Best shows to see: Fight Amp, Bettye LaVette, C. Spencer Yeh, Maserati

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Fight Amp
  • Fight Amp
As far as I'm concerned the big music happening this weekend is the annual Umbrella Music Festival, which brings together daring improvisers and avant-garde jazz musicians from 11 countries. Tonight's the second evening of European Jazz Meets Chicago, the fest's free kickoff event at the Cultural Center, where the out-of-town talent includes Jacques Demierre, Sven-Ake Johansson, and the trio Cactus Truck; Friday's show at Elastic features Darius Jones and Joe Morris, Saturday's concert at the Hideout is headlined by William Parker's In Order to Survive, and on Sunday at the Hungry Brain Fred Van Hove warms up for the Harrison Bankhead Sextet.

For those of you who aren't into that stuff, after the jump I've compiled some picks from the Soundboard page. But of course the good shows don't end with those: to name just a few that nobody got around to writing about this week, Thursday has Cave with Tyvek and Running at the Hideout, Grass Widow at the Bottle, and King Tuff at Subterranean; on Friday there's Escort at Metro and Juice at Reggie's Rock Club; Saturday you can see Nunslaughter at Cafe Lura or David Dondero at Schubas; and Sunday there's Implodes with Cleared and Psychic Steel at the Burlington.

Thu 11/8: Fight Amp at Ultra Lounge

"Fight Amp will probably always get compared to NYC noise-rock pioneers Unsane, whose thick, crushing sound has shaped the entire genre," writes Kevin Warwick. "And I doubt Fight Amp will ever have a problem with that." Their previous albums combine sludgy guitar, even sludgier bass, menacing midtempo hardcore rhythms, and red-faced yelling, and the new Birth Control adds to that furious mix the band's most experimental and "introspective" moments thus far.

Fri 11/9 and Sat 11/10: Bettye LaVette at City Winery

On the hard-hitting new Thankful n' Thoughtful, blues singer Bettye LaVette gets back to her comfort zone after the British classic rock of Interpretations. "The dark angles and harsh truths she brings to its wide range of songs make the originals seem sunny by comparison," writes Peter Margasak. "LaVette fronts a lean quintet that modernizes the classic Muscle Shoals sound with ominous atmospherics, and together they reimagine pop and rock tunes from the past four decades so perfectly that they might as well have been written for her."

Sat 11/10: C. Spencer Yeh at the Graham Foundation

Lately noise polymath C. Spencer Yeh has made brooding pop and strangely beautiful, almost meditative abstract sound collages, but at this Lampo concert, in the words of Peter Margasak, "he'll do neither of the above, instead performing with new and recent video pieces that have their own audio. The videos function something like graphic scores for his live performance (mostly on voice and violin) while their soundtracks give him something to play to or against."

Sun 11/11: Maserati at the Empty Bottle

Whatever Maserati lacked in fluidity on 2010's Pyramid of the Sun, the first album they finished after the untimely death of drummer Jerry Fuchs, they make up for on the new Maserati VII. "If you've followed Maserati's trajectory since 2007's Inventions for the New Season, you know how much they like towers of melodic delay-treated guitar, motorik rhythms, and well-positioned psych flourishes," writes Kevin Warwick. "But the album is their best-rounded to date, and it ebbs and flows flawlessly despite the variety among its tracks."

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