Greg Kot has been the music critic at the Chicago Tribune since 1990, covering pop, rock, hip-hop, R&B and more. He also co-hosts the ...

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Greg Kot

Greg Kot

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Teen finds pop gold in muddy relationships on 'Love Yes'

Teen finds pop gold in muddy relationships on 'Love Yes'

February 12, 2016

How do you take your caustic observations and melancholy regrets? With a little cream, perhaps? If that's your preferred mix of tonal colors, "Love Yes" (Carpark), the third album from New York-via-Nova Scotia quartet Teen, should do nicely.

  • Eleanor Friedberger injects songs with mystery, hooks

    February 11, 2016

    Eleanor Friedberger's songs evoke more than reveal. The melodies stick in your head for days, and the riddles and questions they pose can linger even longer. Take the opening track of her latest album, "New View" (Frenchkiss): "He Didn't Mention His Mother." The information provided in the song title isn't mentioned in the lyrics, as if it occurred to the narrator only in retrospect about why a relationship didn't jell.

  • Mavis Staples brings the joy, but it's complicated on 'Livin' on a High Note'

    February 10, 2016

    Mavis Staples had only one request when some A-list artists were approached to write songs for her forthcoming album, "Livin' on a High Note" (Anti). "I wanted joyful," she says. "I've been making people cry down through the years, and this time I wanted to make them smile."

  • 2016 Grammy Awards predictions

    February 10, 2016

    At the 58th annual Grammy Awards on Monday (7 p.m. on CBS-TV) the Recording Academy will hand out the final handful of its awards in 83 categories. Each year, we play the futile game of trying to predict how the thousands of academy members will vote for some of the key trophies, while noting the worthy artists they bypassed (recordings released from Oct. 1, 2014 through Sept. 30, 2015 were eligible)

  • Kendrick Lamar's 'difficult' album a Grammy front-runner

    February 10, 2016

    As protest marches broke out in cities across America last summer in response to police violence against African-Americans, the chorus of Kendrick Lamar's hit single "Alright" could be heard in the streets.

  • Beyonce reduces Coldplay to appetizer at Super Bowl halftime show

    February 8, 2016

    The Super Bowl 50 halftime show Sunday was billed as a "musical celebration of past, present and future," and it was pretty clear that at least somebody would get bypassed, if not run over.

  • Freakwater finds light in 1,001 dark nights on 'Scheherazade'

    February 5, 2016

    The title of Freakwater's first album in more than 10 years, "Scheherazade" (Bloodshot), name-checks the Arabic storyteller and future queen of "One Thousand and One Nights" fame. You won't find Sinbad, Ali Baba or Aladdin mentioned in the lyrics, but singers Catherine Irwin and Janet Bean are adept storytellers, and they know how to spin yarns about resilience and fortitude in the face of life's innate cruelty. Yes, Scheherazade, who was fighting for her life each of those 1,001 nights, would've understood.

  • Chicago singer Eryn Allen Kane delivers soul with a message

    February 4, 2016

    On her latest track, "How Many Times," Eryn Allen Kane builds a monument of anguish and longing out of the song title. As her voice morphs from mesmerizing spirals into fierce cries, the word "times" becomes "lives," a fervent commentary on the street violence that has become an epidemic in her adopted hometown of Chicago.

  • Double Door won't go down without a fight

    January 28, 2016

    Joe Shanahan, co-owner of Double Door, one of the anchor clubs during the rise of the Wicker Park music scene in the '90s, is facing eviction. But in his first public statement on the monthslong legal battle, he vows he won't go quietly.

  • Low explores turmoil in sonics and life

    January 26, 2016

    Low has been making fine albums for two decades, even though the trio works within seemingly narrow confines: drums, bass, guitar, low-key vocals, beautiful harmonies, measured tempos. Slow and quiet is the band's preferred musical vocabulary, but Alan Sparhawk, Mimi Parker and Steve Garrington aren't bound by it. On their latest album, "Ones and Sixes" (Sub Pop), things get downright booming, with rumbling bass tones and electronic buzz that a hip-hop fan might love.

  • Black Sabbath says farewell at United Center

    January 23, 2016

    Black Sabbath threw itself a going-away party Friday at the United Center, and more than 20,000 of its closest friends packed the place.

  • Tortoise at its best when surprises flow on 'The Catastrophist'

    January 22, 2016

    At the start of Tortoise in the early '90s, the possibilities seemed infinite. The Chicago band began as outlet for local musicians moonlighting from their jobs in more conventional rock groups. Now a quarter-century into the quintet's existence, there is a "Tortoise sound" — collage-like instrumental music that veers between structured compositions and jazz-like improvisation — and a host of bands around the world who grew up emulating at least parts of it.

  • Tedeschi Trucks Band's David Bowie connection

    January 19, 2016

    Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi had a rare insight into David Bowie's final year of life because their bass player, Tim Lefebvre, played on Bowie's farewell album, "Blackstar."

  • Springsteen dives into deep end of 'The River' at United Center

    January 19, 2016

    On Tuesday at the United Center, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band arrived at the song that served as the theme of the evening and things got downright eerie.

  • Savages drop the fists just for a minute on 'Adore Life'

    January 15, 2016

    Savages arrived in 2013 pointing fingers and blasting guitars, its discontents compressed into four-minute blasts of music notably short on frills. The U.K. quartet was the kind of band that would take the stage and make listeners instinctively take a step back, as if bracing for a beat-down. The band was happy to oblige. Its caustic debut, "Silence Yourself," even came with its own manifesto on the album cover.

  • Frankie Knuckles' legacy still standing tall

    January 14, 2016

    Frankie Knuckles died in 2014, but he still casts a long shadow over dance music in Chicago and around the world. That much will be evident when a gaggle of top-shelf DJs and singers gathers to pay tribute to him Sunday at Metro and Smart Bar to raise funds for his nonprofit educational and cultural organization, the Frankie Knuckles Foundation.

  • David Bowie transformed pop music, and pop culture

    January 11, 2016

    David Bowie entered the music world as David Jones in the 1960s, trained on a plastic saxophone. When he left that world Sunday at age 69, he had altered it profoundly with a string of albums, musical styles, personas and transformative images, from Ziggy Stardust to the Thin White Duke.

  • Review: Haunting 'Black Star' adds to Bowie Legacy

    January 11, 2016

    David Bowie walks into a bar, finds a band and emerges a year later with an album that sounds unlike anything he's done before. The story behind “Blackstar” (ISO/Columbia) — released days before the performer died of cancer — begins with Bowie dropping in to a New York jazz joint in the spring of 2014 to see the Donny McCaslin quartet perform, and soon after the album began taking shape in a series of secretive recording sessions.

  • What's up for winter: Springsteen, Sabbath, Rihanna

    December 30, 2015

    It may be winter, but Chicago concert bookings haven't slowed down. Here's a sampling of some of the more notable shows in the next few months (listed chronologically):

  • Chicagoans of the Year in Pop Music: Chance the Rapper, Social Experiment

    December 23, 2015

    Just when everyone thought Chance the Rapper was on the verge of following up his acclaimed 2013 mix tape, "Acid Rap," he went sideways. It proved to be a brilliant move.

  • Top concerts of 2015: Sleater-Kinney, Courtney Barnett, Chance the Rapper

    December 17, 2015

    As we prepare to roll into a new concert season, here are my favorite shows from 2015:

  • Bruce Springsteen box hints at what 'The River' could have been

    December 14, 2015

    Bruce Springsteen's 1980 release, "The River," was a double album twice as long as anything he'd released previously, and the recording sessions leading up to it were just as epic.

  • Top 10 Chicago indie albums of 2015

    December 10, 2015

    Time for Turn It Up's annual look at the best albums from Chicago's independent music scene. Here are my 10 favorite local indie releases for 2015:

  • Kendrick Lamar, Taylor Swift, the Weeknd lead Grammy nominees

    December 7, 2015

    Kendrick Lamar leads the way into the Grammy Awards on Feb. 15 with 11 nominations, and Taylor Swift and the Weeknd each have seven.

  • Coldplay is bigger, catchier on 'A Head Full of Dreams'

    December 4, 2015

    On its new album, Coldplay sounds like a band gearing up to play the Super Bowl — which it is. Everything sounds bigger, catchier, and the references to birds flying free, soaring eagles and faraway stars abound. Cue the confetti and fog machines, and pass the nacho dip.

  • Best pop music box sets of 2015: Bowie, Dylan and Little Richard

    December 4, 2015

    Here are some of the most notable boxed sets this year in rock and pop:

  • Best albums of 2015: Kendrick Lamar, Courtney Barnett and more

    December 3, 2015

    Let's face it, because nobody can listen to the thousands of albums released each year, a year-end "best of" list is really a list of "favorites," the recordings that made the most impact on one particular listener. Out of the hundreds of albums I listened to in 2015, here are the ones that had the most staying power:

  • Lollapalooza to expand to 4 days in 2016

    December 3, 2015

    And just when you thought it couldn’t get any bigger, Lollapalooza is expanding to four days next year to mark its 25th anniversary.

  • Joanna Newsom: Conformity isn't my thing

    December 3, 2015

    Joanna Newsom says she doesn't pay much attention to pop music, and yet she is one of the most popular indie artists on the planet. The Californian sells albums by the hundreds of thousands to an audience that keeps growing by the year.

  • Grimes goes pop, but on her terms

    November 27, 2015

    "I'm only a man, I do what I can," Grimes sings with a deceptively innocent voice on "Kill V. Maim." She's not an artist to be trifled with, as her self-sufficient career asserts over and over again.

  • Los Lobos gives heave-ho to ho-hum

    November 25, 2015

    Louie Perez of Los Lobos is calling from Los Angeles, and for a brief moment he turns the tables on the interviewer and starts asking questions. The band formerly known as Los Lobos del Este de Los Angeles had just released its latest studio album, "Gates of Gold" (429 Records), and it finds the band shuffling styles and taking risks with the hunger of their early days.

  • Review: It's deja vu for Adele on new album, '25'

    November 19, 2015

    "This is never ending, we've been here before," Adele sings on "Love in the Dark," the most traditional-sounding track on her new, tradition-bound album, "25" (Columbia).

  • Marrow is new life for Kids These Days alums

    November 19, 2015

    Two years ago, Liam Kazar, Macie Stewart and Lane Beckstrom were key members in a fast-rising septet, Kids These Days, with a major-label contract.

  • Kurt Cobain's awful aftermath is a mess

    November 13, 2015

    Munchkin voices, yodeling, a meditation on sea monkeys and Paula Abdul, distracted guitar playing, a phone call for his girlfriend that interrupts a "recording session" — if that sounds compelling, Kurt Cobain's "Montage of Heck — The Home Recordings" (Universal) is for you.

  • Odesza gives EDM a different kind of energy

    November 12, 2015

    Seattle electro-pop duo Odesza has only been together for three years, but already Harrison Mills and Clay Knight have demonstrated that they can command a big stage in front of tens of thousands of fans.

  • Review: 'Sam Phillips: The Man Who Invented Rock 'n' Roll' by Peter Guralnick

    November 12, 2015

    In his latest book, "Sam Phillips: The Man Who Invented Rock 'n' Roll," veteran music journalist Peter Guralnick spends a good portion of 600-plus pages backing up the claim made for the Memphis producer in the title. But by the end of this copiously researched biography, a skeptical reader might still not be persuaded that Phillips invented anything — not that he didn't try.

  • 10 essential recordings by Allen Toussaint

    November 10, 2015

    “Java,” Tousan (1958): A teenage Toussaint was already a major player on the New Orleans session scene in the ‘50s, and this piano-driven instrumental appeared on the album “The Wild Sounds of New Orleans,” where he was billed as “Tousan.” Six years later, a considerably less wild version by trumpeter Al Hirt became a huge pop hit.

  • Allen Toussaint, a hidden genius, dies at age 77

    November 10, 2015

    Allen Toussaint, 77, who died Tuesday, was a hidden genius. The songwriter-producer-musician played a crucial behind-the-scenes role in countless classic songs popularized by other artists, from Glen Campbell’s “Southern Nights” and Devo’s “Working in the Coal Mine” to the Pointer Sisters’ “Yes We Can Can” and Robert Plant and Alison Krauss’ “Fortune Teller.”

  • The Weeknd at the United Center: The rise and fall of R&B noir

    November 7, 2015

    Mom knows best. The Weeknd, for all his troubled and troubling narrators, at least acknowledges that much.

  • ELO is back, minus the excess, with 'Alone in the Universe'

    November 6, 2015

    Jeff Lynne's resurrected ELO shares plenty of similarities with the U.K. band that he led to '70s pop dominance with 19 top-40 hits. But there is one crucial difference. Back then, nobody did excess quite like the Electric Light Orchestra. In contrast, "Alone in the Universe" (Columbia), the first ELO album since 2001, wears its pop-rock pomp lightly.

  • Staple Singers, the gospel and beyond

    November 6, 2015

    It is 1960 in Mississippi and Roebuck "Pops" Staples is singing the blues in church, a solo version of "Too Close" that opens up into an ecstatic Staple Singers performance. The medley stretches to 16 minutes of testifying and harmonizing, a rapturous conversation among Pops and daughters Mavis, Cleotha and Yvonne Staples.

  • Bruce Lamont's Corrections House conjures Burroughs-worthy darkness

    November 5, 2015

    Yakuza's Bruce Lamont and Neurosis' Scott Kelly are two of the more respected voices in underground rock-metal-punk-aggro-experimental music, so what's this business about them launching their latest project, Corrections House, because of a Neil Young record?

  • Janet Jackson at Chicago Theatre: She came to dance

    November 4, 2015

    Janet Jackson had places to go Tuesday in the first of three sold-out shows at the Chicago Theatre, and she needed to get there in a hurry. She set herself the task of covering three decades of hits in barely 90 minutes, and there wasn’t a moment to lose – not even for a costume change.

  • Billy Gibbons' solo album 'Perfectamundo' takes a Latin turn

    October 30, 2015

    Thanks to a series of tongue-in-cheek MTV videos in the '80s, Billy Gibbons and his bandmates in ZZ Top rarely get mistaken for serious musicologists. But Gibbons' appreciation of blues, garage rock, psychedelia, surrealist art and now, as it turns out, Latin music, runs pretty deep. Through his bandleader father, young Billy got to hang out and study Latin percussion with Tito Puente in the '60s. Gibbons went on to lead Houston rockers the Moving Sidewalks before forming ZZ Top and developing into a formidable guitarist with one of the most distinctive tones on the planet.

  • How Janet Jackson took control again with Jam and Lewis

    October 29, 2015

    Jimmy Jam knows Janet Jackson well enough to know what works. Their first few albums, including "Control" (1986) and "Rhythm Nation" (1989), were basically three-person operations: Jackson, Jam and coproducer Terry Lewis working without interference or input from anybody else.

  • Leon Bridges keeps his soul smooth at the Vic

    October 28, 2015

    Leon Bridges took time between songs to mention Sam Cooke at his sold-out performance Tuesday at the Vic Theatre, as if his debt to the late Chicago soul great weren’t already obvious.

  • The Chills return with a world of worry on 'Silver Bullets'

    October 26, 2015

    Dunedin, a coastal town in New Zealand, produced an inordinate number of distinctive bands that had a profound impact on '80s indie rock. Even amid this sea of innovators, which included the Clean, Bats, Dead C, Straitjacket Fits, Tall Dwarfs and Verlaines, the Chills stood out, in large measure because of the bittersweet songs of singer-guitarist Martin Phillipps.

  • Adele's new song 'Hello' a safe balancing act

    October 23, 2015

    “Hello,” she’s back and playing it safe. With her new single, released in the early hours of Friday, British singer Adele announces that the four-year wait for the follow-up to her 30-million-selling 2011 album “21” will soon be over.

  • Singer Leon Bridges goes from dishwashing to soul mining

    October 22, 2015

    About a year ago, while taking meetings with record companies interested in releasing his debut album, Leon Bridges was working as a dishwasher in Fort Worth, Texas. Last December, after signing with Columbia Records — home to artists such as Beyonce and Bruce Springsteen — he was finally able to retire from the restaurant business.

  • Joanna Newsom's world in clearer focus on 'Divers'

    October 16, 2015

    Joanna Newsom is surely the only orchestral-harp playing, bird-watching, fairy-tale loving best-seller in indie-pop. In the months before the arrival of her fourth studio album, "Divers" (Drag City), she appeared in and narrated Paul Thomas Anderson's 2014 movie, "Inherent Vice," and the director returned the favor by overseeing the video for her latest single, "Sapokanikan."

  • The Ex and Ken Vandermark trample genre borders together

    October 15, 2015

    Andy Moor, longtime guitarist in The Ex, is on the phone from Amsterdam while under attack by wild fungus.

  • Review: 'Unfaithful Music & Disappearing Ink' by Elvis Costello

    October 15, 2015

    First impressions die hard. In the late '70s, Elvis Costello tattooed himself on the consciousness of a group of teenagers huddled in front of a foot-high stage in a bad Milwaukee neighborhood. He looked even nerdier than the audience, with his black horn-rimmed glasses, skinny tie and cheap suit. After about 20 minutes, sweat poured from his sleeves and the oversized glasses fogged, but Costello never even loosened his collar button. He twitched and jerked as if trying to free himself from an invisible straitjacket.

  • Protomartyr finds hope amid rubble in 'The Agent Intellect'

    October 9, 2015

    Protomartyr kicks off its third studio album, "The Agent Intellect" (Hardly Art), by inviting the baddest of the bad to speak. The narrator in "The Devil in his Youth" lurks on the fringes of many of these songs, Beelzebub re-emerges again a few songs later in "Uncle Mother's" as a sinister doorman welcoming passersby to hell in the guise of a saloon. "Leave your children in the car," he hisses.

  • Titus Andronicus is triumphant in tragedy

    October 8, 2015

    Patrick Stickles went overboard on Titus Andronicus' latest album, "The Most Lamentable Tragedy" (Merge), which spreads a 29-track, five-act rock opera about manic depression over 93 minutes. Now he can joke about it. When asked if the band might try to play the beast front-to-back in concert the way Husker Du once did with "Zen Arcade" or the Who with "Tommy," he demurs.

  • Janet Jackson makes low-key return on 'Unbreakable'

    October 2, 2015

    When Janet Jackson last released a new studio album — "Discipline," in 2008 — she was trying to find her way back onto the pop charts that she dominated for so much of the '80s and '90s. She broke with her longtime production team, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, in favor of a batch of contemporary hitmakers. But the reboot backfired, with the album sinking off the charts and Jackson breaking up with her record company.

  • Chicago rapper Mick Jenkins figures out how to rise above

    October 1, 2015

    It was ridiculously early in the day by hip-hop standards. Mick Jenkins was wondering who the heck was going to show up before noon on a blazing-hot weekend to see his brief set in August at Lollapalooza in Grant Park. But the South Side MC needn't have worried — his mixtapes "The Water(s)" and "Wave(s)" are that good, and his reputation as a live performer has been surging since touring nationally with Method Man and Redman last year.

  • Madonna gets personal at United Center

    September 29, 2015

    Even before Madonna took the stage Monday at the United Center, the senses hit overload. Warrior dancers hoisted crosses, Mike Tyson issued threats from the video screen, fake blood streamed as if from a tabloid murder photo, and “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” provided the soundtrack.

  • 10 concerts to watch for this fall

    September 28, 2015

    The outdoor festival season is still kicking, but most of the must-see shows are moving indoors as the autumn looms. Among the hundreds of choices, here are 10 shows that look particularly promising:

  • Disclosure finds subtler brand of dance music on 'Caracal'

    September 25, 2015

    British electronic duo Howard and Guy Lawrence struck platinum straight out of the box in 2013 with Disclosure's debut album, "Settle." The album most notably launched singer Sam Smith, whose vocal on cross-over hit "Latch" stamped Disclosure as an outlier on the burgeoning EDM scene – a dance act that put as much emphasis on songs as it did the beats.

  • Shamir on the road that led to the 'Ratchet' album

    September 24, 2015

    Shamir has an acclaimed album, "Ratchet," and he's still getting his head around the notion that he's on a label (XL) that has included such luminaries on its roster as Adele, Radiohead, the White Stripes and Gil Scott-Heron.

  • Keith Richards brings grit to bare-bones solo offering

    September 21, 2015

    The Rolling Stones are on a once-a-decade recording schedule (they just announced plans to make a new studio album next year, which would be their first since 2005). But Keith Richards has been stockpiling tunes, and his third solo studio album, "Crosseyed Heart" (Republic), provides a snapshot of a guitarist who knows how to stay out of the way of a song.

  • Farm Aid at 30 not in a celebrating mood

    September 20, 2015

    Neil Young looked even more grim and purposeful than usual when he took the stage Saturday at Northerly Island. Farm Aid was wrapping up its 30th year, but Young wasn’t exactly celebrating.

  • Vince Staples digs for truth amid carnage

    September 17, 2015

    On "Jump off the Roof," one of the more harrowing songs on Vince Staples' immersive debut album, "Summertime '06" (Artium Recordings/Def Jam), the listener peers into the mind of a junkie contemplating suicide.

