Posted inArts & Culture

Hellacopters

HELLACOPTERS The Hellacopters’ performance at the Empty Bottle in December was the sort of experience that sends music writers scurrying for their most hyperbolic cliches. I’ll try to be more judicious: they didn’t kick my ass, fry my brain, or blow the roof off the building. But no one who witnessed the fury of these […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Red Angel

A shocking and controversial masterpiece, Yasuzo Masumura’s no-bullshit antiwar film tells of an army nurse (Mizoguchi discovery and Masumura regular Ayako Wakao) in the Sino-Japanese war who sexually services an amputee and falls in love with a drug-addicted surgeon. Shot in black-and-white ‘Scope, this 1966 feature can’t be recommended to the squeamish or to viewers […]

Posted inArts & Culture

L7

L7 The bratty Donnas may be hard rock’s favorite femmes fatales at the moment, but their spiritual foremothers in L7 could eat them for breakfast. “Sardonic” doesn’t begin to suggest the comedic disdain with which Donita Sparks and Suzi Gardner spit out their syllables on the new Slap-Happy, stretching vowels into sneers on such statements […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Around the Coyote

Around the Coyote Running September 9 through 12–and dedicated to the memory of founder Jim Happy-Delpech, who died August 3 after a long struggle with AIDS–the tenth edition of this annual multidisciplinary arts festival in Chicago’s Wicker Park/Bucktown area showcases the work of emerging artists in all media. The offerings include a slew of theatrical […]

Posted inArts & Culture

The Herbaliser

THE HERBALISER As exemplified by Branford Marsalis’s ham-fisted Buckshot LeFonque project, fusions of hip-hop and jazz often end up pitting the two elements against each other, with flashy solos turning tough rhythms flaccid or canned beats boxing live players into tight corners. But on 1997’s Blow Your Headphones–their second album as the Herbaliser–Jake Wherry and […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Rhinceros Theater Festival

Rhinoceros Theater Festival This annual showcase of experimental theater, performance, and music from Chicago’s fringe began as part of the Bucktown Arts Fest; now it’s hosted by the Curious Theatre Branch. Taking its name from surrealist painter Salvador Dali’s use of the term “rhinocerontic” (it means real big), the Rhino Fest celebrates its tenth anniversary […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Kenny Garrett

KENNY GARRETT Kenny Garrett’s latest release, Simply Said (Warner Brothers), features a tight, versatile quartet that complements Garrett’s alto and soprano saxes with piano or organ (and, on two tracks, Pat Metheny’s guitar), but to my ears it’s one of his least exciting efforts. Simply Said could infiltrate “contemporary jazz”–the domain of that other Kenny […]

Posted inNews & Politics

Dangerous Games

By Kari Lydersen When Mary and William Roberson bought their house in Oak Park in 1971, the park across the street was a major selling point. They’d moved from a small town in Virginia where, Mary says, “everyone has a half acre of land and you can’t reach out your window and shake hands with […]

Posted inNews & Politics

Terror Train

Terror Train Aaron Renn was working in Deerfield, but he and his coworkers wanted to be reassigned to the city. The traffic jams, the accidents, the sheer monotony of driving made commuting to the suburbs an enormous hassle. How much easier things would be, Renn thought, if he could work in Chicago. After all, the […]

Posted inFilm

A Season in Paradise

This 1996 Swiss documentary about writer Breyten Breytenbach returning to his native South Africa is one of Richard Dindo’s richest and most moving films. From the late 1970s to the early ’80s Breytenbach was imprisoned for resisting the apartheid government; in the ’90s he interrupted a self-imposed exile in Paris to visit the lush landscapes […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Jazz Festival

CHICAGO CULTURAL CENTER The Cultural Center (78 E. Washington; 312-744-6630) now has some of the most inventive programming anywhere in the midwest; piggybacking on the festival lineup, it will present three major artists in groupings considerably more intimate than you’ll find in Grant Park. Thursday, September 2, at 4 PM in Preston Bradley Hall, pianist […]

Posted inNews & Politics

The Straight Dope

Like all good parents, I mindlessly pass on cultural traditions to my kids and usually don’t have a clue where they came from. We decorate a tree in December, hide colored eggs on Easter, and in October we dress up and carve pumpkins, and my kids tape up pictures of witches on broomsticks on the […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Kool Keith/Rob Swift

KOOL KEITH/ROB SWIFT Now that Garth Brooks has tried out for the San Diego Padres and released a single as the fictional pop star Chris Gaines, Kool Keith is starting to look almost sane. But the notorious hip-hop oddball has added a few new alter egos to his repertoire since he last performed in Chicago–back […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Shaver

SHAVER On “Try and Try Again,” a life-affirming ditty about suicide on his latest album, Billy Joe Shaver hollers so damn joyfully you’d think he just shimmied out of the abyss himself. Careerwise, it ain’t far from the truth. Until he released the hard-rocking instant classic Tramp on Your Street in 1993, he was still […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Jazz Festival

Each year, the Chicago Jazz Festival seems to inspire more pre-event presentations and postconcert performances than before. In the early 90s this activity reached a critical mass to become, in effect, a festival of its own–one unrestricted by the ridiculously early 9:30 curfew City Hall slapped on all Grant Park festivals last year. The curfew […]