This week’s live music offerings can’t be committed to a true-to-form theme; but after some deliberation, I found a way to jam these round pegs into their square holes. One trail blazed her own genre (Patti Smith), another oscillates somewhere in between noise rock and what-the-fuck (Black Pus), and one can’t seem to pick a favorite (Deer Tick), but this grab bag of performers share one lot of common ground—experimentation. Unconventional in both purpose and approach, the artists headed to Chicago this week have taken refuge in their own artistic ideals and the fact that no one else does it quite like them. Don’t miss your chance to watch these mad scientists at work.
PATTI SMITH & HER BAND
There are plenty of reasons why Patti Smith’s upcoming gig at the Vic was last week’s Pick of the Week. She siphoned the catharsis of poetry and the aggression of punk to craft her distinctive stanza-rock; her memoir Just Kids humanized the New York underground that had been kept at arms length for decades; and after an illustrious 40-year career, she’s still remained relevant with a rare air of dignity now devoid in the craze of sloppy tell-all’s and reunion cash-ins. It’s hard to believe that Smith, with her arresting stage presence, was once just a bookstore clerk with a mental catalog of Rimbaud verses always cocked and ready to fire. While she no longer haunts the city streets as a starving artist, Smith proved that she still has an ear for poetic injustices with her recent release Banga. A patchwork of Smith’s “small town-big dreams” calling cards—travel, fine art, and spiritual freedom—Banga surges with effortless modernity, with a scope firmly fixed on the ever-elusive future facing her and her dutiful followers. While Smith is on the road in support of her eleventh studio release, rest assured that she’ll be pulling from the backlogs; maybe the breathless insistence of Trampin’, and hopefully a few tongue-flailing limericks off her 1975 breakthrough Horses. No matter the setlist or direction Smith chooses to steer the show, her valiant return to the stage can’t help but hark back to her and John Cale’s vicious bellows on Horses’ “My Generation”—”I’m so young, so goddamn young.” Even at 66 years-old, it’s hard to even argue with the ever-precocious Smith—she’s still brimming with the fight of life, and, yes, still “so goddamn young.” 8 PM, also Tue 5/7, 8 PM, the Vic, sold out, 18+
Brian Chippendale has a mean case of “shiny ball syndrome.” From penning queasy comic strip Puke Force to wrinkling thick sheets of fuzzy noise rock as one half of Lightning Bolt, there’s always yet another project on the back burner, never hesitant to crank up the heat. Chippendale’s latest pursuit? Well, in case you haven’t yet enjoyed his conversation with Zath’s Seth Sher, it’s his prog-clattering solo project Black Pus. As the rhythmic anchor of Lightning Bolt, Chippendale battered through his sets with unmarred intensity, groaning into a mike housed in his mask with morbid commitment. These sentiments were all but abandoned in the pursuit of Black Pus. Now manhandling a kit and a platter of pedals, Chippendale orchestrates all the hysteria himself. He reams with organized chaos from behind his paint-spattered drum kit, so haphazard and glaring that it looks as if he it barreled through a kindergarten arts and crafts table. Now touring behind new release All My Relations, Black Pus gurgles with unexpected contrast, a balance best harnessed in “Marauder” with its squawking vocals—as if they’re spewing from a kazoo—and sludgy guitar curiously nestle into a crisp drum loop. Admittedly not a technician on the throne, Chippendale still weaves in shards of classical influences. “All Out Of Sorts” hops across a bed of slick jazz fills and impossibly fluid wails, eventually bowling into an abandon-all-hope crescendo. With a lust for the bizarre, Chippendale always seems miles ahead of the rest of us; but eventually we all manage to catch up, just keep your ear pressed to the ground. Oozing Wound and Mounds open. 9 PM, Empty Bottle, $10, $8 in advance.
Remember all the feel-good—and probably useless—lessons about each snowflake being unique, just like people? (This cliche becomes more laughably charming to me with each passing year.) Well, Rhode Island five-piece Deer Tick really took this nugget of grade-school wisdom to heart. Taking pride in watching critics and fans alike squirm in efforts to categorize their twangy-scuzzy-jagged rock, Deer Tick’s refusal to hold fast to any definite genre makes them that much more intriguing. What can be said about the Rhode Island five-piece in good conscience is that their nearly decade-long career has flirted with every subset of the decade’s buzzword, alt-rock. After a dalliance with folk and roots influences, Deer Tick have retreated into their unrefined live styling, a direction that was hard-wired in their last studio album, 2011’s Divine Providence. Barely a year after their last pass through Chicago, the East Coasters are landing in the intimate City Winery, which will no doubt be challenged to house the band’s unapologetic live presence. Steering clear of any glittery frill and gloss, Deer Tick delivers a wide breadth of lo-fi leanings, from sophomoric hooks (“Let’s All Go to the Bar”) to backroom confessions (“Chevy Express”). Whether they’re pulling from their early, wildly unrefined cuts or tinny rock rants, their performances never fail to sound painfully effortless. Deer Tick is front loading with their refusal to give a fuck, and it’s a breath of fresh air. Shiloh opens. 8 PM, City Winery, $20.