Music » Soundboard

The List: July 8-14, 2010

Critics' Choices and other notable shows: Victor Deme, Emir Kusturica & the No Smoking Orchestra, Sweet Apple, Etran Finatawa, and more

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Victor Deme


Gerry Hemingway & Terrence McManus
MC Lyte


Beach Fossils
Budos Band
Gerry Hemingway & Terrence McManus
Emir Kusturica & the No Smoking Orchestra
Sweet Apple


Etran Finatawa, Red Baraat
Emir Kusturica & the No Smoking Orchestra


Budos Band
El Guincho
King Louie's Missing Monuments


Liturgy Postponed


Boy Thai Band
Die Antwoord
Red Baraat


VICTOR DEME Now in his late 40s, Burkina Faso's Victor Deme has pursued a career in music for most of his life, working with bands like Abdoulaye Diabate's Super Mande Orchestra and singing in clubs in Ouagadougou. But it wasn't until 2007, with the help of a French journalist and a local hip-hop promoter, that he made his self-titled debut album, which turned him into a budding world-music star. He's making his first visit to the U.S. to promote his recent second record, Deli (Chapa Blues/Naive), whose expansive sound merges circular West African Mande grooves with generously melodic Western-flavored folk pop, nonchalantly closing the seemingly unbridgeable gap between griot intensity and coffeehouse sensitivity. The ultracatchy "Deen Wolo Mousso," for example, channels his raspy soul into the cozy confines of blues-drenched pop—if it were shorn of African instrumentation like kora and calabash, you could easily imagine it bumping strummy American troubadours like Jack Johnson from iTunes playlists all over the country. He also makes credible detours, dipping into Afrobeat on "Wolo Baya Guelema" and twangy folk-blues on "Maa Gaafora." Deme is signed to a French label, but he's insisted on recording with his working band in his hometown—though a number of African stars, from Femi Kuti to Tony Allen collaborator Fixi, added overdubs to Deli in Paris. He accompanies himself on guitar, and he's joined here by his regular band: lead guitarist Issouf Diabate, bassist Moussa Diabate, kora player Salif Diarra, and percussionist Ali Diarra. Ivory Coast superstar Dobet Gnahore headlines. 6:30 PM, Pritzker Pavilion, Millennium Park, Michigan and Randolph, 312-742-1168. —Peter Margasak

Victor Deme
  • Victor Deme


GERRY HEMINGWAY & TERRENCE MCMANUS American-born drummer Gerry Hemingway teaches at the Hochschule in Luzern, Switzerland, but school's out for the summer and he's coming to Chicago for the first time in years as part of a weeklong midwestern tour. He first played with Jersey City guitarist Terrence McManus about three years ago in a band led by bassist Kermit Driscoll, and they became a duo after going ahead with a show Driscoll had to miss due to illness. Hemingway has a special affinity for duos, as he's proved on recent recordings with Anthony Braxton, John Butcher, and Thomas Lehn—the format allows him to engage almost symbiotically with the sonic qualities of his partners' instruments and gives him enough space to erect elaborate structures around their playing. He and McManus, who has never played in Chicago before, haven't formally released a record yet (they're shopping one around and will have CD-R copies of it here), but based on the YouTube videos I've seen they share a penchant for shifting between pure sound exploration and instant composition—a species of improvisation that's willing to engage with form and genre—across a broad dynamic range. 8 PM, Experimental Sound Studio, 5925 N. Ravenswood, 773-769-1069, $10 suggested donation. —Bill Meyer

MC LYTE Her days of hit albums are behind her, but MC Lyte is an indelible force in hip-hop. In the last few years, she's balanced touring with all manner of entertainment ventures (voice-overs, a talk show, an accessories boutique, a confusing web community for female MCs, a gig as executive VP of a record label), and a spate of hot cameos circa 2007-'08 that included tracks with Jay-Z and Missy. Her 2009 single "Rockin With the Best" wasn't her best, but even in her mediocre moments, she's still better than most of the rest. Chubb Rock, Kurtis Blow, and Naughty by Nature open. 7:30 PM, Arie Crown Theater, McCormick Place, 2301 S. Lake Shore Dr., 312-791-6000 or 866-448-7849, $35-$65. —Jessica Hopper


