c Antibalas Reviewers who say the long, discursive songs of the Afrobeat collective Antibalas are best experienced live get a cookie for calling the obvious, but that’s not to concede that the records don’t have their rewards. Security (Anti-), the Brooklyn band’s first full-length in three years, was recorded in Chicago with John McEntire, who put every note played by the huge crew of instrumentalists (they have a roster of 17) to good effect. As on 2004’s Who Is This America?, most of the songs are political and delivered in a sometimes droll, sometimes yearning tone; the elegant, razor-sharp rhythms sound like an expression of the tension between the world as it is and the world as it should be. Krudas Cubensi opens. a 7:30 PM, Park West, 322 W. Armitage, 773-929-5959 or 312-559-1212, $17. A –Monica Kendrick

BABASONICOS This Argentinean band had been toiling for nearly a decade by the time they released 1999’s Miami, the record that finally broke them across South America. Clearly inspired by Beck, it was hooky underground pop-rock peppered with bits of exotica, country, samba, and hip-hop. But that eclecticism is nowhere to be found on their most recent album, Anoche (Universal Music Latino). Babasonicos have always flirted with Anglophilia, embracing everything from freakbeat to the Factory sound, but here they succumb to it. Now the main difference between them and most other bands playing slick, prefab alt-rock and sentimental ballads is that they sing in Spanish. Antenna opens. a 11 PM, Green Dolphin Street, 2200 N. Ashland, 773-395-0066 or 312-559-1212, $20. –Peter Margasak

DANIEL A.I.U. BELTESHaZZAR-HIGGS One thing freak-folk should be, but rarely is, is truly unpredictable. As a solo act, Lungfish front man Dan Higgs comes as close to that as anyone. Atomic Yggdrasil Tarot, due on Thrill Jockey in June, is a bit more coherent than his two previous solo outings, but it keeps you on your toes nonetheless: at times Higgs plays Fahey-esque rambling guitar, others he weaves startlingly beautiful tunes out of bells, drones, and mouth harp, recalling the raga-trance jams of 60s mystic Angus MacLise. Higgs will be joined here by singer-violinist Chiara Giovando. Jack Rose opens and Brightblack Morning Light headlines. a 10 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 866-468-3401, $10. –Monica Kendrick

LEMON PRETEND This is what members of Triangle–pop weirdos transplanted from Minneapolis to the Bay Area–call themselves when they suit up as part of Oakland’s experimental laptop scene. In this guise, they specialize in DayGlo trashscapes and trancey techno for people who prefer Matmos to Tiesto. Whether it’s actually dance music is debatable: elastic yet strangely static, it’s more like free-riffing fun-house fright music. (Or maybe that’s just the stuff they decided to put on MySpace.) Skarekrau Radio headlines, Lemon Pretend opens, Reader expat Liz Armstrong and Rand Sevilla spin, and Ron MILF VJs. This show, like tomorrow’s performance by Triangle at the Co-Prosperity Sphere, is part of Version>07; see Fairs & Festivals for a full schedule of related music. a 9 PM, Sonotheque, 1444 W. Chicago, 312-226-7600, $10. –Jessica Hopper

cOMAR SOSA AFREECANOS QUARTET Cuban pianist Omar Sosa enjoys a well-deserved reputation for following his own path. Where most of his compatriots attack every chorus with the urgent intensity of a dying man, he incorporates space and light into his virtuosic playing, which links him both to older Cuban forms and to the mysteries of postmodern jazz. And his ongoing interest in uniting musical traditions of Africa and the Middle East using Afro-Cuban rhythms as the glue has produced some seriously idiosyncratic stuff–2002’s Sentir is a wild ride featuring a Moroccan singer and an American rapper. For his new Afreecanos Quartet, he couldn’t have found a more simpatico collaborator than Senegalese percussionist-vocalist Mola Sylla: now living in Amsterdam, Sylla collaborates regularly with new-music cellist Ernst Reijseger and has recorded with Tuvan and Sardinian throat singers. His hearty tenor and passionate delivery offer grand possibilities for this group, which also includes Mozambican bassist Childo Tomas and Cuban drummer Julio Barreto. All four players will appear on the group’s debut, a live album called Promise (Skip) originally due this fall but now pushed back to 2008. a 7:30 and 10 PM, HotHouse, 31 E. Balbo, 312-362-9707, $20. –Neil Tesser

