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Check out the legendary ICP Orchestra downtown; find some funny in Andersonville; enjoy the Oscar-nominated True Grit in Lakeview.
Show: ICP Orchestra “Amsterdam's brilliant ICP Orchestra, founded in 1967 by pianist Misha Mengelberg and drummer Han Bennink, turns in an unexpectedly straight reading of the Thelonious Monk standard 'Round Midnight' on its most recent album, the vinyl-only !ICP! 50 (released on the band's own label, it's named after its catalog number),” writes Peter Margasak. “But even though nobody upends the performance with a burst of characteristic prankishness, it's playful and surprising in other, more subtle ways: the gorgeous arrangement calls on the members of the ten-piece group to juggle its melody among themselves, and they're constantly changing roles. The ICP Orchestra is well into its fifth decade, and by now its shenanigans are familiar—such is its predilection for self-sabotage that someone in the band often drops a new tune into the middle of a song everybody else is already playing—but those old tactics can still produce fresh and original music. !ICP! 50 and its CD-only predecessor, ICP 0rchestra (both from last year), make it clear that the group hasn't lost an ounce of potency.… This is the group's first trip to town since its appearance at the Chicago Jazz Festival in 2008.” Due to fatigue Mengelberg has returned to Amsterdam and will not join the group.
6:30 PM, Chicago Cultural Center, Claudia Cassidy Theater, 78 E. Washington St., 312-744-6630, chicagoculturalcenter.org, free
Dinner: The Gage Across the street from Millennium Park, the Gage draws swarms of tourists and suits alike, and the restored ceiling and decorative tile only amplify the din. But if you can tolerate the noise, you'll find some superb dishes. The one-page menu has surprising breadth without seeming scattershot: there are half a dozen steaks and burgers alongside more unusual offerings like roast saddle of elk and caramelized lobster with lemon quinoa. The extensive drinks list features specialty and vintage cocktails like the Champagne Charlie (champagne and Grand Marnier with a sugar cube soaked in blood orange bitters).
24 S. Michigan Ave. 312-372-4243, thegagechicago.com
Show: That’s Weird, Grandma “Count on Barrel of Monkeys to be clever, funny, and energetic,” advises Jen Goddu. “Its actors reimagine and joyously present often bizarre, always hilarious stories from young Chicago Public Schools students' simple tales about birthday parties, sibling rivalries, and dance contests—and more whimsical ones about adventures in space, on motorcycles, and with dolphins.”
8 PM, Neo-Futurarium, 5153 N. Ashland Ave., 773-275-5255, $5-$10
Dinner: Hama Matsu The food is uncomplicated: along with familiar Japanese dishes like sashimi, nigiri, maki, and teriyaki and Korean specialties like pajun (a seafood or vegetable pancake), bulgogi (thinly sliced marinated beef), and kalbi (marinated short ribs), the menu features katsu (fried cutlets of beef, pork, chicken, or fish in a mild sauce) and chirashi (rice bowls with raw fish, chopped vegetables, or beef, topped with an egg). Bring your own drinks for now, or try the complimentary cinnamon tea.
5143 N. Clark St., 773-506-2978, hamamatsuchicago.com
Show: True Grit “Charles Portis's wonderful comic novel True Grit (1968) had the combined fortune and misfortune of being instantly made into a John Wayne western, which won the star his first Oscar and ultimately eclipsed the book,” writes J.R. Jones. “This remake by Joel and Ethan Coen is being positioned as a truer True Grit, and though they take their own liberties with the plot and tone, they preserve Portis's impeccably authentic dialogue, which does more to conjure up the Arkansas of the 1870s than any period trappings. They've also returned the focus to Portis's poker-faced narrator, a prim, judgmental 14-year-old girl (newcomer Hailee Steinfeld) who hires the drunken, one-eyed U.S. marshal Rooster Cogburn to track down her father's killer. Jeff Bridges manages to wrest Cogburn away from Wayne, who made the character a repository for his own screen legend, and Matt Damon is funny as Cogburn's disgruntled trail partner, a self-glorifying Texas Ranger.” With Josh Brolin and Barry Pepper.
8 PM, the Vic, 3145 N. Sheffield Ave., 773-472-0449
Dinner: Sheffield’s Ric Hess, the late owner of this Wrigleyville tavern, spent months perfecting three house-made sauces (Memphis, Texas, and North Carolina style) for the barbecue turned out by his wood-burning Southern Pride smokers. For reasons I will never understand, there aren’t many places where you can get a decent pulled pork sandwich in Chicago, but the one here is pretty respectable, served with properly tangy coleslaw and a tasty and properly vinegary mustard-based sauce. Sides including red-skin potato salad, corn bread, and collards with bacon showed the care being taken in the kitchen. There are tons of craft brews on tap and by the bottle, and the staff is chipper and superfriendly. Outside there’s seating in a leafy walled courtyard.
3258 N. Sheffield Ave., 773-281-4989, sheffieldschicago.com