  • AC/DC stomps at Wrigley Field

    September 16, 2015

    With his cap pulled low over his eyes, red knickers and unruly hair that never met a stylist, 60-year-old Angus Young still looks like a schoolboy tiny enough to fit into a thimble. His guitar makes a big noise, though, and AC/DC’s youthful appetite can still be measured in decibels.

  • Ice Cube at Riot Fest delivers N.W.A nostalgia

    September 12, 2015

    “Let’s keep it gangsta tonight,” Ice Cube announced as he took the stage Friday before tens of thousands of fans in Douglas Park.

  • Blackalicious still keeping the faith in 'Imani, Vol.1'

    September 11, 2015

    As part of the Solesides label and hip-hop collective (later known as Quannum) that launched out of Northern California in the '90s with DJ Shadow, Latyrx and others, Blackalicious was all about inclusiveness. They saw themselves as part of an African-American continuum, musical torch-bearers who honored tradition even as they pushed into an uncertain future.

  • Mick Jenkins poised for hip-hop breakthrough

    September 10, 2015

    Chicago is overflowing with gifted MC's, from skillful veterans such as Lupe Fiasco and Psalm One to a wave of rising stars that includes Chance the Rapper and Vic Mensa. In a scene where any lack of originality will immediately assign any newcomer to has-been status overnight, Mick Jenkins stands out as an original who can both command a stage and push the art form forward as a recording artist.

  • Fall album preview: Top picks of the season in pop, rock and country

    September 10, 2015

    The fall is always the busiest time of year for new recordings, and this year is no exception. Here's a preview of some of the more anticipated new releases:

  • Riot Fest thrives despite growing pains

    September 8, 2015

    Mike Petryshyn runs the biggest independent rock festival in the city, but the ideal of providing a consistent home for Riot Fest has proven elusive.

  • Low cuts through static on 'Ones and Sixes'

    September 8, 2015

    Don’t let the gentle demeanor fool you. Low’s music tends to be typecast as slow and quiet, but the typecasters couldn’t be more wrong. Slow, maybe, but there’s often something profoundly disquieting about the songs. Even within the sparest of settings, this trio from northern Minnesota contains multitudes, and the undertow is particularly treacherous in “Ones and Sixes” (Sub Pop).

  • D'Angelo improvises a keeper at North Coast festival

    September 6, 2015

    D’Angelo hasn’t been around much the last 15 years, and music has been the worse for it. So his return to his rightful role as a headliner Saturday at the North Coast Music Festival in Union Park had the makings of An Event.

  • The Claudettes give blues a topsy-turvy makeover

    September 3, 2015

    Piano-drums combo the Claudettes makes a lot of music for two people. How do they do it? Does Johnny Iguana somehow manage to clone himself while sitting at the keyboard? Can Michael Caskey really make four limbs sound like an entire percussion section? They're a revelatory blend of jazz and blues, stirred with punk brio and topped with French cream. There are also dashes of classical and world music, and enough stops, starts and hairpin turns to suggest the giddiness of Raymond Scott's cartoon music.

  • The Weeknd's pop can't shake the darkness

    August 31, 2015

    In the video for the song that dominated the summer, The Weeknd's "Can't Feel My Face," Abel Tesfaye goes up in flames. And he does it while busting dance moves that belie the singer-songwriter-producer's reputation for moody introspection. As he dances, a club full of celebrants joins him, and not even his immolation can stop the party. It's disturbing but addictive, cyanide with a pop-candy exterior.

  • Foo Fighters like to share at Wrigley Field

    August 29, 2015

    It was “This is Your Life” Saturday at Wrigley Field for Foo Fighters’ Dave Grohl. He presented a mini-history of Chicago rock, brought out his mother and cousin and sat through the whole thing with a broken leg on a throne. When it was all done he was wiping away tears.

  • Naked Raygun gets some payback from longtime fan Dave Grohl

    August 27, 2015

    Dave Grohl's decades-long appreciation of Naked Raygun will be on full display Saturday at Wrigley Field. The Chicago quintet, hand-picked by Grohl to open the Foo Fighters stadium concert along with local heroes Cheap Trick and Urge Overkill, inspired young Dave to dive into punk rock.

  • Beach House ends up where it started with 'Depression Cherry'

    August 24, 2015

    Beach House's music can build ever so slowly to majestic heights, and sometimes it sounds like a merry-go-round built for toddlers, spinning in lazy circles so as not to frighten the kids.

  • When a boy band outlasts boyhood

    August 24, 2015

    One Direction is rumored to be “going on hiatus,” which some believe is music-industry code for “breaking up.” But don't believe the hype.

  • Riot Fest adds panels with West Memphis Three, Metro's Joe Shanahan

    August 20, 2015

    Riot Fest scored a coup last year with a somewhat unconventional approach to a rock festival by staging a mid-day panel – in the rain, no less – with members of Russian outlaw band Pussy Riot. This year it’ll expand the tradition with panels on the West Memphis Three and Chicago punk.

  • Billy Gibbons, ZZ Top and the surreal side of the blues

    August 20, 2015

    Billy Gibbons is a student of blues, a guitarist with a signature sound and an erudite conversationalist on everything from wine to vintage cars.

  • Barrence Whitfield is at his most savage on 'Under the Savage Sky'

    August 11, 2015

    Welcome to his nightmare. Barrence Whitfield sings like a man grappling with insanity through most of "Under the Savage Sky" (Bloodshot), and he's not going quietly. Instead, Whitfield and the Savages throw a party -- or is it a fit? -- while busting out of their straitjackets.

  • No rule goes unbroken in High on Fire's world

    August 6, 2015

    Matt Pike's creativity as a songwriter and guitarist in era-defining bands such as Sleep and High on Fire has made him a key figure in underground metal. He often sounds like two guitarists playing at once, and he helped define a particularly menacing, tripped-out sound in Sleep and something leaner, thrashier and more abrasive in High on Fire.

  • Bassnectar to lead expanded Freaky Deaky festival lineup

    August 5, 2015

    Adding to its lineup of multi-day events focused on electronic music and hip-hop, Chicago promoters React Presents will expand its seventh annual Freaky Deaky festival to three days Oct. 30-Nov. 1 at Toyota Park in southwest suburban Bridgeview, Ill.

  • Lollapalooza review: Paul McCartney, Metallica make way for EDM

    August 3, 2015

    Paul McCartney had a “get off my lawn, kid” moment at Lollapalooza in Grant Park over the weekend.

  • Chicago-based agent for Lorde, others joins LA firm

    July 30, 2015

    Longtime Chicago-based music booking agent Tom Windish has joined forces with Paradigm, one of the biggest talent agencies in North America.

  • Lianne La Havas gets a bland pop makeover on 'Blood'

    July 28, 2015

    Lianne La Havas, a Prince-endorsed U.K. singer and songwriter with an acclaimed debut album to her credit, wants more on "Blood" (Warner).

  • Farm Aid to mark its 30th anniversary in Chicago

    July 28, 2015

    Farm Aid, spearheaded by Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp, Neil Young and Dave Matthews, will mark its 30th anniversary Sept. 19 at the FirstMerit Bank Pavilion on Northerly Island.

  • Eleventh Dream Day at the Hideout: Rare show, rare chemistry

    July 25, 2015

    Rick Rizzo wryly noted that his band Eleventh Dream Day doesn’t get out much any more.

  • Eleventh Dream Day is spoiling for a fight on latest album

    July 23, 2015

    Eleventh Dream Day has been playing together since the early '80s, but the quintet sounds like a brand new band spoiling for a fight on its latest album, "Works for Tomorrow" (Thrill Jockey).

  • Pitchfork wrap-up: Rising stars own the weekend

    July 20, 2015

    There was lots of rain in a short amount time, the scream-inducing crackle of lightning and an evacuation. There was also music, some of it extraordinary, from new voices such as Shamir and Courtney Barnett and established ones such as Wilco and Sleater-Kinney. And there was an anniversary over the weekend, with the Pitchfork Music Festival marking 10 years in Union Park.

  • Behind Pitchfork's quick decision to evacuate as storm bore down

    July 19, 2015

    Unpredictable and potentially life-threatening storms are the bane of outdoor concerts, and recent years have seen a veritable epidemic.

  • Flo Morrissey's strong songs dipped in sugar

    July 17, 2015

    Flo Morrissey wrote "Show Me," the first song on her first album, when she was 15. "I need to learn to let it go," she sings, as if waving goodbye to her youth. An undulating guitar underpins the song, a perfect accompaniment for its meditative, melancholy mood.

  • Wilco's new 'Star Wars' out for free

    July 16, 2015

    After four years of vault-emptying archival releases and scattered retrospective tours, Wilco got back to business on Thursday night and owned the Internet (music division) for a few hours. Their first album of new material since 2011 suggested the random appearance of a long-lost relative at the front door, unshaven, slouching, hands in pockets, but bearing gifts in his backpack from years of secret labor.

  • Mekons review: Still fierce after all these years

    July 11, 2015

    The Mekons’ Jon Langford looked like he was going on safari Friday night on Lincoln Avenue in his pith helmet.

  • Tame Impala swaps acid rock for keyboards and soul on 'Currents'

    July 10, 2015

    Tame Impala's first two albums were prayers answered for acid-rock buffs. On tour, Kevin Parker played the barefoot Australian guitar maestro, a one-man studio band who emerged from his basement to peer down at his foot pedals and conjure waves of psychedelic incense.

  • For Jamie XX, the dancefloor can be a melancholy place

    July 9, 2015

    As he'd be the first to say, Jamie Smith, better known as Jamie XX, isn't a particularly effusive guy. When working with Gil Scott-Heron, Smith had an opportunity to meet the soul poet.

  • Review: Grateful Dead pay slack tribute to legacy

    July 3, 2015

    It began Friday as it ended in 1995, with one of the most beautiful songs in the Grateful Dead canon. “Box of Rain” was the final song performed by the band when it last played Soldier Field in 1995, and it was the opener in the Dead’s three-night sold-out return to the stadium to celebrate its 50th anniversary.

  • Ex Hex's No. 1 rule: No slow, sad songs allowed

    July 2, 2015

    Mary Timony is a ferociously gifted guitarist, and her two-decade career in bands ranging from Helium to Wild Flag offers ample evidence of her kaleidoscopic command of the instrument. On tour with Wild Flag, she and her longtime friend Carrie Brownstein played nightly games of hide and shriek with their jousting or intertwining guitar lines, an assault that wasn't just sonic, but physical as the two jumped, jostled and bumped on stage.

  • Miguel doesn't fit in, and he's fine with it — sometimes

    July 1, 2015

    On his third album, "Wildheart" (ByStorm/RCA), Miguel Pimentel turns to Los Angeles as his muse. It's a place where everything seems possible and also a destination where dreams go to die. Miguel's narrators negotiate the space between, in the same way that he's striving to carve out a career in R&B that feeds commercial radio's need for hits and easily digested songs, and his own inclinations toward a deeper synthesis of his influences that is focused on big concepts and cohesive albums.

  • Grateful Dead's farewell: A bad trip or will music save the day?

    June 26, 2015

    No matter if you feel love, hate or indifference toward them, the Grateful Dead mattered. They were indisputably one of the most important and influential bands in rock history, in part because they defied convention at almost every turn.

  • Bono on Live Nation partnership: 'I'm a pragmatist'

    June 26, 2015

    Bono confides that he isn't feeling particularly spry as he settles down at a table in a small French restaurant in the countryside outside Montreal, where U2 has just completed a four-night, sold-out run of arena concerts.

  • Superchunk singer revisits awkward, emotional youth and its soundtrack

    June 25, 2015

    Mac McCaughan didn't have a particularly troubled adolescence, but life on the way to forming his fabled indie-rock band Superchunk still brimmed with discoveries, musical and otherwise, that have shaped him ever since.

  • U2 review: Big ideas, no-frills songs at United Center

    June 25, 2015

    Bono dropped a little mission statement into U2’s concert Wednesday, the first of five at the United Center.

  • Sitting on a couch with U2: Talking about concerts, life and T-shirts

    June 23, 2015

    Montreal -- Bono and Adam Clayton are sitting on a couch in a downtown hotel last week after a U2 concert, talking T-shirts. Suddenly they're 17 years old again hanging out at punk clubs in their hometown of Dublin, circa 1977.

  • Sonny Knight trucks from karaoke circuit to international stage

    June 18, 2015

    Sonny Knight was once known as the truck-driving karaoke singer in a few bars around the country. Now, at 66, he's found international success fronting the soul band Sonny Knight and the Lakers.

  • Richard Thompson 'Still' review: Those Saturday nights at home finally pay off

    June 15, 2015

    On the closing track of his new album, "Still" (Fantasy), Richard Thompson sings about his youthful obsession. He claims that he wouldn't go out on Saturday nights because he had to practice guitar. It's all done tongue in cheek, but there's also deeper intention.

  • Olivia Chaney: Classically trained but with a wild streak

    June 11, 2015

    The cover of Olivia Chaney's starkly beautiful debut album, "The Longest River" (Nonesuch), is a snapshot from more than two decades ago of the singer as a child. She rests her blond head on her father's shoulder as he drives, the European countryside a green blur in the car's side window.

  • Wire in no hurry to look back on eve of its Drill festival

    June 4, 2015

    The moving target that is Wire is at it again. For nearly 40 years, the post-punk band has stayed ahead of expectation and avoided the pitfalls of nostalgia and complacency. Now the group is bringing its Drill festival to Chicago, for three nights of music at three venues with different themes and lineups.

  • 'Surf' album review: Donnie Trumpet and Chance the Rapper's Social Experiment mix styles and eras

    June 1, 2015

    Donnie Trumpet and the Social Experiment’s “Surf,” the new album associated with Chance the Rapper’s crew, finally arrived as a free download a few days ago after a couple of years of increasingly feverish anticipation. Just don’t call it a follow-up.

  • Paranoia, anxiety as the new arena rap

    May 31, 2015

    It was an odd way to open a stadium concert, with a death wish, in the dark, with beats that rummaged through a vast emptiness.

  • Drake concert review: Paranoia, anxiety as the new arena rap

    May 30, 2015

    It was an odd way to open a stadium concert, with a death wish, in the dark, with beats that rummaged through a vast emptiness.

  • Riot Fest lineup: No Doubt, Snoop Dogg headline first show in new home

    May 27, 2015

    No Doubt, Modest Mouse and Snoop Dogg were among the dozens of artists and bands announced Wednesday to appear at the 11th annual Riot Fest and Carnival on Sept. 11-13 in Douglas Park.

  • Chris Connelly a crooner with a wild streak

    May 22, 2015

    Chris Connelly is perhaps best known as one of industrial rock's most distinctive voices, with Fini Tribe in his native Scotland and then in Chicago in the Wax Trax stable with Al Jourgensen. His trademark was that he could actually sing, though you sometimes wouldn't know it amid all the machine clatter. That vocal gift comes through most persuasively in his extensive solo work, where his affinity for dark ballads, glam and orchestral art-rock emerged in such early '90s landmarks as "Phenobarb Bambalam" and "Shipwreck."

  • In Wildhoney, songs trump sound every time

    May 21, 2015

    On Wildhoney's debut album, "Sleep Through It" (Deranged Records/Forward! Records), melodies unfold from a 3-D swirl of guitars. It's the type of record meant to be played at top volume inside the Grand Canyon, where those overdriven guitars can reverberate into infinity.

  • Jenny Lewis concert at the Vic: Slick, caustic

    May 19, 2015

    Beachball-size balloons descended from the rafters and bounded around the stage Monday at the Vic Theatre, and it threw Jenny Lewis off her game for a minute.

  • Tame Impala brings soul and groove to Riviera

    May 16, 2015

    Tame Impala’s third album isn’t due out for another two months, but the band’s mover and shaker, singer-guitarist Kevin Parker, couldn’t wait that long.

  • B.B. King dead at 89

    May 15, 2015

    It may have been a farewell or a passing of the torch for B.B. King when he played Eric Clapton’s Crossroads Guitar Festival at a sold-out Toyota Park in Brideview, Ill., in 2007.

  • Torres writes songs that spare no one

    May 14, 2015

    Torres starts her latest album with a song called "Strange Hellos" that builds from deceptive calm into a hurricane of repressed anger. Nine songs later, she finishes the album with an intimate, barely-above-a-whisper confessional, "The Exchange," in which she pinpoints her greatest fear.

  • Spoon, Weezer to headline at Taste of Chicago

    May 12, 2015

    Weezer, Erykah Badu, Spoon, the Chieftains and Maze featuring Frankie Beverly will headline Taste of Chicago on July 8-12 in Grant Park.

  • No resting on debut laurels for Emmylou Harris-Rodney Crowell partnership

    May 8, 2015

    The 2013 album co-authored by Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell, "Old Yellow Moon," was surprising only in that it took so long to happen. It marked the first full-length collaboration between two artists who have been friends and off-and-on musical partners since the '70s, when Crowell played guitar in Harris' renowned Hot Band. The album went on to win a Grammy Award, and was so well-received that a follow-up seemed inevitable.

  • Passion Pit takes its pop music personally

    May 7, 2015

    When Passion Pit released its 2012 album, "Gossamer," singer Michael Angelakos talked openly in interviews about the bipolar disorder that informed many of the songs. Though his struggles framed the lyrics, the music itself – soul disguised as dance-pop – often got pushed back in the conversation. Angelakos was determined that the road to his latest album, Passion Pit's "Kindred" (Columbia), would be different.

  • Van Hunt explodes boundaries on 'The Fun Rises, the Fun Sets'

    May 1, 2015

    Van Hunt was a rising R&B star a decade ago, with a brace of writing credits for singers such as Dionne Farris and Rahsaan Patterson and Grammy-winning music of his own. But after losing his major-label deal -- in part because he resisted genre pigeon-holing -- the Ohio-born singer has only become more difficult to pin down musically, and an even more fascinating artist.

  • 'Montage of Heck' looks back at Kurt Cobain

    May 1, 2015

    Kurt Cobain had a self-destruct button, and he pressed it almost every time he was onstage. Guitars, drums, his body — nothing was safe. Unlike, say, the theater inherent in The Who's gear-trashing or Jimi Hendrix's guitar-burning, Cobain smashed his frail frame until he had nothing left, showmanship be damned.

  • Passion Pit, Empire of the Sun to headline South Side festival

    May 1, 2015

    The crowded summer festival season will add a rare South Side entry Friday, when the lineup for the Mamby on the Beach festival will be announced for July 11-12 at Oakwood Beach, 4100 South Lake Shore Drive. Passion Pit and Empire of the Sun will headline.

  • Paul Natkin's lens didn't miss a beat on Chicago concert scene

    April 30, 2015

    Paul Natkin was "that guy with the camera" at so many Chicago rock concerts that he became almost as well-known as some of the performers he documented.

  • Schubas and Lincoln Hall sold

    April 23, 2015

    Two of Chicago’s most revered North Side music clubs – Lincoln Hall and Schubas – have a new owner this week, which means that longtime Chicago music promoter Chris Schuba is getting out of the business.

  • The Sonics put nasty into every note

    April 23, 2015

    The Sonics put a whole bunch of nasty into every note they played on two ground-breaking albums in the mid-'60s.

  • Alabama Shakes shake up their sound

    April 17, 2015

    In 2012, when Alabama Shakes released its debut album, "Boys & Girls," the studio was not the band's friend. Songs that popped in concert sounded relatively constrained on record. The melodies were strong but fell into a retro pocket, evoking soul and roots-rock dynamics from the '60s and '70s. Brittany Howard's towering voice was undeniable, however, and "Boys & Girls" became one of the year's most acclaimed albums because her intensity melted a lot of quibbles about the lack of genuine surprise in the arrangements.

  • Rhiannon Giddens stepping out from the Chocolate Drops

    April 16, 2015

    The year leading up to Rhiannon Giddens' first solo album, "Tomorrow is my Turn" (Nonesuch), was full of zigs and zags, a whirlwind of shows and recording sessions that had her performing in a variety of contexts, some a good musical distance from her home base with roots-folkies the Carolina Chocolate Drops.

  • Passion Pit gets personal, gritty on 'Kindred'

    April 13, 2015

    Passion Pit's Michael Angelakos is a master of creating ebullient, triumphant-sounding pop, even as he sings about a life on the verge of unraveling. It's an unlikely mix — buoyant yet unsettling, and all the more potent because the artist doesn't try to resolve the conflict. There is no tidy happily-ever-after in this tale.

  • Grateful Dead add 2 California concerts

    April 10, 2015

    It turns out the Grateful Dead’s three sold-out 50th anniversary concerts at Soldier Field July 3-5 aren’t the only shows the reunited band will play this year. On Friday, the Dead added two more farewell shows, this time in their home state: June 27-28 at Levi’s Stadium, a 65,000-capacity venue in Santa Clara, Calif.

  • Lightning Bolt has power behind that mask

    April 9, 2015

    Lightning Bolt's Brian Chippendale looks like he just walked off the set of "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" when he jumps on stage to pummel the drums while wearing a mask.

