catomic It’s been years since I’ve seen a jazz band blow the roof off a club like Atomic can. They inject harmonically complex, pleasingly melodic postbop with pedal-to-the-metal free-jazz intensity–and they keep getting better with every album. On last year’s Happy New Ears! (Jazzland) the Swedish-Norwegian quintet throttled back a bit, allowing the empathetic interplay between the musicians to take the foreground: bassist (and Chicagoan) Ingebrigt Haaker Flaten and drummer Paal Nilssen-Love might drop bomblike accents among the taut long tones from the front line, or reedist Fredrik Ljungkvist and trumpeter Magnus Broo might crisscross the rippling accompaniment of pianist Haavard Wiik with delicate simultaneous solos. Atomic is still rooted in that special brand of 60s free jazz that wasn’t quite ready to stop swinging, but increasingly the band is exploring new polarities: Ljungkvist’s “Two Boxes Left” is brainy and frenetic, its zigzagging melody complicated by tempo shifts and weird harmonies, while Wiik’s “Soundtrack” is moody and minimalist, elevating texture and tone over melody and groove. It’d be easy to make Atomic sound like formalists who are just checking off boxes as they master various styles, but when they’re onstage their music exists as an energizing whole–all the different approaches in their compositions collide and fuse. I saw a smoking set by the group last summer in Kongsberg, Norway, and never have an audience’s spontaneous whoops and shouts seemed more appropriate. See also Saturday. a 9 PM, Green Mill, 4802 N. Broadway, 773-878-5552, $12. –Peter Margasak
ccage Cage’s latest, the autobiographical 2005 album Hell’s Winter (Definitive Jux), is a big departure from the lurid shock rap on which he built his reputation, but it still makes 8 Mile look like The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Born on a West German army base, Cage (aka Chris Palko) moved to the States with his parents at age four after his father was discharged for using and selling heroin; in “Too Heavy for Cherubs” he describes helping him tie off to shoot up. Palko was eight when he saw his dad, who’d already left to be with another woman, for the last time–Mr. Parent of the Year was in a standoff with state troopers after threatening the family with a shotgun. As a teen Palko started using drugs himself and was beaten by a stepfather and an uncle. On probation for a multitude of petty crimes, he violated its terms repeatedly but, thanks to his mother’s intervention, ended up in a psychiatric hospital instead of jail. During his 18-month stay, which he refers to as “rap college,” he was prescribed medication that provoked multiple suicide attempts–as an escape from the pain, he worked on sharpening his rhymes. You can hear the results in his vivid, urgent style, which on Hell’s Winter is paired with kaleidoscopic and disquieting production by the master of desolation, El-P. Yak Ballz, C-Chan & the Govone, DJ Krazy Glue, the Aristacats, and Coolzey & DJ Johnny Sixx open. a 9 PM, Abbey Pub, 3420 W. Grace, 773-478-4408 or 866-468-3401, $15, 18+. –J. Niimi
cERIK M Since his earliest pieces 15 years ago, which roughly followed a path carved out by the great sound artist Christian Marclay, this French turntablist has continually expanded his sonic vocabulary. Most of his recorded output has been collaborative: teaming up with an international list of electroacoustic improvisers, including Toshimaru Nakamura, Otomo Yoshihide, Jerome Noetinger, Voice Crack, and Gunter Muller, he’s tended to deploy his electronic noises as part of a single massed sound rather than as one side of a give-and-take conversation. Even among this consistently strong work, his best collaboration may be 2004’s Archives Sauvees des Eaux (Angle), where he and French composer Luc Ferrari improvise using a stream of abstract samples stored on CD and minidisc, forgoing clear-cut structure to explore dynamics in density, movement, and juxtaposition. Shortly after Ferrari’s death in 2005, Erik M recorded another version of the piece with a small new-music ensemble, released last year on the CD Et Tournent les Sons (Cesare). The recent Sixperiodes (Sirr) contains six solo pieces composed for dance, theater, and film: “Les Paesines” generates a hovering, ominous ambience, while “Slide” is more suspenseful, with pointillist piano stabs ringing out like gunshots amid a glacial hum. These solo gigs, Erik M’s first in Chicago since 2000, are part of the Openport festival at Link’s Hall. On tonight’s bill he goes first, followed by performance artists Carolyn Bergvall, Jon Cates & Jake Eliot, and Galen Curwen-McAdams. See also Sunday; for information on other festival events see Section 2. a 7:30 PM, Link’s Hall, 3435 N. Sheffield, second floor, 773-281-0824, $12, $10 for students, seniors, and the unemployed. A –Peter Margasak
cPLASTICLAND Formed in Milwaukee in 1980, Plasticland was the third incarnation of a band that had already gone through two related genres, prog and Krautrock, to arrive at a sound that put it out in front of the mid-decade psychedelic revival. Like the best of their better-known peers–the Lyres and Rain Parade come to mind–they were able to back up their paisley pretensions and hairy fuzzbox spew with some very solid songwriting. And like those bands, they put out a few brilliant albums, peaking in 1985 with Wonder Wonderful Wonderland before winding down in the 90s. But they never quite disappeared, and tonight they’ll take a well-deserved bow for last year’s Make Yourself a Happening Machine, a stunning best-of compilation on Ryko that would have sent the buzzometer off the scale if these guys were hot young things. The Goldstars and Favorite open. a 9:30 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 866-468-3401, $8. –Monica Kendrick
catomic See Friday. a 8 PM, Green Mill, 4802 N. Broadway, 773-878-5552, $12.