SUFFRAJETT These locals (transplanted from the mean and overpriced streets of NYC) sound like they ought to wear more eyeliner and feather boas than they do–calling their new record Black Glitter (Cobra) may be an attempt to compensate. Garage glam is a glutted market, but front woman Simi Sernaker stands out from the crowd, and though there’s nothing dramatic enough here to make you forget guitarist Jason Chasko’s involvement with Whitechocolatespaceegg, it should help him wash off the stench of domesticity a little. The Ladies & Gentlemen, the States, and Waste open. a 9 PM, Double Door, 1572 N. Milwaukee, 773-489-3160 or 312-559-1212, $7. –Monica Kendrick


THE DOLPHIN Lording over a mess of cords and pedals that looks like an overturned bowl of spaghetti, the Dolphin can take a cetaceous click and a drone and make them sound like a chorus of growling cannibals jabbing bones at a fleshy pudding. Submarine pulses test the depth of a gloomy, glitchy gulf of warehouse alarms and metal guitars; distorted AM-radio static is sprinkled on the surface like fairy dust. Occasionally a for-real beat will give beer-bellied boys a chance to shuffle their feet, but the weirdness always wins out. This show is part of Version>07; see Fairs & Festivals for more related music events. Mbulu headlines; Aleks & the Drummer, the Dolphin, Triangle, and Beau Wanzer open and DJs Clent, Spinn, and Scrabblor spin. a 10 PM, Co-Prosperity Sphere, 3219 S. Morgan, 773-837-0145, $10 suggested donation. A –Liz Armstrong

c Joseph hammer Joseph Hammer wears a single white cotton glove when he performs, but it’s no homage to Michael Jackson: he needs it to get physical with his tape. A late-era member of the Los Angeles Free Music Society (a wild collective that combined radical noise and goofball humor) and one-third of the 90s electronic group Solid Eye, Hammer has been manipulating loops for more than two decades. These days he keeps his sound files–snippets of spoken-word recordings, old soul tunes, and orchestral music, among other sources–on a laptop but transfers them to analog when it’s time to go to town. Moving the tape through the machine at various speeds, he exposes only parts to the playback and erasure heads to generate his weird collages of sound. His CD Dynasty Suites (Melon Expander, 2002) isn’t so far from something Christian Marclay might do with his turntables, only Hammer sticks with each sound source longer, manipulating it to create queasy permutations. This is his Chicago debut. a 9 PM, 6Odum, 2116 W. Chicago, 312-282-7676, $12. A –Peter Margasak

cTED LEO + PHARMACISTS Consistency isn’t the most glamorous quality in a rock musician–lots of fans, myself included, are more likely to get weak-kneed over reckless experimentation. But there’s a certain quiet pleasure in following an artist as he patiently refines a sound. Over the past seven and a half years Ted Leo–aided by his astoundingly good backing band, the Pharmacists–has established himself as a master craftsman of punked-up political pop, which he seasons with bits of Thin Lizzy, the Pogues, and 70s reggae. None of the seven records he’s released in that time is a radical departure from the others, but each is better than the one before it. Listen to them in order and it’s like watching a time-lapse film of a sculptor chiseling his way toward a masterpiece–which the flawless new Living With the Living (Leo’s first for Touch and Go) just might be. Love of Diagrams opens. a 7:30 PM, Metro, 3730 N. Clark, 773-549-0203 or 312-559-1212, $15. A –Miles Raymer

