Best shows to see: The Horse's Ha, Serengeti, Bat for Lashes, Negativland



Serengeti as Kenny Dennis
  • Serengeti as Kenny Dennis
Everyone's worried that Chicago's almost out of good weather. Soundboard's no meteorologist (too rough a science—we prefer climatology), but we can definitely say the city's not out of good live music. Stop worrying about clouds and go see these shows.

Tonight Bay Area trumpeter Darren Johnston and sopranino and tenor saxophonist Larry Ochs, in town to play with Chicago saxophonist Dave Rempis on Sunday, give Rempis the night off and improvise at Elastic with Amsterdam-based reedist Michael Moore and a bunch of top-shelf locals. Nineties noise-punk disciples Multicult play an in-store at Permanent Records before opening for Soft Speaker at the Empty Bottle. First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre hosts Alice in Chains, Jane's Addiction, Coheed & Cambria, Circa Survive, and others.

Friday you can catch Big'n at Burlington, Travi$ Scott at Bottom Lounge, and the Whigs at the Boulevard street festival in Logan Square. On Saturday Philly underground-emo revivalists Hop Along play at Beat Kitchen, the Michael Moore Quartet performs at Constellation, and Raheem DeVaughn headlines at the Chicago Westside Music Festival; on Sunday underrated postmetal outfit Mouth of the Architect plays at Burlington, and the aforementioned Rempis-Johnston-Ochs Trio comes together at the Hungry Brain.

More Soundboard picks below.

Thu 8/22: The Horse's Ha at the Hideout

Though the PR for Waterdrawn, the new album from Chicago duo the Horse's Ha, describes it as inspired by British folk, Peter Margasak writes that the music is more rooted in cosmic country and American folk-rock. It's mostly the lyrics that seem infatuated with UK vernacular: "Hidey Hole" includes the couplet "Control your happenstance or would you now prefer / To make your getaway along the Edens Spur." Janet Bean and Jim Elkington's voices mesh better than ever, and this record is a step up from their excellent 2009 debut.

Fri 8/23: Serengeti at the Empty Bottle

Serengeti may be the funniest act in Chicago, which is awesome since he's not a comedian but a rapper with an alter ego named Kenny Dennis. Dennis is a middle-aged 90s MC with a thick accent and thicker mustache who likes to cook brats and play softball. On the Kenny Dennis LP, released in June, Serengeti expands the character with help from Evanston-bred Workaholics star Anders Holm, who contributes skits as a neighborhood kid who grew up around Kenny, an older family friend. It's all hilarious. The fact that the music is great is just the cherry on top.

Sat 8/24: Bat for Lashes at First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre

On last year's The Haunted Man, London artist Natasha Khan, who records as Bat for Lashes, reined in the fussiness and bombast of her first two albums without dousing the fireworks, according to Peter Margasak. This is art-pop that's not trying to confuse you, more straightforward than Khan's influences Kate Bush and Bjork, but just as ethereal and pretty. Depeche Mode headlines.

Sun 8/25: Negativland at the Empty Bottle

Nowadays, apparently, all a band has to do to be seen as disruptive and rebellious is not show up for some gigs. That's nothing for experimental Bay Area collective Negativland. These are the guys who started a media frenzy in the late 80s after convincing everyone they were all under house arrest because 16-year-old murderer David Brom killed his parents and two siblings after listening to their song "Christianity Is Stupid." They also released an EP titled U2, full of uncleared samples from the band, that precipitated a predictable lawsuit from Island Records whose fallout provided the grist for a multimedia project. Hey Death Grips, get sued on purpose and then we'll talk.

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