CRUXSHADOWS A lot of people were very surprised in September when a track called “Sophia,” by this Florida-based goth band, turned up at number one on Billboard’s Hot Dance Singles chart, dethroning Beyonce in the process. Consider it a victory for one version of the divine feminine over another. A relentless touring outfit, spending more time in Europe than stateside, the Cruxshadows just got around to releasing Dreamcypher, their first full-length in four years. The verbosity of front man Rogue tends to work against their catchy, post-Sisters of Mercy graveyard disco, but they gain back that ground when the violin kicks in. Ayria and Ego Likeness open. a 8:30 PM, Metro, 3730 N. Clark, 773-549-0203 or 312-559-1212, $17, $15 in advance, 18+. –Monica Kendrick
cTHE Hidden hand Guitarist Scott “Wino” Weinrich would be an underground-metal legend if his CV ended with 80s doom progenitors the Obsessed and Saint Vitus. But he also led Spirit Caravan for six years, did a stint in Place of Skulls, and even teamed up with Rob Halford, Bill Ward, and Geezer Butler on a Black Sabbath tribute album for a good thrashing of “The Wizard,” a song he was born to play. In the Hidden Hand, a power trio of revolving membership, Weinrich channels his hard-earned expertise into a classic-sounding (if effects-laden) strain of dinosaurs-in-outer-space metal, full of heavy hair-swinging riffs and long-form structure shifts a la late-period Sabbath. Their forthcoming The Resurrection of Whiskey Foote (Southern Lord) is an ambitious narrative album about a fictional colonial-era revolutionary, clad in buckskin fringes of wah-wah and flange that would have made actual colonials think the apocalypse was nigh. Kylesa and Minsk open. a 10 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 866-468-3401, $10. –Monica Kendrick
shins All this “difficult third album” blather about the Shins’ Wincing the Night Away (Sub Pop) is much ado about nothing: no indie-rock record debuts at the number two spot on Billboard with anything less than effortlessly palatable jangle and hooks galore. Granted, Wincing is a touch more outre by previous Shins standards, but all that really means is that instead of just sounding like the Beach Boys, it sounds like the Beach Boys harmonizing with the Flaming Lips while popping lithium pills inside an impenetrable neon igloo. Viva Voce opens. a 7:30 PM, Congress Theater, 2135 N. Milwaukee, 312-752-6601 or 312-559-1212, sold out. A –Jessica Hopper
the devil wears prada I can see how this might’ve seemed like a good band name. Like, it’s the devil, but he’s all dressed really good and stuff, right? Maybe the devil got a subscription to GQ, or maybe he’s all like Al Pacino playing Satan in that Keanu Reeves lawyer movie or something. It’s just not working, though. I’m hearing some halfway decent (Christian!) screamo-slash-metalcore here, but guys, all I can think of is the girl from The Princess Diaries. The Satire, Small Town Murder, and Drowninginflame open.
