Ratboys' first release, the Ratboy EP, came out ten years ago this month. Credit: Sam Porter

One of the last shows Gossip Wolf saw before the pandemic brought live music to a halt was by Chicago indie-rock darlings Ratboys. They were at Lincoln Hall, celebrating the release of Printer’s Devil—and it’s too bad more people didn’t get the chance to see the band play songs from that great album in person. But as Tim Crisp wrote for the Reader last April, Ratboys have turned lemons into livestreams, becoming champions in the virtual performance arena—not least by broadcasting 40 episodes of Ratboys Virtual Tour. On April 1, the band marked ten years since their first EP, Ratboy, with the surprise release of Happy Birthday, Ratboy, an album of new recordings of their early songs (including all five tracks from that EP). On Thursday, April 29, Ratboys host a prerecorded concert and retrospective film on their Bandcamp page to belatedly celebrate their tin anniversary. The band played their set on the floor at Schubas, which they’d gussied up to look like a living room; tickets are $10 and available through Ratboys’ Bandcamp.

  • On April 1, Ratboys marked their tin anniversary with this surprise album of rerecorded early songs.

This year’s Northwestern University New Music Conference falls on Saturday, April 24. The event’s previous iterations—in 2014, 2015, and 2018—lasted a few jam-packed days and gave musicians, composers, scholars, and other attendees a chance to visit the university’s leafy campus for panel discussions, lectures, and performances of contemporary classical pieces. For 2021 the school’s Institute for New Music is taking the conference online, for obvious reasons, with an ambitious series of livestreamed events that includes presentations by composers Jennifer Walshe, Anna Thorvaldsdóttir, and Katherine Young; roundtables on experimental composer Alvin Lucier and on dance and music critic Jill Johnston; and an evening concert by NU’s Contemporary Music Ensemble featuring stagings of Alyssa Pyper’s Cradle (with Pyper as vocal and violin soloist) and Walshe’s 2011 piece Hygiene for ten performers and DVD. The conference also features several asynchronous videos that can be watched at any time between April 24 and April 30, including prerecorded concerts by Taimur Sullivan’s NU saxophone studio and the Arditti Quartet. Everything is free to stream, but you must register at Northwestern’s website.

On Saturday, April 24, the Hideout hosts an online benefit concert called “Songs of Solidarity for Warehouse Workers,” with proceeds going to Chicago labor-rights nonprofit Warehouse Workers for Justice. The performers include Ohmme, Kara Jackson, Joshua Virtue, Tenci, Loona Dae, Jon Langford, and some surprise special guests. Tickets cost $10 to $20 (on a sliding scale), and the show starts at 8 PM.  v

Got a tip? Tweet @Gossip_Wolf or e-mail gossipwolf@chicagoreader.com.