Friday 25

DJ HELL For some, the luxury, gluttony, and debauchery of 2002’s electro surge was just a fad. To the former Helmut Geier–jet-setting Eurotrash DJ/producer and owner of Eurotrashy jet-setter label International Deejay Gigolos–it’s a way of life. The evolution of the label’s logo says it all about Hell’s sleazy, oiled-up aesthetic: he used an old bodybuilding photo of Arnold Schwarzenegger until threatened with a lawsuit, then Sid Vicious’s head pasted on a ripped body; eventually Hell recruited New York plastic tranny queen Amanda Lepore to strip down and pose. Given all this you’d expect some pretty wild shit on his latest, 2003’s NY Muscle–featuring Suicide’s Alan Vega, DFA’s James Murphy, Kings of Convenience’s Erlend Oye, and Chicago expat Tommie Sunshine. But the craziness comes off surprisingly prefab: buzzy techno, rhythm-stick twitches, fits of funky bass, madman screams, “unpredictable” synthesizer flutters. Honestly, though, it really won’t matter what the music sounds like live; I’ll bet anything this party will still be completely out of control. Traxx and Dirty Criminals open; DJs Josh Werner, John Grammatis, and Hiroki spin. 9 PM, Sound-Bar, 226 W. Ontario, 312-787-4480, $10 in advance, $20 at the door. –Liz Armstrong

LONGSHOT “Food stamps, powdered milk, and that cheese too / I see it’s a sleepless night, an eatless week,” raps south-side MC Longshot on “Broken Man’s Dream,” from his second album, Sacrifice (Molemen). The erstwhile Chad Heslup knows what he’s talking about: he started bouncing from foster home to foster home at the age of nine, after DCFS split up his family, and spent most of his teen years in an Evanston group home. Sacrifice features a collection of tough beats assembled by Molemen producers Panik, PNS, and Memo; the appearance of Heslup’s brother, MC Vicious, and his mother on the record suggests not just survival but victory. Longshot performs on both nights of Chicago Rocks, the annual hip-hop showcase put together by the Molemen. Also on tonight’s bill: All Natural, Pacifics, Typical Cats, E.C. Illa & Legendary Traxster, Qualo, Glue, Earatik Statik, Matlock, Rusty Chains, Verbal Kent, Psalm One, Thaione Davis, Mic One with Risky Bizness, Prime, Middleground, DJ PNS, and DJ 33-1/3. 6:30 PM, Metro, 3730 N. Clark, 773-549-0203 or 312-559-1212, $12 in advance, $15 day of show. All ages. See also Saturday. –Peter Margasak

CASS MCCOMBS Songwriter Cass McCombs has a knack for beguiling melodies and the occasional irresistible hook: the tunes on his latest, Prefection (Monitor), show he knows his old Velvet Underground, Echo & the Bunnymen, and John Lennon albums. But the murky production tends to obscure his talents, and McCombs’s consistently unusual vocal phrasing doesn’t help matters; if he’s not cramming syllables into a bar, he’s awkwardly stretching them out. Modest Mouse headlines; Mason Jennings plays second. 7 PM, Congress Theater, 2135 N. Milwaukee, 312-923-2000 or 312-559-1212, sold out. All ages. –Peter Margasak

M. WARD Some touring with Bright Eyes raised the profile of Oregon singer-songwriter M. Ward, but he really shouldn’t require anybody’s patronage. Like his others, his fourth album, Transistor Radio (Merge), sounds like the lucid dream of somebody who sleeps with the Anthology of American Folk Music under his pillow and an icon of a haloed, bleeding Will Oldham over his bed. He’s romantic, nostalgic, sometimes selectively naive, and admirably determined to return the attention span of twentysomethings to a time before instant messaging. Dr. Dog and Shelley Short open. 10 PM, Schubas, 3159 N. Southport, 773-525-2508, sold out. –Monica Kendrick

Saturday 26

GORE GORE GIRLS Drunk on 60s fashion and vintage guitars, this all-female Detroit garage-power-pop quartet sounds like a real-world version of the Carrie Nations, the band in Beyond the Valley of the Dolls: brash but sweet, girly but tough. Their new disc, 7 x 4 Gore (G4 Recordings), is billed as an EP, but with seven great songs it’s more satisfying than a lot of full-lengths: their teen liberation anthem, “All Grown Up,” has been looping in my brain for days. Telenovela, Nice Device, and Wilke Surprise open. 9:30 PM, Subterranean Cafe & Cabaret, 2011 W. North, 773-278-6600 or 800-594-8499, $8. –Monica Kendrick

SONNY LANDRETH I really liked The Road We’re On (2003), the most recent studio album by this Louisiana guitarist: Sonny Landreth is a subtle, smoky, and diverse player, and at his best he uses his ax as a mood setter and narrative device. But his new live album, Grant Street (Sugar Hill), falls prey to a lot of the traps inherent in live electric blues: rock-festival grandstanding homogenizes the song-oriented bits, and his guitar excursions aren’t always as much fun to listen to as they probably were to play. If Landreth’s musicianship is enough for you, there’s a lot to like. But I’m holding out for a more complete package. The Kevin Gordon Band opens. 8 PM, FitzGerald’s, 6615 Roosevelt, Berwyn, 708-788-2118 or 312-559-1212, $20. –Monica Kendrick

LONGSHOT See Friday. Longshot fronts a live band, Freebasic. Also on the bill: Immortal Technique, J.U.I.C.E., Vakill, Mass Hysteria, DJ PNS, Intel, Boy Wonder, and Chris Mix. a 10 PM, Abbey Pub, 3420 W. Grace, 773-478-4408 or 866-468-3401, $10 in advance, $12 at the door, 18+.