  • Electric Wizard at Metro: 'Fanatics' welcome to Sabbath party

    April 8, 2015

    Electric Wizard doesn’t tour the U.S. that often, which turned the British doom-metal quartet’s appearance Tuesday at a sold-out Metro into something of an event for a certain highly specific clientele.

  • Waxahatchee's 'Ivy Tripp' mixes anxiety and hope

    April 3, 2015

    Waxahatchee's Katie Crutchfield writes about the in-between moments. Her characters are moving out of relationships and drifting. The future is open-ended and full of question marks, but amid the anxiety there's also a sense of possibility, if not optimism. "What's next?" doesn't have to be a cause for alarm.

  • Father John Misty gets serious … somewhat

    April 2, 2015

    The creation myth of Father John Misty is well-known to his followers. The singer-songwriter known as J. Tillman (aka Josh Tillman) ate mushrooms, climbed naked into a tree and had a revelation that basically said: Be yourself.

  • Death Cab for Cutie finds austere beauty in a breakup

    March 30, 2015

    There's no escaping the backdrop of Death Cab for Cutie's eighth studio album, "Kintsugi" (Atlantic). No names are named, but the breakup of singer Ben Gibbard's marriage with actress Zooey Deschanel shadows every note.

  • Decemberists find new joy in a 'Terrible World'

    March 26, 2015

    When Colin Meloy and his bandmates in the Decemberists took a break in 2011, the agenda was open-ended. The band's steady growth had paid off in a new commercial peak — the Portland quintet's "The King is Dead" had debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard album chart. But Meloy, guitarist Chris Funk, keyboardist Jenny Conlee, bassist Nate Query and drummer John Moen wanted off the record-release-tour cycle they had been on for a decade.

  • Courtney Barnett album just an everyday triumph

    March 25, 2015

    After releasing a combo platter of her two EP’s last year that included witty indie hits such as “Avant Gardener,” Courtney Barnett’s first proper studio album arrives with expectations to meet. “Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit” (Mom & Pop/Marathon Artists/Milk!) exceeds them.

  • Lollapalooza 2015: Paul McCartney, Metallica among headliners

    March 25, 2015

    Paul McCartney, Metallica and Florence + the Machine will headline Lollapalooza when it returns for its 11th year to Grant Park on July 31-Aug. 2.

  • SXSW in review: Let there be music, if not money

    March 22, 2015

    One of the multitude of horn players in the Hypnotic Brass Ensemble was pretty pumped up one morning at the South by Southwest Music Conference, which concluded over the weekend — and who could blame him? The veteran Chicago band had just roused a sleepy audience of several thousand out of its seats and started a dance party before Snoop Dogg's keynote presentation. But instead of capitalizing on the moment by promoting an album, a gig or even a band website, the Hypnotic Brass Ensemble urged its newfound fans to “get on YouTube, get on Twitter” to find out more about the band.

  • Chance the Rapper and the Social Experiment a formidable team at SXSW

    March 21, 2015

    Two years ago at the South by Southwest Music Conference, Chance the Rapper tried to animate his 15-minute performances with wired energy and a hoarse voice, as if demanding that indifferent audiences pay attention.

  • Snoop Dogg's SXSW address slides into shallowness

    March 20, 2015

    There's a guy named Calvin Broadus who lives inside the fabulously wealthy and famous caricature known as Snoop Dogg, and one of the intriguing questions before Snoop's keynote address Friday at the South by Southwest Music Conference was the chance to meet the kid who became a star.

  • SXSW vibe is that 'Blurred Lines' ruling could set dangerous precedent

    March 19, 2015

    The pop-music industry suffered a potentially damaging blow in the Robin Thicke-Marvin Gaye copyright infringement case. That's the fear generally expressed across the South by Southwest Music Conference this week, and articulated by entertainment attorney Uwanda Carter at a panel Thursday on copyright and sampling.

  • SXSW gets a Paul Krugman economics power lesson

    March 19, 2015

    Besides being a prominent New York Times economic columnist and a Princeton professor, Paul Krugman is an avid music fan, and he brought a typically nuanced grasp of top-down economics to the South by the Southwest Music Conference.

  • SXSW: Promise realized, near-misses and turbocharged noise

    March 19, 2015

    "Nobody told me there was gonna be so many people here," Courtney Barnett said as she surveyed the vast crowd Wednesday that had gathered at the outdoor venue Stubb's.

  • Preatures forgo convention for simple pop excellence

    March 19, 2015

    Before she became one of the most arresting new voices in rock with Australian band The Preatures, Isabella "Izzi" Manfredi wanted to be an English teacher. She grew up feeling like an outcast who found solace in poetry. Then everything changed in 2008 when she met guitarist Jack Moffitt and bassist Thomas Champion at the Australian Institute of Music in Sydney.

  • SXSW music fest returning to its roots

    March 18, 2015

    The tone of the South by Southwest Music Conference, which opened Tuesday, is somewhat muted compared to the corporate crassness that dominated recent years. There's no giant snack dispenser masquerading as a stage, and there are fewer mega-pop stars casting giant shadows over the 2,000 bands that have come from around the world, most looking for their first taste of recognition. Kanye West, Mary J. Blige and Iggy Azalea have been booked to play exclusive parties for a cellphone company, but the focus is returning, as it should be, to the up-and-comers.

  • SXSW: Henry Rollins and his 'massive punk-rock fraud'

    March 17, 2015

    To hear Henry Rollins tell it, the fearsome Black Flag singer has been desperately spending the last few decades trying to disguise his inadequacy. Touring alongside bands such as Husker Du and Saccharine Trust in the '80s, he recognized "I was less talented, so I needed plan B, C, D and E ..."

  • Kendrick Lamar delivers masterful 'To Pimp a Butterfly'

    March 17, 2015

    So what would the late Tupac Shakur and the very much living Kendrick Lamar talk about if they were ever to meet face to face in the next life? According to Lamar, they'd dish on economic inequality, revolution and racial metaphors about caterpillars and butterflies.

  • Lightning Bolt unmasks its nastiness on 'Fantasy Empire'

    March 13, 2015

    The Providence, R.I., duo Lightning Bolt defies category and even personal identification – drummer Brian Chippendale is prone to wearing serial-killer masks in concert.

  • YOB gets spiritual at 120 dB

    March 12, 2015

    Mike Scheidt isn't just the singer and guitarist in Portland heavyweights YOB. He's a diehard, one of those guys who found his life's purpose buried inside the long, lava-flow suites he composes for the doom metal band.

  • 'Blurred Lines' verdict blurs artistic lines

    March 11, 2015

    There's a reason the vast majority of musical infringement cases in the music world don’t end up in front of a jury.

  • Review: Tweedy at the Vic

    March 7, 2015

    Jeff Tweedy had a couple of running gags going Friday in the first of two concerts at the Vic Theatre with his family group Tweedy. One was about a headache that apparently had him moving at less than full speed. The other was about the abundance of waltzes in the set.

  • Madonna shows vulnerability behind 'Rebel Heart'

    March 6, 2015

    The previous two Madonna studio albums, "MDNA" (2012) and "Hard Candy" (2008), have come off as transparent attempts at co-opting the latest waves of dance music. She used to be a step ahead of the mainstream, artfully cannibalizing underground danceclub moves and turning them into pop gold. Now she was playing catch-up.

  • Skrillex to join Diplo in Jack U as Spring Awakening headliner

    March 5, 2015

    Jack U – the all-star DJ combo of Skrillex and Diplo – will make its Midwest debut at the Spring Awakening Festival on June 12-14 in Soldier Field.

  • Of Montreal: Glam meets gloom

    March 4, 2015

    Of Montreal's Kevin Barnes spent a good portion of his childhood making music by himself in his bedroom. Over 13 albums in two decades, he's always liked the notion of living inside his own musical world, shut out from mainstream culture. So how to explain the often outrageous performer who shows up on stage in feather boas, wings and facepaint while simulating activities that might make Lady Gaga do a double-take?

  • Grateful Dead promoter plans to do right for shut-out fans

    March 3, 2015

    If you’re one of the hundreds of thousands of Grateful Dead fans who got shut out of tickets for the band’s 50th anniversary shows July 3-5 in Soldier Field, promoter Peter Shapiro has some good news for you.

  • Screaming Females sand down the rough edges

    February 27, 2015

    For a decade, Marissa Paternoster, the diminutive dynamo at the heart of Screaming Females, has sung and played guitar with a ferocity that dares to be contained. The voice shakes with conviction, and her guitar fills and solos combust in a way that suggests the hyper-speed virtuosity of thrash metal or the most progressive alternative-rock bands (she grew up on a steady diet of Billy Corgan riffs).

  • Punch Brothers give traditionalism an ice bath

    February 26, 2015

    Punch Brothers' co-founder Chris Thile describes his band's music in violent terms – slaps and ice baths get mentioned. But it's all good, because it's all about channeling the world's musical consciousness. Confused? Let Thile explain:

  • Grateful Dead: Only 10 percent of ticket requests can be filled

    February 25, 2015

    "I need a miracle."

  • Torche lights up another winner

    February 20, 2015

    If it's possible to do anything quietly in Torche's loud and heavy niche of the sound spectrum, the Miami quartet has taken an unassuming path to becoming one of the last decade's most consistent and consistently powerful rock bands. With "Restarter" (Relapse), its fourth studio album since 2005 in addition to numerous EPs and collaborative projects, Torche perfects its volatile mix, a work that at least matches the potent "Meanderthal" (2008) as a career peak.

  • Review: Sleater-Kinney at the Riviera

    February 18, 2015

    A few minutes into Sleater-Kinney’s concert Tuesday at the sold-out Riviera, a rarity occurred: guitarist Carrie Brownstein smiled. Just behind her, Janet Weiss was shaking her head like a Muppet while battering her drums. To Brownstein’s left, Corin Tucker was in full wail. The fans packed in up front were way into it -- shaking fists, shouting back the words to “Price Tag” -- and who could blame them?

  • Drake draws curtains on 'If You're Reading This It's Too Late'

    February 16, 2015

    On Drake's "10 Bands," a track from the Canadian rapper's latest album/mix tape, "If You're Reading This It's Too Late" (OVO Sound/Young Money/Cash Money), keyboards toll and the global hip-hop star shrinks his world to a claustrophobic bedroom with the phone disconnected and shades drawn.

  • Pops Staples' final music finally surfaces

    February 13, 2015

    "Don't Lose This" (Anti) presents a double dose of history. Not only is it the late Roebuck "Pops" Staples' final album, it also marks the final recording by the family group that Pops founded in Chicago in the 1940s, the Staple Singers. A handful of the 10 tracks include backing vocals by the patriarch's daughters: Mavis, Yvonne and Cleotha, the Staples' lineup since the early '70s.

  • Carlene Carter re-embraces family legacy

    February 12, 2015

    Famous parents can sometimes create a legacy so towering that their children are never able to forge an identity of their own. But Carlene Carter was never daunted by the huge shadow her family cast, even though her mother was June Carter, wife of Johnny Cash, and her grandmother was country pioneer Maybelle Carter. Their central message: Be yourself.

  • Kim Gordon on her new memoir, 'Girl in a Band'

    February 12, 2015

    Kim Gordon is a founding member of Sonic Youth, visual artist, feminist icon, mother and fashion trendsetter. Now she can now add "memoirist" to her list of accomplishments. Her new "Girl in a Band," not only offers insight into music, art, the shifting tides of underground culture and the dynamics that made Sonic Youth tick, it's also more transparent about her personal life than she has ever been.

  • Civil-rights soundtrack still on freedom highway

    February 11, 2015

    In the midst of the stirring "Glory," the musical centerpiece of the Oscar-nominated movie "Selma," South Side rapper Common delivers a terse summation of how words, melody and a protest merged during the civil-rights movement.

  • Father John Misty uncorks a belter with 'Honeybear'

    February 6, 2015

    When the songwriter J. Tillman decided he didn't want to write sad, slow, self-serious songs anymore, he morphed into the fancifully named Father John Misty. After a few years as drummer and backing vocalist in revered indie-rockers Fleet Foxes, he chucked his past projects and personas – and his music and career have been all the better for it.

  • How Jason Narducy got reinspired, with a little help from his A-list friends

    February 5, 2015

    Jason Narducy once played in an Evanston band with a bunch of pre-teen friends that directly inspired a 13-year-old Dave Grohl. Later he cofounded Verbow and made a major-label album with Bob Mould as producer. But a decade ago, he began to explore other options outside of music. He and his wife had a family in Evanston and opened a painting business.

  • Super Bowl music: Katy Perry plays to her audiences

    February 1, 2015

    On her 2014 tour, Katy Perry cavorted with an animatronic horse. But because the Super Bowl demands more, she upped the ante during Sunday's halftime performance.

  • Dylan takes Sinatra to the prairie

    January 30, 2015

    Bob Dylan is as much subversive trickster as renowned songwriter, but he plays neither role on his latest album, "Shadows in the Night" (Columbia). On the surface, it's his version of one of those "Great American Songbook" albums that has been glutting the market over the last couple of decades, late-career chart grabs from the likes of Rod Stewart, Carly Simon, Annie Lennox and Paul McCartney.

  • All Things Mayfield to give Chicago soul great his due

    January 29, 2015

    If you're going to stage a full-on tribute to Curtis Mayfield, there's really only one obvious choice to channel one of the primary musical voices in the civil-rights movement. Reggie Torian had the daunting task of stepping into Mayfield's shoes as lead vocalist when the Chicago soul great left the Impressions in the early '70s to pursue a solo career, and he's been inhabiting his songs ever since.

  • Bentley, Paisley to headline lakefront music fest

    January 27, 2015

    A major mainstream country music festival will arrive this summer on the Chicago lakefront.

  • Bjork attempts to mend her heart in 'Vulnicura'

    January 22, 2015

    Last time Bjork beamed in, she was trying to piece together the fragmented cosmos in an ambitious multimedia science project, “Biophilia” (2011). Now she sets a different task for herself: how to mend a heart.

  • George Ezra on road from 'Budapest' to 2016 Grammys

    January 22, 2015

    Sam Smith is coming to town Friday as part of his first arena tour with visions of a Grammy sweep dancing in his head. But for those handicapping the Grammy race for 2016, Smith's opening act — George Ezra — has staked out an inside lane.

  • Decemberists change, but fans shouldn't panic

    January 16, 2015

    'What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World'

  • Oozing Wound serves up strong medicine

    January 15, 2015

    Kevin Cribbin, the 33-year-old bassist in Oozing Wound, never had any illusions about becoming a rock star or going "pro" as a full-time musician. He knows the music he gravitates toward is a bit too fringy and extreme for that. But playing in Oozing Wound with guitarist-singer Zack Weil and drummer Kyle Reynolds has its benefits.

  • Sleater-Kinney returns with fists raised

    January 9, 2015

    Sleater-Kinney's stature only increased while it was away. After recording seven mostly terrific albums over a decade that saw the Pacific Northwest trio grow from riot grrrl upstarts into one of the most accomplished bands of its generation, Corin Tucker, Carrie Brownstein and Janet Weiss drifted apart in 2006. Because they left on a high note, a comeback seemed only a matter of time. But how to live up to that daunting legacy?

  • Top rock shows in Chicago this winter

    January 2, 2015

    Winter has arrived, and with it a bunch of new Chicago concert bookings. Here's a sampling of some of the more notable shows in the next few months (listed chronologically):

  • Top concerts of the year

    December 31, 2014

    As we roll into a new concert season, here are my favorite shows from 2014:

  • Chicagoans of the Year in Rock Music: Bloodshot Records co-owners

    December 25, 2014

    Rob Miller and Nan Warshaw presaged "alternative country" and have now outlived it. The duo, who co-founded Bloodshot Records with Eric Babcock 20 years ago, took it one album at a time when they started out, and more than 200 albums later, they still do.

  • Looking for something musical to rock your New Year's Eve?

    December 23, 2014

    Are you shopping for a New Year's Eve party with music that's more than just background noise? There are plenty of choices for music-loving revelers this year. Here are some of the many choices (arranged in order of preference):

  • Best of the Chicago indie albums of 2014

    December 18, 2014

    Time for Turn It Up's annual look at the best albums from Chicago's independent music scene. Here are my 10 favorite local indie releases for 2014:

  • D'Angelo is back: The 'Black Messiah' review

    December 17, 2014

    “Shut your mouth off and focus on what you feel inside,” D’Angelo sings at the outset of his third album, “Black Messiah” (RCA), which arrived unexpectedly this week. He heeds his own advice, with his vocals often buried, distorted or murmured as much as sung on his first full-length studio release since 2000. He sings beautifully, often in falsetto, but just as often his voice is another instrument, a texture, a series of tones that blends with a musical landscape of shadows and rhythm.

  • Divine Styler is back, but he's not celebrating

    December 12, 2014

    Divine Styler's first album in 14 years qualifies as an event for hip-hop connoisseurs, a rare sighting of an MC with a reputation built on absence as much as the genre-busting inventiveness of his music.

  • A sleepless tradition of music, comedy serves needy

    December 11, 2014

    For the last 12 Years, Heather Whinna, Steve Albini and a few friends — including Jeff Tweedy, Fred Armisen and Second City alumni — have devoted part of their Christmas Day playing Santa Claus in some of Chicago's most destitute neighborhoods. They've delivered more than $1 million in cash and gifts to the needy.

  • Yusuf Islam at the Chicago Theatre: Cat Stevens songs and more

    December 10, 2014

    In his former incarnation as Cat Stevens, Yusuf Islam had a reputatio

  • Smashing Pumpkins go pop, sort of, on 'Monuments to an Elegy'

    December 5, 2014

    Despite the ponderous title, the Smashing Pumpkins' ninth studio album, "Monuments to an Elegy" (Martha's Music), is practically lighthearted by Billy Corgan standards. Corgan hasn't gone all One Direction on us, but it's by far his most concise, pop-oriented album as the sole remaining original member of a band that sold multimillions of albums during its '90s heyday.

  • Bob Seger's an enduring non rock-star

    December 4, 2014

    Bob Seger has never particularly looked or acted like a rock star, but he became one anyway. As a rare national tour brings the Detroit rocker to Chicago next week on the heels of his 17th studio album, "Ride Out" (Capitol), Seger remains an avuncular family man with deep roots in soul, R&B and early rock 'n' roll, and a bevy of hits, from "Ramblin' Gamblin' Man" to "Night Moves." At 69, he hasn't said whether this will be his final tour. But the show won't be far removed from the hundreds of gigs he played annually during the '60s and '70s, as he tried to translate a modicum of local fame to the national stage. In a series of Tribune interviews over the years, Seger talked extensively about the early turning points in his career. Here are a few excerpts from those conversations:

  • Top albums of 2014: The best of a busy year

    December 3, 2014

    A year-end "best of" list can't be definitive. It wouldn't be possible to listen to the thousands of albums that are released each year, and even if it were, it wouldn't be much fun. Instead, what critics and fans alike really do at the end of each year is compile a list of personal favorites. Out of the hundreds of albums that I listened to in 2014, the ones below were the ones that kept rewarding and surprising me each time I returned to them. Staying power is tough to calibrate, but for me these albums had it:

  • Bowie, Philly soul and Dylan are boxed set standouts in 2014

    December 2, 2014

    Here are some of the most notable box sets this year in rock and pop:

  • Mary J. Blige's London therapy session

    December 1, 2014

    Mary J. Blige is more than two decades deep into her career, a point when even the most gifted singers working the divide between R&B and pop start being treated like has-beens or nostalgia acts. Could the Mary-does-the-Motown-songbook album be far behind? Actually, that's not such a bad idea, but "The London Sessions" (Capitol) is an even better one. It pairs the singer with songwriters and producers who have shaped the sound of U.K. soul and club music in recent years. It's fitting, because many of those same up-and-comers have cited Blige's early albums as a key influence.

  • Lucinda Williams sings truth to power

    November 26, 2014

    When Lucinda Williams got married to her manager Tom Overby in 2009, her life changed and so did her songwriting. For decades, the Louisiana-born singer's lyrics focused on intimacy, love and the sometimes toxic consequences of deep emotional commitment. She hasn't given up those themes completely, but her 11th and latest album, the sprawling 20-track "Down Where the Spirit Meets the Bone" (Thirty Tigers), marks a shift into more topical terrain.

  • Preatures live up to their initial splash

    November 24, 2014

    The Preatures emerged as a band to watch out of Australia last year with the buoyant "Is This How You Feel?" That track anchors the quintet's debut album, "Blue Planet Eyes" (Harvest), which lives up to the single's promise.

  • Run the Jewels gives 2 great MCs new life

    November 20, 2014

    The second major collaboration between Killer Mike and El-P, "Run the Jewels 2" (Mass Appeal), is one of the year's best albums, a career high point and a commercial peak for two veteran MC's who have done strong work for decades beneath the mainstream radar.

