Our 11 picks for concerts
- Lucki Eck$
Fake Shore Drive showcase with Mannie Fresh, Lucki Ecks, ZMoney, and Giftz
Andrew Barber founded Fake Shore Drive in 2007 to throw some shine on Chicago rappers who weren't named Lupe, Common, or Kanye, and today hip-hop heads from around the world turn to the blog to learn which talented MCs and producers are lighting fires in the shit-hot Chicago scene. This year FSD partnered with Red Bull to launch a concert series called Sound Select, which pairs the site's favorite local acts with national names—the most recent show featured members of Save Money and Maybach Music Group loose cannon Gunplay. The third installment includes an impressive lineup of Chicagoans—silver-tongued gangsta rapper Giftz, fresh off his Position of Power mixtape; ZMoney, a west-side street MC who dropped two mixtapes in June, Heroin Musik and Rich B4 Rap, and raps like he's zonked out of his gourd; and 17-year-old phenom Lucki Ecks, who released the smart, elegiac Alternative Trap in July and makes his live debut here. Headliner Mannie Fresh, a New Orleans rapper-producer with a healthy twang, is perhaps best known as Bryan "Baby" Williams's partner in the Big Tymers (whose "Still Fly" is as great as you remember); he'll split his time between rapping and DJing at this rare Chicago appearance. —Leor Galil
Thu 9/19, 9 PM, Reggie's Rock Club, $5. 17+
- Todd Rosenberg Photography/Sun-Times Media
Riccardo Muti conducts the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus in Verdi's Macbeth
Giuseppe Verdi isn't around to celebrate his 200th birthday this fall, but that won't stop us. Lyric Opera opens its season with Otello on Sat 10/5 (with seven more performances through Sat 11/2), Chicago Opera Theater performs Joan of Arc at the Harris Theater (four shows between Sat 9/21 and Sun 9/29), and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, under the baton of Riccardo Muti, has put together a Verdi festival that includes a Thu 10/10 performance of the Requiem (coinciding with the composer's actual birthday) that will be simulcast on the fancy new LED screen in Millennium Park. But the event that sounds most intriguing to me happens a little earlier: the CSO and chorus in a concert version of the early Verdi opera Macbeth. In Chicago, we don't often get to hear Muti conducting opera, though he's a Verdi master and presided over La Scala for nearly two decades. He did this one two years ago in Salzburg and Rome with one of the same lead singers he's bringing here, soprano Tatiana Serjan—she's the evil Lady Macbeth, the character Verdi put at the center of the work, specifying that she should be ugly and have a grating voice. Baritone Luca Salsi will sing the title role. —Deanna Isaacs
Sat 9/28, Tue 10/1, and Fri 10/4, 7 PM; Sun 10/6, 3 PM, Symphony Center, $34-$278.
- Timothy Saccenti
All year long Drake has been teasing the late-September release of Nothing Was the Same (Young Money/Cash Money) with songs, videos, and trailers, but throughout that campaign he's kept most information about his third album under wraps—any detail he's revealed has sent the rap Internet into a tizzy (see the response to the album art). The music says a lot all by itself, though: with his alpha-dog swagger and charged rapping on the sumptuous boom-bap cut "5 AM in Toronto," Drake pushes himself beyond the comfortable confines of Take Care's lush rap-R&B. On "Hold On, We're Going Home" he all but abandons the "rap" part of his sound—instead of sticking to his usual style, which falls somewhere between rapping and singing, he concentrates on his love-balladeer moves, cooing over stark 80s dance-pop beats and washes of warm synths that float upward like the sun rising over a secluded beach. On that track Drake sounds a bit like his touring partner Miguel, or at least like the retro-leaning numbers on the charismatic R&B sensation's slinky and rapturous 2012 album, Kaleidoscope Dream (RCA). With these two guys playing a concert together, I wouldn't be surprised if area hospitals notice a spike in births nine months later. —Leor Galil
Wed 10/9, 7 PM, United Center, $59.75-$109.75. Update: This show has been rescheduled for Thu 12/12.
