The atmosphere of doom and gloom hanging over the music business isn't specific to pop—over the past couple years the classical-music world has contributed its fair share of the-end-is-nigh stories too. Since they're the only stories about classical music that most people hear, it's easy to think of the entire classical world as teetering on the edge of extinction. So it's a relief to read Peter Margasak's feature this week on the International Contemporary Ensemble, a Chicago-born collective that has grown exponentially in its short lifespan, in the process earning high praise from the likes of New Yorker critic Alex Ross and composer John Adams.
Elsewhere in the Reader's B Side I profile local hip-hop producer Zavala, best known as half of Dark Time Sunshine; he just released an instrumental album that's one of the most pleasant hip-hop-related experiences I've had in a minute. This week's Artist on Artist matches up local rapper and producer (and former Sharp Darts subject) Emanuel Vinson and the queen of New Orleans bounce music, Big Freedia. Three Beats brings news of a metal show to fight brain cancer, the Abbey's cable-funded makeover, and a "garage sale" at Experimental Sound Studio offering hand-held optical theremins and other electronic curiosities. Gossip Wolf's got what's up with Cacaw, Telefon Tel Aviv's Josh Eustis, and garage-metal newcomers Alma Negra. The Secret History of Chicago Music fills us in on the life of Betty Everett, including the parts of the story that don't have anything to do with her classic "The Shoop Shoop Song (It's in His Kiss)." Nightlife shares some sassy snaps from a recent trip back to the 90s at Beauty Bar. Soundboard recommends performances by A Place to Bury Strangers, Wildbirds & Peacedrums, Raphael Saadiq, Earth, David Bazan, and more. And as a cherry on top, how about a handy guide to this weekend's Do-Division Street Fest? Perfect.