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Friday 31

OFFWHYTE On his new EP, Bow to the Sceptor (Galapagos4), the wordiest member of the local Galapagos4 crew big-ups his label cohorts, ruminates on political helplessness, and reflects on his struggles as a hip-hop outsider (he’s Filipino-American). “Come to realize that it’s a shame / You better kiss the pain,” raps Offwhyte amid the ominous, seesawing analog synth on the title track, and his tightly packed rhymes reflect a fighting spirit that never feels Pollyannaish or PC. His somewhat monotonous delivery occasionally blunts the power of his words, but he’s one of Chicago’s smartest and most gifted rappers. Rjd2 and Pugslee Atomz headline; Qwel, Robust, Royce, DJ Intel, DJ White Lightening, and Jason Allen also perform. 9 PM, Abbey Pub, 3420 W. Grace, 773-478-4408 or 866-777-8932, $30 in advance, $35 at the door. –Peter Margasak

SAPS On three EPs and one self-released full-length, Finally…A Band You Can Trust, these local country-punkers suggest what the Old 97’s might sound like if they took that last stick out of their ass: the Saps bring the same breed of poppy hooks and bitter, clever-yet-stoopid lyrics to country chords, but they’re generally far drunker, and proud of it too. (Their latest EP’s title: 1…2…3…Drink!) I saw them last winter and had great fun trying to keep up with the shots they did onstage while waiting to hear my favorite tune of theirs, “Trustfund,” which features lyrics like “It’s easy to spend other people’s money / You just go out and spend it on yourself.” The ticket price for this gig includes a buffet and champagne. Roundeye opens. 9 PM, Red Line Tap, 7006 N. Glenwood, 773-338-9862 or 773-259-6575, $25. –Ann Sterzinger

Monday 3

ELIOT LIPP Now an LA resident, Eliot Lipp recorded his eponymous debut album for Eastern Developments Music–a label run by Scott Herren, aka Prefuse 73–in Chicago during a stint here that ended last spring. He creates instrumental hip-hop sampladelia a la DJ Shadow and Rjd2, piecing together fully formed tracks from the usual array of sonic arcana–old jazz fusion, funk, film sound tracks. There’s satisfying detail and movement in his music, which rides on lean, well-integrated breaks and showcases some compositional smarts. He also deserves credit for forging this stuff with subpar gear–a 70s synthesizer missing a few keys and a primitive sampler–and making it sound so full. This is a live PA; Daniel Givens and DJ Ray_Rod open. Lipp also DJs Sat 1/1, 10 PM, at Lava Lounge; see listings for more information. 9:45 PM, Danny’s, 1951 W. Dickens, 773-489-6457. Free. –Peter Margasak

THE WILLIAM YOUNG Johnny Depp’s star turn certainly saved The Pirates of the Caribbean, but the bandits of the high seas were doing just fine without the Bruckheimer treatment–they’ve been irresistible characters for centuries, transformed by legend and literature into superhuman monsters, charming rakes, or crusading anarchists. This local trio is entirely devoted to the piratical, the nautical, the nostalgic, and the sardonic–right down to their stage names. Shifty-Eyed Sue the Butcher and Bloody Scarlet the Rat (aka violist Amy Cimini and bassoonist Katie Young) back harmonium abuser and lead singer Alex Barnett, who calls himself One-Eyed Barney Stoneheart; his abrasive vocals are so hard-core hardtack he makes Tom Waits sound like Dan Fogelberg. Their self-released debut, The Sea That Lies, is available (along with many downloadable songs) at www.thewilliamyoung.com. The Post and Vale and Year open. 9:30 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 800-594-8499. Free. –Monica Kendrick

Tuesday 4

BIRCHVILLE CAT MOTEL Campbell Kneale is a New Zealand high school art teacher and father of three who spends his spare hours cranking out glacial drone music; in the last seven years he’s released more than three dozen albums, most of them limited-edition cassettes and CD-Rs under the name Birchville Cat Motel. I’ve heard only a couple of entries in his voluminous discography, but unlike so many prolific bedroom music makers Kneale seems to have a sense of quality control. Siberian Earth Curve (1998) reveals his more abrasive side: meticulously constructed layers of guitar feedback and high-frequency drones coalesce into beautifully meditative, deafeningly loud soundscapes. The recent Beautiful Speck Triumph (Last Visible Dog) is better and more rewarding, a rustic answer to electro-acoustic improv where the drones are enhanced by glitchy electronic crackles, gently pealing bells, bowed violin, and even melodica. This show is Kneale’s Chicago debut; Howard Stelzer and Donna Parker open. 9 PM, 3030, 3030 W. Cortland, 773-862-3616, $5-$10 suggested donation. –Peter Margasak

CODER23 I guess an industrial-goth-dance revival was bound to follow the new-wave revival, but I’ve still been surprised by the parade of late-80s revenants passing through town: Ministry, Skinny Puppy, My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult, even Psychic TV. Bringing up the rear of this backward funeral procession is the most forward-looking of the bunch: Front 242, or rather two-thirds of Front 242. Belgian body rockers Patrick Codenys and Richard23 recently reformatted their rotating scorn assembly into the “live” techno-house outfit Coder23, building and remixing tracks in real time with laptops and sampling software. They haven’t released anything yet, but given that Front 242’s standard-issue technocalyptic jive was always accompanied by a genuine machine-lovin’ futurism, Coder23 should sound current if nothing else. To this day I cherish my copy of 242’s masterpiece, the punishing Never Stop EP; here’s hoping the new stuff, however discofied, still has beats heavy enough to stamp sheet metal. VNV Nation headlines. 10 PM, Metro, 3730 N. Clark, 773-549-0203 or 312-559-1212, $23 in advance, $26 at the door, 18+. –Brian Nemtusak

WAS (NOT WAS) Let the obvious punning commence: Was (Not Was) reunited last January after a decadelong breakup. The ahead-of-their-time Detroit art-funk duo, who did their best work in the early to mid-80s, split in 1993 and have since focused on production and sound track work. But they’re going whole hog now that they’re back together: a best-of collection and new studio album are slated for release this spring, and on this club tour they lead a full band complete with backup singers and a horn section. The Twinemen open. 9 PM, House of Blues, 329 N. Dearborn, 312-923-2000 or 312-559-1212, $25. –Monica Kendrick

Thursday 6

GRACKLES This local trio cranks out familiar and cozy versions of sleeves-rolled indie rock by way of the Pixies and Husker Du. On their debut, Honeypot (Pirate Alley), they put pre-emo emotional energy and post-Naked Raygun blasting force into the lurching skeletons of almost-there songs like “In the Shadow of a Rocking Chair” and “Sun Spots.” The results come off slightly shrill and a little awkward, like a newborn colt struggling on gawky legs, but there’s potential for real power. The Sonnets headline; the Slats and the Amino Acids open. 8 PM, Schubas, 3159 N. Southport, 773-525-2508, $8. –Monica Kendrick