Best shows to see: the Chicago Blues Festival, the Stranglers, !!!, Bombino

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The Stranglers
  • The Stranglers
Soundboard has as many concert recommendations as ever over the next few days, but the music that matters most to Chicago this weekend is the blues. This is a time to wallow, to sing raggedly about love lost, to slide on a guitar because there's nothing else. The Chicago Blues Festival kicks off this evening at Pritzker Pavillion in Millennium Park with a show headlined by Shemekia Copeland (joined by teenage Buddy Guy collaborator Quinn Sullivan). On Friday, the festival moves to its usual home in Grant Park, where it runs through Sunday. Five stages host music all day and blues and soul legends headline at night, including Irma Thomas, Bobby Rush, and Otis Clay.

Also this weekend, Chicago Ribfest hosts two stages of live music (one sponsored by the Reader). The Features and Mucca Pazza headline Friday, California Wives and Jason Isbell headline Saturday, and We Were Promised Jetpacks and Bobby Bare Jr. close out Sunday.

Elsewhere, the first signee to new Chicago hip-hop label Closed Sessions, Alex Wiley, plays at Lincoln Hall tonight. American Nightmare headlines at Metro.

Friday, Reggie's hosts a blues fest of its own, the Chicago Women in Blues Festival. Featuring more than a dozen female blues singers, it will honor Koko Taylor's charity work.

Darren Criss plays House of Blues on Saturday, prompting me to learn via Google that Glee is still on TV. Also, Chicago free-jazz bassist Joshua Abrams leads a quartet at Constellation. On Sunday, handlebar shunners Flobots play at Mayne Stage. Oscar winner Glen Hansard plays at Metro.

More Soundboard picks after the jump:

Thu 6/6: Peace at Schubas

Peace, a young group from Worcester that the British music press can't stop talking about, is the type of band that "would put a ten-minute song based on a histrionically psychedelic extended guitar solo as track number two on their breakout release, last year's EP Delicious—a fantastically crazy idea, especially these days," writes Miles Raymer. "Their recent full-length, In Love, combines snappy songwriting with the druggy weirdness of Clinic and the shambolically hedonistic, beat-dense sound of the shaggy bands who sprang up in the footsteps of the Happy Mondays a couple decades ago."

Fri 6/7 and Sat 6/8: Stranglers at Cobra Lounge

"The Stranglers belong in the tiny and diminishing elite of great first-wave UK punk bands to neither burn out nor fade away," writes Monica Kendrick. "Jean-Jacques Burnel's lyrics have a bluesy, fatalistic quality, but no matter how bleak or jaded the music's surface, the burble of Dave Greenfield's keyboards suggests blood and adrenaline racing beneath it." These guys have been doing this since the mid-70s, so don't count on them touring again anytime soon.

Sat 6/8: !!! at Bottom Lounge

The early !!! single "Me and Giuliani Down by the School Yard (A True Story)" aimed to "re-create the sound and (more crucially) the feel of house music using a large live band—its nine-minute meltdown of percolating percussion and hypnotic guitar drone was inescapable at dance parties at the time," writes Miles Raymer. "Since then the group has lost some of its single-minded focus on the dance floor and evolved into something like an experimental pop band that also happens to be deeply funky. The result is a heady, kaleidoscopic collage of house, disco, funk, and pop that recalls the likes of Todd Rungren and the Talking Heads."

Sun 6/9: Bombino at Martyrs'

"Nigerien singer and guitarist Omara 'Bombino' Moctar has hardly been reluctant to tailor his music to Western audiences, but his latest album, Nomad (Nonesuch), proves that not even working with a recognizable producer can make his music any less recognizable," writes Peter Margasak. "Nomad was produced in Nashville by Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys, who gave it a blown-out, organ-stoked sound without encroaching on Bombino's parched, nasal singing and stabbing, clipped guitar leads."

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