- Courtesy Windish Agency
For decades the fan base of Italian prog-rock band Goblin consisted almost exclusively of horror-movie aficionados, thanks to the series of distinctly creepy experimental scores they composed in the 70s and 80s for Dario Argento's stunning and cultishly revered films Suspiria, Tenebrae, and Profondo Rosso. In recent years, though, Goblin have been discovered by a broader audience attracted not by their giallo credentials but by their pioneering approach to synthesizers, which downplayed melody in favor of alien-sounding electronics layered to create intimidatingly dark and anxiety-producing textures; artists such as Raekwon, M.O.P., Neon Indian, and Justice (who are among the band's most passionate evangelists) have sampled the group's soundtracks, which have heavily influenced genres as disparate as synth-pop and drone metal. This belated recognition has inspired Goblin's original lineup to reunite sporadically over the past few years, and now they're making their first-ever North American tour. If you can get your hands on tickets, do it—who knows if it'll take them another 40 years to come back? —Miles Raymer
Secret Chiefs 3 open. Sun 10/13, 9 PM, Metro, $29, $26 in advance, $75 VIP. 18+
- Courtesy Hawkwind
I've never seen British space-rock pioneers Hawkwind live, and odds are you haven't either—though they've warped in and out of activity for more than 40 years, it's been more than two decades since they've bothered to beam themselves over to North America. This tour comes during what seems to be an excellent observation window, though—at the moment Hawkwind has a relatively steady lineup that includes leader and cofounder Dave Brock, ably assisted by Tim Blake of Gong fame (who joined in 1979) and some fresh faces, at least one of whom is younger than the band. Their latest releases, 2010's Blood of the Earth and last year's Onward (as well as Stellar Variations, the 2012 debut of a scaled-back incarnation called the Hawkwind Light Orchestra), demonstrate a powerful vitality that seems to feed off itself, but for this tour they're presenting the 1975 masterpiece Warrior on the Edge of Time. A high-fantasy concept album inspired and cowritten by science-fiction/fantasy curmudgeon Michael Moorcock (a longtime fellow traveler of Hawkwind's), it tells the story of an incarnation of Moorcock's Eternal Champion, Elric of Melniboné being the most famous. It's also notable as the last album the band made with bassist Lemmy Kilmister—in a masterstroke of foreshadowing, he wrote "Motorhead" during the run-up to the sessions, and it appeared as a B side on the "Kings of Speed" single and as a bonus track on the Warrior CD reissue. —Monica Kendrick
Wed 10/16, 8:30 PM, Logan Square Auditorium, $25. 17+. Update: This show has been rescheduled for Fri 3/7.
- Jean Michel
After a mid-80s stint as the guitarist in an early version of Napalm Death, Birmingham native Justin K. Broadrick—currently most active with drone-metal shoegaze project Jesu—partnered with bassist G.C. Green to form Godflesh. In 1989 the duo's debut LP, Streetcleaner, helped lay the groundwork for industrial metal as we know it, with piercingly shrill guitar and metallic, thunderous bass backed by a monstrous drum machine that sounded like a refugee from a factory floor—robotic, cold, dangerous, and scary. As time went on, Godflesh added a second guitarist, a synth player, and a live drummer, which made the band sound far more human and organic—a quality most apparent on their final LP, 2001's Hymns, which undoubtedly influenced the imminent explosion of groove-forward postmetal (Isis, Cave-In, Russian Circles, Pelican). But the reunited Godflesh that's been playing intermittently over the past few years—and that's making a North American tour this fall that includes its first Chicago date in more than 15 years—is the original, machine-powered lineup of Broadrick and Green. They're also working on a new record, A World Lit Only by Fire, though no release date has been set. —Luca Cimarusti
Prurient opens. Tue 10/22, 9 PM, Metro, $23, $21 in advance. 18+. Update: This show has been rescheduled for Tue 4/15.
- The Impossible Project
Zola Jesus, J.G. Thirlwell
According to its Twitter account, Land and Sea Dept. is "a concept and project development studio cohesively and creatively working across disciplines." Whatever that means, this Chicago organization is responsible for putting on last summer's Bill Callahan show at Garfield Park Conservatory, an ingenious choice of venue for the singer-songwriter's wry, autumnal musings (Land and Sea will try to one-up that coup with another Callahan show this fall, this time at the ostentatious Alhambra Palace). The next concert the group is hosting at the conservatory took place previously at the Guggenheim Museum in New York: LA singer Nika Roza Danilova (aka Zola Jesus) with vocalist and composer J.G. Thirlwell (aka Foetus, Manorexia, Steroid Maximus, and many more). Danilova's songs are treated to Thirwell's arrangements for string quartet, and her clean, soaring vocals blend harmoniously with the relatively restrained strings—the results appear on the gorgeous collaborative album Versions (Sacred Bones), released in August. Some of the Guggenheim performance is available on YouTube, but compared to the stuffy, cylindrical setting of the museum, the lush surroundings of the conservatory should create a soothing fairy-tale vibe. —Tal Rosenberg
Thu 10/24, 7 PM, Garfield Park Conservatory, 300 N. Central Park, $25.
