Handpicked shows for February 2012

credit: Elsinore’s Facebook

I’m a creature of habit, certainly. And that mindset surfaces again and again here on Chicago Tunes. Reviews seem — however unintentionally — bounded to familiar lengths, and familiar quality. A gander at my musical likings, as well, might reveal threads of similarities coursing through the bands and styles I like writing about here.

A thing that interests me about this site, though, is when I’m moved to write a post on something that seems to deviate from the familiar — big or small — there’s a thing inside urging me to, you know, let you know that I know. It’s transparency and assurance: That I know I’m leading you through new terrain.

So, I find myself very excited about what’s to come in the month ahead and — for the first time — thought I’d take a little time to share that with you. A number of bands I either already like a lot or have been itching to see for some time happen to be playing live sets in the city.

My fear in a column like this one is coming off as an impulsive fan, and yet next month’s lineup seemed irresistible to keep all bottled up inside me.

Here, then, are some handpicked shows I’m pretty giddy about:

February 6: Bare Mutants @ The Empty Bottle, 9:30 p.m.
Other Acts: Outer Minds, Radar Eyes (record release)
Cost: Free
Song Recommendation: “Inside My Head

As I courteously wait for something to happen with one of my first Chicago loves, The 1900s, I can at least enjoy what its members have gone off and done in the interim. Many of them have bunched together in a group called MAZES — which, I think, has been around as long or longer than The 1900s — while Jeanine O’Toole, a light on the stage, has partnered with friends on a project named Bare Mutants.

Bare Mutants had a few shows last year, and I think this one is their first since a New Year’s Eve show with Disappears and Outer Minds at the Empty Bottle. This one’s plugged on the calendar out of sheer curiosity.

February 10: Soft Speaker @ Beat Kitchen, 9 p.m.
Other Acts: Sissy Mena
Cost: $8 | Tickets
Song Recommendation: “Ask the Guild

Beat Kitchen ain’t pretty, exactly, but it sure looks positively gorgeous when it’s got a group like Soft Speaker rockin’ into the night. You see, the only time I’ve seen them was at the Beat Kitchen in November, and as I documented here the next month, that pre-Thanksgiving gig sat atop my list of live favorites of 2011.

Champions of the live show, Soft Speaker’s psychedelic rock is totally infectious. The music they’ve recorded just jumps off the album, and moves and breathes in a positive way. I find I’m usually a board of stiff for live shows, but I grant an exception for Soft Speaker. They make me go silly.

February 11: Elsinore @ Lincoln Hall, 9:30 p.m.
Other Acts: MB, Algebro, Rego (record release)
Cost: $10 | Tickets
Song Recommendation: “The General

Elsinore live has long been an event for me. The group, which is Champaign-based, doesn’t seem to visit us in Chicago nearly as often as they should. Yet part of their allure might lie there: That if they played here every week — every month, even — over time I probably wouldn’t be so anxious to hear them play.

I’ve seen them two-and-a-half- times — the “half,” as you’re probably wondering, accounts for a brief record store day set in Champaign — and every time they’ve headlined. For some reason they’ll be in support mode on the 11th. The act following them, Rego, will be releasing a new record.

February 16: Lizz Wright @ SPACE, 8 p.m.
Other Acts: n/a
Cost: $28 (to stand); $40 (to sit) | Tickets
Song Recommendation: “My Heart

For Lizz Wright, me and three more hunkered down and decided to do it right. We put down premium dollars for a table and chairs, and regular service from SPACE’s lively parade of servers. To me, spending $20 for a show is a splurge, and yet I’ve doubled that for Lizz.

One of the few vocalists I track, Lizz Wright’s pipes are smoky and rich. She errs more on the side of soft jams and subtle builds, but my song recommendation, “My Heart,” shows she’s got a little funk in her, too.

February 17: Twin Sister @ The Empty Bottle, 10 p.m.
Other Acts: Summer Girlfriends, Ava Luna
Cost: $12 | Tickets
Song Recommendation: “All Around and Away We Go

Despite not being based here, Twin Sister was one of the first new bands I kept hearing about when I moved here in 2010. I mostly have one friend to thank who was into them at the time. I was, as well, working a temporary job that had me researching indie bands, and frequently came across postings about them because they’d released an EP.

Twin Sister came out with a full-length last September, but I haven’t gotten around to it yet. That EP, though — Color Your Life — is sticky. I go back to it with regularity for its hazy soundscape and easy vibe. Twin Sister has a way of enveloping you with a gentle touch.

February 19: In Tall Buildings @ SPACE, 8 p.m.
Other Acts: Cains and Abels
Cost: $10-$18 | Tickets
Song Recommendation: “Alarm Will Sound

I saw these guys for the first time on the evening before my eastbound winter sabbatical. A friend and I purchased tickets to see the night’s headliner, Santah, and we both came away with an unexpected surprise in their support, In Tall Buildings.

SPACE happens to be my favorite venue in the area — it’s in Evanston, not Chicago — and an In Tall Buildings set inside there might be as nearly perfect a match of artist and venue I can think of right now. Its stately acoustics will embrace In Tall Buildings’ chill rock like the warmest of hugs.

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About Eric

Hello there. Email your things to chicagotunes[at]gmail[dot]com.
This entry was posted in Bare Mutants, Beat Kitchen, Elsinore, Handpicked, In Tall Buildings, Lincoln Hall, Lizz Wright, Soft Speaker, SPACE, The Empty Bottle, Twin Sister. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Handpicked shows for February 2012

  1. Don’t miss Ava Luna opening for Twin Sister. Those guys are one of the best bands in Brooklyn. They’re basically like sludge Doo Wop

  2. Pingback: Elephant Gun, The Damn Choir @ Subterranean (2/11) | Chicago Tunes

  3. Pingback: Handpicked shows for June 2012 | Chicago Tunes

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