BEACH FOSSILS In the indie-rock zodiac 2010 is the Year of the Xanax, or at least that's what the continued demand for chillwave and dream pop seems to suggest. On one hand the sort of nebulous, echo-drenched candy floss made by groups like Brooklyn's Beach Fossils (who recently released a self-titled album on Captured Tracks) is a welcome and soothing distraction from a world in which oil flows unabated into the ocean, people who think our president is a Kenyan socialist sleeper agent hold seats in Congress, and social networking increasingly turns our spare time into a second (or third or fourth) job. On the other hand, aren't those things supposed to make the kids, like, pissed off or something? The band's afternoon set is part of West Fest (see page 50); they play later at the Bottle between headliners Small Black and openers Tirra Lirra.  2:30 PM, West Fest, Chicago and Damen stage, 312-850-9390 or, $5 suggested donation, all-ages; and 10 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 866-468-3401, $8. —Miles Raymer

BUDOS BAND Despite their best intentions, Budos Band are unmistakable. The Brooklyn tentet set out to make III (Daptone), for reasons known only to them, a psychedelic doom album, but fortunately what came out the other end was another totally sweltering album of tight instrumentals with funk horn arrangements that flirt with Afrobeat and honor myriad American R & B styles, from Stax to Muscle Shoals to the JB's. The creepy psych sound they were going for shows up here and there—spooky Farfisa and wah-wah guitar on the "Daytripper" tribute "Reppirt Yad"—but the "doom" touches are so well-worn and hammy that they make III sound like a Halloween novelty record produced by David Axelrod circa '71. Depending on where you stand with baritone horns and/or Halloween, this is still a pretty great thing. Live they make a big sound and can get an entire audience dancing. Here they headline the main stage at the Old Town School's Chicago Folk & Roots Festival, which starts at noon; see also Monday.  8:30 PM, Welles Park, 2333 W. Sunnyside, 773-728-6000, $10 suggested donation, $5 for kids and seniors. —Jessica Hopper

GERRY HEMINGWAY & TERRENCE MCMANUS See Friday. In addition to tonight's show, Hemingway and McManus will hold a three-hour master class in improvisation at 1 PM at Experimental Sound Studio, 5925 N. Ravenswood. Enrollment is limited to 12, and tuition is $90 ($80 for students and ESS members); contact to sign up. 10 PM, Heaven Gallery, 1550 N. Milwaukee, second floor,, donation requested.

EMIR KUSTURICA & THE NO SMOKING ORCHESTRA Founded in 1980 in Sarajevo, Zabranjeno Pusenje (Serbo-Croatian for "No Smoking") were part of a cultural resistance movement called "New Primitivism"; inspired by everything from Jethro Tull to the Sex Pistols, they combined brash, simple garage rock with touches of Balkan folk. The story goes that in 1984 they were playing a show in the coastal Croatian town of Rijeka when an amplifier failed and front man Dr. Nele Karajlic said, "Crk'o Marsal" ("Marshall croaked"). He was referring to the Marshall amp, but this was only a few years after Yugoslavian leader Marshal Tito died of cancer—tensions were mounting in the fracturing nation, and criticism of Tito was still taboo. The satirical TV show the band members were involved with, Top Lista Nadrealista ("Surrealists' Top Chart"), was canceled, and they had trouble getting gigs. It's been suggested that they enlisted filmmaker and fellow Sarajevan Emir Kusturica as a bandmate to head off media criticism and political pressure: though in his homeland he's drawn fire for making films that allowed foreigners to imagine that Yugoslavians were all crazy, quarrelsome peasants, he was also bringing prestige to the Balkans by winning awards in western Europe for When Father Was Away on Business and Time of the Gypsies. The group's roster has changed many times over the decades—at one point it included Kusturica soundtrack collaborator Goran Bregovic—and when Yugoslavia fractured in the early 90s, Zabranjeno Pusenje did too. Kusturica, a self-identified Serb, stayed with Karajlic's version of the band, which settled in Belgrade and took the name Emir Kusturica & the No Smoking Orchestra. Since then they've developed a style they call "Unza Unza Time," a mix of rock, Romany music, and Balkan brass with a distinctive two-four rhythm—the name evokes the sound of a guitar playing a traditional folk dance or a sort of Serbian rumba. The nine-piece lineup on this tour, which includes Kusturica on guitar and his son, Stribor, on drums, augments rock instrumentation with saxophone, accordion, violin, and tuba. Expect a lot of songs from the soundtrack to Kusturica's 1998 film Black Cat, White Cat, including "Pit Bull" and the widely covered "Bubamara" ("Ladybug"). See also Sunday. Kusturica will give a talk on Fri 7/9 at the Alliance Francaise, 54 W. Chicago, at 6:30 PM; it's $10, $5 for members. 8 PM, Copernicus Center, 5216 W. Lawrence, 773-777-8898 or 800-838-3006, $30, $25 in advance, 18+. —Vera Videnovich

