Posted inArts & Culture


Leads Steve Tomlitz as Claude and Zach Laliberte as Berger don’t have powerful enough voices to knock their solos out of the park in this quintessential antiestablishment piece, but that’s almost beside the point. Hair redefined the American musical, focusing more on complex themes than characterization, and Tomlitz and Laliberte are skilled enough to elicit […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Dave Douglas & Nomad

A few years ago trumpeter Dave Douglas was asked to write music to be played at high altitude (around 10,000 feet) for a festival in Italy’s Dolomites; band and audience would hike to the performance spot. The organizers sent along a recording of Ladino music from the region, and taking its emotional range–Douglas would later […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Little Al Thomas

Blues singer Little Al Thomas largely models himself on suave stylists like B.B. King, but the force of his delivery and the pugnaciousness of his phrasing reflect the decades he spent shouting over crowds on Maxwell Street. That training also sharpened his instincts as a crowd-pleaser: he can rock hard enough for a beer-soaked roadhouse […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Body Work

Three different couples in their underwear tickle each other on the three large screens of Alison Ruttan’s video installation at Monique Meloche, Love Me Not. The scenes produce an overwhelming avalanche of flesh and gestures at once playful and aggressive as the ticklers lunge for a torso, try to fend off the other person, or […]

Posted inArts & Culture


The unlikeliest achievement of the new wave of postpunk is that it’s made spastic yelps cool. Not “cool” as in trendy, though it is. I mean “cool” as an overall mood. With a band like the Rapture, for instance, vocal hysteria is just another formal element; it’s meant to be a sonic effect, not something […]

Posted inMusic

The Man in Bleak

William Elliott Whitmore Empty Bottle, 2/17 Can white men sing the blues? The answer to that depends on what you think the blues are really about. I believe that everybody can sing the blues, at least in theory–because everybody is going to die. What gets me about gritty prewar blues and scratchy old-timey mountain music […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson Trio

Pianist Joseph Kalichstein, violinist Jaime Laredo, and cellist Sharon Robinson have become one of the best-known trios in the country since making their debut together in 1977 at Jimmy Carter’s inauguration. As part of a chamber recital at Mandel Hall, members of the trio will perform two works with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s brilliant principal […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Imaginary Heroes

Pennsylvania native Dan Harris has found himself a seat on the Hollywood gravy train writing blockbusters like X2: X-Men United and the forthcoming Superman Returns. But his ticket aboard was the script for this personal, mordantly funny black comedy, now his feature directing debut. Like Ordinary People, In the Bedroom, and Moonlight Mile, it’s a […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Shonen Knife

This all-girl Japanese trio has been playing goofy, cheery punk rock for more than 20 years, guilelessly subverting almost every convention of the prototypical angry-young-man genre. The lyrics are slight, light, and often incomprehensible, devoted to things the band likes instead of things they want to stomp on and smash: candy, fruit, and ice cream […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Lookingglass Alice

David Catlin’s acrobatic new adaptation of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass is as chaotic as its sources. Or maybe there is an underlying logic: Catlin seems to ask whether Alice should grow up or not, and if so, how. The answer is far from obvious. The tragedy is that […]

Posted inArts & Culture


Back in the mid- and late 90s, there were a lot of musicians in Chicago pushing the limits of what “abrasive” meant. These were folks who thought the Jesus Lizard was a key influence for their mellower, poppier moments, and they spent a lot of energy getting together, breaking up, and then re-forming in different […]

Posted inArts & Culture


Jordan Harrison’s fanciful tale of an inspired teenage girl, Moll, who invents a machine that can “hear the unhearable” is loaded with clever whimsy–not to mention hilarious sound cues courtesy of Foley artist Scotty Iseri. The crux of this 90-minute fable, directed with a light but sure hand by Damon Kiely, is how Moll (played […]

Posted inNews & Politics

The Straight Dope

Ever since I was a kid the media have warned about not looking directly at a solar eclipse. The principal at our school would always keep us inside to avoid our burning out our retinas sneaking a peek. Are we all being fooled by an urban legend that keeps getting recirculated every time there’s an […]