PICTURES AND SOUNDS The University of Chicago’s Film Studies Center and WHPK activate their Wonder Twin powers for this annual event, which pairs live music with silent film. It’s no slapdash undergrad acid test–all the performers have prepared with the movies, which will be projected from 16-millimeter prints. Double bassist Tatsu Aoki will accompany his own abstract film Puzzle III (2003), joined by Satoru Iga on bass and electronics. Azita Youssefi has developed an improvised piano score for Harry Smith’s Early Abstractions, 1939-1956, a collection of the ethnomusicologist’s rarely screened avant-garde films. Philadelphia folk-psych artist Fursaxa will tackle Stan Brakhage’s Sirius Remembered (1959) and The Dead (1960), and Chicago space rocker Plastic Crimewave (aka Steve Krakow) will play processed guitar to accompany Georges Melies’ La voyage dans la lune (1902). Film historian Ron Gregg of the U. of C.’s Committee on Cinema and Media Studies will moderate Q & A sessions with the performers. 7 PM, Film Studies Center, Cobb Hall (room 307), University of Chicago, 5811 S. Ellis, 773-702-8596. Free. All ages. –J. Niimi

OMAR SOSA QUARTET Cuban-born pianist Omar Sosa has an awful lot of music in him, and I don’t say that simply because he put out three records last year. He’s gobbled up Afro-Cuban rhythms, jazz, North African trance music, and hip-hop, among other genres, and his generous collaborative impulses have drawn him to an ever growing array of fellow boundary crossers. On his most recent album, Mulatos (Ota), he crams an excess of ideas into each tune, sometimes to brilliant effect: “Nuevo Manto,” for example, swirls soul-jazz funkiness, Cuban montunos, florid interludes on piano and oud, and turntable samples of Yoruban chant into a delirious, groove-shifting bacchanal. But other songs are bloated and fusion-slick, and Sosa has a romantic streak that too often turns his music into mush. His live gigs are exuberant, but you have to take the good with the bad. For this show he’s joined by French-Caribbean percussionist Mino Cinelu, bassist Geoff Brennan, and saxophonist Eric Crystal. 7 PM, Old Town School of Folk Music, 4544 N. Lincoln, 773-728-6000 or 866-468-3401, $22, $18 seniors and kids. All ages. –Peter Margasak

SUBTLE As charter members of the nebbishy Oakland crew Anticon, rapper Adam “Doseone” Drucker and producer Jeffrey “Jel” Logan have spent years contorting the fundamentals of hip-hop. With their ungainly flow and unfunky soundscapes, manifestations like Themselves and Clouddead have been interesting on paper but not much fun to listen to. The pair’s latest project, Subtle, succeeds because it makes no pretense about being hip-hop. On the recent A New White (Lex) a four-piece band accompanies Logan’s programmed beats and Drucker’s run-on rapping: the result, a weirdly misshapen ambient/funk/rock hybrid, is as dense as anything the Anticon family has produced, but after five or six listens I’ve begun to hear a logic behind the patchwork of sounds. I still don’t get what the hell Drucker is ranting about most of the time and his nasal tone is grating, but the songs, though circuitous, now seem to go somewhere instead of just spinning in lopsided circles. Keith Fullerton Whitman and Mel Gibson & the Pants open. 10 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 800-594-8499, $10. –Peter Margasak

URBAN & 4 Damir Urban, a handsome 36-year-old rocker, is a star in his native Croatia, but this gig–only his second in the U.S.–puts him and his band in a more intimate context. The local dark-folk quartet Ode, three members of which grew up in what’s now Bosnia and Herzegovina, opens. 10 PM, Martyrs’, 3855 N. Lincoln, 773-404-9494 or 800-594-8499, $25. –Monica Kendrick

Sunday 27

EX MODELS This minimalist New York band, which trades in sparse, aggressive disco noise, is now more minimal than ever. Guitarist Shahin Motia and bassist Zach Lehrhoff are the only remaining members of the original foursome; they’ve been recording with Oneida drummer Kid Millions, but he’s not on this tour. The band has always been good at using silence as a rhythmic device, though, so I’m guessing this performance won’t hurt for beats. The Red Eyed Legends and the Coughs open. 9 PM, Texas Ballroom, 3012 S. Archer (third floor),, $8 donation. –Liz Armstrong