SWEET APPLE J. Mascis's non-Dinosaur Jr. project bag is a mixed one—his stoner-rock band Witch is half-baked, but this outfit, in which he plays drums and guitar along with Witch-mate Dave Sweetapple (bass) and Cobra Verde's John Petkovic (guitar and vocals) and Tim Parnin (guitar), hits the sweet spot and stays there. Their debut, Love & Desperation (Tee Pee), harks back to the alt-rock of the early 90s, when 70s hard rock was a guilty pleasure often invoked ironically and zine pundits marveled at the courage of anyone who'd reveal Foghat or Deep Purple as an influence with straight face ("Flying Up a Mountain") but it wasn't quite cool anymore to sound like late-period Husker Du instead ("Do You Remember," which of course is what husker du means). This supergroup was formed just last fall; these gifted veterans can and probably do crank this stuff out in their sleep. But this album sounds mostly wide-awake and wired. Plastic Crimewave Sound, Detholz!, and Mondo Drag open. 9 PM, Abbey Pub, 3420 W. Grace, 773-463-5808 or 866-468-3401, $12, 18+. —Monica Kendrick

Etran Finatawa
  • Etran Finatawa


ETRAN FINATAWA, RED BARAAT They aren't the only so-called desert-blues band to emerge in the wake of Tinariwen's success, but Niger's ETRAN FINATAWA stand out as a multiethnic ensemble, including not just Kel Tamashek members (frequently referred to as Tuareg) but also Wodaabe—the latter are the fellows in feathered turbans and colorful face paint. Though the five-piece group's three Wodaabe musicians contributes a greater emphasis on percussion and an increased use of vocal polyphony in the call-and-response sections, Etran Finatawa's third album, Tarkat Tajje / Let's Go! (Riverboat), nonetheless relies on a bedrock sound similar to that of Kel Tamashek groups like Tinariwen—subdued but stinging guitar lines that stab out of and snake through loping, hypnotic grooves. The percussion creates a sonic depth of field it's easy to get lost in, with syncopated hand claps and the rattle of the akayaure (a kind of metal rattle or clapper tied to the leg) out front, the traditional Tuareg tende drum in the middle, and the muted clip-clopping and murky thumps of the azakalabo (a calabash floating in a bowl of water) behind everything. With only one lead guitar and one rhythm guitar—the bass is overdubbed on the album, and not part of the live show—Etran Finatawa can't match the mesmerizing atmospheric density of Tinariwen's music, but the way their guitars interlace with this matrix of polyrhythms is exhilarating in its own right.