  • Mavis Staples rescues her own tribute concert

    November 20, 2014

    For a while, it looked like a bunch of artists from parts far removed from the South Side churches where Mavis Staples built her legacy was going to keep things bland for the singer’s 75th birthday party.

  • Stevie Wonder right at home in United Center concert

    November 15, 2014

    Stevie Wonder called Chicago “my second home” as he strolled onstage Friday at the United Center, arm-in-arm with singer India.Arie.

  • TV on the Radio makes its version of a pop album

    November 14, 2014

    TV on the Radio has always been a bit of a challenge -- a band with a distinctive vocal blend and a knack for insinuating melody, but with a wicked, avant-garde flair. For some hardcore fans, it was the twists that made the songs stick. Even the relentless 2006 single "Wolf Like Me" bottomed out halfway through, like a trap door had just opened beneath the listener's feet. It wasn't just a mean trick, either; when the drums re-entered the song, it felt like a crushingly perfect payoff.

  • Mavis Staples to celebrate 75 years with all-star cast

    November 14, 2014

  • New Pornographers let their inner ELO run wild

    November 13, 2014

  • Arcade Fire members join Mavis Staples tribute concert

    November 11, 2014

  • Review: Bob Dylan at Cadillac Palace

    November 8, 2014

    Bob Dylan, inscrutable as ever, played many roles Saturday in the first of three shows at the Cadillac Palace Theatre. He was crooner and assassin, murderous messenger and lost survivor, with a little bit of Professor Longhair piano here and a bit of Frank Sinatra swooning there. His songs moved around too, skipping across eras and genres as if time were collapsing before the audience’s eyes.

  • Foo Fighters 'Sonic Highways' doesn't lead to anywhere new

    November 7, 2014

  • Bob Dylan's epic rural retreat

    November 7, 2014

    In the long history of “lost” albums during the rock era, “The Basement Tapes” by Bob Dylan and future members of The Band ranks as the mother of them all. Who knew that the informal, one-take, slapdash recording sessions among friends holed up in a basement in upstate New York during the summer of 1967 would become such a big deal?

  • FKA Twigs danced past her past into a new sound

    November 6, 2014

    After two drowsy EPs, FKA Twigs arrived this year with her first full-length album, "LP1" (Young Turks), an immersive shadow world of eerie soundscapes, disruptive noise and insinuating melody. It showcases an artist with an ability to create an entire planet of sound all her own between the headphones.

  • Neil Young songs drown in a sea of strings, horns

    November 3, 2014

    Neil Young's brilliant if confounding career has a messy inconsistency, brimming with genius but also toss-offs, digressions and disasters. A few would-be duds ("On the Beach," "Trans") proved their value over time, if not quite up to par with the classics ("Rust Never Sleeps," "Ragged Glory," "Tonight's the Night," etc.). Others ("Landing on Water," "Everybody's Rockin'") still sound misguided. So where does album No. 35, "Storytone" (Reprise), fall in this wildly divergent discography?

  • Interpol reboots after career crossroads

    October 30, 2014

  • Future of Music Summit 2014 and the issue 'that's much bigger than music'

    October 28, 2014

    "This issue is much bigger than music, it's about a free society," said Jesse Elliott, sounding more like a social economist than a guitarist in a rock band. "There are fundamental ideas (at stake), how we communicate as human beings."

  • Future of Music Day 2: How to get paid -- or not

    October 28, 2014

  • Future of Music 2014: There is no one business model, and that's not a bad thing

    October 27, 2014

    WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Transparency, that elusive virtue, was a hot item Monday at the Future of Music Policy Summit. In a music industry that has been tilting into chaos since the Napster era -- remember when the dawn of "free music" was all the rage in college dorms across the country in the fall of 1999? -- the quest for clarity has become something of a crusade.

  • Future of Music 2014: Does recorded music still have a chance?

    October 27, 2014

    WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The promise and disappointments of the music business started wrestling from the get-go Monday as the 14th annual Future of Music Policy Summit got rolling.

  • Yusuf channels blues roots of Cat Stevens

    October 27, 2014

    Yusuf Islam, formerly known as Cat Stevens, is back at age 66, and all indications are that he is not going gently into that good night of a late-career comeback.

  • Patti Smith on literary heroes, role models and Sinatra

    October 24, 2014

    Patti Smith was born in Chicago during a snowstorm in 1946. Saturday she returns to the city of her birth to receive the 2014 Chicago Tribune Literary Award, only weeks after she delivered a galvanizing set at Riot Fest in Humboldt Park, a few blocks from where she lived as a child.

  • Reflecting on Patti Smith, winner of the 2014 Tribune Literary Prize

    October 24, 2014

    It was 1975 and I was a college freshman when Patti Smith's first album, "Horses," arrived in a Milwaukee record store. I didn't know anything about her music, hadn't heard a note. But that album cover was enough to stop traffic. It intrigued, haunted and, yes, scared me a little: a stark, black-and-white photograph of the singer taken by her friend, a then relatively obscure artist named Robert Mapplethorpe. Natural light. Shaggy black hair. White shirt. A dark jacket slung over her shoulder. She resembled a young Keith Richards, androgynous, sullen, vaguely threatening. She slayed with just a stare.

  • Courtney Barnett's 'everyday' songs strike a chord

    October 23, 2014

    Last year, Courtney Barnett released a song called "Avant Gardener" about surviving a near-fatal asthma attack. It describes a moment in her garden in Melbourne, Australia, that landed her in a hospital.

  • Bonnie Raitt, Otis Clay join Mavis Staples tribute concert lineup

    October 23, 2014

    The all-star lineup for the Mavis Staples tribute concert added two heavy-hitters Thursday with Bonnie Raitt and Otis Clay.

  • Annie Lennox turns nostalgia trip into a dull ride

    October 17, 2014

    Annie Lennox, late of Eurythmics fame, is on shaky ground. "Nostalgia" (Blue Note), the title of her sixth studio album, is a loaded word, one which does not bode well for an artist once famous for pushing the outer edges of pop showmanship. And its premise, basically an American songbook rehash, is too often a phone-it-in, late-career refuge for countless rockers and divas, including Rod Stewart, Paul McCartney, Aretha Franklin and Joni Mitchell.

  • Twin Peaks is peaking at the right time

    October 16, 2014

    The four North Side Chicagoans in Twin Peaks still aren't of legal drinking age, but they've got their act together: a do-it-yourself approach that has led to two albums, an international tour, a well-received appearance at the Pitchfork Music Festival over the summer and a sense of right guys-right place-right time serendipity.

  • Bob Seger gives Nashville a few pointers

    October 10, 2014

    Bob Seger, the perpetual underdog — "the beautiful loser," to borrow from one of his best songs – has been making records since the 1960s. He finally found fame after a decade of dedicated bar-band dues-paying, and now has eased into the role of respected elder statesman who makes new studio albums at about a twice-a-decade pace.

  • Greg Dulli a big-time rock bad boy

    October 9, 2014

    Leave it to Greg Dulli to open a big outdoor set by Afghan Whigs with a song about a relationship that has turned nasty, a combination of threats and tears.

  • Weezer pretends it's 1994 on new album

    October 6, 2014

    Whatever Rivers Cuomo does in Weezer will always be held up against the band's first two albums, the self-titled "blue album" (1994) and "Pinkerton" (1996), and inevitably found wanting. Cuomo acknowledges as much on "Back to the Shack," the first single from Weezer's ninth studio album, "Everything Will Be Alright in the End" (Republic).

  • Review: Robert Plant looks ahead even when revisiting Zeppelin

    October 3, 2014

    The fans roared approval after Robert Plant and his band, the Sensational Space Shifters, resurrected “Ramble On,” a signature moment from 1969 by his long-ago band, Led Zeppelin.

  • Lucius turns two voices into one-of-a-kind sound

    October 2, 2014

    Holly Laessig and Jess Wolfe of Lucius look like mirror images of one another on stage with their platinum bobs and matching brightly colored outfits. And though their voices have a slightly different tone, they frequently overlap when tag-teaming a phone conversation with a journalist. "That was a whole lot of Jess there," they correct when I misidentify one of them over the phone. It makes sense, because their singing voices create a single identity that is signature Lucius when they harmonize.

  • Prince says let's go crazy in 2 different ways

    September 29, 2014

    In one of the most improbable reunions of the last few decades, Prince is back with the label that he claims done him so wrong in the '90s that he was compelled to scrawl the word "slave" on his face. No one does drama like the multi-purpose entertainer from Minneapolis, though, and he's back with two albums on the same day for nemesis-turned-benefactor Warner Brothers.

  • Lucinda Williams gets political, and takes it personally, on latest

    September 29, 2014

    Lucinda Williams opens her 11th studio album since 1979, "Down Where the Spirit Meets the Bone" (Thirty Tigers), from a darkened corner, with a stark, acoustic reading of "Compassion." It's a poem written by her father, Miller Williams, and it compactly conveys the grace one needs to navigate a world without a lot of it.

  • 'Take Me to the River' crosses Memphis musical boundaries

    September 25, 2014

    In the Memphis music documentary "Take Me to the River," which arrives Friday in Chicago, generations sometimes uneasily merge in the gray area between soul and rap, the past and the future. The tension is played out in tight smiles and raised eyebrows. Veteran soul singers sometimes ooze skepticism when meeting their would-be collaborators from the world of hip-hop.

  • Mavis Staples to be celebrated with star-studded concert

    September 23, 2014

    They’re a little late with the hometown 75th birthday party for Mavis Staples. But they’re making up for the tardiness with a stellar lineup Nov. 19 at the Auditorium Theatre that will include Gregg Allman, Patty Griffin, Glen Hansard, Taj Majal and Aaron Neville.

  • Sam Smith at the Riviera: Soul in its lowest key

    September 23, 2014

    There’s an old saying about great soul singers – or great singers in general – along the lines of, “I’d pay to see him sing the phone book.”

  • Music provides refuge in Tweedy family's health crisis

    September 22, 2014

    After drumming — and drumming well — on Mavis Staples' "One True Vine" album last year that was produced by his father, Wilco founder Jeff Tweedy, Spencer Tweedy might've been justified in feeling confident about future family collaborations.

  • Tweedy father-son combo shows how more can be better

    September 19, 2014

    Tweedy's "Sukierae" (dBpm Records), the debut album by Wilco singer Jeff Tweedy and his oldest son, 18-year-old Spencer, at first appears to be an unwieldy beast: 20 songs spread across more than 74 minutes, exactly the wrong type of album to release in these attention-deficient times.

  • Black Keys rise above panic, divorce, popularity

    September 19, 2014

    The Black Keys are that rare 21st-century rock band that just keeps ascending. Singer-guitarist Dan Auerbach and drummer Patrick Carney have been together for more than a decade and have slowly climbed from the dirtiest, dankest of basements and clubs to headline theaters and, now, stadiums. They'll play two concerts Sept. 27-28 at the United Center, their biggest set of shows yet in Chicago on the heels of three straight top-five albums.

  • Benjamin Booker an earth-shaking upstart

    September 18, 2014

    Benjamin Booker's self-titled debut album brims with feral blues-punk songs sung in a raw, grainy voice that sounds like it belongs to a 60-year-old soul survivor rather than a fresh-faced, 25-year-old upstart. Only a year ago, Booker was working at a coffee shop and had just started playing an electric guitar in public for the first time.

  • Riot Fest, where the punk comes in all sizes and generations

    September 14, 2014

    Hundreds of fans stood shivering in the rain for 75 minutes to listen to two Russian women speak about how they came to be imprisoned for participating in a feminist protest.

  • It's pro-Bono: U2's new album invades your iTunes

    September 12, 2014

    Whether you want it there or not, U2's new album, “Songs of Innocence,” has moved into your iTunes library. The coffee is on, the furniture's in and Bono's got his feet up on the couch waiting for the cable guy to visit. Like just about everything the Irish quartet has done for, oh, the past 35 years, the arrival of free music is not so much a “gift” — as it's being framed by the band and its corporate partner, Apple — as an invasion.

  • Riot Fest only seems like it has every band in America

    September 11, 2014

    In its 10th year, Riot Fest is bigger than ever. Originally a punk and metal festival spread out across several clubs, the festival moved into Humboldt Park in 2012 with an expanded lineup headlined by Iggy Pop and the reunited Stooges — plus, there were carnival rides, including a massive Ferris wheel. Take that, Lollapalooza.

  • Interpol roars through the gloom on 'El Pintor'

    September 8, 2014

    Against the odds, Interpol is back with its fifth studio album, "El Pintor" (Matador), and it wears the scars of the band's fractured past well. One is tempted to say Interpol sounds rejuvenated, though that's a strange word to apply to a band whose music has always been shrouded in tension and gloom. But it's clearly a return to the form of its first two defining albums, way back at the start of the new century.

  • A bounty of fall sonics, from Swift to Prince

    September 5, 2014

    The fall always brings a windfall of new music, and this year is no exception. Albums are expected by everyone from Taylor Swift to Shellac, and Jason Aldean to Aphex Twin. Prince is back in a big way, and the dream team is at it again — who else but Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett? Here's a rundown of some of the most anticipated new releases:

  • Usher, Black Keys among fall's big concerts

    September 5, 2014

    The action starts to move indoors as fall descends, and there is a legion of impressive concerts to choose from during this busy season in the touring business. Here are 10 of the most highly anticipated concerts arranged chronologically:

  • Twin Peaks don't let a bad break stop them

    September 5, 2014

    Twin Peaks would seem to have been at a disadvantage when the band took the big stage at the Pitchfork Music Festival in Union Park over the summer with singer-guitarist Cadien Lake James in a wheelchair, his leg in a cast.

  • Garth Brooks introduces new digital music service

    September 4, 2014

    Garth Brooks announced a new digital music service,, Thursday as a prelude to the comeback he is launching with an 11-concert residency at the Allstate Arena.

  • War on Drugs takes it personally

    September 4, 2014

    While making the War on Drugs' third studio album, "Lost in the Dream" (Jajaguwar), Adam Granduciel was having one of those what-does-it-all-mean? moments.

  • Garth Brooks launches comeback at Allstate Arena

    September 4, 2014

    “The competition's getting younger, tougher broncs, you know I can’t recall,” Garth Brooks sang Thursday at the Allstate Arena like a road-weary troubadour wary of all the changes that have passed him by while he was away from the music business.

  • Robert Plant's wandering days aren't done

    August 29, 2014

    Robert Plant could be making millions on a reunion tour with Led Zeppelin, but instead he's become the black sheep of the Zep family – roaming far-off hills in search of new adventures. In a quirky solo career that has now carried on three times as long as Zeppelin, Plant has had some hits and misses, but he's never taken the straight or predictable path.

  • Alex Wiley gets serious about becoming a great MC

    August 28, 2014

    In a city swarming with hip-hop talent, Alex Wiley knows that it's all about the individuality of the voice, and he's figuring out how to transition from a joke-teller to an MC with a story to tell. He's starting to shape the way he delivers that tale on his second mix tape, "Village Party," on the rapidly rising Chicago imprint Closed Sessions.

  • Arcade Fire throws United Center dance party

    August 26, 2014

    Even when Regine Chassagne was singing about “dead shopping malls” and punching clocks as a worker drone, balloons descended, streamers waved, and dancers twerked in skeleton suits.

  • Tom Petty at United Center: The stealth protest singer

    August 24, 2014

    Outside the circle of power in Washington, D.C., it’s difficult not to wonder who those pontificating, posturing, name-calling politicians are going on about and who, exactly, do they work for? 

  • New Pornographers zero in on the upbeat on 'Brill Bruisers'

    August 22, 2014

    "Brill Bruisers" evokes a gang you wouldn't want to mess with, and the New Pornographers are surely that. They've got an overabundance of idiosyncratic talents packed into one band, including founder A.C. Newman, Neko Case and Dan Bejar. Each has done estimable work individually, and Case in particular is a star in her own right.

  • Reigning Sound dials down volume, amplifies soul

    August 20, 2014

    Greg Cartwright spent a good part of last year testing the limits of amplifiers and eardrums with his reunited Memphis punk band, the Oblivians. A good time was had by all on the heels of a rampaging album, "Desperation."

  • Benjamin Booker arrives with a blast of chaos

    August 15, 2014

    The self-titled debut album by Benjamin Booker begins with an avalanche set in motion by a guitar riff. Tribal drums join the commotion, then a grainy voice. "Where I'm goin', I never know." The singer doesn't sound upset or confused. "We found a way," he declares, comfortable in the chaos he and his tiny two-man band have created.

  • Boogarins: From a basement in Brazil to living the dream

    August 14, 2014

    Boogarins' cofounder Benke Ferraz is answering his phone backstage after a concert in Cologne, Germany, sounding very much like the awestruck 20-year-old that he is. Last year, Ferraz and Fernando Almeida were a couple of high school friends in Goiania, Brazil, working on their music with second-hand and homemade gear in the basement of Ferraz's parents' home. They never had been far outside the city limits in their young lives. Now they find themselves playing to audiences around the world while opening for bands they have long admired, such as Neutral Milk Hotel and Of Montreal.

  • Sinead O'Connor pursues proof that she's the boss

    August 11, 2014

    About halfway through Sinead O'Connor's latest album, "I'm Not Bossy, I'm the Boss" (Nettwerk), the listener could be forgiven for thinking the title and the glam-rocker-in-latex cover photo are some kind of ironic joke. Yes, she may look like the boss, but there's nothing bossy about the first half-dozen tunes, just a smooth series of adult-pop pleasantries from a woman who rarely serves as anyone's background music. At her best, O'Connor works extremes — from soul-wrenching balladeer to banshee punk — and there's none of that here.

  • Review: Katy Perry brings her bag of tricks to the United Center

    August 8, 2014

    Katy Perry did not arrive empty-handed Thursday to the United Center. She came bearing a stadium-sized trick bag full of stunts, props and distractions that glow in the dark, fly around the balconies and even deliver pizza to the fans.

  • Andrew Bird shares his Handsome Family obsession

    August 7, 2014

    Andrew Bird remembers exactly where he was and how he felt when he first heard the music of the Handsome Family 16 years ago in Chicago. It set him on a path from which there was no turning back, culminating in Bird's latest album, a collection of Handsome Family covers, "Things are Really Great Here, Sort Of …"  (Wegawam Music).

  • Spoon finds its soul on new album

    August 4, 2014

    Spoon has a reputation for arty minimalism. Its pithy albums suggest a cool remove, a distaste for wasted notes or wasted emotions.

  • Review: Oldies and newbies at Lollapalooza 2014

    August 3, 2014

    Nostalgia tried to crash the big weekend party in Grant Park. Five of the six headliners had played Lollapalooza before, and two of the most anticipated sets were by hip-hop artists — Eminem and OutKast — whose greatest hits are a decade old or more.

  • Review: Tom Petty is Mr. Reliable again with 'Hypnotic Eye'

    July 28, 2014

    The sun rises in the East, death and taxes will get you every time, and Tom Petty won't let you down. It's also really easy to take what he does, what he makes seem so effortless, for granted. Some artists just have a built-in reliability, and fans of Petty have few stinkers to deal with in a 13-album stretch of consistency that reaches back to the '70s.

  • Review: Beyonce and Jay Z concert at Soldier Field

    July 25, 2014

    Between them, Beyonce and Jay Z have sold 150 million albums, won 34 Grammy awards, produced one daughter (Blue Ivy Carter) and kept countless gossip aggregators and rumor mongers in business.

  • Review: Jack White concert at the Chicago Theatre

    July 24, 2014

    “Blunderbuss,” the title of Jack White’s first solo album, suggests a scattershot approach to American music rather than a focused exploration. Everything is possible, nothing is out of reach.

  • Review: Jenny Lewis cushions the fall with 'The Voyager'

    July 21, 2014

    Though she's best known for her stint in the pop-rock band Rilo Kiley, Jenny Lewis has done her best work as a solo artist, and "The Voyager" continues the trend.

  • Review: Pitchfork's best acts are growing into their stardom

    July 20, 2014

    It was an idyllic weekend in Union Park, and when Neutral Milk Hotel's Jeff Mangum held the stage by himself with just an acoustic guitar, it got even better.

  • Review: Morrissey's 'World Peace is None of Your Business'

    July 14, 2014

    A handful of tracks on Morrissey's 10th studio album, "World Peace Is None of Your Business" (Harvest/Capitol), begin or end with a queasy burble of low-volume noise, like something out of the soundtrack to "The Walking Dead." All is not well in the singer's world, and ardent fans (are there really any other kind?) wouldn't have it any other way.

  • Tommy Ramone, last surviving Ramones cofounder, dead at 65

    July 12, 2014

    Tommy Ramone, who died Friday of cancer at 65, was the last surviving original member of the Ramones, and also perhaps the most low key and least-known. But he was essential to shaping the pioneering punk quartet’s sound and image.

  • Downtown Sound series proves Millennium Park can rock

    July 12, 2014

    The Downtown Sound music series is now a Monday night fixture during the summer at Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park, but it wasn't always so.

