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The Treatment

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AU REVOIR SIMONE Though I liked this all-female Brooklyn trio's 2005 brief debut, Verses of Comfort, Assurance, and Salvation, I wasn't blown away. But I don't think they wanted me to be; their sirenlike electronica has an insinuating delicacy that's designed to work its way slowly under your skin. The follow-up, The Bird of Music (Our Secret), is chiming, occasionally fuzzy, and a little precious, and demonstrates that their tactics work even better at length: with time to settle in, the listener gets the tantalizing feeling she'll be startled only occasionally but in all the right ways. Their big weakness is a certain chilly laboriousness, but I bet they'll loosen up in time; "A Violent Yet Flammable World" is almost Rasputina-worthy as it is. Oh No! Oh My!, David Singer, and Helicopters open. a 9 PM, Abbey Pub, 3420 W. Grace, 773-478-4408 or 866-468-3401, $12, 18+. --Monica Kendrick

BUDOS BAND This instrumental combo from Staten Island got its start as an after-school community-center jazz band, but after a few members fell in love with the tough neofunk and Afrobeat of outfits like Antibalas, the Dap-Kings, and the Sugarman Three, its focus quickly changed. The Budos Band's self-titled 2005 album was an impressive debut, but the brand-new The Budos Band II (Daptone) is a real stunner. The group has old-school funk and the clave-driven groove of post-Fela Afrobeat down cold, but its tightly coiled sound isn't a slavish re-creation of either. Daptone house engineer Bosco Mann helped summon a surprisingly spooky vibe, highlighting Farfisa lines that feel like nods to the pentatonic Ethiopian soul-funk of the late 60s and early 70s. In a genre that's increasingly producing cookie-cutter music, it's nice to find a band that keeps a few secrets. Royce and Cookies and Dirt open; DJs Trew and Dreas spin. a 9 PM, Darkroom, 2210 W. Chicago, 773-276-1411, $10. --Peter Margasak

CHICAGO SOUND MAP As the name of this three-day event suggests, a score is just a way to navigate sound--and any road tripper can tell you there's more than one way to read a map. The six composers represented here, as well as the twelve local and visiting musicians who'll realize their compositions, are all improvisers; spontaneous interpretation is the sole common element among the six long pieces on the schedule. Olivia Block and Brent Gutzeit will use graphic scores and visual prompts to blend contrasting sounds. Michael Zerang and Fred Lonberg-Holm will lead conductions, the former using stopwatches to choreograph the musicians and the latter using shuffled cue cards and an electric light. Dudley Bayne's composition was still under wraps at press time, but Burkhard Stangl's Concept Piece no. 14 promises to be a hoot. An evaluator will poll the musicians on the genres they most love or hate, then use a mixture of analysis and chance to determine the three styles that will comprise the performance. Tonight's program includes Gutzeit's untitled piece and Block's Stop the Sound of the Big Bell; see also Saturday and Sunday. a 10 PM, Elastic, 2830 N. Milwaukee, second floor, 773-772-3616, $10 suggested donation, $20 suggested donation for a three-day pass. A --Bill Meyer

CRACKLIN MOTH This Chicago quintet has thus far rationed out its store of talent a little bit at a time, putting out a pair of EPs almost two years apart and playing a recent run of high-profile gigs. It's been a good strategy for them: like rocks in a tumbler, they get more polished each time around. Released in May, My Heart Is Leaking retains the alt-country patina of 2005's Redbird--largely in the form of lots of keening, creamy pedal steel, provided by Rocco Labriola--but now the voice of Kentucky-bred front man Matt Ammerman curls and unfurls in a romantic blue-eyed-soul mode, finding a new sophistication to match his tales of lovers' ambition. The Record Low headlines. a 9 PM, Metro, 3730 N. Clark, 773-549-0203 or 312-559-1212, $9, 18+. --Monica Kendrick

