Posted inMusic

The second-biggest news about Bandcamp this week

Friday, March 4, is the 20th installment of what’s become known as Bandcamp Friday, when Bandcamp passes along its usual share of revenue to the independent artists and labels selling music through the site. But that occasion was overshadowed somewhat this morning, when Bandcamp CEO Ethan Diamond announced that the company is “joining” Epic Games. […]

Posted inBest of Chicago

Best impromptu spiritual-jazz show to celebrate what turned out not to be the end of the pandemic

When the pandemic shut down live music, Chicago gallery Corbett vs. Dempsey began presenting great online gigs via Experimental Sound Studio’s Quarantine Concerts series. I remember the excitement I felt when the gallery made a last-minute, low-key announcement, mostly to friends and supporters, that the sixth of its Sequesterfest livestreaming events would also be open […]

Posted inBest of Chicago

Best concert for a cause

On Wednesday, October 13, 2021, the Old Town School of Folk Music’s third annual Indigenous Peoples’ Day Concert shook the rafters of the auditorium with Opliam’s rock-tinged blues, Huguito Gutierrez’s Andean pan flute, and the NuFolk Rebel Alliance’s mishmash of folkloric music, acoustic Americana, and tropical punk. Artist and activist Opliam (aka Liam McDonald, who’s […]

Posted inMusic

Basque musician Elena Setién makes sense of a changed world on Unfamiliar Minds

Basque singer and multi-instrumentalist Elena Setién began working on her latest English-language recording, Unfamiliar Minds, just as the first wave of COVID shut down Europe down. She uses both sound and language to get its pandemic-times message across: the echoing piano chords on the opening song, “2020,” evoke the numbness wrought by accumulating uncertainty, while […]

Posted inOn Politics

MAGA science

Having spent the better part of the last week closely following the showdown between CPS and its teachers, I’ve concluded there’s no way Mayor Lightfoot truly believes the positions she’s been taking. Not unless the mayor—who ran as a progressive—has suddenly transformed into a Chicago version of Ron DeSantis, ’cause the stuff she’s been spouting […]

Posted inCity Life

Comfort in the face of the unknown

The numbers boggle the mind. More deaths than AIDS in 40 years, the most recent epidemic in recent memory. More deaths than the 1918 influenza pandemic, previously the deadliest disease event in American history. More deaths than the U.S. Civil War, the deadliest conflict in our nation’s history. More deaths. More. More. More.  The COVID-19 […]

Posted inMusic

How live music looks during COVID

Live music is back, though it looks different today than when it went away in March 2020. For 16 months we carried on without the collaborative magic of artist and audience. We’ve watched musicians find creative ways to keep gigging and be safe, whether delivering livestreams from their homes or playing on porches. Our favorite […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Postcards from a stranger

You may have seen one of Jenny Lam’s blank, prestamped, self-addressed postcards affixed to a light pole or on a bookstore shelf somewhere in the city. The postcards always feature the same prompt: “Tell me one thing you dream of doing before you die. Use this card as your canvas.” Lam, a Chicago-based artist and […]

Posted inCity Life

Keep it small, baby

During the loneliest stretches of pandemic isolation, when I spent ages eternal locked in my studio apartment eating canned chili and descending into my most feral state, I missed a lot of things. Thrift stores. Dinner parties. Riding the el. But the thing I missed with the most startling acuity, as if a vital organ […]