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Show: The Vaselines reunion started quietly in 2008—almost two decades after the band broke up—and went full-time last year, when Sub Pop gave the deluxe treatment to their scant complete recordings on Enter the Vaselines. Eugene Kelly and Frances McKee sing much better on the new Sex With an X than they did on their 80s recordings, but by and large their simple, succinct, and dangerously catchy indie pop doesn’t sound too different.
Dinner: Red Rooster Wine Bar and Cafe Cozy, romantic French sibling to neighboring Cafe Bernard, more casual and affordable.
2100 N. Halsted St., 773-929-7660, cafebernard.com
Show: Planes Mistaken for Stars "The late-90s output of Planes Mistaken for Stars might fairly have been called 'emo,' but with their second album, 2001’s grungy, unflinching Fuck With Fire, this Denver-by-way-of-Peoria outfit shook off that epithet for good," writes Kevin Warwick. "Sinister, gravelly, and coated in sheets of sonic raunch, Fuck With Fire is planted firmly in the burgeoning early-aughts posthardcore scene, with one foot in the anthemic beard-rock of Hot Water Music, Small Brown Bike, and Against Me! and the other in the blistering metalcore of Converge and Botch." PMFS has reunited to play the Fest 9 in Florida, and this Chicago show is their only other date so far.
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.
1904 W. North Ave., 773-904-8113, lokalchicago.com
Show: Dawn of Midi "didn't record their remarkable debut, First (Accretions), until three years after they started playing together, and it shows. Indian bassist Aakaash Israni, Pakistani percussionist Qasim Naqvi, and Moroccan pianist Amino Belyamani were all students at CalArts when they formed the group in 2007, and they would meet in a windowless practice room late at night and play in pitch darkness—a habit that sharpened their ears and fostered their collective approach. Lots of musicians freely improvise these days, but it's rare to find a group with such a strong ensemble identity—though protean in form and lacking a clear leader, Dawn of Midi is elegant, slithering, and melancholy in sound," writes Peter Margasak.
Dinner: Mirabell Authentic northwest-side German restaurant with classic Bavarian specialties and an indoor beer garden.
3454 W. Addison St., 773-463-1962, mirabellrestaurant.com
Show: Yasuko Yokoshi Choreographer Yasuko Yokoshi, who takes us on a time-warping, culture-leaping trip in Tyler Tyler, comes by her warping and leaping honestly. Born in Hiroshima, she's lived in New York City since 1981, but she returned to Japan in 2003 to study with Masumi Seyama, the anointed heir to the Kabuki Su-odori ("naked dance") tradition, which strips away Kabuki's elaborate stagecraft, makeup, and gestures.
Dinner: Oysy The menu at Oysy (pronounced oh-EE-she and meaning "delicious") is distinctly value conscious, with most nigiri priced under $6 for two pieces and most maki under $7. Ten grilled dishes come in at $10 and under, among them toro steak with ponzu sauce and spicy radish, Chilean sea bass in garlic-black bean sauce, teriyaki eel, and octopus with miso sauce.
888 S. Michigan Ave., 312-922-1127, oysysushi.com
Show: City Lights, which wanders between episodes involving Charlie's love for a blind flower girl and his friendship with a drunken millionaire who doesn't know him when he's sober, is a beautiful example of Chaplin's ability to turn narrative fragments into emotional wholes. The two halves of the film are sentiment and slapstick. They are not blended but woven into a pattern as eccentric as it is sublime.
Dinner: TAC Quick Andy Aroonrasameruang, formerly of Banana Leaf, and his likable staff probably make it easier than anywhere else to get traditional stuff the way it's eaten in Thailand.
3930 N. Sheridan Rd., 773-327-5253
Show: Lee Sandlin Reader contributor Sandlin presents Wicked River: The Mississippi When It Last Ran Wild.
Dinner: Cafe Selmarie Nestled in a plaza off Lincoln Square, this cozy bakery has grown into a small gem of a contemporary American restaurant that’s popular for its weekend breakfasts and pleasant, uncomplicated dinner specials.
4729 N. Lincoln Ave., 773-989-5595, cafeselmarie.com