Festival and more of the best things to do this weekend

Posted By on 10.12.18 at 06:00 AM

COURTESY INDIGO NATION
  • courtesy Indigo Nation

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

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Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Chicago rocker Adam Schubert recorded alone for years before getting sober and going public as Ruins

Posted By on 10.09.18 at 06:00 AM

Adam Schubert, aka Ruins - ALEXA VISCIUS
  • Alexa Viscius
  • Adam Schubert, aka Ruins

Adam Schubert doesn't have much left to prove to fans of Chicago underground rock. He plays guitar in psychedelic postpunk band Cafe Racer, which has put out albums with two of the scene's best labels: their self-titled debut via Dumpster Tapes in 2016 and Famous Dust via Maximum Pelt this past February. Schubert is also a prolific singer-songwriter outside that group, though you'll have to take his word for it: he's been recording solo for around a decade, and in all that time the only material he's released has been the June 2018 Dumpster Tapes EP Ruins by his project of the same name (not to be confused with Tatsuya Yoshida's experimental duo).

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Friday, October 5, 2018

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

Posted By on 10.05.18 at 06:00 AM

COURTESY THE ARTIST
  • courtesy the artist

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

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Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Michael Zerang explores time, tone, and light with a musical coffin from Moby-Dick

Posted By on 10.03.18 at 07:00 AM

Michael Zerang plays Queequeg's Coffin at the 30th-anniversary gala for Experimental Sound Studio in July 2016. - JASON P. HOLMES
  • Jason P. Holmes
  • Michael Zerang plays Queequeg's Coffin at the 30th-anniversary gala for Experimental Sound Studio in July 2016.

When Queequeg, the tattooed cannibal harpoonist in Herman Melville's Moby-Dick, comes down with a fever, he asks the Pequod's carpenter to build him a floating coffin. But once the illness passes and he regains his strength, the crew repurposes the carpenter's handiwork as a life buoy, which after the wreck of the ship saves the novel's narrator, Ishmael. In 2016, when percussionist Michael Zerang performed in Blair Thomas's staging of Moby-Dick (a story the puppeteer had been staging and restaging since 1990), one of his duties was to crank out musical drones on a prop called Queequeg's Coffin. After the play was done, Zerang took the instrument home—and in a corresponding act of creative recycling, this Saturday in May Chapel at Rosehill Cemetery he'll present his own concert-length composition built around it.

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Friday, September 28, 2018

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

Posted By on 09.28.18 at 06:36 PM

Lala Lala - ALEXA VISCIUS
  • Alexa Viscius
  • Lala Lala

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

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Wednesday, September 26, 2018

An ESPN podcast documentary gets a first-of-its-kind premiere party in Chicago

Posted By on 09.26.18 at 11:00 AM

screen_shot_2018-09-26_at_8.07.43_am.png

If a movie can get a premiere party—why can't a podcast?

In the latest sign that the streaming audio medium has reached critical mass, the ESPN 30 for 30 podcasts episode "Juiced," about ex-professional baseball slugger Jose Canseco, will make its debut in front of a live audience at Logan Auditorium on October 7—11 days before it shows up in podcast feeds.

It's part of the podcast-apalooza that is the Fest, a two-week-long festival starting October 1 that features live podcast tapings and other audio events in venues across Chicago. The Fest's events overlap with the 17th Third Coast Conference, the annual conference for the podcast and audio-story industry conference.

"The audio premiere is long overdue," says Emily Kennedy, Third Coast Festival programs manager. 

"A podcast episode takes just as much editing, love and attention to create as any other documentary and listening to a podcast is just as addictive, intimate, and immersive as watching a film. We think that audio documentaries should be treated with the same respect and attention as film."

It might sound strange to listen to recorded audio together in an audience—but it's far from unprecedented. Listening parties are becoming a bigger part of the music industry. Just ask Kanye West, who held a star-studded debut of his album Ye in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, in June. Third Coast Fest has previously held events in which they've invited audiences to Chicago venues like the Hideout to listen to podcasts in-the-dark together.

"The model of a listening event is basically: audio is immersive. Audio is powerful. And listening all together is a unique—and transformative—experience," says Maya Goldberg-Safir, Third Coast Fest's artistic director.

Yes, Jose Canseco was once with the White Sox too. - ELAINE THOMPSON/AP
  • Elaine Thompson/AP
  • Yes, Jose Canseco was once with the White Sox too.

ESPN's series of 30 for 30 audio documentaries has been praised as "This American Life but for sports."  The podcast's producers are leading their third season with the world premiere of the episode Juiced—also the name of Canseco's controversial 2005 memoir about his 17-year baseball career and use of performance-enhancing drugs, to which he owns up in the book. Juiced also infamously named names of various teammates of Canseco who also allegedly used steroids.

The podcast is described by the producers as a behind-the-scenes look at the messy making of the book: "The fallout from the publication is well documented—it is the first book to ever spark a congressional hearing. Our story pulls back that curtain to uncover the in-over-his-head editor and the veteran ghostwriter that worked to contain Canseco every step of the way.”

The former Oakland A's star and onetime White Sox outfielder still can't manage to keep away from controversy. He got fired from a broadcasting job with NBC Sports California last year after he tweeted out careless jokes about the burgeoning #MeToo movement.

30 for 30 Live Sun 10/7, 6-7:30 PM, Logan Square Auditorium, 2539 N. Kedzie, eventbrite.com/e/the-fest-presents-30-for-30-live-tickets-49363752312, $15-$22.

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Friday, September 21, 2018

Reeling Film Festival, 312 Block Party, and more to do in Chicago this weekend

Posted By on 09.21.18 at 12:30 PM

Jean-Pierre “Jupiter” Bokondji and the band Okwess, playing at the World Music Festival this weekend - MICKY CLEMENT
  • Micky Clement
  • Jean-Pierre “Jupiter” Bokondji and the band Okwess, playing at the World Music Festival this weekend

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

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Friday, September 14, 2018

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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