LIAN ENSEMBLE Four Iranian exiles–including percussionist Houman Pourmehdi, who lived in Chicago for a time–form the core of this LA-based ensemble. They’re best known for their precise and powerful interpretations of ancient Persian music, but for their latest album, Pangea: The Tale of Unity (Lian), they’ve crafted new pieces with nontraditional elements, collaborating with Armenian duduk master Djivan Gasparyan, Indian tabla player Swapan Chaudhuri, and Serbian guitarist Miroslav Tadic. The classical roots remain intact, but the structures are looser, allowing for greater improvisation, wide-open harmonies, and a heftier rhythmic punch. For this concert the ensemble will stick to the Persian repertoire. a 8:30 PM, Ryan Family Auditorium, Northwestern University, 2145 Sheridan, Evanston, 312-437-4726, $30-$40. A –Peter Margasak

c trans am They’re 12 years into their recording career, but it’s still impossible to predict what Trans Am are going to sound like from one album to the next. They’ve done freakishly good Krautrock, convincing retro-electro synth pop, ironic boy-band pap, and even some dead-serious (I think) paranoid surveillance-society rock. Sex Change’s title and cold, abstract cover art (which could easily package a bottle of cheap 80s cologne) indicate a return to the winking techno irony of 1999’s Computerworld and 2002’s TA, but the music sounds less like a celebration of faux decadence than a serious (I think) embrace of retro utopianism. The songs still race along on hard, machinelike drums and coldly beeping analog synths, but they’re filled out with epic guitar riffs and psychedelically profound lyrics: “Imagine a problem / If you cannot solve it / Just chalk it up by the door.” Whoa. After the grim reality of Trans Am’s last album, Liberation, I can’t tell whether Sex Change is meant to be pure escapism or a comment on our desire for it, but it gets me pumped up, like I’ve slipped into a really great Nintendo game or a kick-ass corporate training video. The Psychic Paramount and Zombi open. a 10 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 866-468-3401, $12, $10 in advance. –Miles Raymer


c Loose Assembly Last Year’s Ghost (482 Music), the debut of this quintet led by drummer Mike Reed, dropped this week after a three-year incubation. Alternating between short, mostly improvised pieces focused on texture and gestural interplay and fully realized tunes–from elegant ballads with long, lilting melodies to blistering free bop that recalls Chicago’s soulful jazz past–it’s a collection of raw beginnings and satisfying conclusions. Reed and bassist Josh Abrams lay down propulsive grooves, over which vibist Jason Adasiewicz floats spiky harmonic patterns; this gives alto saxophonist Greg Ward and cellist Tomeka Reid plenty to work with once they break out of their unison melodic lines and turn to improvising. Ward in particular sounds terrific, balancing gorgeous lyric shapes with tightly coiled multiphonic screams. a 10 PM, Hungry Brain, 2319 W. Belmont, 773-935-2118, donation requested. –Peter Margasak

cXBXRX The night after I first heard Wars (Polyvinyl), the latest from Bay Area combo XBXRX, I had a dream in which one of the band’s members whispered to me that their name means “sebics sericks.” I was struck dumb by the righteous meaning of this: it made absolute sense then, and of course absolutely none afterward. Which is a reasonable metaphor for Wars itself, a topsy-turvy car crash of an album (12 songs in 28 minutes) full of swerves that seem only moments later to be in clear defiance of noise-rock physics. Formed by a group of postadolescent Alabaman miscreants, the band later moved to San Francisco, where they picked up former Chicagoan Weasel Walter, whose manic Morse-code drumming now powers their tweaky, impossibly dense artcore. While their shows are notoriously riotous (both onstage and off), the vibe I get is one of an almost wholesome rambunctiousness–like they’ve somehow managed to retain the chemical makeup of 14-year-olds, full of hormones and high fructose corn syrup. KK Rampage and Ettrick open. a 7 PM, Schubas, 3159 N. Southport, 773-525-2508, $8. A You can also see XBXRX perform at 3 this afternoon for a taping of the kiddie show Chic-a-Go-Go at CAN-TV Studio, 322 S. Green; for info see F –J. Niimi


