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Show: Big Freedia "For more than two decades now New Orleans has had its own indigenous strain of stripped-down, partycentric hip-hop, loosely analogous to Baltimore club or Miami bass. Bounce, like those styles, is simple, bass-driven, and relentless; it relies heavily on a tiny handful of songs for its samples and breakbeats, and the rapping is usually more call-and-response than narrative," writes Peter Margasak. "But 12 years ago bounce headed down a path of its own when a drag queen named Katey Red took the mike at an underground club, unwittingly launching a phenomenon that's become the face of the genre to the rest of the country. In sissy bounce, as it's usually called (the artists don't tend to use the term or consider their music a separate subgenre), openly gay and transgendered MCs hold court in front of all kinds of crowds without facing the kind of homophobia that's so widely tolerated in hip-hop. Big Freedia (pronounced "Freeda"), one of the biggest stars of the style, is six foot two, gay, and identifies as female despite looking, sounding, and dressing like a man (albeit a rather fabulous one with a shock of colorfully dyed hair)." This show is the official Margaret Cho afterparty and part of the Decibelle Music & Culture Festival. From 5 till 6 PM Black Noise Productions (500 W. Cermak, suite 405) will host a dance workshop taught by one of Big Freedia's dancers, Miss Altercation; admission is a $5-$20 suggested donation.
Dinner: Lokal "At this slick Wicker Park restaurant and lounge, the menu features potato pierogi, golabki, borscht, kielbasa, and a few items you probably wouldn't recognize if you didn't grow up with a babcia cooking for you. It just happens to be radically different Polish food from the heavy, homey—but let's face it, bland—traditional stuff," writes Mike Sula.
1904 W. North Ave., 773-904-8113, lokalchicago.com
Show: Baseball Furies "The Baseball Furies moved to Chicago from Buffalo in 2001—right as Chicago's garage-punk scene was reaching its high-water mark—and broke up in 2005. Along with bands like Milwaukee's Mistreaters and Detroit's Clone Defects, the Furies put the claws and fangs back into a kind of punk rock that had, by the end of the 90s, become a self-satisfied secret club of wallet-chained bores. Live, the Baseball Furies were a consistently fantastic collision of fiery intent and anti-bullshit directness. They never stopped to tell you what the next song was about or that they had merch for sale; they came onstage teetering on the line between sober and drunk and played each napalm-scorch of a song like it was their last," writes Brian Costello. "Since the breakup the members of the Baseball Furies have played in bands too numerous to name here (and bassist Jim McCann is now partner and bar manager at Longman & Eagle), but tonight's one-off reunion show is a fine opportunity to see where it all got started."
Dinner: The Handlebar The food is cheap and vegetarian friendly: most entrees are under $10, and the only meat option is fish. The chefs don’t do anything flashy, but they do a little bit of everything and do it well—the samosas with tamarind chutney, for example, are on par with any you’d find on Devon.
2311 W. North Ave., 773-384-9546, handlebarchicago.com
Show: Jon Mueller and Olivia Block Milwaukee percussionist and composer Jon Mueller performs in support of The Whole, which "takes folk music as its point of departure—namely simple hammer-dulcimer patterns that open and close the recording and elsewhere create a kind of shimmering whirr among snare-drum rolls, high-speed tom patterns, and looped vocal chants," writes Peter Margasak. He's joined by Chicago sound artist Olivia Block, who contributed a 31-minute remix to the album. Rather than re-create that remix today, she'll present a piece using different recordings she's made of Mueller, which she says will be "staggered, or slightly altered in some way" and mixed with the manipulated output of a prepared Autoharp.
Dinner: The Brown Sack It’s a long way from Malaika Marion’s first Chicago job at Planet Hollywood to her “soup, sandwich, and shake shack" on the western fringe of Logan Square. Most recently a manager at Lula Cafe, Marion’s lived in the neighborhood for years and when she saw the teeny Armitage storefront she knew the time was right to break out on her own. With help from her partner, Adam Lebin—formerly the GM at Red Light—she’s turned the space into a sunny, six-table destination for hearty down-home standards like a gooey grilled peanut butter, banana, and honey sandwich and beefarific chili laced with head-clearing handfuls of cumin and chile (a vegan version is also available).
3581 W. Belden Ave., 773-661-0675, thebrownsack.com
Show: Tristan Perich Lately New York electronic-music composer Tristan Perich has been challenging himself to work with ultralimited means, and his latest piece, 1-Bit Symphony (Cantaloupe), uses only simple waveforms controlled by a single bit—their only possible states are "on" and "off." Though it comes in a standard CD jewel box, there's no disc; instead the box contains a battery, a switch, a fast-forward button, a volume knob, a headphone jack, and a microchip that generates the music each time the device is turned on. For this show he will "perform" 1-Bit Symphony (basically, he'll hook the box up to a sound system and turn it on) and accompany it with live video synthesis—on a bank of five cathode ray tubes, one of which will be projected on a large screen, he'll create low-resolution black-and-white images by feeding the tubes' electron guns one-bit streams of control data. The concert is free, but space is limited; RSVP to email@example.com.
Dinner: Mizu Yakitori & Sushi Lounge Yakitori are a popular Japanese drinking food: skewered and grilled bits of meat, usually chicken. Old Town's Mizu Yakitori & Sushi Lounge takes the concept further, offering vegetable, beef, and seafood skewers as well. Master chef Seijiro Matsumoto, formerly of the kaiseki restaurant Matsumoto, is on board, offering specials like paper-thin sliced hirame plated to look like a flower, and jellyfish salad with an ume miso sauce in addition to artful sushi.
315 W. North Ave., 312-951-8880, mizurestaurant.com
Show: Margaret Cho Though she washed out on Dancing With the Stars this season, Margaret Cho looks to be in top form as a comedian. Her debut album, Cho Dependent—a collection of comic songs featuring indie rock stars from Tegan & Sara to Andrew Bird—came out in August; in addition to the songs (performed solo to a backing track), Cho's live show includes her signature, controversial stand-up.
Dinner: Xoco Anyone putting off a visit to Xoco because of the daunting lines that have become an unintentionally ironic hallmark of Rick Bayless’s "quick-serve" Mexican street-food joint should know that the Chef Who Can Do No Wrong provides plenty to think about during the wait: the chalkboard menu lists a half dozen caldos and nine or ten tortas (from the wood-fired oven or the griddle), all made with bounty from the local boutique farms Bayless has championed throughout his ascent as well as his own considerable tillage.
449 N. Clark St., 312-334-3688, rickbayless.com/restaurants/xoco.html
Show: Luna Negra Dance Theater Luna Negra's new artistic director, Spanish choreographer Gustavo Ramírez Sansano, cuts loose in the world premiere duet he's created for his first season with the company.
Dinner: Henri The "energetically American, French-influenced" Henri is more than an elegant follow-up to its boisterous neighboring sibling, the Gage. It's a smart kick in the dangling prairie oysters of gastropubbery: chandeliers, Laguiole knives, velvet walls (with faux gator skin in the bathroom), salt and pepper shakers, ballotines, bouillabaisse, and escargots de Bourgogne? "If the food and drink at a place like this were to suck, we'd call it the whole thing antiquated, inauthentic, or even cynical. I'm going to call it neoclassical—and a pretty fun place to eat," writes Mike Sula.
18 S. Michigan Ave., 312-578-0763, henrichicago.com