cgrant park orchestra and chorus The Grant Park Orchestra closes its season by remembering our troops with a program of music expressing the devastation of war. First is Benjamin Britten's Sinfonia da Requiem for orchestra. Written as World War II threatened to engulf Europe, it's ripe with apprehension and agitation--even the last movement's calm feels like mist spreading over a quiet, pockmarked battlefield. The two works that follow incorporate Walt Whitman's stark and powerful poetry about his experiences caring for wounded soldiers during the Civil War. John Adams's relentlessly somber The Wound Dresser, for baritone and orchestra, pairs perfectly with Whitman's voice, capturing his compassion in the midst of numbing suffering. The concert closes with Ralph Vaughan Williams's stirring Dona Nobis Pacem, a cantata for soprano, baritone, chorus, and orchestra. His music laments, exhorts, consoles, and inspires--leaving the listener drained. Carlos Kalmar conducts; with Jonita Lattimore (soprano) and Nathan Gunn (baritone). See also Saturday. a 6:30 PM, Pritzker Pavilion, Millennium Park, 100 N. Michigan, 312-742-7638. F --Steve Langendorf

cSpider Bags Every once in a while a band like Chapel Hill's Spider Bags will debut with a record so good it makes me realize I've been way too generous with everyone else. A Celebration of Hunger (Birdman) is just the sort of thing I should be holding my hosannas for: a filler-free collection of openhearted, empty-bottled country rock fueled by the bitterness and scalding wit in the indelible narratives of front man Dan McGee. Birdman's boilerplate compares him to Nick Cave and Shane MacGowan; I think he sounds less manic and driven than either, but it's fair to say the skill is there. Songs like "It's You" are rooted in details so concrete--"She's got a dog named after Ike Turner / She says good songwriter, bad husband"--you feel like you're watching them play out in the real world, not some romanticized achy-breaky heartland. Jail and Black Nag open. a 10 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 866-468-3401, $8. --Monica Kendrick


CHICAGO SOUND MAP See Friday. Tonight's program includes Fred Lonberg-Holm's One Light Bandit and Burkhard Stangl's Concept Piece no. 14. a 10 PM, Heaven Gallery, 1550 N. Milwaukee, second floor, 773-342-4597, $10 suggested donation, $20 suggested donation for a three-day pass. A

c crowded house Crowded House dominated American radio in the 80s with their eminently likable up-tempo pop songs and equally catchy ballads, the latter of which maintained an air of respectability despite the histrionic tendencies of the genre (see Night Ranger or Bonnie Tyler). But by the time of 1993's Together Alone the New Zealand foursome had all but fizzled out, and the subsequent solo efforts of singer--songwriter Neil Finn never reached the same highs as his work with the band. Crowded House's superb new comeback album, Time on Earth (EMI/Parlophone), was undertaken as another solo venture by Finn but midway through recording he recruited original Crowdies Nick Seymour and Mark Hart. (Paul Hester committed suicide in 2005 and is replaced here by former Beck drummer Matt Sherrod.) Together they turn out sunny pop tunes like "Even a Child" and graceful ballads like "Pour le Monde" in the spirit of their classic 1986 debut. This is their first U.S. tour since '96; 16 Frames and Finn's son Liam open. See also Sunday. a 9 PM, House of Blues, 329 N. Dearborn, 312-923-2000, sold out, 18+. --J. Niimi

c grant park orchestra and chorus See Friday. a 7:30 PM, Pritzker Pavilion, Millennium Park, 100 N. Michigan, 312-742-7638. F--Steve Langendorf

cPORTUGAL. THE MAN Portugal. The Man's debut, Waiter: "You Vultures!", was one of the best experimental pop albums in forever, a blend of taut beats, muscular hardcore, and dreamy keys held together by the emo-ish tenor of front man John Baldwin Gourley. Those elements are all present on the recent follow-up, Church Mouth (Fearless), though they've been toned down quite a bit. The band has said that they set out to emulate straightforward classic rock this time--Zeppelin in particular--but more often than not they come off like Kings of Leon trying to be Blonde Redhead, or vice versa. Still, Church Mouth is better than most anything else released so far this year; so long as the trio's experiments continue to produce songs like the stomping "Bellies Are Full," they're welcome to keep messing around. Photo Atlas and Noelle Matthews open. a 7:30 PM, Beat Kitchen, 2100 W. Belmont, 773-281-4444 or 866-468-3401, $12, $10 in advance. A --Miles Raymer