  • Review: Lady Gaga's twisted take on fame at United Center

    July 12, 2014

    There was a bearded nun and 6-foot-plus drag queen in hot pants and stacked heels. There were bunny ears, pig noses, military officers caps and a dominatrix in fishnets and leather. Glitter? Check. Tutus? Check. Tie-dye boas? Check. Christmas-light bracelets and necklaces? Of course!

  • The second time's the charm for Eno-Hyde collaboration

    June 30, 2014

    Brian Eno and Underworld's Karl Hyde had themselves a time in the studio recently, emerging with not one but two albums released in quick succession the last two months.

  • Soul poet Bobby Womack dead at 70

    June 28, 2014

    Bobby Womack, the revered “poet” of soul music for his prowess as a songwriter as well as singer and guitarist, died Friday at 70.

  • Robison and Willis collaborate on more than a marriage

    June 26, 2014

    Bruce Robison and Kelly Willis have been married for 20 years and have four children, but their musical careers have largely been solo affairs. Oh, sure, they've contributed to each other's albums, but for the most part Willis has earned acclaim as a singer who can deliver rockabilly attitude or honky-tonk heartbreak in equal measure, while Robison has excelled as a producer and songwriter, with artists such as George Strait ("Desperately"), Tim McGraw ("Angry All the Time") and the Dixie Chicks ("Travelin' Soldier") scoring hits with his tunes.

  • Bob Mould concert at Millennium Park

    June 24, 2014

    Bob Mould’s at that age when he can write a song like “Hey Mr. Grey” with its command to “get off my lawn!” and have more in common with the curmudgeon yelling from the doorstep instead of the punk-rock kid in the front yard.

  • Concert review: Bruno Mars in Tinley Park

    June 21, 2014

    “You’re amazing,” Bruno Mars crooned, “just the way you are.”

  • Mastodon reins in ambition, pumps up the melody

    June 20, 2014

    If not exactly lighthearted, "Once More 'Round the Sun" (Reprise) is certainly the brightest and catchiest of the six Mastodon albums.

  • Swans takes flight again and finds vindication

    June 19, 2014

    As the first incarnation of his mighty (and mightily misunderstood) Swans was winding down in the late '90s, the band's founder and driving force, Michael Gira, expressed his frustration. "Loud, ugly, brutal — the idea follows us around that the most horrible experience of your life would be to see a Swans show," he said in a Tribune interview after announcing the band's farewell. "There is just too much atmosphere around the name. It has codified what I do and I can't break out of it."

  • Review: Lana Del Rey acts up a storm on 'Ultraviolence'

    June 16, 2014

    "Everybody knows that I'm a mess," Lana Del Rey sings on her third studio album, "Ultraviolence" (Polydor/Interscope). But, of course, everybody knows she's just being a tease. After erstwhile folk-popster Lizzy Grant reinvented herself as the "gangster Nancy Sinatra," Del Rey became an actress as much as a singer.

  • Morrissey cancels U.S. tour, Chicago date

    June 10, 2014

    Morrissey has canceled his U.S. tour, including a show scheduled Friday for the Civic Opera House.

  • Concert review: Kelis at Park West

    June 10, 2014

    Kelis, the girl whose milkshake once brought all the boys to the yard, was back in town Monday at the Park West. “Milkshake,” her massive 2003 hit, was still on the menu, but its blend of sex, defiance and drums is now just one ingredient for a multifaceted artist.

  • Jack White best when blowing past musical borders in 'Lazaretto'

    June 9, 2014


  • Coldplay 'Ghost Stories' review

    May 19, 2014

    Give Coldplay this: After its biggest-selling album and most successful tour, a $110 million jaunt across the world’s arenas and stadiums with big anthems to match, the quiet, insular “Ghost Stories” (Atlantic) was hardly expected.

  • Michael Jackson can't escape his past in 'Xscape'

    May 12, 2014


  • Album review: The Black Keys, 'Turn Blue'

    May 12, 2014

    On "Turn Blue" (Nonesuch), their eighth album, the Black Keys slip further away from their muddy, grungy blues-rock origins. The duo of Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney began more than a decade ago with an Ohio-centric garage-punk take on Mississippi hill-country boogie. Over seven increasingly ambitious albums, they refined the approach, and "Turn Blue" contains their most atmospheric and somber music yet.

  • Review: Queens of the Stone Age at the Aragon

    May 6, 2014

    Queens of the Stone Age singer-guitarist Josh Homme towers over his band, the audience, his music. He’s an imposing figure in no-nonsense black shirt and jeans, with a scarf dangling from his back pocket like a tail or a talisman. He exudes don’t-mess-with-me presence.

  • Lily Allen returns with anti-diva pop

    May 2, 2014


  • Angel Olsen finds there's power in numbers

    May 1, 2014

    Angel Olsen started out playing the coffeehouse circuit in St. Louis and established herself as a solo performer in Chicago after her first EP and album. But now the newly minted Ashville, N.C., resident is also a band leader, and it's opened up her sound in a way that seemed completely out of reach two years ago.

  • Snoop Dogg, Bassnectar, Kid Cudi to headline North Coast festival

    May 1, 2014

  • Downtown Sound lineup includes Bob Mould and Robbie Fulks

    April 29, 2014

    Bob Mould, Richard Thompson and Shara Worden’s My Brightest Diamond are among the headliners for this summer's Downtown Sound, Millennium Park’s annual free concert series.

  • DJ Rashad dead at 34: 'Music lost a legend'

    April 28, 2014

    DJ Rashad, aka Rashad Harden, started out as a dancer in Chicago clubs and streetcorners, and turned into a pioneering producer. He helped usher in the next wave of dance music known as footwork.

  • Damon Albarn explores his melancholy inner robot

    April 25, 2014

    'Everyday Robots'

  • Neil Young concert at Chicago Theatre

    April 22, 2014

    His eyes shaded by a black fedora, Neil Young strapped on a guitar that  once belonged to Hank Williams Sr. and leaned in, as if ready to whisper in someone’s ear.

  • Kelis serves a musical feast with 'Food'

    April 21, 2014

    After such hits as the playful "Milkshake" and a trio of albums with producer Pharrell Williams and Neptunes, Kelis experimented with everything from retro soul to electronic dance music with mixed results. Now 34, Kelis Rogers has been making music for half her life, and the last few years of stylistic experimentation have resolved in her focused, long-simmering sixth album, "Food" (Ninja Tune/IRIS).

  • 'Motown' is Berry Gordy's memory box

    April 18, 2014

    How to tell the story of Berry Gordy, the visionary who signed and nurtured Diana Ross, Smokey Robinson, Marvin Gaye, Gladys Knight, Stevie Wonder and countless other Motown hit-makers? The self-described "bum with a dream" who built Motown Records into an empire?

  • Lydia Loveless turns frustration into songwriting gold

    April 17, 2014

    The most difficult album to make just might be the one where the artist knows people will be paying attention. After one obscure release and a second album that brought her a wave of acclaim, Lydia Loveless met the challenge earlier this year on her third full-length, "Somewhere Else" (Bloodshot). But not without some speed bumps along the way.

  • Review: 'The Jesus Lizard Book'

    April 11, 2014

    'The Jesus Lizard Book" is a beautiful document of a band that wasn't afraid to be abrasive, chaotic, brutal and, sometimes, ugly. A sharply designed coffee-table book for a band that left bruises wherever it went — most of them on the tiny but resilient body of vocalist/provocateur David Yow? It seems like a contradiction.

  • The Both: Aimee Mann and Ted Leo form one heck of a band

    April 7, 2014

    'The Both'

  • Emmylou Harris returns to 'Wrecking Ball'

    April 3, 2014

    In 1996, Emmylou Harris headlined a rapturously received concert at the Park West, where she broke out plenty of new material far removed from her days as the coolest cowgirl in country music. She was coming off a groundbreaking 1995 album, "Wrecking Ball," with producer Daniel Lanois, best known for his atmospheric rock productions with U2, Bob Dylan and Peter Gabriel.

  • Frankie Knuckles: His Chicago sound was heard around the world

    April 1, 2014

    Frankie Knuckles, who died Monday at age 59 in Chicago, was not just the "godfather" of Chicago house music. He was a pioneer in the way he cultivated a culture, a sound and a community around dance music that decades later encompasses the world.

  • Shows that shook Wrigley all night long

    April 1, 2014

    The Cubs entered the concert promotion business with a certain amount of trepidation in 2005. It took Jimmy Buffett a decade to persuade the team's front office that hosting a rock concert at Wrigley Field would be a good idea.

  • Frankie Knuckles, house music 'godfather,' dead at 59

    April 1, 2014

    In Chicago, Frankie Knuckles was called the “godfather,” not because of any underworld connections, but because he helped build house – a style of Chicago dance music that revolutionized club culture in the ‘70s and ‘80s and still resonates around the world today.

  • Kraftwerk in 3-D at the Riviera concert review

    March 28, 2014

    As fans filtered into the Riviera on Thursday for a sold-out Kraftwerk concert, they were handed cardboard 3-D glasses. Followers of the group – so revered for its ahead-of-its-time music and image – might’ve expected something a little more high-tech. A space suit, perhaps?

  • Full Lolla lineup familiar at the top

    March 26, 2014

    Outkast and Calvin Harris will join Eminem, Arctic Monkeys, Kings of Leon and Skrillex as headliners Aug. 1-3 at Lollapalooza. If that sounds a bit familiar, it should — five of the six top acts have played Lollapalooza before.

  • Hold Steady ramps up the drama on 'Teeth Dreams'

    March 21, 2014

    'Teeth Dreams'

  • Pitchfork festival completes lineup with St. Vincent, Danny Brown

    March 20, 2014

    St. Vincent, Danny Brown and Cloud Nothings were among the acts added Thursday to complete the Pitchfork Music Festival lineup.

  • Lorde reigns at Aragon

    March 19, 2014

    Surrounded by electric candles Tuesday at the sold-out Aragon, 17-year-old Lorde described a “rite of passage” with her sister and best friend a year ago, and confessed that it terrified her to feel like she was taking an irrevocable step into adulthood.

  • SXSW: Psychedelia lives!

    March 14, 2014

    AUSTIN, Texas -- The Texas capital has been an epicenter of psychedelic rock since Roky Erickson virtually invented the genre here in the '60s, and Thursday the sound was carried forward by bands from Japan to the Pacific Northwest.

  • SXSW: Achieving 'cult artist' status

    March 13, 2014

    AUSTIN, Texas -- Of the 2,000 bands and artists at the South by Southwest Music Conference, very few will become pop stars, and the vast majority will remain obscure. Most would be glad to attain "cult artist" status, the double-edged musical life explored in two panels Thursday.

  • SXSW: The rapid rise of Moses Sumney

    March 13, 2014

    AUSTIN, TEXAS -- Moses Sumney stood alone with just his electric guitar and whispery whisp of a falsetto. He electronically looped his voice into a choir; shaped his tongue clicks, handclaps and finger snaps into a rhythm section; and gently plucked the six strings until they sounded like a harp. Pretty soon the sound was coming at the entranced audience in undulating waves.

  • Over-sold Chance the Rapper show shut down at SXSW

    March 12, 2014

    AUSTIN, TEXAS -- It didn't go exactly as planned, but in a way Chance the Rapper's truncated set in the early hours of Wednesday morning affirmed the message that a legion of Chicago heavy hitters tried to impart at the South by Southwest Interactive and Music conferences.

  • Review: Pharrell Williams keeps it light with 'G I R L'

    March 3, 2014

    Pharrell Williams has a knack for turning "not much" into a little slice of dance-floor joy. "Happy," the first single from his new album, "G I R L" (Columbia), came out in connection with an animated movie, "Despicable Me 2," and it doesn't pretend to be anything more than a pop trifle. "Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof," Williams exults.

  • Review: Paul Simon and Sting at the United Center

    February 26, 2014

    Here’s something you don’t see everyday: Sting deferring, complementing, and hanging back. It happened Tuesday at the United Center, with the former Police bassist handling his new role as sidekick to Paul Simon with what appeared to be genuine enthusiasm.

  • Lydia Loveless 'Somewhere Else' review

    February 25, 2014

  • Beck 'Morning Phase' review

    February 24, 2014

  • Review: Angel Olsen's new album builds on her life's dramas

    February 17, 2014

    Angel Olsen has the kind of voice built for drama. When she swoops into her upper register, her occasionally claustrophobic songs about fraying relationships become almost operatic.

  • Tonight's top show: Hologram Kizzie (Psalm One) at Hideout

    February 11, 2014

  • Review: Against Me! singer chronicles her transgender blues

    February 10, 2014

    'Transgender Dysphoria Blues'

  • Neutral Milk Hotel at the Riviera concert review

    February 7, 2014

  • Pusha T pushes beyond Clipse

    February 6, 2014

    Pusha T, born Terrence Thornton in 1977, was in one of the best hip-hop groups of the new millennium, Clipse, a duo he formed with his older brother Gene "No Malice" Thornton in Virginia Beach. That the group is no longer active after Gene's conversion to Christianity frustrates Thornton, but he's moved on with a well-received 2013 solo album, "My Name is My Name" (G.O.O.D. Music).

  • Kaskade, Pretty Lights, Tiesto to headline Spring Awakening

    February 4, 2014

    Spring Awakening, the massive electronic dance music festival, will return to Soldier Field for its third year June 13-15 with headliners Kaskade, Pretty Lights and Tiesto.

  • Review: Broken Bells can't quite make all the songs ring

    February 3, 2014

    "After the Disco"

  • Review: Shrinking Super Bowl entertainment

    February 2, 2014

    Call it the incredible shrinking Super Bowl halftime.

  • Jeff Mangum: Myth, mystery and enduring songs

    January 30, 2014

    After a decade-plus hiatus that turned him into indie-rock's version of the prodigal son, Jeff Mangum is back, this time with a reunited version of his '90s band, Neutral Milk Hotel, for two sold out concerts next week at the Riviera.

  • Pete Seeger delivered the news for generations

    January 28, 2014

    Pete Seeger was a working-class advocate who delivered the news in songs that could be sung by everyone, in four-part harmony. “I'll sing out danger, I'll sing out warning,” he sang, “I'll sing out love between my brothers and my sisters, all over this land.”

  • REVIEW: 'Grass Punks' from Tom Brosseau

    January 27, 2014

    'Grass Punks'

  • St. Lucia builds on jingle-writing lessons

    January 23, 2014

    Jean-Philip Grobler spent years churning out commercial jingles to pay the bills while working on the music that really inspired him.

  • Grammy prediction: Who will win and who got shafted

    January 22, 2014

    At the 56th annual Grammy Awards Jan. 26(7 p.m. on CBS) the Recording Academy again aims to reward "artistic excellence" in 82 categories. Below are foolhardy predictions on how the thousands of academy members will vote for some of the key awards, and several worthy artists the Grammys shouldn't have ignored (remember, only recordings released from Oct. 1, 2012, through Sept. 30 are eligible).

  • Billy Joel to headline Wrigley Field

    January 16, 2014

    Billy Joel will become the first artist to headline Wrigley Field twice when he performs at the historic ballpark July 18, promoters Live Nation announced Thursday.

  • How the Everly Brothers' harmonies shaped pop music

    January 4, 2014

    Appreciation by Greg Kot: The sound of "All I Have to do is Dream" echoed through the minds of the still-nascent Beatles, Byrds, Beach Boys and countless other soon-to-be-icons.

  • Winter 2014 in Rock/Pop Music: From Jay Z to John Prine

    January 3, 2014

    Even in the coldest months, there is no slowdown in the Chicago concert season. Here's a sampling of some of the more notable shows in the next few months (listed chronologically):

  • Review: Kanye West at the United Center

    December 18, 2013

  • 'Beyonce' album review: More than the delivery is a surprise

    December 14, 2013

  • Drake at the United Center, full of contradictions

    December 13, 2013

  • Top Chicago indie albums of 2013

    December 12, 2013

  • Jay Z, Macklemore & Lewis lead Grammy nominations

    December 6, 2013

  • Chance the Rapper triumphs at the Riviera

    November 27, 2013

  • Warlocks, 'Skull Worship' review

    November 26, 2013

  • Styx, REO to headline tornado relief concert

    November 22, 2013

  • John Prine to have cancer surgery

    November 22, 2013

  • Blood Orange, 'Cupid Deluxe' review

    November 17, 2013

  • My Bloody Valentine at the Aragon review

    November 4, 2013

  • Eminem, 'The Marshall Mathers LP2' review

    November 3, 2013

    2 stars (out of 4)

  • Future of Music Summit 2013: Patience and revolution

    October 29, 2013

    WASHINGTON, D.C. -- In the words of the scheming royal adviser Littlefinger in the cable-TV series "Game of Thrones," "Chaos is a ladder."

  • Arcade Fire, 'Reflektor' review

    October 27, 2013

  • Janelle Monae concert at the Vic

    October 22, 2013

  • Katy Perry, 'Prism' album review

    October 20, 2013

    2 stars (out of 4)

  • Fans get involved at The Weeknd concert

    October 14, 2013

  • Tonight's top shows: Franz Ferdinand, Tame Impala

    October 10, 2013

  • Haim, 'Days are Gone' review

    October 7, 2013

    2 stars (out of 4)

  • Review: Atoms for Peace at UIC Pavilion

    October 3, 2013

  • Justin Timberlake, 'The 20/20 Experience 2 of 2' review

    September 30, 2013

  • Drake, 'Nothing Was the Same' review

    September 22, 2013

    3.5 stars (out of 4)

  • Top weekend shows: Disappears, Chicago Music Summit

    September 19, 2013

  • Replacements at Riot Fest concert review

    September 16, 2013

    “I’m an old hand at this,” the Replacements’ Paul Westerberg cracked as he ripped out and threw away a clock at his feet that was supposed to keep him from blowing curfew Sunday at rain-soaked Riot Fest in Humboldt Park. “I’m a music business professional.”

  • Laurie Anderson 9/11 concert at Park West revisited

    September 11, 2013

    On the night of Sept. 11, 2001, Laurie Anderson decided to go ahead with her scheduled performance at Park West, even though her city had been devastated earlier that day. Here's my Tribune review of that performance.

  • Janelle Monae, 'The Electric Lady' review

    September 9, 2013

    3 stars (out of 4)

  • Neko Case, Mavis Staples captivating at Hideout

    September 7, 2013

    A few thousand people enjoying a lovely late-summer evening is not the ideal moment to sing an a cappella lament about a family tragedy. But Neko Case pulled it off Friday at the Hideout Block Party and A.V. Fest.

  • Top weekend shows: Hideout Block Party, Miranda Lambert

    September 6, 2013

  • Vic Mensa steps up

    September 5, 2013

    It's been quite a run for Chicago hip-hop the last few years. Hard-edged drill music from the South Side led by Chief Keef, King Louie, Lil Durk and producer Young Chop hit nationwide first. Then came the soul-dipped textures of Chance the Rapper, Prob Cause and Tree.

  • Nine Inch Nails, 'Hesitation Marks' review

    September 3, 2013

    2 stars (out of 4)

  • Neko Case, 'The Worse Things Get ...' album review

    September 2, 2013

    3.5 stars (out of 4)

  • Top weekend shows: North Coast Festival, Mudhoney

    August 30, 2013

  • Lady Gaga at VMAs

    August 25, 2013

    It’s not every day that you get a reference to an Ingmar Bergman movie and avant-pop iconoclast Klaus Nomi in a pop performance, but that’s what Lady Gaga gave viewers Sunday of MTV’s Video Music Awards in the live debut of her latest single, “Applause.”

  • Superchunk, 'I Hate Music' album review

    August 16, 2013

    3.5 stars (out of 4)

  • Sam Phillips, 'Push Any Button' album review

    August 12, 2013

    3.5 stars (out of 4)

  • Being minimalist doesn't mean boring for Majical Cloudz

    August 8, 2013

    Majical Cloudz singer Devon Welsh has a performance style that really isn't about "performance" or "style" at all. There's nothing choreographed about it. Welsh and keyboardist Matthew Otto deliver minimalist music that is all about leaving the singer as vulnerable and in the moment as possible, an extension of the beautiful if tumultuous songs on their latest album, "Impersonator" (Matador).

  • D'Angelo House of Blues concert canceled

    August 5, 2013

    D’Angelo’s concert Wednesday at House of Blues was canceled Monday “due to a medical emergency.”

  • Death Grips canceled at Lollapallooza

    August 3, 2013

    Lollapalooza canceled a Saturday performance by the notorious agit-rap group Death Grips. They were replaced in the 8:45 p.m. slot on the Grove stage by Los Angeles rock band Bad Things.

  • Rainy start to day one of Lollapalooza

    August 3, 2013

    Lollapalooza opened in Grant Park on Friday to -- what else? -- rain and a soggy turf that required wood chips to be imported and portions of Hutchinson Field to be roped off. Inclement weather is now a regular visitor at this festival, especially after a major storm prompted a brief evacuation last year.

  • Robin Thicke, 'Blurred Lines' album review

    July 29, 2013

    2 stars (out of 4)

  • Justin Timberlake and Jay Z at Soldier Field concert review

    July 23, 2013

    A telling moment arrived near the end of Jay Z and Justin Timberlake’s “Legends of the Summer” concert Monday at Soldier Field.

