One of the best performances I caught last summer was Wrekmeister Harmonies at Bohemian National Cemetery—if you want to know why I suggest checking out our Soundcheck video of the show. I’m told the full Wrekmeister Harmonies ensemble will return to the beautiful cemetery when the outfit opens for Silver Apples tomorrow night, so if you couldn’t see the show last year I highly recommend checking it out. The 31st annual Chicago Blues Fest also starts Friday—be sure to read through our guide to the three-day blowout before making your way to Grant Park. But if taking in the blues all weekend or sitting in a graveyard on a Friday night aren’t your bag there are plenty of other concerts to see this week.
Tonight Calez headlines the Whistler while Urge Overkill plays Double Door. The 2014 Air Guitar Championship Semi-Finals hits Metro, with former champion Nordic Thunder also slated to perform. On Saturday Kaiser Chiefs headline the Taste of Randolph and Pretty Lights and Diplo join a slew of EDM performers at Soldier Field for the second day of the three-day Spring Awakening festival. On Sunday you can catch Lionel Richie and Cee-Lo at First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre or Yvette at Hideout.
Be sure to check out Soundboard for all our concert listings and follow the Reader on Spotify for our weekly “Best shows to see” playlist (which is also available below). Read on for some of our critics’ recommendations for live music this weekend.
“During Magik Markers’ decade-plus together, an enduring part of the band’s appeal has been their, um, prowess at sounding like an unraveling ball of yarn—whether it’s being batted by a kitten or set ablaze and blasted out of a cannon,” writes Kevin Warwick. “Over the years this experimental noise-rock group (which recently became a trio again with the addition of bassist John Shaw) has gradually tightened up its patchwork rhythms and dialed down the heated proselytizing of front woman Elisa Ambrogio, but that doesn’t make the recent Surrender to the Fantasy (Drag City) any less raw or adventurous—just less rudimentary in its execution, with what seems like a mirage of song structure.” Magik Markers also perform at Bohemian National Cemetery on Friday with Silver Apples and Wrekmeister Harmonies.
“With the new LP Brain Hole (Logan Hardware), local rock fiends Rabble Rabble deliver nine musical bitch slaps of napalm cologne to the summertime turkey necks of the Logan Square doucheoisie,” writes Brian Costello. “The album—for which this is a release party—is a toxically intense cauldron of stoner shred, 90s heavy sauce, and twin guitar leads, with monster drummer Kaylee Preston supplying the heat. It powers through intricate transitions, never letting up for a second, and once you’ve heard snaky-psych epic ‘Decoy’ and crush-pound-kill instrumental ‘CB1,’ you’ll know Rabble Rabble aren’t just another safer-than-milk happy-fun band singing about, say, the conspicuous consumption of fast food in a party setting.”
“On one hand you’ve got Richard Thompson the songwriter, who depicts frustrated love, spilled blood, and rank injustice with lacerating humor and sobering acuity,” writes Bill Meyer. “On the other, there’s Thompson the guitarist, whose intricate, lilting, harmonically agile acoustic picking and stinging electric leads (which sound like a hybrid of James Burton and a bagpiper) have been astonishing audiences since the late 60s, when he played on the first five albums by long-lived folk-rock combo Fairport Convention, stoking its brief flare of brilliance. Fairport’s debut album came out 46 years ago this month, and in the intervening decades Thompson has settled into a sort of reliable craftsmanship as a writer of lyrics—but on his latest album, Electric (New West), his guitar playing still strikes sparks.” Thompson also plays Monday at Millennium Park as part of the Downtown Sound series.
“I still miss the acoustic quintet that trumpeter Jeremy Pelt led with saxophonist J.D. Allen, pianist Danny Grissett, bassist Dwayne Burno, and drummer Gerald Cleaver—over the past decade, it was easily the best group exploring the sort of intimate dynamic established by Miles Davis’s classic quintet with Wayne Shorter and Herbie Hancock,” writes Peter Margasak. “Pelt broke up that group a couple of years ago to form the most recent of several electric bands he’s led throughout his career, and though there are smudges of fusion and smooth jazz in the new combo’s sound, I’ve come around to its merits. On a couple of the fusion-flavored songs from the recent Face Forward, Jeremy (HighNote), Brazilian singer Fabiana Masili adds a seductive chill that’s antithetical to Miles’s sound, but Pelt is still obviously repping for the Prince of Darkness with his moody, burnished lines—especially on the coolly percolating ‘Stars Are Free,’ which gains tension from Dana Hawkins’s frenetic drumming (and drum programming).” Tonight’s the final night of Jeremy Pelt Quintet’s four-night stint at Jazz Showcase.