c Marvin TAte Writer, spoken-word performer, and snow-globe artist Marvin Tate went big and bold as the front man of D-Settlement, a large, chaotic funk party of a band. On his first solo album, Family Swim (IVR), he takes a different tack entirely: with multi-instrumentalist and regular collaborator LeRoy Bach (of Wilco and 5ive Style fame) he creates a subtle hoodoo brew of gospel and cabaret, spiked with a dash of Tom Waits. Walking bass, percussive piano, and soul choruses cast a spell powerful enough to keep even the most feral listener quiet through the spoken-word bits. It's a great achievement from an artist who's well respected in the local literary scene but sorely underrated in the music one. This party celebrates the album's release and Make magazine's fifth issue, "The City in Biography." Through September 3 Tate also has a regular Monday gig at the Hideout under the alias Bobby Albright, singing obscure soul covers with a band that includes the likes of Bach, Dan Bitney, Azita Youssefi, Matt Lux, and Emmett Kelly. Tonight he plays with Bach, Kelly, and Ryan Rapsys. Adam Fitz and Eyes Ears Nose open; Matt Fields DJs after the show. a 8:30 PM, Hideout, 1354 W. Wabansia, 773-227-4433, $8 (includes a copy of Make magazine). --Monica Kendrick

kelly willis This Austin-based singer was a leading light of the "new country" movement of the late 80s and early 90s, after country shed its big hair but before it took up the ten-gallon hat. Her music was lean, spunky, and flirted with rockabilly, and she chose good cover songs. But her sales declined steadily, and after three albums she and MCA parted ways. Her latest, Translated From Love (Rykodisc), only her third full-length since then, has a country-rock sound similar to her Music City stuff but fuller and more soulful, thanks to production by Chuck Prophet. On both originals and surprising covers (Iggy Pop, Adam Green from the Moldy Peaches) she sings with appealing skill and avoids country hokum like the plague. Jesse Sykes & the Sweet Hereafter open. a 7 and 10 PM, Old Town School of Folk Music, 4544 N. Lincoln, 773-728-6000 or 866-468-3401, $20, $16 kids and seniors. A --Peter Margasak


CHICAGO SOUND MAP See Friday. Tonight's program includes Dudley Bayne's as-yet-untitled piece and Michael Zerang's The Reluctant Reductionist. a 8 PM, D's Loft, 3829 N. Broadway, third floor,, $10 suggested donation, $20 suggested donation for a three-day pass. A

c CROWDED HOUSE See Saturday. 16 Frames and Liam Finn open. a 9 PM, House of Blues, 329 N. Dearborn, 312-923-2000, sold out, 18+.

cRABBINICAL SCHOOL DROPOUTS, LAMAJAMAL The California big band known as the RABBINICAL SCHOOL DROPOUTS actually does seem to play at a lot of weddings and bar mitzvahs, which is hard to square with their sound. Recalling Zappa at his giddiest and least scatological, the Dropouts seem to have developed a klezmerist form of Sun Ra worship, decked out in kabbalah references and bad Yiddish puns. Vehicles Behind Comets (Ethnic Warrior), released last year, takes their irreverent Semitic space fusion well past the asteroid belt: it's Exodus as Star Trek, with manna in the form of Guru Guru records. No matter how many metaphors I pile up, though, they won't capture the band's exuberant energy, heard clearly in both the dizzy instrumental pivoting of "Yeshiva School Fallout" (at five and a half minutes, it's the longest song here; they're jumpy spacey, not epic spacey) and the gusty grace of "Anne Frank's Ghost."

Opening tonight's show (presented by KFAR Jewish Arts Center) is LAMAJAMAL, a bunch of locals working a so-called Gypsy-surf style that sometimes feels like they learned it back in the old country--Generistan. But when they're on, they're on, arriving at a fuzzy, garagey take on Roma music thanks to a knack for sexy, serpentine grooves and a mean, mean oud player. a 7 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 866-468-3401, $15, $12 in advance. --Monica Kendrick


PIONEERS!!!, BY THE END OF TONIGHT O PIONEERS!!! combine the darling, frenetic chiming of Nothing Feels Good-era Promise Ring with the all-yelling, all-the-time vocal style of Windex garglers like Hot Water Music's Chuck Ragan. But not only do these four young Houston dudes satisfy a nostalgia for the days of emo yore---they sound like a band that might've opened for Braid at a Fireside show in '96--they get by on their own merits too. --Jessica Hopper