- Yuko Zama
Olivia Block with members of the Chicago Composers Orchestra
Olivia Block's work with sound resists easy categorization. In concert she might perform a live mix of electronic and environmental sounds, or dive into the innards of a piano to coax rich resonances from the strings; on Resolution (Erstwhile), her recent duo CD with Greg Kelley, she shapes the sounds of breaking glass and what might be toppling packing cases into elegant frameworks for her partner's rasping trumpet textures. But Block identifies as a composer, and what composer doesn't yearn to hear her music played by an orchestra? She devotes one side of the forthcoming LP Karren (Sedimental) to an exploration of the things such ensembles don't want you to hear—warm-up exercises, chairs being moved, indistinct conversations—and the other to a performance by the Chicago Composers Orchestra of Opening Night, which layers sumptuous string and woodwind passages with slowed-down applause. It would be difficult if not impossible to re-create this material live, so for this record-release performance, Block and the CCO will realize new pieces composed using similar methods and ideas. Expect something you've never heard before and never will again. —Bill Meyer
Sun 10/27, 8:30 PM, Constellation, $10.
- Courtesy Republic Media
Twenty-two albums in, brothers Ron and Russell Mael remain pop visionaries, loyal to a synth-streaked glam theater that has evolved with the times during their 40-plus years as Sparks but has yet to waver from its youthful whimsy. The Los Angeles duo's most recent studio release, 2009's The Seduction of Ingmar Bergman, is a pop musical that imagines the Swedish director visiting Hollywood in the 50s—and considering that the brothers are both in their 60s, I'm surprised they haven't written a dozen pop operas like this already. The Maels have never lacked for ambition, and their artsy, flamboyant oddness took a while to make a dent in the States—even the over-the-top MTV of the 80s seemed ill-equipped to embrace a band with an eccentric shoulda-been radio single about Mickey Mouse. Their breakout moment happened primarily in Europe: the perfect Kimono My House (1974) is a timeless work of pop art, as keen on showmanship as it is on carnivalesque, cartoonish hooks. Almost 30 years later, the Maels are still tinkering with their approach. This pair of shows is part of the "Two Hands, One Mouth" tour, for which the brothers perform sans backing band—just Ron and Russell on keyboard and vocals, acting out their yin and yang, with Russell the glitzy front man and Ron the severe, straitlaced puppet master. —Kevin Warwick
Wed 11/6 and Thu 11/7, 8 PM, Lincoln Hall, $30, 11/6 show 18+, 11/7 show 21+.
- Axel Dörner
Umbrella Music Festival
This five-day event is a perennial Fall Arts pick for me, the high point of a year of great jazz and improvised music presented by Umbrella Music via its weekly series at Hungry Brain, Hideout, and Elastic. For the event's eighth installment, the first two nights are once again a mini fest called European Jazz Meets Chicago, held at the Cultural Center; Italy has withdrawn, dropping the number of foreign nations participating to eight, but on the plus side several countries have sent entire bands (the usual pattern has been for a single overseas musician to assemble a local backing group). Magnificent Dutch cornetist Eric Boeren appears with a stellar quartet featuring reedist Michael Moore, bassist Wilbert de Joode, and legendary drummer Han Bennink; excellent Polish trio Shofar, led by saxophonist Mikolaj Trzaska, plays its interpretations of Jewish music; and Swedish group Seval, which consists of singer Sofia Jernberg, guitarist David Stackenas, trumpeter Emil Strandberg, bassist Patric Thorman, and Chicago cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm, makes its U.S. debut. This year the final three nights of the festival move to Constellation, the new venue owned by Umbrella principal Mike Reed. Among the highlights on those bills are the excellent trio Tarbaby (pianist Orrin Evans, bassist Eric Revis, and drummer Nasheet Waits) and the trio of bassist Mark Dresser, cornetist Bobby Bradford, and trombonist Roswell Rudd. —Peter Margasak
Wed 11/6 and Thu 11/7 at Chicago Cultural Center, F. Fri 11/8 through Sun 11/10 at Constellation, $15 suggested donation.
- Artur Ratton
Over the past few years Eli Keszler has emerged as one of the most exciting percussionists in new music, recognized both for his raucous improvising and for his meticulously violent sound installations, some of which he documented on last year's turbulent double CD, Catching Net (Pan). Born in Brookline, Massachusetts, Keszler got his start playing hardcore, but he eventually became interested in free improvisation and composition—in the mid-aughts he studied under pianists Ran Blake and Anthony Coleman at the New England Conservatory. His spazzy-sounding but carefully considered drumming inspired Keith Fullerton Whitman to design a computer program that would simulate it (for the 2012 album Occlusions), and his noisy installations will give you a shock if you're expecting something artsy and sterile—in "Cold Pin," for instance, motorized beaters flail at suspended, amplified piano strings. In this rare Chicago visit Keszler will perform and present an installation. —Peter Margasak
Sat 11/16, 8 PM, the Post Family, 1821 W. Hubbard, price TBD.