cLoreena mckennitt For me, guilty pleasures don’t get much guiltier or more pleasurable than Loreena McKennitt, the fluttery-voiced Canadian soprano whose new-age fusions of world music and poetry represent what’s best and worst about having eclectic taste in an age of cultural imperialism. On her seventh album, An Ancient Muse (Quinlan Road, 2006), she continues to romanticize all over the map, taking lyrical inspiration from The Odyssey and Sir Walter Scott and setting it to music evolved from klezmer and the Byzantine Empire. It’s sweeping, hyperromantic, and superficial–don’t expect it to make any sense–but it’s also hair-raisingly beautiful. Still, there’s nothing as indelible here as, say, “The Mystic’s Dream” (a journey through 15th-century Spain); that song alone earned McKennitt a decade of indulgences. a 7:30 PM, Civic Opera House, 20 N. Wacker, 312-419-0033 or 312-559-1212, $33-$63. A –Monica Kendrick


DIMMU BORGIR Whenever hipsters ask me to articulate what it is I like about black metal, the only rational explanation I can give is that if you grew up attending schools that were largely run by people who believed in demonic possession and backward masking, a band that isn’t afraid to say they’re satanic as fuck will hold a certain appeal no matter how old and jaded you get. But even the scariest black metal bands become reassuringly familiar after a while. Dimmu Borgir started out writing songs for virgin sacrifices, gave that up to record with orchestras (it’s hard to say which is more unholy), and wound up getting called sellouts in the process, even though they basically always sounded the same. Their recent records haven’t matched the onslaught of 1999’s Spiritual Black Dimensions–the forthcoming In Sorte Diaboli (Nuclear Blast) certainly doesn’t–but live these Norwegians still play the music the way it was meant to be played. Consider it the next best thing to seeing Dethklok live. Unearth, Devildriver, and Kataklysm open. a 5:45 PM, House of Blues, 329 N. Dearborn, 312-923-2000 or 312-559-1212, $20.50-$24.50. A –Monica Kendrick


cChicago symphony orchestra Brahms dedicated his German Requiem to his late mentor Schumann, his late mother, and the whole of humanity. Departing from the traditional Latin Catholic mass, he selected texts from Luther’s translation of the Bible, producing a nonliturgical requiem: instead of a prayer for souls facing the Last Judgment, this is a meditation on death meant to console the living. The chorus is the current that flows through the seven movements, suspended ethereally above the orchestra or cutting through it majestically. Under conductor Kent Nagano the CSO will perform Wolfgang Rihm’s four orchestral pieces Das Lesen der Schrift as interludes between movements. I have reservations about this augmentation, premiered by Nagano in 2002, but I have none at all about the forces he marshals here: the shining Swedish soprano Miah Persson, rich German baritone Christian Gerhaher, and the superb CSO chorus. The concert opens with works by Bernd Alois Zimmermann and Heinrich Schutz; a preconcert lecture begins at 7 PM. The program repeats at 8 PM Saturday, May 5, and 7:30 PM Tuesday, May 8. a 8 PM, Orchestra Hall, Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan, 312-294-3000 or 800-223-7114, $24-$199. –Steve Langendorf

AMY WINEHOUSE This young British singer has become a surprise smash in the States (this show was originally booked at Schubas), and listening to her new record, Back to Black (Universal Republic), it’s easy to see why. She has a thing for black American music of the 50s and 60s, from the Motown pop-soul to the brassy balladry of Etta James, but she’s not some devout student reciting her lessons. Strong hip-hop breaks pump beneath her wall-of-sound arrangements, her full-blooded singing would be impressive in any era, and her songs, with their blunt, devil-may-care take on drinking, drugs, and sex, are as catchy as anything I’ve heard all year. For more, see Jessica Hopper’s review in Section 1. Patrick Wolf opens. a 7:30 PM, the Vic, 3145 N. Sheffield, 773-472-0449 or 312-559-1212, $20, sold out. A –Peter Margasak