Posted inBest of Chicago

Best nomadic collective for weird, druggy, hard-hitting underground techno

Tied When this clandestine collective of “like-minded people tied together” first appeared, it was to throw parties that bounce from one nondescript location to the next, start at hours during which most folks are calling it a night, and showcase artists at the forefront of underground house and techno music. Though the organizers occasionally collaborate […]

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Best classical label

Cedille Records @CedilleRecords Founded in 1989 by James Ginsburg, Cedille Records is hardly a secret in the world of classical music, where it’s widely recognized as one of the most important independent imprints. Calling it the best classical label in Chicago, where it’s arguably the only established example, may feel like faint praise—but Cedille has […]

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Best progressive cumbia and tropical bass night

CumbiaSazo 1572 N. Milwaukee 773-489-3160 doubledoor.com Hosted by Double Door every fourth Saturday of the month, CumbiaSazo is part live music performance, part dance instruction, and part art exhibit, all dedicated to the musical styles of cumbia and tropical bass. Both genres—rooted in cross-cultural music traditions from South America, Africa, and Spain—continue to grow in […]

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Best instructional dance video

“Big Sexy Slide” by DJ Maine @maineofficial In late 2013, bop kings Dlow and Lil Kemo combined their wild, euphoric dancing with the sort of party rap that’s made for it, releasing songs of their own with videos designed to teach you their moves. “The Dlow Shuffle” and “Kemo Step” were both regional hits, but […]

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Best-dressed DJs

Sundays With the Tigers at East Room 2828 W. Medill 773-276-9603 eastroomchicago.com In the past year, Logan Square’s cash-only speakeasy lite emerged as a Chicago hip-hop hotbed, hosting DJ nights by Grammy-nominated flattop Stefan Ponce, rising Adult Swim affiliate Thelonious Martin, and Closed Sessions cofounder RTC; Vic Mensa premiered “U Mad” there during a set […]

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Best 4 AM bar for live music

The Owl The Owl is more than just another 4 AM bar filled with already-drunks pining to extend the night further into the wee hours. While the Logan Square hideaway has several features that pair well with fun mistakes—dim lighting, mirrored walls, a decadent waterfall flowing behind the long, curved bar—it also books obscure acts […]

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Best cross between the Breeders and Lightning Bolt

Melkbelly Melkbelly wrangle the tidal-size tension and release of noise rock with expert hands, pushing its blown-out frenzy inch by inch toward endearing indie pop. On last year’s Pennsylvania (Automatic) the four-piece contort cinder-­block bass, scraggly guitars, and brash, crackling art-punk drumming into all sorts of different shapes; the album’s longest song, closer “Scrupulous,” has […]

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Best band primed to break out this year

Ne-Hi @nehi_band OK, maybe not so much “primed” as “teetering on the edge of.” Indie-rock four-piece Ne-Hi dropped their raw self-titled debut a little over a year ago via local label Manic Static (which has since issued a second pressing), so by now its wistful, reverb-washed melodies, perfectly simple guitar leads, and swooshing, all-for-one choruses […]