Best shows to see: Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Xenia Rubinos, Kommandant, Andy Stott | Bleader

Best shows to see: Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Xenia Rubinos, Kommandant, Andy Stott


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I guess we just had our biggest snowstorm of the season this week, but spring is in the air (really!) and that means it's time to get out of the house. The forecast calls for toasty highs in the 40s this weekend. Put on your flip-flops. There's no shortage of concerts to pull you off the couch, too. On Thursday Gavin Russom's latest weird disco project Crystal Ark makes its local debut at the Elbo Room, while DJ Jazzy Jeff brings another kind of old-school to the Shrine. On Friday nuanced blues singer Shemekia Copeland plays Space in Evanston, while Implodes and Night Terror play Chicago Underground Film Festival party at the Burlington. On Saturday Fifth House Ensemble makes its debut at the Museum of Contemporary Art with a terrific-looking program and the Hideout presents its annual South by Southwest send-off to raise travel funds for 11 local bands headed to Austin. Last but not least, among Sunday's highlights is the return of Malian kora player Ballake Sissoko and French cellist Vincent Segal to the Old Town School and the great double bill of Deathfix and Brokeback at Schubas. After the jump you can read about four more great shows covered in this week's Soundboard.

Thu 3/7: Unknown Mortal Orchestra at Lincoln Hall
Leor Galil says this Portland combo brings a heavy dose of psychedelia to its second album II. "Overall the album feels like a day at the beach in the Pepperland of Yellow Submarine—the wah-tinged 'Monki' in particular conjures up images of dragon-shaped clouds floating above placid rainbow-striped waves. UMO seem pretty sleepy during parts of II, but the livelier tunes—'So Good at Being in Trouble,' 'One at a Time'—pack enough of a kick to keep you from nodding off when the music chills out."

Sat 3/10: Xenia Rubinos at Multikulti
On her striking debut album, Magic Trix (Ba Da Bing), New York's Xenia Rubinos "plays keyboard, but her parts often register merely as blurs of rhythmic distortion, propelled by the jackhammer beats of drummer Marco Buccelli, who produced the album with her—together their instruments sound like a version of Lightning Bolt that’s aiming for the dance floor instead of a grimy all-ages basement," I write this week. "That similarity ends with the vocals, though: Rubinos’s singing is bubbly and crystal clear, and she likes to play with the tension she can create by embedding nursery-rhyme melodies in a furious postpunk throb."

Sat 3/9: Kommandant at Cobra Lounge
"Tricked out in gas masks and more military-fetish gear than an entire International Mr. Leather weekend, these local extreme-metal provocateurs present an intimidating front—their lead singer even stands behind a dictatorial podium," writes Monica Kendrick. "Kommandant’s fascist-dystopian image and refusal to publish lyrics have fueled a few rounds of the scene’s favorite 'Are They or Aren’t They?' game among blog commenters, but the band themselves say they’re not neo-Nazis—rather they’re representing modern American militarism in its creepiest, most oppressive form, which makes sense to me."

Sun 3/10: Andy Stott at Lincoln Hall
Andy Stott is "dialed in on his new turf, looping and texturing his beats to create stark, organic washes of sound that don’t rely nearly so much on the old thwump-thwump," says Kevin Warwick, noting the Manchester producer's shift from straight-up dance music to something more ambient and experimental. "For last year’s Luxury Problems (Modern Love), he enlisted the help of his former piano teacher, Alison Skidmore, whom he hadn’t seen since he was a teenager, and her hypnotic singing plays an integral part on the album from the get-go. 'Numb' opens with her ghostly vocals gently accumulating in layers with each cycle of the underlying rhythm, while a light drone swells and then cuts out to make way for what sounds like a chunky, slo-mo helicopter rotor. The track’s strange, haunting feel is an apt introduction to an album that also includes the eight-minute 'Expecting,' whose dirgelike rumbling and billows of noise acquire a tempo from faint clinks and clanks, an occasional kick-drum pulse, and what could be a sonar ping being drowned."