  • Pitchfork Music Festival wraps up with M.I.A. and R.Kelly

    July 21, 2013

    Here's how the final day of the Pitchfork Music Festival went down Sunday in Union Park, with commentary from yours truly (GK) and Bob Gendron (BG):

  • Concert review: Pearl Jam at Wrigley Field

    July 20, 2013

    Pearl Jam’s next album is entitled “Lightning Bolt,” which proved prophetic Friday at Wrigley Field as the band and its fans endured a 2 ½-hour rain delay. Sandwiched around the evacuation of the stage and infield, the Seattle quintet delivered a typically overstuffed 32-song, three-hour set.

  • Rain delay for Pearl Jam at Wrigley Field

    July 20, 2013

    Weather played havoc with at least three of the major outdoor music shows in Chicago Friday night.

  • Pitchfork preview: Your guide to every festival act

    July 19, 2013

  • Beyonce at United Center concert review

    July 18, 2013

    Beyonce and some of her famous friends – most notably First Lady Michelle Obama and her two daughters – showed up Wednesday at the United Center to throw a giant girl-power party.

  • Album review: Van Dyke Parks, 'Songs Cycled'

    July 15, 2013

  • Concert review: Robert Plant at Taste of Chicago

    July 12, 2013

  • Replacements reunion: Genius or folly?

    July 12, 2013

  • Handsome Family sing 'language of dreams'

    July 12, 2013

  • Top weekend shows: Bob Dylan, Robert Plant, West Fest

    July 12, 2013

  • Queens of the Stone Age to play Lolla aftershow at Metro

    July 10, 2013

  • Album review: Jay-Z, 'Magna Carta ... Holy Grail'

    July 9, 2013

    "Magna Carta ... Holy Grail" isn't an artistic statement so much as a laundry list of acquisitions and accomplishments. It's the musical equivalent of a Madison Avenue big shot checking his stock portfolio.

  • Album review: Run the Jewels, 'Run the Jewels'

    July 3, 2013

  • Oblivians return, chaos follows

    July 3, 2013

  • Concert review: Big Star 'Third' at Park West

    June 29, 2013

  • Big Star's lost masterpiece finally gets its due

    June 27, 2013

  • Album review: Mavis Staples, 'One True Vine'

    June 24, 2013

  • John C. Reilly's love of roots music is no act

    June 20, 2013

  • Tonight's top shows: Leon Russell, Daniel Lanois

    June 17, 2013

  • Kanye West's 'Yeezus' an uneasy listen

    June 17, 2013

    3 stars (out of 4)

  • Krewella puts twist on dance music

    June 13, 2013

    There were several turning points in the ascendant career of Chicago trio Krewella (which plays at 5:30 p.m. Sunday at the Spring Awakening Festival this weekend at Soldier Field). But perhaps the most significant unfolded in the first few hours of 2012. It was the night the threesome wrote "Alive," their breakthrough single, which just a few days ago topped 500,000 sales.

  • Replacements reunion at Riot Fest

    June 13, 2013

    The Replacements, who broke up on stage in 1991 at Grant Park, will reunite and return to Chicago as headliners of Riot Fest in Humboldt Park on Sept. 13-15.

  • Album review: Black Sabbath, '13'

    June 9, 2013

  • Top weekend show: Bombino at Martyrs

    June 9, 2013

  • Lollapalooza after-shows include Kendrick Lamar, Hot Chip, Lumineers

    June 4, 2013

  • Album review: Queens of the Stone Age, '...Like Clockwork'

    June 3, 2013

    3 stars (out of 4)

  • Dells vocalist Marvin Junior dead at 77

    June 2, 2013

    Marvin Junior, who brought a baritone grit to Chicago stalwarts the Dells, was fiercely loyal to the vocal group he cofounded 60 years ago.

  • Rolling Stones concert review at United Center

    May 29, 2013

    In the midst of another-night-at-the-office greatest hits show for the Rolling Stones, the eternal drummer Charlie Watts kept things swinging. He smashed a cymbal so hard it looked as if it had been cracked by a two-by-four. And he even allowed himself a smile as the 2 1/2-hour show wound down Tuesday at the packed United Center.

  • Neko Case, Mavis Staples to headline A.V. Fest/Hideout Block Party

    May 28, 2013

  • Album review: John Fogerty, 'Wrote a Song for Everyone'

    May 28, 2013

    2 stars (out of 4)

  • Top weekend shows: Chance the Rapper and Die Kreuzen

    May 24, 2013

  • What's the ideal Rolling Stones set list?

    May 23, 2013

    If you've just paid hundreds of dollars for a Rolling Stones ticket, what kind of a set are you paying to see? Hits, all the hits, and nothing but the hits? A deep-cut festival of connoisseurs' favorites with a couple of crowd-pleasers at the end? A sensible if somewhat conservative mix of classics, a few (very few) recent tracks and one or two surprises?

  • Electric Daisy Carnival showcases no-longer-outlaw dance music

    May 16, 2013

    As Bill Graham was to rock, Pasquale Rotella is to dance music – a diehard promoter with staying power in a field overrun for years with quick-buck hustlers, many of whom aren't around anymore. Rotella is still here and more powerful than ever; in many ways, he is the godfather of live-event promotion in the North American DJ and electronic-music scene. On May 24-26, he takes another big step when his Los Angeles-based company, Insomniac Events, expands its Electric Daisy Carnival brand to the Midwest for the first time at the Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill.

  • Riot Fest lineup includes Fall Out Boy, Blink-182, Motorhead

    May 16, 2013

    Summer-end festival Riot Fest announced its 2013 lineup Wednesday, with Fall Out Boy and Blink-182 headlining.

  • Lollapalooza 2013: Which day rocks the hardest?

    May 14, 2013

    Lollapalooza presented festivalgoers with some difficult choices Tuesday when it announced its hour-by-hour schedule for the three-day, sold-out festival. Two headliners a day will play simultaneously at opposite ends of Grant Park: Nine Inch Nails and the Killers on Aug. 2, the Postal Service and Mumford & Sons on Aug. 3, and Phoenix and the Cure on Aug. 4.

  • Tonight's top show: Kurt Vile at Lincoln Hall

    May 14, 2013

  • Album review: Vampire Weekend, 'Modern Vampires of the City'

    May 13, 2013

    2.5 stars (out of 4)

  • Album review: Chance the Rapper, 'Acid Rap'

    May 12, 2013

  • Tonight's top show: James Cotton at Mayne Stage

    May 10, 2013

  • Metz: Toronto trio is all out, all the time

    May 10, 2013

    A few weeks ago, the Toronto trio Metz was played a midafternoon gig at the South by Southwest Music Conference in Austin, Texas, with such fury that the welt-inducing performance left me questioning the band members’ physical well-being and sanity. Alex Edkins was wrestling his guitar to the ground like it was a writhing alligator. Chris Slorach was pogoing while screwing his bass guitar into an amplifier. Drummer Hayden Menzies was pounding so hard it sounded like he was banging on industrial oil drums instead of a trap kit. They carried on like this for 10-plus minutes as they torched a song called “Wet Blanket.” How the heck do they play this passionately every night while on tour?

  • Concert review: Patti Smith at the Vic

    May 7, 2013

  • Album review: Savages, 'Silence Yourself'

    May 6, 2013

    3.5 stars (out of 4)

  • Tonight's top show: Patti Smith at the Vic

    May 6, 2013

  • Weekend's top show: Shoes, Green at FitzGerald's

    May 3, 2013

  • Slayer guitarist Jeff Hanneman dead at 49

    May 2, 2013

  • Trixie Whitley throws out the formula

    May 2, 2013

    Before she was old enough to vote, Trixie Whitley was delaying parties at an art museum in Belgium, traveling around Europe in an avant-garde dance-theater troupe and singing on albums recorded in New York by her late father, guitarist Chris Whitley. At 20, she was invited by U2 producer Daniel Lanois to join his new band, Black Dub, as a vocalist.

  • Album review: Iggy and the Stooges, 'Ready to Die'

    April 29, 2013

    3 stars (out of 4)

  • George Jones: Country singer dies at 81

    April 26, 2013

    George Jones, widely recognized as one of the greatest honky-tonk singers of his time and also one of the most self-destructive, died Friday in Tennessee at age 81.

  • Big Boi thrives on collaboration

    April 25, 2013

  • Tonight's top show: Danny Brown at Bottom Lounge

    April 25, 2013

  • Taste of Chicago lineup adds Robert Plant, Jill Scott

    April 24, 2013

  • Album review: Phoenix, 'Bankrupt!'

    April 22, 2013

  • Tonight's top show: KRS-One at the Shrine

    April 22, 2013

  • Weekend's top show: Besnard Lakes at Schubas

    April 19, 2013

  • Johnny Marr interview: A guitar hero who serves the song

    April 18, 2013

    As guitar heroes go, Johnny Marr is a fairly unassuming one. His riffs, fills and solos – usually exceedingly terse and to the point – have helped shape countless indelible songs over the last 30 years for the Smiths, The The, Electronic (with New Order’s Bernard Sumner), Modest Mouse and the Cribs. He released an album with the Healers in 2003, a band that included Zak Starkey on drums. But he has never released a solo album – until this year. Marr’s “The Messenger” (Sire/ADA) consists of a dozen songs steeped in melody, biting guitars, sharp lyrics and unassuming vocals.

  • Concert review: Shuggie Otis at Lincoln Hall

    April 18, 2013

  • Album review: The Flaming Lips, 'The Terror'

    April 15, 2013

  • Album review: Yeah Yeah Yeahs, 'Mosquito'

    April 15, 2013

  • Concert review: Fleetwood Mac at the United Center

    April 14, 2013

  • Tonight's top show: Raekwon at the Shrine

    April 12, 2013

  • Concert review: Rhye at Schubas

    April 12, 2013

    Rhye’s Mike Milosh wanted everything just so Thursday at Schubas. He had the club announce a couple of times before his set began that he was not fond of fans “speaking loudly" or exiting and entering while he performed.

  • CIMMfest takes step in bigger direction

    April 11, 2013

    A festival that encompasses performances by Van Dyke Parks, Corey Harris and Lydia Loveless, movies about the Jesus Lizard, Big Star, John Fahey and the Rolling Stones, a Melvin Peebles tribute, a Wax Trax roundtable and a presentation by punk-provocateur Martin Atkins? That’s the enticing, mixed-media menu at CIMMfest, which launches its fifth year next week.

  • Tonight's top show: Dwight Yoakam in Aurora

    April 10, 2013

    Dwight Yoakam: Don’t let the cowboy hat fool you. Bringing the sound of Bakersfield country traditionalism forward, Yoakam is a postmodern honky-tonker with an outsider streak. His latest album, “3 Pears” (Warner), is his first of original material in seven years, and his decision to have Beck produce should tell you something about his willingness to play outside the margins, 8 p.m. Wednesday at the Paramount Theatre, 23 E. Galena Blvd., Aurora, $50, $65, $79;

  • Mick Jagger talks Stones tour, ticket prices and scalpers

    April 3, 2013

    A few hours after the Rolling Stones announced their first North American tour since 2006, including a date May 28 at the United Center, Mick Jagger called and answered a few quick questions.

  • Rolling Stones announce tour, including May 28 at United Center

    April 3, 2013

    Open your wallets, the Stones are coming to town. The Rolling Stones made it official Wednesday when they announced their first North American tour in seven years, including a May 28 show at the United Center. Tickets will range as high as $600 when they go on sale Monday.

  • Concert review: Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds at Chicago Theatre

    April 2, 2013

    “Look at me, I’m transforming,” Nick Cave sang Monday at the Chicago Theatre, his scarecrow arms swinging from the elbows. “I’m vibrating, I’m glowing, I’m flying. Look at me now.”

  • Free Downtown Sound lineup includes Sharon Van Etten, Glen Hansard, Dessa

    April 2, 2013

    Downtown Sound, Millennium Park’s free Monday night music series, returns this summer with a lineup that includes Sharon Van Etten, Glen Hansard, Dessa and Psalm One.

  • Lollapalooza on way to sellout; day-by-day lineups set

    April 1, 2013

    Lollapalooza will put 60,000 single-day tickets on sale Wednesday at 10 a.m. central for the festival Aug. 2-4 in Grant Park. The only question remaining is how fast they’ll sell out.

  • Album review: Besnard Lakes, 'Until In Excess, Imperceptible UFO'

    April 1, 2013

    3.5 stars (out of 4)

  • Lollapalooza lineup to include Cure, Nine Inch Nails

    March 28, 2013

    The Cure and Nine Inch Nails will join previously confirmed acts Mumford & Sons, the Killers, Phoenix, Vampire Weekend, the National and the Postal Service at Lollapalooza in Grant Park on Aug. 2-4.

  • Pitchfork Music Festival completes lineup

    March 26, 2013

    M.I.A., Low, Solange, Wire, Savages and Parquet Courts will be among the artists rounding out the Pitchfork Music Festival on July 19-21 at Union Park.

  • Northerly Island to host 6 to 8 30,000-capacity concerts a summer

    March 25, 2013

    Northerly Island will host as many as eight 30,000-capacity concerts a summer in addition to a full slate of smaller shows, promoters Live Nation and the Chicago Park District will announce Monday.

  • Album review: The Strokes, 'Comedown Machine'

    March 25, 2013

    2 stars (out of 4)

  • Lady and the road back for 2 soul singers

    March 22, 2013

    Soul-fired vocalists Terri Walker and Nicole Wray both sound vindicated when they talk about their new collaborative project, Lady, and self-titled debut album on the respected Brooklyn-based indie label Truth & Soul.

  • Phish, Buffett to headline expanded Northerly Island pavilion

    March 21, 2013

    Jimmy Buffett and Phish were confirmed Thursday to headline concerts in a newly expanded Charter One Pavilion on Northerly Island.

  • Concert review: Emmylou Harris, Rodney Crowell, Richard Thompson

    March 21, 2013

    Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell brought their opening act, Richard Thompson, back on stage with them Wednesday at Symphony Center for a well-deserved encore. Thompson melted in with the band for a while, then stepped out to trade guitar solos as Crowell’s “I Ain’t Living Long Like This” stretched out. With each turn on the instrument, Thompson found new harmonic avenues to explore and explode.

  • Lollapalooza headliners to include Mumford & Sons, Phoenix, Vampire Weekend

    March 20, 2013

    Mumford & Sons, Phoenix, Vampire Weekend and the Killers will be among the headliners for Lollapalooza in Grant Park on Aug. 2-4.

  • Album review: Low, 'The Invisible Way'

    March 19, 2013

    3.5 stars (out of 4)

  • SXSW 2013: It's a wrap

    March 17, 2013

    AUSTIN, Texas -- Savages, a U.K. quartet that made new converts with each gig at the South by Southwest Music Conference, was in a particularly nasty mood during its final appearance Saturday.

  • SXSW Day 4: Rhye, MO, Mikal Cronin, Parquet Courts

    March 16, 2013

    AUSTIN, Texas -- Can't think of anything better than a cappella gospel music in the morning, especially when it's sung with the grit and flair of the Relatives.

  • SXSW 2013: Chuck D-Bootsy Collins summit

    March 15, 2013

    AUSTIN, Texas -- In his keynote address at the South by Southwest Music Conference, Dave Grohl hit on the theme of "voice" and the importance of the individual in music. On Friday, funk pioneer Bootsy Collins and Public Enemy's Chuck D focused on the primacy of community.

  • SXSW 2013: Clive Davis and how the talent scout who knew 'nothing' got famous

    March 14, 2013

    AUSTIN, Texas -- Clive Davis is always selling something, it seems. At the South by Southwest Music Conference on Thursday, it was his autobiography that was being flogged, and as he sat to talk about it with Billboard journalist Bill Werde, he immediately began talking about chart position. The book was apparently No. 2 on the latest best-seller list.

  • SXSW 2013 keynote: Dave Grohl and the importance of 'voice'

    March 14, 2013

    AUSTIN, Texas -- Dave Grohl, looking more professorial than usual (it must have been the dark-rimmed glasses he donned for the occasion), might have a future scripting reality shows if this music thing doesn't work out.

  • SXSW 2013 Day 2: Sohn, No Ceremony///, Flume

    March 14, 2013

    AUSTIN, Texas -- Sohn kept shooting glances at the door swinging open to his left, where the punk band next door could be heard loud and clear. The London/Vienna soul singer-songwriter had good reason to be miffed, as his music rewards close attention to its slow-build dynamics.

  • SXSW 2013: For Amanda Palmer, it takes a village

    March 13, 2013

    AUSTIN, Texas -- Amanda Palmer concluded her panel Wednesday at the South by Southwest Music Conference by pulling out a ukulele, bashing out a few chords and rhyming "banish evil" with "save the people."

  • SXSW 2013: Hawtin, Deadmau5 see cracks in EDM's rise

    March 13, 2013

    AUSTIN, Texas -- Richie Hawtin and Joel Thomas Zimmerman, better known by his stage name Deadmau5, allowed a packed hall to eavesdrop on their conversation Tuesday at the South by Southwest Music and Media Conference. They geeked out about gear, cracked jokes, and alternately gushed about and lamented the evolution of electronic dance music. As a sort of "State of the EDM movement" summit, it was tough to top -- a fascinating glimpse into the minds of two self-described "tech nerds" who helped bring machine-driven music out of basements and underground clubs into arenas.

  • SXSW 2013 Day 1: Guards rules

    March 13, 2013

    AUSTIN, Texas -- Guards, a co-ed quintet, capped Tuesday's opening night of the South by Southwest Music Conference, and wiped away the mediocre aftertaste left by their predecessors.

  • SXSW 2013: Nick Cave talks about 'painful births' in songwriting

    March 12, 2013

    AUSTIN, Texas -- Nick Cave has written novels, movie scripts and a few dozen of the greatest songs of the last 30 years. Yet for him, it never gets any easier.

  • Album review: Wild Belle, 'Isles'

    March 11, 2013

    3 stars (out of 4)

  • fun. to headline Taste of Chicago

    March 11, 2013

    The 33rd annual Taste of Chicago, racked by budget cuts in recent years, has booked an in-demand band for its opening concert July 10: fun.

  • Weekend's top shows: Django Django, Chitown Blues Festival

    March 10, 2013

    Django Django: The U.K. quartet made an immediate impact with the quirky, driving art-pop songs on its self-titled debut album last year; it was nominated for the U.K.’s most prestigious music award, the Mercury Prize, and showed up on numerous year-end lists in the U.S., 9 p.m. Friday at Metro, 3730 N. Clark St., $20;

  • Richard Thompson: Innovation in, nostalgia out

    March 10, 2013

    Again Richard Thompson makes the case with his latest album, “Electric” (New West): He belongs with Bob Dylan, Neil Young and a handful of others in his ability to sustain a high level of artistic intensity and integrity in a career that has been going strong since the ‘60s.

  • Tonight's top concert: Follakzoid at Empty Bottle

    March 8, 2013

    Follakzoid: This Chilean band continues the South America country’s long tradition of acid-rock trippiness by combining it with the hypnotic grooves of German art-rock, circa Neu and Can, 9:30 p.m. Monday at the Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western Av., $10;

  • Top weekend show: Pink at United Center

    March 8, 2013

    Pink: No one straddles the worlds of sassy bubblegum rocker, earnest singer-songwriter and acrobatic pop diva as persuasively as Alecia Beth Moore, aka Pink, who will highlight songs from her hit-and-miss sixth studio release, “The Truth About Love” (RCA), 8 p.m. Saturday at the United Center, 1901 W. Madison, $29.50, $49.50, $69.50, $99.50;

  • Vintage Trouble aims for the imperfections

    March 7, 2013

    Vintage Trouble’s Ty Taylor had never been to a birthday party quite like this one. There he was on stage in London with Jeff Beck and the members of Queen. The occasion was a celebration of what would have been the late Freddy Mercury’s 65th birthday in 2011. And playing the role of Mercury was none other than Taylor, the singer in a Los Angeles bar band with some very colorful spandex tights to fill.

  • Album review: David Bowie, 'The Next Day'

    March 7, 2013

    3.5 stars (out of 4)

  • Concert review: Tame Impala at the Vic

    March 7, 2013

    Kevin Parker, the lean singer in the Australian band Tame Impala, has skills that go beyond music -- like tap-dancing barefoot, for example.

  • Ravinia pop performers: Josh Groban, David Byrne and '90s galore

    March 7, 2013

    Josh Groban, the multimillion-selling pop-classical artist, will make his Ravinia debut Aug. 10 with the Ravinia Festival Orchestra.

  • Electric Daisy Carnival: Dance music festival sets rave lineup for Joliet racetrack

    March 7, 2013

    A lineup including top-tier DJs and electronic artists such as David Guetta, Armin van Buuren, Avicii, Kaskade, Tiesto and Above & Beyond will be announced Thursday for the first Electric Daisy Carnival in the Chicago area, May 24-26 at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet.