Wednesday 2

OCTOPUS PROJECT One Ten Hundred Thousand Million (Peek-a-Boo), the second album from this Austin trio, doesn’t sound like the product of three people who once proudly claimed they “hooked up their half-broken electronic shit all wrong.” I love junkyard electronic fuckery, but this CD is stuffed with crunchy pop and downright rockist pleasures: the tingling, ringing light pulses of “Music Is Happiness,” the bargain-basement-Ministry chug of “Six Feet Up,” and the tense guitar lines of “Lots More Stairs” all suggest they’re thinking past gear-for-gear’s-sake fetishism. Velvetron headlines; Warm Ones open. 9 PM, Subterranean Cafe & Cabaret, 2011 W. North, 773-278-6600 or 800-594-8499, $5. –Monica Kendrick

Thursday 3

BASEBALL FURIES Since moving to Chicago from Buffalo these unhinged trash rockers have blended in seamlessly with the local garage scene: members also play in the Hot Machines and the Tyrades and have helped mastermind the Horizontal Action empire. On the new Let It Be (Big Neck)–the title’s definitely a Replacements homage, not a Beatles one–they stretch out dramatically, bringing an almost reflective pace to their rust-belt roar. Instead of opting for instant (and more or less constant) catharsis, they take their time and draw out the tension in the songs–but I’m sure they’ll still get right down to breaking shit when they hit the stage. Warming up for the Furies are Minneapolis’s Midnight Evils, whose third LP, Breakin’ It Down, comes out in March on Estrus; the Busy Signals open. 9:30 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 800-594-8499, $8. –Monica Kendrick

DJ DALUA On their debut album, Revisited Classics (1999), the Brazilian trio Bossacucanova helped establish the hybrid of electronica and bossa nova that would become the ubiquitous sound track for chill-out rooms and trendy restaurants. Since then they’ve tried to become a more organic and original outfit, prominently employing legendary bossa nova guitarist and composer Roberto Menescal–who happens to be the father of the group’s bassist, Marcio Menescal–and contracting a raft of vocalists to add some personality to their studio concoctions. Their most recent album, Uma batida diferente (Six Degrees), mixes bossa nova standards with a handful of originals and features guest turns from veterans and contemporary stars alike; it’s pleasant enough, but the addition of programmed beats and synth textures ain’t much of a tweak. Member DJ DaLua is touring solo to promote the album. 9 PM, Sonotheque, 1444 W. Chicago, 312-226-7600, $10. –Peter Margasak

JOEL HARRISON & FREE COUNTRY On the eponymous 2003 debut by his group Free Country, New York guitarist Joel Harrison joined the long tradition of artists who’ve attempted to reconcile modern jazz and country music, giving tunes by Johnny Cash, George Jones, the Carter Family, and others more expansive harmonies and greater rhythmic elasticity. Norah Jones contributed sublime vocals on two songs, but for the most part the album ambled along without much personality. Their recent follow-up, So Long 2nd Street (ACT), complements traditional murder ballads and classics by the Stanley Brothers and Merle Haggard with some lesser originals. Unfortunately Harrison decided to sing on the bulk of the record, and he’s got a quavery, amelodic whine like Dave Matthews. The lineup for this show includes saxophonist David Binney, accordionist and pianist Gary Versace, and drummer Dan Weiss; if Harrison keeps his yap shut it might not be half bad. 7 PM, Claudia Cassidy Theater, Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington, 312-744-6630. Free. All ages. –Peter Margasak

HOT HOT HEAT It’s odd to hear Steve Bays croon Hot Hot Heat’s great new single, the cavalierly dismissive relationship kiss-off “Goodnight, Goodnight,” in the suave, above-it-all tone patented by Julian Casablancas. After all, these hyper British Columbia art-poppers will release their major label bow, Elevator, into a Franz Ferdinandized pop scene that’s more comfortable with their brand of melodic herky-jerkiness than it was back in 2002, when the Strokes were “It” and Warner Brothers’ hefty bid on Hot Hot Heat seemed like a long shot. Louis XIV, the Flesh, and DJ Mother Hubbard open. 6 PM, Bottom Lounge, 3206 N. Wilton, 773-975-0505 or 800-594-8499, $15. All ages. –Keith Harris

SOLAS In the post-Riverdance age of gauzy Celtophilia, it’s refreshing to hear a band reexamine Irish music without the Vaseline lens. This veteran outfit has dismantled and reassembled songs by Bob Dylan and Tom Waits, merrily danced with Latin percussion, and made room in its repertoire for polkas and waltzes; its seventh album, Waiting for an Echo (Shanachie), is mostly originals with a few heart-wrenching numbers from elsewhere, like Richard Shindell’s “On a Sea of Fleur de Lis” and “The Silver Dagger,” a traditional picked up from Dolly Parton. The Bottomfeeders open. 9 PM, Abbey Pub, 3420 W. Grace, 773-478-4408 or 866-468-3401, $15. –Monica Kendrick