Best shows to see: Bilal, Mavado, Chance the Rapper, Die Kreuzen, and more | Bleader

Best shows to see: Bilal, Mavado, Chance the Rapper, Die Kreuzen, and more



  • Marc Baptiste
  • Bilal
As is my wont, before I regale you with highlights from this week's Soundboard writeups, I'm going to rattle off some other worthwhile shows that nobody managed to cover. Fuck a Thursday, but on Friday you've got your pick of weirdo Australian rockers Blank Realm at the Burlington, charmingly bedraggled Portland garage band the Woolen Men at Permanent Records, and Juicy J of the Three 6 Mafia with A$AP Ferg at Metro.

What's on Saturday? Well, gritty Chicago street-rap duo L.E.P. Bogus Boys perform at Reggie's Rock Club, and charismatic young old-school soul band JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound play a release party at Mayne Stage for their new Bloodshot album, Howl.

On Sunday you could check out the eclectic Co-Prosperity Sphere concert that Gossip Wolf mentioned, with Calvin Johnson of Beat Happening, punk bands Distract and Warrior Tribes, and live electro from Hunter & Josh. Or you could get snazzed up and attend "The (Best) Prom You Never Had" at the Empty Bottle, which features Girl Group Chicago, Bobby Conn & the Pretty Flowers, and the Chances Dances DJs. And if that sounds too wholesome for you, I recommend the Butchershop Quartet at Township, playing their notorious rock-band arrangement of Stravinksy's The Rite of Spring to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the piece's premiere. There probably won't be a riot this time, but you never know.

Actually, I take back that rude thing I said before about Thursday. That's the night of my Chicago Craft Beer Week event at the Lincoln Park Binny's with beer manager Adam Vavrick. We're going to pair beers and songs! It's going to be ridiculous, and you should come.

And now on to the Soundboard picks:

Thu 5/23: Mavado at the Shrine

"For the past few years Mavado has been in the same predicament that’s afflicted so many other dancehall superstars: he's practically a demigod in Jamaica, but barely anyone in the U.S. knows who he is," writes Miles Raymer. "This is despite the fact that his American fan base consists not just of dancehall geeks but also of massive rap stars. Jay-Z and Drake are fans, Snoop and French Montana have both featured him as a guest on songs, and hip-hop kingmaker DJ Khaled has signed him to a record deal."

Fri 5/24: Bilal at House of Blues

"When Philadelphia modern-soul singer Bilal Oliver released his 2001 debut, 1st Born Second, he was poised to be the next big thing out of the Soulquarians collective, which also included D'Angelo, ?uestlove, and J Dilla," writes Peter Margasak. Though it took him a decade, with the new A Love Surreal he's living up to that promise. "The single 'West Side Girl' makes his debt to Prince obvious, but on most of the album Bilal makes it harder to parse his influences by scrambling them together—the small-scale electronic soul of Timmy Thomas; the earthy, tightly coiled R&B of D'Angelo; the late-night humidity of current urban jazz, represented by pianist Robert Glasper, who guests on the album; the idiosyncratic melodies of Stevie Wonder."

Fri 5/24, Sat 5/25, and Sun 5/26: Electric Daisy Carnival at Chicagoland Speedway

The Electric Daisy Carnival, making its first foray into Chicago this year, is the preeminent name-brand festival in stateside EDM culture. True to its reputation as "a mecca for spray-tanned cornballs," writes Miles Raymer, "the bill features a busload of the world's most mainstream-famous superstar DJs, including Tiesto, David Guetta, Avicii, and Kaskade. But lower on the bill the organizers have booked a number of acts that will appeal to the discerning dance-music fan, among them the psychedelically slanted Run DMT, legendary drum 'n' bass DJs Ed Rush & Optical, modern house visionary L-Vis 1990, trap-music phenomenon UZ, Chicago juke godfather DJ Gant-Man, and D.C.-born, LA-based DJ-and-production duo Nadastrom."

Sat 5/25 and Sun 5/26: Chance the Rapper at Metro

"When the last book in the Harry Potter series came out in summer 2007, a friend started habitually pointing out people reading it in public, and it seemed like we couldn't get on a train without seeing one or two," writes Leor Galil. "Over the past few weeks I've been doing the same thing for Acid Rap, the new second mixtape from 20-year-old Chatham MC Chancelor Bennett, aka Chance the Rapper—I've heard it leaking out of strangers' headphones on the streets and on the el so often that I'm beginning to believe that Chance is as ubiquitous as Harry." Both these shows, unshockingly, have sold out.

Sat 5/25: Die Kreuzen at Double Door

"Though long overlooked in music-history books, Milwaukee's Die Kreuzen were a crucial part of the posthardcore puzzle," writes Peter Margasak. "They played with a punk ferocity and velocity—bassist Keith Brammer and drummer Erik Tunison formed a precise, heavy rhythm section—and the combination of Brian Egeness's metallic, serrated guitar and Dan Kubinski's scorched howl seemed to anticipate the tortured, brutal screech of death metal, which was coming around the bend." This is the band's first Chicago show in more than two decades.

Sun 5/26: Stirrup at Hungry Brain

"This scrappy instrumental trio was born in 2009 as the rhythm section of the Horse's Ha, the elegant folk-rock group fronted by Janet Bean and Jim Elkington," writes Peter Margasak. "As Stirrup, though, cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm, bassist Nick Macri, and drummer Charles Rumback have a sound of their own. On their debut album, Sewn, hypnotic, unfussily pretty melodies unfold, roil, and mutate over churning ostinatos and shuffling, shape-shifting beats."