Indian brass-band music remains largely unknown in the West, but its furious polyphonic puffing and rollicking grooves are a staple at wedding celebrations on the subcontinent. New York percussionist Sunny Jain, the son of Punjabi immigrants, has an abiding interest in musical hybrids—his recent recent Taboo (Brooklyn Jazz Underground) is a thoughtful adaption of the ghazal form for jazz quartet—and he formed RED BARAAT as an Indian brass band with a distinctly American flavor. The group combines the fizzy, exuberant melodies of bhangra—along with its propulsive dhol drumming—with the second-line funk of a New Orleans funeral, and pulls it off without insulting either tradition. The nonet's debut album, this year's Chaal Baby (Sinj), is as smart as it is fun, balancing busy, irresistible beats with high-level horn blowing on both sturdy original songs and bhangra hits by the likes of Daler Mehndi and Malkit Singh. The record is great, but onstage Red Baraat are even better, winding up the crowd with shouts of encouragement and boisterous audience invasions till they've turned the show into a dance party.

Both bands play the main stage at the Old Town School's Chicago Folk & Roots Festival, Red Baraat at 5:30 PM and Etran Finatawa at 8:30 PM. Red Baraat also plays Wednesday at Martyrs' and Thursday as part of Summerdance; see separate List item. Noon, Welles Park, 2333 W. Sunnyside, 773-728-6000, $10 suggested donation, $5 for kids and seniors. —Peter Margasak

EMIR KUSTURICA & THE NO SMOKING ORCHESTRA See Saturday. 8 PM, Copernicus Center, 5216 W. Lawrence, 773-777-8898 or 800-838-3006, $30, $25 in advance, 18+.


BUDOS BAND See Saturday. Caribou headlines. 6:30 PM, Pritzker Pavilion, Millennium Park, Michigan and Randolph, 312-742-1168.

EL GUINCHO The previous album from Barcelona artist Pablo Diaz-Reixa (aka El Guincho), 2008's Alegranza, consisted of rather ordinary pop songs distinguished only by the kaleidoscopic array of international-music samples from which he'd constructed them: cumbia, Congolese rumba, Cuban son, and more. But he sidesteps his shortcomings as a songwriter on the new EP Piratas de Sudamerica: Vol I (due July 13 from XL/Young Turks), which kicks off a series of limited-edition EPs on which he reimagines classic songs from all over South America. Four of the five tunes on the new one are Cuban classics (never mind that Cuba is technically part of North America) originally by the likes of Trio Matamoros and Miguelito Valdes, and their melodies are so infectious that they'd succeed with or without the looped beats, samples, and jacked-up modern-pop feel. Mexican pop singer Julieta Venegas brings some serious muscle to her guest turn on "Mientes," but even El Guincho's own wan singing can make the songs work, thanks in part to the air of obscurity and mystery he creates with his deliberately murky soundscapes. White Car opens the late show at Schubas. Noon, Pritzker Pavilion, Millennium Park, Michigan and Randolph, 312-742-1168. Also 9 PM, Schubas, 3159 N. Southport, 773-525-2508, $12, 18+. —Peter Margasak

KING LOUIE'S MISSING MONUMENTS In the secret history of contemporary rock 'n' roll, King Louie Bankston of Harahan, Louisiana, is as unsung as they come. He's been in dozens of groups, including the influential Persuaders—and in the King Louie One Man Band, he's the whole show. He played keyboard and cowrote more than half the songs on the Exploding Hearts' 2003 album Guitar Romantic, one of the tiny handful of records from the late-90s/early-2000s garage-punk revival that Pitchfork deigned to acknowledge in its Top 200 Albums of the 2000s. In 1997 the Persuaders took the Reatards on their first tour, and in '98 he teamed up with Jay Reatard and Eric "Oblivian" Friedl to cut a record as the Bad Times. That same year another King Louie group, the Royal Pendletons, had an album produced by Alex Chilton. The Persuaders were scuzz-fuzz garage punk and the King Louie One Man Band is, well, a one-man band, but everywhere Bankston goes he takes his soft spot for rough-jangled, southern-twangy power pop—and that love takes center stage in his latest band, the Missing Monuments. On their debut seven-inch for Douchemaster Records, "Black Rainbow" b/w "Tailspin," they show off a natural touch with the subtle hooks that make a power-pop song worthwhile, and their lyrical intelligence makes them standouts in a genre where trite is too often good enough. Lover! headlines; King Louie's Missing Monuments and Sleepovers open. 10 PM, Hideout, 1354 W. Wabansia, 773-227-4433 or 866-468-3401, $5. —Brian Costello


