• Tord Gustavsen Quartet

As the weather starts to warm up, more bands are hitting the road. This is the busiest show weekend of the year thus far, so there’s a whole lot going on if you’re trying to catch some live music. Tonight’s Stephen Malkmus and tomorrow’s Skinny Puppy shows are already sold out, but there’s plenty more to choose from.

Schubas celebrates its 25th anniversary this weekend with two shows from Wilco offshoot Autumn Defense on Friday and Saturday. There’s also hardcore band Comeback Kid tonight at Beat Kitchen, Off With Their Heads at Sub-T on Friday with locals the Brokedowns and Meat Wave, and on Saturday there’s Touche Amore at Bottom Lounge and Scandinavian pianist and composer Tord Gustavsen and his quartet at Symphony Center.

And there are even more great picks, along with some words from Reader writers, after the jump.

Thu 2/20: Eric Bibb at City Winery

Bluesman Eric Bibb, a 90s acoustic revivalist, comes to City Winery tonight with Ruthie Foster. David Whiteis says, “On his 2004 album Friends, he included a low-key but emotionally resonant reading of Guy Clark’s ‘The Cape,’ about a kid who wears a flour sack on his back a la Superman and suddenly dares great things. Bibb’s latest, Jericho Road (Stony Plain), shoots out in similarly unbluesy directions, with dexterous contributions from Senegalese multi-instrumentalist Solo Cissokho (‘Nanibali’) and Croatian trumpeter Goran Kajfes (‘Now,’ a churchy vision of global unity and world peace). Bibb’s message—love, community, faith in the human spirit—admittedly looks like idealistic folkie boilerplate, but his obvious commitment and unpretentious but wide-ranging erudition (to say nothing of his chops) bring satisfying depth and breadth to all his music.”

Fri 2/21: Third Coast Percussion at University of Chicago’s Logan Center for the Arts

“Already one of the most daring and curious new-music percussion ensembles in the country, Chicago’s Third Coast Percussion continued its ascent last year with the CD release of Resounding Earth (New Focus), a commission by composer Augusta Read Thomas,” writes Peter Margasak. “In the liner notes Thomas writes of her long fascination with bells, and she takes this work as an opportunity to explore them at length, addressing their ritual use across cultures as well their everyday ring and clang, whether from atop a church or around the neck of a cow (the piece involves lots of other metal percussion too, though some of it is bowed or rubbed rather than struck). Third Coast executes the four-part composition with its typical clarity and precision, moving elegantly and deliberately among several colors and textures: stately and cyclical gamelanlike structures with brisk, hypnotic rhythms; contrapuntal melodies whose independent motion creates a deep harmonic resonance; and hovering, sumptuous atmospheric drones.”

Sat 2/22: Pontiak at Hideout

Brotherly love creates excellent music for Pontiak. Peter Margasak says, “The three Carney brothers who make up Pontiak developed the material on their latest album, Innocence (Thrill Jockey), not by creating minimal melodies from fuzzed-out, churning hard-rock grooves like usual but rather by starting with the vocals—the change is especially obvious on the surprisingly mellow midsection of the album. Lyrical introspection a la Pink Floyd haunts the organ-soaked ‘It’s the Greatest,’ and the stately folk-rock of Bob Dylan colors the sorrowful acoustic ballad ‘Wildfires,’ whose harmony singing is as tight-knit as the brothers’ deep, steady grooves.”

Sun 2/23: Chris Forsyth & the Solar Motel Band at Empty Bottle

Philadelphia-based guitarist Chris Forsyth channels all types of classic axe slingers. Bill Meyer says, “When people say ‘classic rock,’ they’re usually referring to the radio format that’s stuck on a few legacy bands from the 70s and 80s. But if you take ‘classic’ to mean ‘archetypal,’ I don’t mind saying that Chris Forsyth & the Solar Motel Band are currently the acme of classic rock. You don’t have to listen to the Philadelphia-based guitarist’s solo records for long to figure out that he’s absorbed Jimmy Page’s arrangement acumen, Neil Young’s extravagant passion, and Keith Richards’s rhythmic savagery—but he’s also internalized the distinctive improvisational methodologies of the Grateful Dead, the Dream Syndicate, and especially Television. Last year Forsyth put together a four-piece band—guitarist Paul Sukeena, bassist Peter Kerlin, and drummer Steven Urgo—to play the open-ended instrumentals on his excellent album, Solar Motel (Paradise of Bachelors), thus dropping into place the final piece necessary to let him stand alongside his inspirations.”