Friday 19

GERALDINE GAY Local label The Sirens continues its impressive run of piano-focused releases with the recent Chicago gospel keyboard collection In the Right Hands, and the highlight of the disc is getting to hear Geraldine Gay. Back in the 40s and 50s she cut sides for the Savoy and Dolphin labels with sisters Evelyn and Mildred as the Gay Sisters, and Mavis Staples has credited Mildred with getting the Staple Singers into the studio for the first time. But though she’s never retired, Gay rarely records these days. While her five selections here are as sanctified as piano gets, she spikes them with deliciously jazzy phrases–not for nothing has writer Anthony Heilbut called Gay “the Erroll Garner of gospel.” Her brother Pastor Donald Gay will sing with her at Old Town’s second annual Piano Night; blues greats Henry Gray and Pinetop Perkins also appear. 7:30 PM, Old Town School of Folk Music, 4544 N. Lincoln, 773-728-6000 or 866-468-3401, $25, $21 for seniors and kids. All ages. –Peter Margasak

GOLD CHAINS & SUE CIE Rapper Gold Chains began his nerdy-white-boy hip-hop odyssey in the late 90s by hooking up with California beat deconstructionists Kit Clayton and Kid606. But on his new album, When the World Was Our Friend (Kill Rock Stars), recorded with collaborator Sue Cie, he wanders way over to the pop side of the musical map, doing terrible things to synth pop and electro. A Grape Dope, Salvo Beta, and Lost Robot open. 9 PM, Abbey Pub, 3420 W. Grace, 773-478-4408 or 866-777-8932, $8 in advance, $10 at the door, 18+. –Monica Kendrick

GIL MANTERA’S PARTY DREAM On disc these two “brothers” sound like your worst electroclash nightmare, flaunting the kind of stiff, dinky beats and maudlin electronic flutters you’d expect to hear in a crappy eastern European discotheque. Onstage, though, their genuine post-gay nastiness saves the day. Maybe you’ve already seen a shitty male keyboardist in a gold lame G-string and silky gloves–but how about one who lights his pubes on fire, sticks a beer bottle up his ass, and then drinks from it? I didn’t think so. Singer Donny sounds like a cross between a typical R & B crooner and that dude from Matchbox 20, except half the time he ditches the lyrics and just fills space with whatever asinine syllables come out of his mouth. Opening for the Rapture last year, he told the audience, “I got more problems than words.” Mahjongg headlines and Spires That in the Sunset Rise open. 8 PM, Logan Square Auditorium, 2539 N. Kedzie, 773-252-6179, $8 in advance, $10 at the door. All ages. –Liz Armstrong

QUASAR WUT-WUT When I wrote glowingly about this local act back in 2000, it wasn’t entirely without reservation: it seemed all too likely that Quasar Wut-Wut’s inspired, free-for-all loopiness could easily turn into tiresome self-indulgence. Once again, I’m glad to be wrong. This show is a release party for its third full-length album, Taro Sound (Glorious Noise), and the band’s not only lasted but matured. As much as you’d want it to, anyway: its springy, crunchy art pop has depth and texture now, and a wide-angle sensibility reminiscent of Camper Van Beethoven. Devin Davis and Darren Hanlon open. 10 PM, Hideout, 1354 W. Wabansia, 773-227-4433, $8 suggested donation. –Monica Kendrick

Saturday 20

JIM BAKER It’s easy to take Jim Baker for granted. But though the ubiquitous pianist and ARP synthesizer maestro has been a member of some of the finest groups to emerge from the local creative music scene over the past two decades–Caffeine, the Territory Band, the Dave Rempis Quartet, the David Boykin Expanse–he almost never plays out as a bandleader, and despite his impressive list of recording credits he has yet to release an album of his own. Early next year, however, Delmark will put out Baker’s solo debut, and this weekend he’s giving a rare unaccompanied performance. He equivocated when I asked him what he’d do at this gig, and would only narrow down his options to improvisations on piano and ARP, jazz standards, or “preconceived fragments”–which covers pretty much everything he does. 9 PM, 6Odum, 2116 W. Chicago, 312-666-0795, $10. All ages. –Peter Margasak

