• Allá

Two excellent free shows tonight:

* The Very Best, aka singer Esau Mwamwaya and DJ/producer duo Radioclit, play Millennium Park at 6:30 as part of the Music Without Borders series; Antibalas opens (Balkan Beat Box canceled). The mixtape that made their reputation, Esau Mwamwaya and Radioclit Are The Very Best, is one of my favorite releases in recent years. I like the covers of M.I.A.’s “Paper Planes” and Vampire Weekend’s “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa” even better than the originals. You can download it here (zip). H/t to Miles for turning me on to them.

PS: Radioclit DJs at the Beauty Bar (1444 W. Chicago Ave.) tonight at 10pm.

* Allá, perhaps my favorite local band (maybe the Ponys or Azita, depending on what mood I’m in), plays the Whistler (2421 N. Milwaukee Ave), one of my favorite local bars, at 9:30. As Peter Margasak puts it: “this young Chicago combo, which includes some former members of Defender, fits in nicely with some of Latin and South America’s best pop-rock outfits—Café Tacuba, Aterciopelados, Ely Guerra, Babasonicos—all of whom navigate the divide between standard rock instrumentation and strong electronic enhancements (samples, loops, and textures).” (On their most recent release, the mini-album Digs, they cover Terry Riley and John Cage, as well as Faust.) On WBEZ last year, Colby Beserra interviewed the band, who cover Stevie Wonder’s “I Was Made to Love Her.”

Update: I’d be remiss not to mention some of the excellent free shows coming up soon in Millennium Park: the Thermals, the Books, and Kid Sister with Konono No. 1 (Downtown Sound series). Peter Margasak calls it Chicago’s best music venue, and has more on some of the other good concerts coming up, including an evening-length work composed and performed by Tortoise, who’ll be joined by Nicole Mitchell, Fred Lonberg-Holm, and others.

Speaking of Tortoise, they play Lincoln Hall (2424 N. Lincoln Ave) tonight at 8pm.