LITURGY Postponed Forget that they're a bunch of Brooklyn hipsters playing black metal, and that they even look like hipsters when they do it—there's not so much as a streak of corpsepaint in sight. Liturgy's most aesthetically transgressive move is to abandon black metal's traditional fixation on hatred and pain and do something—it feels weird just to type this—beautiful with it. They refer to their music as "pure transcendental black metal" (as opposed to "true," "necro," "kvlt," or "frostbitten"), and they're not joking. Last year's Renihilation (20 Buck Spin) would be the perfect accompaniment to the closing scenes of 2001: A Space Odyssey or a mushroom trip, or to watching the end of 2001 on mushrooms. Whereas most black metal comes on like a blindingly dense Scandinavian fog, Liturgy's take on the style feels more like a blazing storm of light, with hyperspeed rhythms that shatter the rigid grid of the typical blastbeat to surge and thrash tidally—the band calls them "burstbeats." It's still heavy as fuck, though—if you find satori during a spin of Renihilation, it'll be kind of like getting your third eye split open by a battle-ax. Update: Liturgy has had to postpone its tour due to illness; the rest of the show will go on as scheduled. Child Abuse headlines; I Klatus and Lechugillas open. 9:30 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 866-468-3401, $8. —Miles Raymer


BOY THAI BAND As part of a weeklong Thai cultural festival (PDF) presented by the city in conjunction with the Royal Thai Consulate-General of Chicago, Bangkok musical institution the Boy Thai Band plays tonight at the Old Town School and then again for free on Friday, July 16, at noon in Daley Plaza; members also teach a workshop in traditional Thai instruments at the Old Town School on Thursday, July 15. The band's palette includes a pop-rock rhythm section, Western classical winds and strings, and Thai flute and percussion, including the xylophone-like ranat; its global fusion sound incorporates jazz, Latin, and Caribbean music (as titles like "Siamese Samba" and "Boy Thai Calypso" suggest). Formed in 1993 at Chulalongkorn University, the group is as much a training institute as a band, with a large lineup that's frequently in flux; veterans Sekpol "Mr. Saxman" Unsamran and Narongrit Tosa-nga, who plays ranat, mentor their young colleagues, turning the Boy Thai Band into a sort of perpetual-motion machine. And their music—a playful, engaging display of sunlit virtuosity—has a bit of perpetual motion about it too.  8:30 PM, Old Town School of Folk Music, 4544 N. Lincoln, 773-728-6000, $5 suggested donation. —Monica Kendrick

DIE ANTWOORD It only took about six weeks from the day a post on Boing Boing turned the South African rave-rap outfit Die Antwoord into a massive Internet meme to the day it was announced that the group had inked a deal with Interscope, which says a lot about the Internet's increasing power to make whims into reality (see also: Betty White on SNL) as well as the increasing desperation of the record industry. The group landed a spot at Coachella, but it still remains to be seen whether or not trance-inflected hip-hop from people pretending to be the SA version of white trash (zef) will recoup. But either way I'm sure group mastermind Ninja (aka performance artist Waddy Jones) will consider it a win. 9 PM, Double Door, 1572 N. Milwaukee, 773-489-3160 or 877-435-9849, $20. —Miles Raymer

RED BARAAT See Sunday. DJ Jimmy Singh and DJ Warp open. Red Baraat also plays a free, all-ages Summerdance show on Thursday, July 15, at 7:30 PM in the Spirit of Music Garden at 601 S. Michigan. 8 PM, Martyrs', 3855 N. Lincoln, 773-404-9494 or 800-594-8499, $15.


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