Winter is coming—I don’t mean to reference Game of Thrones, but rather to talk about an impending quiet period for those who like seeing live music in Chicago. With the cold weather moving in, the opportunity to see a lot of live music will begin to dwindle. Fortunately there are still plenty of great concerts to check out this weekend.
Tonight there’s Irvin Mayfield & the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra at Chicago Theatre, Swearin’ at Township, Johnny Rawls at Buddy Guy’s Legends, and ShowYouSuck’s Dude Bro release party at the Hideout (Gossip Wolf has more info on that show). Tomorrow night you can take in sets from High on Fire at Metro, Mono at Bottom Lounge, or Hungarian State Folk Ensemble at Auditorium Theatre. On Saturday night there’s Smith Westerns and Sky Ferreira at the Vic and Steve Gunn at Constellation. Close out the weekend with performances from Paramore and Metric at UIC Pavilion, Phil Cohran at Logan Hardware, Dowsing at Township, or Chicago Q Ensemble at Constellation.
There are plenty of other concerts all weekend long—head to Soundboard to see what else is happening and read below for some picks from Reader critics.
Thu 11/21: Cat Power at Old Town School of Folk Music
Chan Marshall, aka Cat Power, is partially known for her mercurial performances—according to Miles Raymer, she’s long had a reputation for ditching shows, sometimes in the middle of performances, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. But Raymer also says she’s worth seeing, even with the possibility that the show might be a disaster. “In her early work Marshall created a fascinating juxtaposition of fragility and unflinchingly raw emotional content, but on 2003’s You Are Free and 2006’s The Greatest she gradually found a new footing, developing into a solid singer,” writes Raymer. “Now she has enough range and flexibility to take on not only the airy folk she’d made her trademark but also rock, soul, and even full-on electronic club-beat pop, as she proved on last year’s surprisingly bold Sun (Matador).”
Fri 11/22: Vukari at Cobra Lounge
Monica Kendrick has a soft spot for bands that put on an awe-inspiring debut live performance after spending months and years as a studio-only project. “Such has been the trajectory of Chicago atmospheric black-metal band Vukari—in June they self-released their debut full-length, Matriarch, and early this month they played their first live set on a bill with Arkona at the Ultra Lounge,” writes Kendrick. “Front man, guitarist, and composer Marek Cimochowicz wrote the album’s six-part song cycle, based on a story he invented about a slave girl betrayed and ultimately triumphant; originally he had no intention of playing the music in public, but during the nine months he spent recruiting studio musicians and recording (with bassist Spenser Morris doubling as engineer), he changed his mind.” Agrimonia headlines.
Madeline Follin and Brian Oblivion formed Cults in 2010, and the band quickly rose to fame, which Kevin Warwick says gave the group some extra charm that’s since worn off. “In 2011, they released their self-titled debut, a cozily playful blend of dreamy pop and diet psych built around Follin’s twee vocals; the flawless single ‘Go Outside’ proved to be a catalyst for even greater popularity,” writes Warwick. “Cults’ recent follow-up, Static, sounds more adult than the self-titled album, with a little extra starch added to its collar.”
Sun 11/24: Mick Turner at Soccer Club
“Since the 80s, Australian guitarist Mick Turner has played a central role in a long line of scrabbly, emotionally potent rock bands, most notably wild postpunk combo Venom P. Stinger and violently elegiac instrumental trio the Dirty Three,” writes Peter Margasak. Turner is an ensemble player—Margasak notes that his solo recordings are generally modest experimental projects, and he remains slightly restrained on his new Don’t Tell the Driver (Drag City). “His graceful arrangements enfold somber brass, his own rudimentary piano, and sweet, intimate lead vocals by Caroline Kennedy McCracken (who sings on almost half the tracks, including the sashaying, clip-clopping ‘Sometimes’) into moody ballads and lurching epics; three different drummers (not including Turner, who pitches in) take turns providing the same sort of fractured swing that White brings to the Dirty Three.” Turner also opens for Mono at Bottom Lounge on Fri 11/22.