Best shows to see: Robbie Fulks, Omer Avital, Gel Set | Bleader

Best shows to see: Robbie Fulks, Omer Avital, Gel Set

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Omer Avital
  • Omer Avital
There is a good chance that, music-wise, your week has already been made by the news that famous teenager Justin Bieber smoked pot over the weekend. Or by the fact that he was narced out by a no-name rapper called Lil Twist, who is considered in some corners of Belieberdom to be a bad influence. Or by the tweets from Beliebers whose lives were ruined by the pot news, just like he ruins their lives every time he does anything that you would expect an obscenely rich, world-famous teenager to do with his time. But contrary to what you may be feeling, music has much more to offer than just this one story. There are still records being made and concerts being played. After the jump we offer tips on three of the better shows happening over the next couple of days.

Mon 1/7: Robbie Fulks at the Hideout

Robbie Fulks was a fixture of the Chicago music scene long before he started up a monthly residency at the Hideout—it's become one of the most consistently rewarding standing dates in the city, as well as one of its most stylistically adventurous. "In three years he hasn’t played any song more than once," notes avowed Fulksamaniac Peter Margasak. "It’d hardly be practical to list all the different themes and tribute sets he’s brought to the Hideout stage—he might play the songs of Liz Phair one week and bad 80s music the next, and he’s been joined by guests including alt-country progenitor Jason Ringenberger, jazz violinist Jenny Scheinman, and singer Kelly Hogan—but he never fucks around, except when he’s deliberately fucking around." For tonight's program he'll be interpreting the music of tragic orchestral pop icon Harry Nilsson.

Wed 1/9: Omer Avital & His Band of the East

Speaking of residencies, last year's Suite of the East by Omer Avital & His Band of the East was an outgrowth of the quintet's short stint at the New York jazz club Smalls. According to Margasak, the group, which draws on music from the Middle East and north Africa, "had clearly internalized the music during that residency, and they bring a plangent eloquence and easy rapport to the seven pieces, which alternate between delicate, soulful ballads and soaring, high-energy anthems and whose thick ensemble arrangements ratchet up the intensity with every chorus."

Wed 1/9: Gel Set at Empty Bottle

Laura Callier is a performance artist, a musician, and one of the coolest people I know in Chicago. On her latest release under her Gel Set moniker, the cassette-only Microsoftcore XXXCell, Leor Galil says, "she takes sparse percussion samples—hand claps, fast and light motorik beats—resounding and gloomy synths, and whispered multitracked vocals and turns it into in a hypnotic pattern that becomes more intoxicating as she subtly toys with the song’s levels." She plays as part of a night of experimental pop music headlined by Magic Key, the new band fronted by Aleks Tomaszewska, formerly of Aleks and the Drummer.

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