a 6:30 PM, Beat Kitchen, 2100 W. Belmont, 773-281-4444 or 866-468-3401, $10. A –Miles Raymer
cERIK M See Friday. Erik M appears last on this bill, after performance artist Marisa Zanotti and electroacoustic improviser Simon Lonergan. This show is part of the Openport festival; for information on other festival events see Section 2. a 7:30 PM, Link’s Hall, 3435 N. Sheffield, second floor, 773-281-0824, $12, $10 for students, seniors, and the unemployed. A
VICTOR MANUELLE Arguably the preeminent salsa singer of the past decade, Puerto Rico’s Victor Manuelle keeps the classic Afro-Cuban groove at the center of his music, no matter how trendy its trimmings. On last year’s Decision Unanime (Norte) his concessions to popular taste don’t all work–crossover bids with reggaeton stars Don Omar and Hector el Father feel clunky. But in two cameo appearances pianist Eddie Palmieri raises the temperature with his granite-hard comping, pushing Manuelle’s improvisations into the red, and the coro singers on these tracks are no less than Cheo Feliciano, Adalberto Santiago, and Tito Allen. Manuelle may be eager to reach a younger demographic, but he sounds much more natural working with his predecessors. Jorge Celedon opens. a 6 PM, Chicago Theatre, 175 N. State, 312-462-6363 or 312-902-1500, $47.50-$87.50. A –Peter Margasak
csAINT PAUL CHAMBER ORCHESTRA The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra’s greatest strength has long been its flexibility–its ability to adapt to the demands of different composers, conductors, and soloists. Three years ago it decided to replace its music director with a handful of rotating “artistic partners”–who now include violinist Joshua Bell, pianist Pierre-Laurent Aimard, and conductor Roberto Abbado (nephew of Claudio)–and give orchestra members more say over everything from personnel to repertoire. Just back from a European tour, the group continues its second year of a three-year residency at the University of Chicago with a conductorless program. It opens with Einojuhani Rautavaara’s string arrangement of his Fiddlers, an engagingly pungent reshaping of old fiddle dances into five fantasies, originally written for piano in 1952. Next is Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante for violin, viola, and orchestra, in which some of the best dialogue is between the solo instruments (played here by the principals), peaking in the mournful andante’s cadenza. The concert closes with Rudolf Barshai’s chamber-orchestra arrangement of Shostakovich’s Third String Quartet. The original reflects the uncertainty following World War II, but the vivid orchestration loses some of the dark ambiguity and uneasiness.
a 3 PM, Mandel Hall, University of Chicago, 1131 E. 57th, 773-702-8068, $35, $11 for students. –Steve Langendorf
cportugal. the man Nothing about Portugal. The Man’s Waiter: “You Vultures!” (Fearless) makes much sense to me. I’m still trying to figure out how they can execute the most terrible-sounding ideas–like switching, in the course of a single song, between textural psychedelia, skritchy art-punk, and Timbaland-style sequencing–without coming off like pretentious assholes. Or how they’ve managed to bomb with indie kids, who are pretty friendly with daring art-rock, and score instead with emo kids, who listen to one of the most strictly by-the-book styles around. Portugal. The Man not only steers clear of emo’s broad hooks and bombastic quiet-loud-quiet structures but completely avoids what’s probably the genre’s defining feature–male self-obsession that doesn’t just approach misogyny but often barges straight in and sets up a merch table. Waiter is in fact one of the least masculine-sounding albums I’ve ever heard by an all-male band. Aside from the nods to hip-hop–especially “Horse Warming Party,” which sounds like a David Banner song interpreted by a bunch of skinny white dudes–the disc mostly recalls those late-90s Blonde Redhead and Helium records that proved how big quiet sounds could be, and how they could turn into songs that were both epic and elegant. The Fall of Troy headlines; Dameira, Tera Melos, and Airus open. a 5 PM, Champs Rock Room, 6501 W. 79th, Burbank, 708-233-0181, $12, $10 in advance. A –Miles Raymer
spires that in the sunset rise When I first heard Spires That in the Sunset Rise about three years ago, I thought they were Chicago’s most likely candidate for induction into the emerging freak-folk scene. But on their third album, This Is Fire (Secret Eye), they make it clear they’re content to dwell in their own cracked universe. They take what sounds like a completely intuitive approach to such nonrock instruments as the spike fiddle, mbira, harmonium, autoharp, and bowed banjo, rendering their sounds almost unrecognizable without the aid of electronics. Brittle strings slide, twang, and snap over primitive, hypnotizing beats, and surprising sonic details constantly jump out, then recede just as quickly into the gurgling, ominous din. I don’t always understand what these women are doing, but I’m always beguiled. They open for the 1900s and Singleman Affair. a 8 PM, Schubas, 3159 N. Southport, 773-525-2508, $6. –Peter Margasak
dark fog The genre these locals inhabit is less shoegazer and more steel-toed-bootgazer: it’s solipsistic, brooding, and perpetually entranced with itself, sure, but also heavy enough to hurt you if you make an issue out of it. Combining My Bloody Hawkwind guitar scree and Ozzyish, vaguely chant-based moaning with the occasional flash of theremin uplift, it’s gorgeous stuff–and though its inner logic is triplike, it holds up upon recollection. Tonight’s show is a release party for The Ultimate Cult of Psychedelic Psychosis (Original Sound Recordings), a title that convinced me they put all their mental energy into their music. The Rories headline; Plastic Crimewave Sound and Hands of Hydra open.