  • Album review: How to Destroy Angels, 'Welcome Oblivion'

    March 5, 2013

    2 stars (out of 4)

  • Album review: Rhye, 'Woman'

    March 4, 2013

    3.5 stars (out of 4)

  • Indians interview: The beauty in forgetting what you've learned

    March 1, 2013

    Soren Lokke Juul, the Danish multi-instrumentalist who records under the name Indians, tops off his indie hit “Magic Kids” with a radiant synthesizer solo, a sunbeam that breaks through the gloom of a break-up lament.

  • Top weekend show: Ben Harper and Charlie Musselwhite at Riviera

    February 28, 2013

    Ben Harper and Charlie Musselwhite: The pairing of Harper’s guitar and vocals with Musselwhite’s harp proves inspired on “Get Up!” (Concord/Stax). Harper sounds rougher and rootsier than he has in years, while Musselwhite conjures the electrified spirit of his rowdy ‘60s tenure in the Chicago blues scene, 8 p.m. Sunday at the Riviera, 4746 N. Racine, $49;

  • City-sponsored Chicago Music Summit to debut

    February 28, 2013

    The City of Chicago has for the first time in its history an office charged with serving the needs of the local music community. Now begins director Dylan Rice’s first major hurdle: alerting people that it exists.

  • Album review: Atoms for Peace, 'Amok'

    February 24, 2013

    2.5 stars (out of 4)

  • Concert review: Passion Pit at UIC Pavilion

    February 23, 2013

    Michael Angelakos is pretty business-like as arena-pop singers go, dispensing with the small talk. Instead, he’d rather pour his energies into leading massive, musical group-therapy sessions -- at times, that’s exactly what Passion Pit’s performance Friday at the packed UIC Pavilion felt like.

  • Cleotha Staples, founding member of the Staple Singers, dies at 78

    February 22, 2013

    Cleotha Staples, one of the founding members of the renowned Chicago soul and gospel group the Staple Singers, died Thursday at the age of 78.

  • The Kuhls toughen up on debut album

    February 21, 2013

    The opening track on the Kuhls’ first album, “A Woman is Like a Man,” tells you everything you need to know about Renee and Grace Kuhl’s personal and artistic growth in the last two years.

  • Tonight's top show: Swedish House Mafia at UIC Pavilion

    February 20, 2013

    Swedish House Mafia: It’s last call for the DJ supergroup of Axwell, Steve Angello and Sebastian Ingrosso, on the heels of last year’s “Until Now” album, which featured rave-fueled collaborations with Coldplay and Knife Party. The timing of this sold-out tour would seem rather odd; why break up with electronic dance music still on the rise? But expect to see more from Axwell, Angello and Ingrosso in the near future as they return to their “solo” careers, 8 p.m. Wednesday at United Center, 1901 W. Madison, $39.50, $59.50, $79.50, $99.50;

  • Album review: Nick Cave, 'Push the Sky Away'

    February 18, 2013

    3 stars (out of 4)

  • Buddy Miller, Jim Lauderdale take 30-year journey to first album together

    February 14, 2013

    Buddy Miller and Jim Lauderdale are a couple of Nashville mavericks who’ve written, sang, played on or produced some of the best records of the last 25 years. They’re best friends who live just a few blocks from each other in Nashville, and yet they’ve never made an album together – until now.

  • Tonight's top show: Nick Waterhouse at Metro

    February 14, 2013

    Nick Waterhouse: Waterhouse may look like an engineering student, but don’t let that fool you -- the deceptively unassuming singer throws a dance party that teeters between thrilling and desperate. His band blasts out swanky rhythms that command hips to grind, 9 p.m. Thursday at Metro, 3730 N. Clark St., $16 and $18;

  • Lady Gaga injury impacts concert business

    February 14, 2013

    Lady Gaga’s injured hip, which forced her this week to cancel the remaining 21 dates on her massive, two-year, six-continent Born This Way tour, will have a major economic impact on the concert business.

  • Lady Gaga postpones concerts in Chicago

    February 13, 2013

    Lady Gaga announced Tuesday that she’s postponing shows Wednesday and Thursday at the United Center, as well as subsequent concerts in Detroit and Hamilton, Ontario, because of an injury.

  • Album review: Bryan Ferry Orchestra, 'The Jazz Age'

    February 12, 2013

    1 star (out of 4)

  • Iris DeMent interview: After 16 years, the songs start to flow again

    February 6, 2013

    Iris DeMent’s much-celebrated 2012 release, “Sing the Delta” (Flariella), marked the singer’s first album of new material in 16 years. But it was an album of old-timey gospel songs she essentially released for herself in 2004, “Lifeline,” that made “Sing the Delta” possible.

  • Album review: Richard Thompson, 'Electric'

    February 5, 2013

    3.5 stars (out of 4)

  • Album review: My Bloody Valentine, 'm b v'

    February 4, 2013

    2.5 stars (out of 4)

  • Beyonce puts a Super Bowl ring on it

    February 4, 2013

    Beyonce looked like she stepped off from the recent air-brushed perfection of her GQ magazine cover, danced like a junior Tina Turner and generally owned her 12 minutes on a worldwide stage Sunday like few Super Bowl performers ever have.

  • Wanda Jackson interview: 'Just rear back and sing this song the way you feel it'

    December 28, 2012

    Wanda Jackson, the pioneering rockabilly singer who headlines New Year’s Eve at Double Door, says working with Jack White and Justin Townes Earle on her two latest albums was not her idea.

  • Lupe Fiasco a voice of reason amid the violence

    December 27, 2012

    For Lupe Fiasco, it was in some ways a heartbreaking year. In an interview last summer with MTV he broke down as he watched a 2006 video of himself and friends in his old West Side neighborhood, the laughter and easy camaraderie undercut by the realization that a number of those acquaintances were now dead, victims of gang violence.

  • Top concerts of 2012

    December 21, 2012

    Here are my favorite concerts from 2012:

  • Chief Keef plays it cold on major-label debut

    December 17, 2012

    Rating: 2 stars (out of 4)

  • Top Chicago indie albums: BBU, Willis Earl Beal, Hood Internet

    December 13, 2012

    As each year winds down, Turn It Up focuses on the best of Chicago's independent music scene. Here are my 10 favorite local indie releases for 2012:

  • Top box sets, from the Beatles to Bill Withers

    December 11, 2012

    Here are some of the more notable box sets of the season in rock and pop:

  • Top weekend shows: Tiesto, Chris and Heather, DJ Shadow

    December 7, 2012

    Tiesto: In the world of electronic dance music, this Dutch DJ and producer has been a dominant figure for a decade and a featured performer at the 2004 Olympics in Athens; he’s been rocking arenas ever since, 7 p.m. Friday at UIC Pavilion, 525 S. Racine, $35, $40, $50;

  • Grammy Awards: Frank Ocean, 5 other artists get 6 nominations

    December 6, 2012

    Six artists received six nominations each Wednesday for the 55th Grammy Awards. But none was more notable than rising R&B singer Frank Ocean, who earned nods in three of the top four categories.

  • Tonight's top show: Public Enemy at House of Blues

    December 5, 2012

    Public Enemy: Still ticked off after all these years, the hip-hop icons have been waging war on apathy since the ‘80s. In recent months, they’ve added two Molotov cocktails of fresh invention to their legacy, the self-released full-length albums “The Evil Empire of Everything” and “Most of My Heroes Still Don't Appear on No Stamp,” 8 p.m. Wednesday at House of Blues, 329 N. Dearborn, $30 and $35;

  • Top weekend show: Alabama Shakes at Riviera

    November 30, 2012

    Alabama Shakes: The quintet has had an extraordinary rise in 2012, with a well-received debut album and a series of high-energy shows fusing soul and rock, animated by the homespun grit of vocalist Brittany Howard, 8 p.m. Saturday at the Riviera, 4746 N. Racine Ave., $29.50 (soldout);

  • The Fugs still riotous after all these years

    November 28, 2012

    The Fugs finally return to Chicago on Saturday at the City Winery after a 44-year absence. The reception for the band is bound to be a bit warmer than it was when the counter-culture pioneers last performed here, on Dec. 28, 1968, at the Aragon Ballroom.

  • Concert review: Leonard Cohen at Akoo Theatre

    November 26, 2012

    With a fedora shadowing his eyes and a sharp suit accenting some spry dance steps, the 78-year-old Leonard Cohen played many roles Friday before a full house at the Akoo Theatre in Rosemont: gentleman caller, graying patriarch, undertaker, assassin, penitent, screw-up, song and dance man.

  • Album review: Alicia Keys, 'Girl on Fire'

    November 25, 2012

    2 stars (out of 4)

  • Top weekend shows: Leonard Cohen, Kids These Days, Titus Andronicus

    November 21, 2012

    Leonard Cohen: The master songwriter’s baritone voice remains equally adept at poetic seduction and black humor. Cohen at 78 is in the midst of a career renaissance. His latest release, “Old Ideas” (Columbia), is one of the year’s finest, 8 p.m. Friday at Akoo Theatre, 5400 N. River Road,  Rosemont, Ill., $27.50, $47.50, $87.50, $127.50, $167.50, $250;

  • Miguel connects with the soul of R&B

    November 21, 2012

    Ask Miguel about the prevailing emotion he felt in the weeks before the release of his second studio album, “Kaleidoscope Dream” (RCA), and he’ll tell you straight up: “Nervous. I was nervous as hell, man. To tell you the truth, I still am a little bit.”

  • Album review: Rihanna, 'Unapologetic'

    November 19, 2012

    2.5 stars (out of 4)

  • Kids These Days pull songs from the static

    November 16, 2012

    Kids These Days open their self-released debut album, “Traphouse Rock,” with the sound of several radio stations cutting in and out between static.

  • Top weekend shows: Earth, OM, Rosanne Cash

    November 16, 2012

    Earth: Formerly notable for their slow, earth-moving drone, this Pacific Northwest outfit has morphed into something a good deal more nuanced in its second incarnation under the guidance of founding member Dylan Carlson. The pioneering band, which counted the late Kurt Cobain as a fan and even an occasional collaborator, is now exploring the quieter contours of the sonic spectrum once entirely missing from its loud, heavy repertoire, 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday at Township, 2200 N. California Av., $15;

  • Tonight's top shows: Aimee Mann and the dB's

    November 15, 2012

    Aimee Mann: The singer’s out with her first album (“Charmer”) since 2008 and eighth overall in a career notable for its attention to craftsmanlike detail and haunting imagery. What’s more, she’ll be touring with the always ready-to-rock Ted Leo, 8 p.m. Thursday at the Park West, 322 W. Armitage Av., $35;

  • Future of Music 2012: A fight over Internet radio scraps

    November 13, 2012

    WASHINGTON, D.C. -- There were moments Tuesday during the annual Future of Music Summit where the conversation about revenue in the digital music industry sounded like a scrum over crumbs, a desperate fight over an increasingly shrinking pie.

  • Concert review: Bob Dylan at United Center

    November 12, 2012

    Bob Dylan is 71, and on recent tours, time seemed to be catching up with him. The voice has deteriorated steadily, he no longer plays the guitar much while reportedly struggling with arthritis, and his demeanor has occasionally bordered on indifferent, if not hostile. Despite playing to a two-thirds full United Center on Friday, he performed without video screens (unlike just about every other arena performer you could name) to bring the action closer to the folks in the balconies.

  • Album review: Soundgarden, 'King Animal'

    November 12, 2012

    2 stars (out of 4)

  • Tame Impala and the lonely pursuit of perfection

    November 8, 2012

    Kevin Parker, the Australian multi-instrumentalist who is the core member of Tame Impala, has a reputation for being obsessive about recording details. But even by his own impossibly high standards he went over the top in making Tame Impala’s second album, “Lonerism” (Modular Recordings).

  • Album review: Aerosmith, 'Music from Another Dimension'

    November 6, 2012

    1.5 stars (out of 4)

  • Album review: The Coup, 'Sorry to Bother You'

    November 5, 2012

    3.5 stars (out of 4)

  • Top weekend shows: Squarepusher, Napalm Death

    November 2, 2012

    Squarepusher: Tom Jenkinson has been redefining the boundaries of electronic music since the ‘90s, incorporating everything from acid jazz to glitch into his alternately mesmerizing and jittery compositions, 10 p.m. Saturday at Metro, 3730 N. Clark St., $25;

  • The Hood Internet takes mash-ups a step further

    November 1, 2012

    The Hood Internet’s first album of original music, “Feat” (Decon), initially comes off as a departure from the Chicago-North Carolina duo’s trademark mash-ups.

  • Aretha Franklin, America and the origin of the 'spirit feel'

    October 29, 2012

    The gospel-truth, if you believe most of the history books: Aretha Franklin didn’t really find her true voice until she began working with producer Jerry Wexler at Atlantic Records in 1967.

  • Album review: Neil Young, 'Psychedelic Pill'

    October 29, 2012

    3 stars (out of 4)

  • Top weekend shows: Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Off!, Cat Power

    October 26, 2012

    Jimmie Dale Gilmore: The singer with the twangy warble helped shape a new vision for country music in the ‘70s by mixing deep tradition, cosmic eclecticism and visionary lyrics; he’ll be accompanied by his son, singer-songwriter Colin Gilmore,  8 p.m. Friday at City Winery,  $20, $22, $25;

  • Tonight's top shows: Divine Fits, R. Kelly

    October 24, 2012

    Divine Fits: What do you get when you put together Spoon’s Britt Daniel, Wolf Parade’s Dan Boeckner and New Bomb Turks’ Sam Brown? More than just an indulgent side project, for starters. Daniel’s cool plays off Boeckner’s agitation in the trio’s stripped-down debut, “A Thing Called Divine Fits” (Merge). Watch out for Alex Fischel, who adds new-wave keyboards, 7 p.m. Thursday at Logan Square Auditorium, 2539 N. Kedzie, $20;

  • Afghan Whigs revive combustible chemistry

    October 23, 2012

    For a guy who specialized in writing poisonous songs about disintegrating relationships while in the Afghan Whigs, Greg Dulli sounds positively upbeat about his reunion this year with his combative bandmates, namely Whigs bassist John Curley and guitarist Rick McCollum.

  • Album review: Gary Clark Jr., 'Blak and Blu'

    October 22, 2012

    2.5 stars (out of 4)

  • Album review: Kendrick Lamar, 'good kid, m.A.A.d city'

    October 22, 2012

    3.5 stars (out of 4)

  • Top weekend shows: The xx, Dylan tribute

    October 18, 2012

    The xx: With their sparse arrangements, Jamie Smith’s sinuous rhythms, and the haunting dialogues between Romy Madley Croft and Oliver Sim, the U.K. trio makes a virtue of playing as few notes as possible, 6:30 p.m. Saturday at the Congress Theater, 2135 N. Milwaukee Av., $37.50;

  • Jason Aldean likely Wrigley concert headliner

    October 17, 2012

    The first major Wrigley Field headliner of the summer 2013 concert season will be announced Thursday, and multiple industry sources indicate it’ll be rising country star Jason Aldean.

  • Grimes: from goth-ballerina to electro-pop artist

    October 17, 2012

    Before she became electro-pop artist Grimes, Claire Boucher spent 11 years of her youth in Vancouver twirling her way toward a life in ballet. Then she discovered Goth music, shaved her head and, as she says, became “a bad kid.”

  • Album review: Converge, 'All We Love We Leave Behind'

    October 15, 2012

    3.5 stars (out of 4)

  • Album review: Miguel, 'Kaleidoscope Dream'

    October 12, 2012

    3.5 stars (out of 4)

  • Abigail Washburn scales her own personal wall of China

    October 12, 2012

    Like the troubadours of old, banjo-playing singer Abigail Washburn gets around. She went to college in Colorado and Vermont; played, worked and traveled up and down the East Coast in her early twenties; spent significant time in China; and is now a fixture in Nashville. But she does have a few constants in her life. Among the most prominent: Each year since her 1977 birth in north suburban Evanston, she’s been a regular in Chicago, returning several times a year to visit her extended family.

  • A howling Neil Young rocks United Center

    October 12, 2012

    Frank “Pancho” Sampedro, the longtime guitarist in Crazy Horse, is a barrel of a man. He wears the look of a retired linebacker who has put on a few pounds. But he went airborne Thursday at the United Center as he and Neil Young squared off and stomped around the stage.

  • Album review: Wanda Jackson, 'Unfinished Business'

    October 8, 2012

    3 stars (out of 4)

  • Tonight's top show: Beth Orton at Lincoln Hall

    October 8, 2012

    Beth Orton: The U.K. singer-songwriter has been quiet for six years, only to return recently with the dusky, late-night ruminations of a new album, “Sugaring Season” (Anti), 8 p.m. Monday at Lincoln Hall, 2424 N. Lincoln Av., $25;

  • Nick Waterhouse finds the right musical language

    October 4, 2012

    Nick Waterhouse sounds like trouble in the first few seconds of his debut album, the terrific “Time’s All Gone” (Innovative Leisure). The music sounds like a party in full swing, each instrument playing exactly what is needed, and no more. The sound of a stick hitting the crash cymbal feels absolutely right. Saxophone scrapes the low end of the mix, its brawn contrasting with the menthol cool of the female background singers. Waterhouse’s voice veers between a croon and a cry, and his guitar says its piece and gets out.

  • Lupe Fiasco: 'I'm afraid Chicago is dying'

    October 3, 2012

    Lupe Fiasco can come across as a teacher, preacher, cutup, conflicted citizen, jazz head, skilled rhyme machine and political radical.

  • Tonight's top show: Brother Ali at Metro

    October 3, 2012

    Brother Ali: With his fifth studio album, “Mourning in America and Dreaming in Color,” this Minneapolis MC affirms his credentials as a righteous advocate for the disenfranchised. The megaphone voice and hyper-literate rhyme skills bring the fury over beats that bridge rock and soul, 8 p.m. Wednesday at Metro, 3730 N. Clark St., $15;

  • Album review: John Cale, 'Shifty Adventures in Nookie Wood'

    October 2, 2012

    3 stars (out of 4)

  • Album review: Iris DeMent, 'Sing the Delta'

    October 1, 2012

    3.5 stars (out of 4)

  • Former Talking Heads frontman David Byrne explores ideas about music and performance

    September 28, 2012

    David Byrne's lyrics, especially in his early days with Talking Heads, put even the most mundane human behavior underneath a magnifying glass to reveal all its wonder and strangeness.

  • Top weekend shows: Ty Segall, Thee Oh Sees, Mission of Burma

    September 28, 2012

    Thee Oh Sees and Ty Segall: Garage-rock is alive and in shin-kicking mode in this not-to-be-missed double bill of like-minded Northern California bands. They played at roughly the same time during the Pitchfork Music Festival in July, but fans won’t have to choose which one to see on this night. Expect some collaborations, 7 and 10 p.m. Friday at Logan Square, 2539 N. Kedzie Av., $18;

  • Album review: The xx, 'Coexist'

    September 28, 2012

    3.5 stars (out of 4)

  • Album review: Mumford & Sons, 'Babel'

    September 27, 2012

    2 stars (out of 4)

  • Album review: Green Day, 'Uno'

    September 27, 2012

    2 stars (out of 4)

  • Thee Oh Sees' John Dwyer knows how to make a scene

    September 26, 2012

    On the latest album by Thee Oh Sees, “Putrifiers II” (In the Red), John Dwyer sings, produces and plays guitar, keyboards, flute, clarinet and just about everything else he could get his hands on.

  • Tonight's top show: Dirty Three at Lincoln Hall

    September 26, 2012

    Dirty Three: A rare sighting of this intensely eloquent instrumental trio from Australia, led by mad violinist Warren Ellis (also Nick Cave’s coconspirator in the Bad Seeds and Grinderman) and the peerless rhythm section of Mick Turner and Jim White, 9 p.m. Wednesday at Lincoln Hall, 2424 N. Lincoln Av., $18;

  • Prince at the United Center more fizzle than sizzle

    September 25, 2012

    Prince’s concert Monday at the United Center didn’t really finish, it fizzled.

  • Tonight's top shows: Prince and First Aid Kit

    September 24, 2012

    Prince: It’s been eight years since Prince played Chicago, so this three-night residency is long overdue. His last studio album, “20Ten,” came out in 2010, so he’s free to take these shows anywhere – an exciting prospect for Prince watchers, 8 p.m. Monday-Wednesday at United Center, 1901 W. Madison, $49.50 and $149.50;

  • Concert review: Bobby Womack at Brilliant Corners festival

    September 24, 2012

    Bobby Womack doesn’t like to be rushed. “Can I do it right for you tonight? he asked Sunday on the closing night of the Brilliant Corners of Popular Amusements fall showcase at the Riverfront Theatre. “I like to do it right and take my time.”

  • A peek into Prince's mind

    September 20, 2012

    — Prince is rolling his eyes.

  • Bobby Womack interview: 'I wonder why I'm still here'

    September 20, 2012

    Bobby Womack picks up the phone, and speaks what’s on his mind in a voice made of gravel.

