Best shows to see: Vic & Gab, Slayer, Eli Keszler, and Barbez

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The arrival of Thanksgiving generally signals the cool-down of the touring season, when the holidays and treacherous weather make hitting the road a less-than-desirable activity for many musicians. So we've got a couple of weeks of action-packed offerings to take in before that happens, and every day brings a load of options. Tonight Chicago expat David McDonnell (Herculaneum) leads a strong local band at Constellation, the always charming, ever astonishing Kelly Hogan makes the trip south from her Wisconsin home for a show with minister of mope Mark Eitzel at the Old Town School, and veteran indie-rock jam band Built to Spill roll into town for a show at Metro. On Friday proto-backpack rapper Aceyalone performs at Reggie's Music Joint, local bluegrass faves Special Consensus break it down at the Old Town School, and main Monkee Mike Nesmith visits City Winery. Saturday's highlights include a set from Nashville dobro master Jerry Douglas at City Winery, slow-jam merchant Jaheim at the Arie Crown, and Fresh & Onlys member Wymond Miles doing it solo style at the Empty Bottle. Quasi-sinister, makeup-loving Chicago punk stars Alkaline Trio headline the Aragon on Sunday, while Minor Alps—a new project of Juliana Hatfield and Nada Surf's Matthew Caws—make their Chicago debut at Schubas. You can read about four more shows from this week's Soundboard after the jump.

Thu 11/14: Vic & Gab at the Hideout
Kevin Warwick says this Milwaukee sister duo has already attracted comparisons to Tegan & Sara, but he says their music lacks the latter's sinister qualities. As he writes this week, "Sisters Victoriah and Hannah Gabriela Banuelos seem comfortable with their preciousness, right down to their cutesy band name, Vic & Gab—they clearly know that their target demographic consists of suckers quick to fall for twee, jangly indie pop and sugary vocal hooks tailor-made for future smart-phone commercials."

Fri 11/15: Slayer at the Aragon
Among the American bands that defined thrash metal back in the 80s, Luca Cimarusti says, Slayer is the only one that hasn't embarrassed itself during its long reign in blood. In fact, the lineup has remained intact for decades. "That is, until this year, when Slayer suffered not only [drummer Dave] Lombardo's second departure but also the tragic death of founding guitarist Jeff Hanneman," writes Cimarusti. "The new lineup features 90s Lombardo replacement Paul Bostaph on drums and longtime Exodus guitarist Gary Holt (who'd been filling in for Hanneman) alongside original members Tom Araya and Kerry King, and on this tour they're playing an 'old-school' set consisting mostly of material from 1990 and earlier."

Sat 11/16: Eli Keszler at Post Family
Eli Keszler is a remarkable percussionist whose precision and agility can make his high-velocity rhythms sound like slowly undulating waves of pure sound. "But his most exciting work involves installations, and he'll present one at this event produced by experimental-music programmer Lampo," I write this week. "It's an adaptation of his piece 'Cold Pin,' which appears in several versions on last year's Catching Net (Pan); he creates it by suspending varied lengths of piano string on the walls, equipped with pickups that amplify the often harsh, ringing sounds produced when motorized beaters strike the strings. The automated installation is harrowing and industrial, its ominous, ricocheting metallic tones reverberating in pulsing thrums and twangs."

Sat 11/16: Barbez at the Hideout
Monica Kendrick praises this polystylistic New York band for its rigor as well as the carefully conceived themes for each new record, including the latest, Bella Ciao (Tzadik), which "is inspired by music from Rome's Jewish community—one of the oldest in the world, existing continuously for more than 2,000 years—and by their partisan resistance to the Axis powers in World War II," she writes. "By turns meditative, angry, elegiac, uplifting, and disorienting, it portrays a society struggling against persecution and dissolution, carrying flags of tradition (music similar to Greek and Spanish Sephardic songs) to help it stay rooted in a world turned vertiginous and deadly."

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