cJIM BAKER, STEVE HUNT, BRIAN SANDSTROM, AND MARS WILLIAMS For more than two years this quartet has held down a Tuesday-night residency at Hotti Biscotti, improvising without a net, and their brand-new debut, Extraordinary Popular Delusions (Okka Disk), is a ferocious, fully committed set that careens from scalding free blowing to abstract rumination. Though it was recorded just after their regular gig began, they display a preternatural level of interconnection--keyboardist Jim Baker, drummer Steve Hunt, bassist-guitarist Brian Sandstrom, and reedist Mars Williams were hardly strangers at that session, having worked together in steady groups like the NRG Ensemble and Caffeine as well as countless ad hoc ensembles. Their shared history, which stretches back to the fallow early 80s, is part of the foundation of Chicago's current free-jazz scene, and though these guys are pushing twice the age of most everyone who plays the Hungry Brain on Sundays, they can hold their own next to anybody in town. Between Baker's ARP synth and Sandstrom's electric guitar, the ensemble makes heavy use of electronics, delivering fiery analog sermons that could provide valuable lessons to the laptop brigades. A group led by Califone drummer Joe Adamik plays the evening's late set at 11 PM. a 8:30 PM, Hotti Biscotti, 3545 W. Fullerton, 773-292-6877. F --Peter Margasak


BANGERS Brooklyn trio the Bangers have made some really shitty mashups in the past--check out the Sting-versus-Dr. Dre mess on their MySpace page--but their more recent legit remixes for the Rapture and local rapper Kid Sister have been mercifully light on irony and heavy on goofing off. Expect similarly good vibes during this DJ set, which should only add to the usual party atmosphere surrounding headliners Flosstradamus. a 10 PM, Subterranean, 2011 W. North, 773-278-6600 or 866-468-3401, $5. --Miles Raymer

cMIKA MIKO If the video footage on their MySpace page is any indication, Mika Miko's second coming to Chicago will deliver us all unto punk heaven. Los Angeles hasn't spawned a rowdy cabal with this much teen spirit since the Dangerhouse days; it's as if these five girls walked out of a Bags/Eyes/Dils show and immediately started a band. Listening to their newest full-length, 666 (PPM), you'd swear most of the 80s and 90s never happened. The only bit of contemporary punk awareness you can pick up on is some riot-grrrl fuck-you on songs like "Dear Teen Magazine," as front women Jenna and Jennifer sing, "Maybe she's born with it / Am I? / Slick and shiny goo / I hope it doubles as lube / 'Cause the quiz requires a boyfriend." The songs are all about a minute and a half long, occasionally there's saxophone, and onstage one of them sings through an old telephone. The Black Ladies and the Fake Fictions open. Mika Miko also play a free in-store at Reckless Records, 1532 N. Milwaukee, at 4 PM. a 9 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 866-468-3401, $8. --Jessica Hopper

RIOT IN BELGIUM Although the novelty of new rave wore off almost instantly, anthem-quality bangers still hit the Internet with enough frequency to make a liar of anyone pronouncing the scene dead. For instance: "La Musique," the breakout single by this Australian duo (DJ Damage from the Bang Gang DJs and DJ Belgium from Cut Copy), rides a whirlwind of blown-out synths to a stratum of E'd-out delirium only a couple tiers down from Josh Wink's "Higher State of Consciousness." Trancid, Mark Gertz, Josh Rodriguez, and Lance Milk open. a 9 PM, Sonotheque, 1444 W. Chicago, 312-226-7600, $10. --Miles Raymer


cFAT WORM OF ERROR This Massachusetts band is a stumbling, mush-mouthed, amoeboid creature out of a childhood nightmare, devouring everything in the fridge. And once it's full, it carefully barfs it all up, one thoughtful convulsion at a time: baby animal growls, boingy guitar chatter, seasick feedback, zizzing bass, tongue-choked hyperventilation, and janky clanking percussion that sounds more like an upended kitchen drawer than a drumbeat. Acidic squirts and sharp clicks add unidentifiable blots of color to the noisy bellyaching, which seems to be a sort of tribal language the five members have evolved to communicate among themselves. They're often costumed, most remarkably in a pair of enormous red-and-orange fabric tubes topped with a forked tongue, an outfit that looks like sea-floor creatures impersonating disembodied legs. Their show is less an overwhelming explosion than a creaky, dribbly mess, but if they tightened the screws they'd probably just end up squeezing out all the good parts. Lovely Little Girls, Youth of the Beast, and Animal Law open. a 8 PM, Enemy, 1550 N. Milwaukee, third floor, 312-493-3657, $5 suggested donation. A --Liz Armstrong

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