a 9:30 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 866-468-3401, $7. –Monica Kendrick
cmidlake I first heard these guys on a friend’s soft-rock podcast, between tunes by Firefall and Al Stewart, and my initial thought was, Oh man, what Chris de Burgh song is this, and how have I never heard it in 25 years of exposure to light-FM radio? Regardless of your feelings about Chris de Burgh, that ought to persuade you that Midlake’s take on “yacht rock” is as authentic as they come (nothing against Cheer-Accident or Bobby Conn, but their pop material is way too perverse to pass for the real thing). The song in question, “Head Home,” is from their second album, The Trials of Van Occupanther (Bella Union, 2005), which, as an absolutely sincere fan of smooth music, I find irresistible. It always bugs me when people call stuff like this a “guilty pleasure.” I mean, either you get off on easygoing, hermetically precise pop cheesecake or you don’t–who’s ever had an ironic orgasm? The members of Midlake are even bona fide musos: they formed the band while in the jazz program at the University of North Texas. I hope they get big enough to drag Supertramp back into the spotlight. St. Vincent opens. a 7 PM (18+) and 10 PM (21+), Schubas, 3159 N. Southport, 773-525-2508, both shows sold out. –J. Niimi
papa roAch “Last Resort,” Papa Roach’s breakout 2000 single, was the beginning of the end for nu metal. Seven years later, front man Jacoby Shaddix is talking about how he no longer feels like “rapping”–as he calls it–and just wants to be “a rocker.” On last year’s The Paramour Sessions (Geffen), released just before the band went on tour with Guns N’ Roses, Papa Roach apparently tried to get “back to a hardcore level,” as one lyric put it, and came off like a bunch of Guitar Center employees playing Supersuckers covers. Kill Hannah and It Dies Today open. a 6:30 PM, the Vic, 3145 N. Sheffield, 773-472-0449 or 312-559-1212, $22.50. A –Jessica Hopper
csavage republic Instability was a constant throughout Savage Republic’s decade-long career–they had a different lineup on every one of their four studio full-lengths and often sounded like a different band from song to song. Tragic Figures, their 1982 debut, ranged from apocalyptic rants set to the rattling shudder of massed scrap-metal percussion to ultracatchy guitar tunes that sounded like Glenn Branca fronting the Ventures; Customs, their 1988 swan song, mixed Einsturzende Neubauten clang and Flipper sludge and threw in a handful of lilting, Aegean-tinged acoustic instrumentals. Ethan Port, Greg Grunke, and Thom Fuhrmann, core members from ’83 onward and regular collaborators since the band’s demise, inadvertently clarified one reason for that instability in 2002, when they resurrected Savage Republic for a week to support a box set of reissues: though they attacked their old songs with gleeful ferocity, they looked so different from one another you hardly would’ve expected to see them in the same club, let alone on the same stage. Lean and wild-eyed, Port battered a flaming 55-gallon oil drum like a Bikram yoga instructor communing with his inner arsonist; the beefy Grunke, his head wrapped in a bandanna, could’ve passed for the token old guy in a classic-rock cover band. And Fuhrmann, who handled most of the vocals, cut an incongruously randy figure with his low-slung bass and Gene Simmons-style extendo-tongue action. The 2002 shows were billed as a one-off reunion, but Savage Rebublic has since officially re-formed–now touring as a five-piece, they’ll have prerelease copies of a brand-new EP called Siam (Neurot/Mobilization) for sale at this show. The disc includes four originals cut from the same variegated cloth as the 80s material and a cover of Echo & the Bunnymen’s “Heads Will Roll.” Vee Dee, Pink Reason, and the Chord open. a 9 PM, Double Door, 1572 N. Milwaukee, 773-489-3160 or 312-559-1212, $15. –Bill Meyer