RICHARD BUCKNER Dents and Shells, Richard Buckner’s sixth and latest album of originals, is also his first on indie powerhouse Merge, and I hope the label change finally gets him the attention he deserves–he’s a stark, raving visionary who’s unusually adept at both Dylanesque surrealist narratives and more fragmentary, imagist lyrics and has a way of making his Fahey-like guitar playing ring as if he were performing in a long tunnel. This show is a benefit to help local music-scene poet Thax Douglas publish his next book. Swimmer Missing opens. 8 PM, Hideout, 1354 W. Wabansia, 773-227-4433, $10 suggested donation. –Monica Kendrick

ILLOGIC Illogic sees little distinction between MCing and spoken-word performance. On his third album, Celestial Clockwork (Weightless), the Columbus rapper’s lyrics can get pretty cerebral, and that’s just fine, especially when he brings his cosmic consciousness gently down to earth on musings about parenthood and self-actualization. Blueprint, the album’s producer, doesn’t try to interfere; though the music is less of an afterthought than previously, the mostly relaxed backgrounds (piano plinks, George Harrison samples) are notable for their humility. Eyedea & Abilities headline; Los Nativos and P.O.S. open. 9 PM, Abbey Pub, 3420 W. Grace, 773-478-4408 or 866-777-8932, $15 in advance, $18 at the door, 18+. –Monica Kendrick

Sunday 21

VICTORY AT SEA This Boston band approaches its doleful cabaret songs with a New England brand of gallows humor–the songs may be dour, but they’re joyously played. On its new album, Memories Fade (Gern Blandsten), the group develops an icy tightness; front woman Mona Elliot’s voice creaks like a calving iceberg, and lyrically she’s a passionate fatalist on the order of Polly Jean Harvey or Holly Golightly. Taro Hatanaka’s skittering, breezy violin adds droll counterpoint that’s as strong as a second singer. Light FM and Favorite Saints open. 9 PM, Schubas, 3159 N. Southport, 773-525-2508, $8. –Monica Kendrick

Monday 22

RTX After Royal Trux unceremoniously dissolved in 2001–ending more than a decade of music ranging from paranoiac drug-addled art damage to wonderfully unkempt boogie-rock–guitarist Neil Hagerty kept busy, releasing three fine CDs and three more limited-edition albums. Singer Jennifer Herrema, however, all but turned invisible. She finally emerges on the new Transmaniacon (Drag City), doing her best to scavenge the essence of her old band’s sound (and name, adopting its old abbreviation as a formal moniker). Her instantly recognizable rheumy wheeze remains intact, and guitarist Jaimo Welch works earnestly to evoke Hagerty’s singular acid-warped choogle, albeit with more of a pop-rock finish. But it’s a turd, lamely mixing in cock rock, 80s hair metal, and overdriven pitch-correction software–Herrema as Cher! The Sun and Grimble Grumble open. 8 PM, Bottom Lounge, 3206 N. Wilton, 773-975-0505 or 800-594-8499, $10 in advance, $12 at the door. –Peter Margasak

Tuesday 23

SPARTA On the new Porcelain (Geffen), this California band polishes the emo-is-the-new-AOR formula until it shines like Bono’s shades. The band’s straining for sincerity over the whole album, and Alternative Press magazine, for what it’s worth, loves it. But Sparta’s jagged songs have such a refined and coldly accurate edge that only the music’s precision registers. Further Seems Forever, Copeland, and Sunshine open. 6 PM, Metro, 3730 N. Clark, 773-549-0203 or 312-559-1212, $15. All ages. –Monica Kendrick

Thursday 25

ARCADE FIRE This Montreal band’s been buzzed up the ying-yang: pundits are hyping the new Funeral (Merge) like it was Radiohead and the Polyphonic Spree combined. Husband-and-wife team Regine Chassagne and Win Butler are enviably positioned to break big, and they should–rapturous melodies soar over the shimmering guitars, while shuddery, slightly ominous chants find the connections between goth, hippie folk, and Neutral Milk Hotel. That formula’s most successful on the bittersweet “Crown of Love,” the exultant “Wake Up,” and the mournful “Haiti” (Chassagne’s parents fled the island in the 60s). Scotland Yard Gospel Choir and the Like Young open. a9 PM, Logan Square Auditorium, 2539 N. Kedzie, 773-276-3600 or 800-594-8499, $10. All ages. The Arcade Fire also plays a sold-out show with openers Icy Demons and Lot Six on Friday, 11/26, 10 PM, at the Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600. –Monica Kendrick