  • Madonna full of fresh pop at United Center

    September 20, 2012

    It was a concert that opened with an act of contrition and closed with a robed church choir paving the road to a celebration. In between there was fake blood, pretend guns, the return of the infamous conical bra, whiffs of sadomasochism and poison-tipped political commentary, as well as allusions to the pop art of Roy Lichtenstein, movies by Oliver Stone and Stanley Kubrick, Brecht-Weil cabaret, Asian mysticism, Cirque du Soleil-style tightrope acrobatics, and Basque folk music.

  • Tonight's top show: Madonna at United Center

    September 16, 2012

    Madonna: The Material Girl stormed through Europe trailing controversy – a lawsuit in Russia, a tussle over the display of a swastika in France, an uproar over gun imagery in her stage show – and she wouldn’t have it any other way, especially given the anemic sales of her latest album, “MDNA.” No pop performer is quite so expert at stirring it up, 8 p.m. Wednesday-Thursday at the United Center, 1950 W. Madison, $45, $90, $170, $355;

  • Top weekend shows: Riot Fest, Hideout Block Party, Handsome Family, Lightning Bolt

    September 14, 2012

    Riot Fest: For the first time the annual punk festival expands outdoors for two days in Humboldt Park (opening night will be indoors at the Congress Theatre), and the lineup has some of its heaviest hitters yet, including Iggy and the Stooges, Elvis Costello, Rise Against, the Jesus and Mary Chain, Built to Spill, Fishbone, Screaming Females, the Descendents, the Offspring, Alkaline Trio and more, 6 p.m. Friday at the Congress Theatre, 2135 N. Milwaukee Av., $38 (sold out); 11:30 a.m. Saturday-Sunday at Humboldt Park, 1400 N. Sacramento Ave., $45 daily;

  • Concert review: Mary J. Blige and D'Angelo at the United Center

    September 14, 2012

    Mary J. Blige and D’Angelo -- two performers who at various points in their careers threatened to disappear -- made a night of it Thursday at the United Center.

  • Wild Belle a brother-sister combo on the rise

    September 11, 2012

    Wild Belle – built on the brother-sister duo of Elliot and Natalie Bergman --  has had quite a year so far. The band released a breezily enchanting single, “Keep You”; shopped a self-financed, self-produced album that attracted interest from countless labels; finally signed a three-album deal with Columbia Records; and now is on tour in anticipation of its debut album’s release early next year.

  • Tonight's top show: Mary J. Blige and D'Angelo at United Center

    September 10, 2012

    Mary J. Blige and D’Angelo: Blige always sings like it’s a psychological imperative, a riveting performer with a fiercely loyal fan base. But the real story here is the first major tour by D’Angelo in more than a decade. Once a rising R&B star, he’s been pretty much missing in action since the tour behind his 2000 album, “Voodoo,” so this return to the spotlight is something of an event, 7 p.m. Thursday at the United Center, 1901 W. Madison, $39.75, $49.75, $85.75, $125.75, $150.75;

  • Tonight's top show: Saul Williams, Dessa at Schubas

    September 10, 2012

    Saul Williams, Dessa: Two hip-hop artists who color well outside the boundaries of genre. In an election year, it’s difficult to imagine two more thought-provoking artists sharing a stage as we head toward November, 7 p.m. Wednesday at Schubas, 3159 N. Southport, $20, $22;

  • Concert review: Bruce Springsteen at Wrigley Field

    September 8, 2012

    Bruce Springsteen packs his concerts to bursting, and still it wasn’t enough Friday in the first of two sold-out shows at Wrigley Field. There were 28 songs, 18 musicians and singers in the newly expanded E Street Band, and guest shots from Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder and Rage Against the Machine’s Tom Morello.

  • Album review: Bob Dylan, 'Tempest'

    September 7, 2012

    3.5 stars (out of 4)

  • Chicago hip-hop war of words turns violent

    September 6, 2012

    Chicago’s hip-hop community is in a war of words that has escalated into violence, with the shooting death of a teenage rapper.

  • Album review: Cat Power, 'Sun'

    September 4, 2012

    3.5 stars (out of 4)

  • Album review: Bob Mould, 'Silver Age'

    August 31, 2012

    3.5 stars (out of 4)

  • Dan Deacon explores 'America'

    August 30, 2012

    Dan Deacon’s new album is titled “America” (Domino). Nothing like aiming high: It’s a song cycle on what it means to be a citizen of a troubled democracy, and you can dance to it. The classically trained Deacon works with an orchestra, merges it with his own array of hand-me-down keyboards and electronics, and then tops it off with some of the most ambitious lyrics of a career primarily focused on instrumental music.

  • Album review: Divine Fits, 'A Thing Called Divine Fits'

    August 27, 2012

    3 stars (out of 4)

  • Top weekend shows: Shellac, Lindsey Buckingham

    August 24, 2012

    Shellac: Steve Albini, Bob Weston and Todd Trainer have been making music together for 20 years. They’re working on a fifth studio album, so expect some new songs, as well as an array of top-notch musical guests at this three-night residency, including a rare sighting by erstwhile Chicago noise-rock terrorists Tar on Sunday, 9 p.m. Friday-Sunday at Lincoln Hall, 2424 N. Lincoln Avenue, $16;

  • Gotye imagines life beyond the hit that ruled 2012

    August 23, 2012

    Wouter "Wally" De Backer, better known to the world as Gotye, knows the perils of being typecast as a one-hit wonder, an overnight success, a guy who will go to his grave playing “that song.” After an everywhere-all-at-once hit such as “Somebody That I Used to Know,” where else is there to go?

  • Concert review: Dave Alvin at City Winery

    August 22, 2012

    City Winery is positioning itself at the upper crust of the Chicago music scene, a venue where patrons can sip vintage wine and dine on pricey food while listening to top-shelf musicians in what is billed as a state-of-the-art listening room.

  • Album review: Yeasayer, 'Fragrant World'

    August 20, 2012

    3.5 stars (out of 4)

  • Dead Can Dance's Lisa Gerrard, the interview: 'It hurts, there is pain, there are blessings'

    August 16, 2012

    From the early ‘80s to the late ‘90s, Lisa Gerrard and Brendan Perry built their own niche in the independent music world as Dead Can Dance, releasing a series of albums on the 4AD label that turned them into one of the most celebrated cult acts of their time.

  • Album review: Shoes, 'Ignition'

    August 13, 2012

    3 stars (out of 4)

  • Album review: Dead Can Dance, 'Anastasis'

    August 13, 2012

    2.5 stars (out of 4)

  • The Very Best: The Swedish-African connection

    August 10, 2012

    A Frenchman, a Swede and an African meet in a junk store …

  • Concert review: Coldplay at United Center

    August 8, 2012

    On Coldplay’s latest album, “Mylo Xyloto,” the British quartet traces the story of a desperate couple running from the unnamed bad guys. “From underneath the rubble,” Chris Martin intones, “sing a rebel song.”

  • Album review: Redd Kross, 'Researching the Blues'

    August 7, 2012

    3 stars (out of 4)

  • Lollapalooza Day 2: Chief Keef, Frank Ocean, Chili Peppers and an evacuation

    August 5, 2012

    Day 2 is done at Lollapalooza in Grant Park, and what a day Saturday was: It was sandwiched by much-anticipated sets by Chief Keef and Frank Ocean, and in between came the first evacuation in the festival’s Chicago history. Here’s how it went down, with reporting from yours truly (GK) and the tireless Bob Gendron (BG):

  • Lollapalooza Day 1: Black Sabbath, Black Keys and Passion Pit's black thoughts

    August 4, 2012

    Here’s the rundown for Friday, Day 1 of Lollapalooza in Grant Park, as brought to you by yours truly (GK) and my colleague Bob Gendron (BG):

  • Perry's stage shines again on Lolla's opening day

    August 3, 2012

    It’s a ritual by now at Lollapalooza. Once again the Perry’s stage, devoted to DJ’s and electronic music artists, was a sea of pumping fists, pogoing heads and all-around madness Friday.

  • Album review: thenewno2, 'thefearofmissingout'

    July 30, 2012

    3 stars (out of 4)

  • Top weekend shows: Best Coast, Aesop Rock

    July 27, 2012

    Best Coast: With “The Only Place,” Bethany Cosentino’s California band has made a quintessential summer album, brimming with sunny guitar-pop melodies shaded by melancholy, 7:30 p.m. Friday at the Vic Theatre, 3145 N. Sheffield Ave., $19;

  • City Winery Chicago announces 2012 concert lineup

    July 26, 2012

    City Winery Chicago, a 300-capacity concert hall in the West Loop, will open Aug. 1 and announced a full slate of performers Tuesday for the 2012 season, including singer-songwriter Rosanne Cash, gospel great Mavis Staples and jazz vocalist Kurt Elling.

  • City Winery enters a crowded music and restaurant market

    July 26, 2012

    Into a live music scene already stuffed with clubs, City Winery promises something different: Music and food in a wine-country atmosphere.

  • Album review: Passion Pit, 'Gossamer'

    July 23, 2012

    3.5 stars (out of 4)

  • Top weekend shows: Slayer, Motorhead, Anthrax, Jimmy Webb

    July 19, 2012

    Slayer, Motorhead, Anthrax: These three titans are part of something called the “Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival,” which includes eight metal bands. The headliner is Slipknot, but Slayer (even with guitarist Jeff Hanneman sidelined, replaced temporarily by Exodus’ Gary Holt ), Motorhead and Anthrax have built decades of integrity and classic songs that make each of them worth seeing, let alone all on the same bill, 1:30 p.m. Saturday at the First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre, Tinley Park, Ill., $30 to $85;

  • Rebecca Gates is back and 'totally over capacity'

    July 19, 2012

    Rebecca Gates found herself holding a bass guitar, an instrument that she can play in a pinch, at a 2006 recording session in New York with Willie Nelson.

  • The Who to bring 'Quadrophenia' on tour

    July 18, 2012

    The Who -- or what’s left of them – will bring their 1973 double-album “Quadrophenia” to the stage once again, founding members Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey announced Wednesday.

  • Concert review: Nicki Minaj at Chicago Theatre

    July 17, 2012

    A few months ago at the nationally televised Grammy Awards, Nicki Minaj staged what looked like an exorcism while singing “O Come All Ye Faithful.” Then she levitated.

  • Pitchfork Day 3: Vampire Weekend, Ty Segall, Kendrick Lamar (and Lady Gaga?)

    July 16, 2012

    The Pitchfork Music Festival concluded Sunday in Union Park. Bob Gendron (BG) and yours truly (GK) were there to cover every hour of it:

  • Pitchfork: Lady Gaga spotted but doesn't perform

    July 16, 2012

    By the time Vampire Weekend wrapped up 25 hours of weekend music Sunday at Union Park, the Pitchfork Music Festival had weathered rain, heat and some migraine-inducing scheduling dilemmas.

  • Pitchfork Day 2: Sleigh Bells, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Wild Flag

    July 15, 2012

    Pitchfork Day 2 is in the books for Saturday in Union Park. Here’s the rundown from yours truly (GK) and my hard-working colleague Bob Gendron (BG):

  • Rain returns, but can't slow down Pitchfork rockers Atlas Moth and Cloud Nothings

    July 14, 2012

    For the second straight day we’ve got rain at the Pitchfork Music Festival in Union Park, and lots of it. What was shaping up as a hugely entertaining set Saturday by Cleveland quartet Cloud Nothings turned to silence as the downpour soaked the stage and the gear, eventually shutting down the huge public-address speakers.

  • Pitchfork Day 1 wrap-up: Feist, Japandroids, Big K.R.I.T., rain

    July 14, 2012

    Here’s an hour-by-hour rundown of how Day 1 of the seventh annual Pitchfork Music Festival went down Friday in Union Park, with contributions from my colleague Bob Gendron (BG) and yours truly (GK):

  • Rain delays Pitchfork opening; Outer Minds, Lower Dens kick off fest

    July 13, 2012

    Even as gray skies, muggy atmosphere and rain made for a bleak opening Friday to the Pitchfork Music Festival in Union Park, the crowd waiting to enter the event was thousands deep along Ashland Avenue. Inside, puddles formed on the field and crews urgently mopped the stages. The music would have to wait, the first opening-day delay in the festival’s seven-year history.

  • Album review: Frank Ocean, 'Channel Orange'

    July 13, 2012

    3.5 stars (out of 4)

  • Top weekend shows: Pitchfork, Chaka Khan, Z-Trip

    July 13, 2012

    Pitchfork Music Festival: The seventh annual gathering of the indie tribes will be headlined by Feist, Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Vampire Weekend, with much-anticipated sets by Wild Flag, Danny Brown, Willis Earl Beal, Big K.R.I.T and the Olivia Tremor Control, among dozens of others. Saturday is sold out, but tickets remain for Friday and Sunday, 3 p.m. Friday and 1 p.m. Saturday-Sundy at Union Park, 1501 W. Randolph, $45 each day;

  • Wilco to headline Hideout Block Party

    July 11, 2012

    Wilco will headline the annual A.V. Fest/Hideout Block Party on Sept. 14-15, festival organizers announced Wednesday.

  • A fierce Fiona Apple at the Chicago Theatre

    July 11, 2012

    “Every single night’s a fight with my brain,” Fiona Apple roared, as if 27 voices were competing for space inside her head. And then she dropped to a near whisper. “I just want to feel everything.”

  • Album review: Mission of Burma, 'Unsound'

    July 9, 2012

    3 stars (out of 4)

  • Concert review: Neil Diamond at United Center

    July 7, 2012

    Neil Diamond clutches the microphone in his right hand, and makes music with his left. It sweeps, points, punches, waves, swerves and skips an imaginary lasso.

  • Album review: Ty Segall Band, 'Slaughterhouse'

    July 6, 2012

    3.5 stars (out of 4)

  • Taste of Chicago concert ticket sales slow

    July 5, 2012

    The revenue-strapped City of Chicago is for the first time charging admission for the best seats at Taste of Chicago main-stage concerts, but sales have been slow so far.

  • El-P interview: 'It's an insane reality we're living in'

    July 5, 2012

    El-P has been on a major roll in the first half of 2012. He reunited with his revered ‘90s crew Company Flow to play a handful of well-received concerts, produced an instant-classic hip-hop album (“R.A.P. Music”) by his friend, Atlanta rapper Killer Mike, and released his third studio album, the album-of-the-year contender “Cancer 4 Cure” (Fat Possum).

  • Album review: Patti Smith, 'Banga'

    July 4, 2012

    3 stars (out of 4)

  • Album review: Chris Brown, 'Fortune'

    July 2, 2012

    2 stars (out of 4)

  • Album review: Neneh Cherry, 'The Cherry Thing'

    July 1, 2012

    3.5 stars (out of 4)

  • Neil Young, Jonathan Demme prepare for 'Journeys'

    June 29, 2012

    “There is a town in north Ontario,” begins one of Neil Young’s most famous songs, “Helpless.”

  • The Impressions keep on pushing

    June 28, 2012

    Fred Cash remembers the day he joined the Impressions in 1958, a mere teenager starting what would be a five-decade ride in one of the great vocal groups of all time.

  • Brilliant Corners festival features John Cale, Conor Oberst and Bobby Womack

    June 26, 2012

    John Cale, Conor Oberst and Bobby Womack will be among the headliners at the Brilliant Corners of Popular Amusements Fall Showcase, Sept. 21-23 at the Riverfront Theater, 650 W. Chicago.

  • Album review: R. Kelly, 'Write Me Back'

    June 25, 2012

    3 stars (out of 4)

  • Tonight's top show: Chico Trujillo at Millennium Park

    June 25, 2012

    Chico Trujillo: This ensemble is part of a new movement of Chilean bands merging traditional elements of cumbia and other ethnic music with ska, hip-hop and rock, topped by lyrics that address contemporary life, 6:30 p.m. Monday with Occidental Brothers Dance Band International at Pritzker Pavilion, Millennium Park, free;

  • Top weekend show: Earl of Old Town's 80th birthday celebration

    June 22, 2012

    Earl of Old Town's 80th Birthday Celebration: Earl Pionke, the founder and namesake of the revered ‘60s and ‘70s Old Town folk institution, the Earl of Old Town, celebrates his 80th birthday with the music and some of the artists he helped nurture. Dozens will perform, including Bonnie Koloc, Jim Post, Eddie Holstein and Michael Johnson, plus “special guests.” Hmmm, might John Prine be in the neighborhood? 6 p.m. Sunday at FitzGeralds, Berwyn, $35 and $10 (live video simulcast);

  • Album review: Japandroids, 'Celebration Rock'

    June 20, 2012

    3.5 stars (out of 4)

  • Album review: Smashing Pumpkins, 'Oceania'

    June 18, 2012

    3.5 stars (out of 4)

  • Album review: Fiona Apple, 'The Idler Wheel ...'

    June 18, 2012

    3.5 stars (out of 4)

  • Flux Pavilion aims to inject dubstep with 'emotionally epic' songs

    June 15, 2012

    Josh Steele, better known as the U.K.dubstep songwriter and producer Flux Pavilion who has been championed by Kanye West andJay-Z, started out as an aspiring rock star. Guitars and drums were his preferred mode of expression in a handful of U.K. bands. But while working in his bedroom on songs, he began tinkering with samplers, keyboards and drum machines and his new musical future became apparent.

  • Lounge Ax retrospective party set

    June 13, 2012

    Lounge Ax, the late, great Lincoln Avenue rock club that hosted countless indie-rock stalwarts during the '90s before its demise in 2000, will throw a retrospective party Aug. 10-11 that will reunite some of the regulars, personalities and bands who made the venue such a key part of the decade's music scene.

  • Lollapalooza after-parties include Afghan Whigs, Passion Pit, Alabama Shakes

    June 12, 2012

    Once again the shows will just go on and on Lollapalooza weekend Aug. 3-5, with 31 after-party concerts at 13 venues over five nights to be announced Tuesday. 

  • Album review: The dB's, 'Falling Off the Sky'

    June 11, 2012

    3.5 stars (out of 4)

  • Album review: Bobby Womack, 'The Bravest Man in the Universe'

    June 11, 2012

    3 stars (out of 4)

  • Concert review: Radiohead at First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre

    June 11, 2012

    “It’ll get better with age,” Thom Yorke said, a tongue-in-cheek semi-apology after Radiohead had debuted the song “Full Stop” before a full house at the First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre in Tinley Park, Ill.

  • Concert review: Roger Waters, 'The Wall' at Wrigley Field

    June 9, 2012

    Roger Waters has been touring his Pink Floyd-era double-album “The Wall” around the world for the last two years, giving the 1979 warhorse a long, lavish victory lap that landed Friday at Wrigley Field.

  • Top weekend shows: Roger Waters, Kelly Hogan, Radiohead

    June 8, 2012

    Roger Waters: Last chance. Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters builds “The Wall” outdoors as the epic two-year tour (which played the United Center in 2010) winds down this summer. Alas, his Floyd bandmates won’t be with him to replicate one of the landmark albums of the progressive era, 8:30 p.m. Friday at Wrigley Field, $35 to $250;

  • Joe Louis Walker, the blues and beyond

    June 7, 2012

    As a teenager in ‘60s San Francisco, Joe Louis Walker lived just blocks away from Sly Stone, roomed with Mike Bloomfield, and played shows with B.B. King, Jimi Hendrix and Thelonious Monk.

  • Album review: Alejandro Escovedo, 'Big Station'

    June 4, 2012

    3.5 stars (out of 4)

  • Album review: Neil Young and Crazy Horse, 'Americana'

    June 3, 2012

    3.5 stars (out of 4)

  • Concert review: Drake at First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre

    June 3, 2012

    Drake had barely arrived on stage Saturday at the packed First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre in Tinley Park and already he was wrestling with his contradictions.

  • Top weekend shows: Le Butcherettes, Drake

    June 1, 2012

    Le Butcherettes: The whip-smart, butt-kicking Teri Gender Bender leads her band with a mixture of tart, provocative lyrics and acrobatic stage antics, pushing both her audience and band to the brink of exhaustion, 9 p.m. Friday at Subterranean, 2011 W. North Av., $10;

  • Album review: Regina Spektor, 'What We Saw From the Cheap Seats'

    May 29, 2012

    2 stars (out of 4)

  • moe. again kicks off summer concert season

    May 24, 2012

    Since 2001, the unofficial kickoff of the summer concert season in the Chicago area has been the Summer Camp Music Festival at Three Sisters Park in Chillicothe, Ill. In each of those 11 years, including this weekend, the headliner has been moe., a quintet from upstate New York that doesn’t discriminate against any musical genre.

  • Beach Boys mix nostalgia, surf, melancholy at Chicago Theatre

    May 22, 2012

    Brian Wilson broke character Monday at the Chicago Theatre in the first of two 50th anniversary concerts by his longtime band.

  • Album review: Garbage, 'Not Your Kind of People'

    May 21, 2012

    2.5 stars (out of 4)

  • Album review: El-P, 'Cancer 4 Cure'

    May 20, 2012

    3.5 stars (out of 4)

  • Concert review: Bonnie Raitt at Chicago Theatre

    May 20, 2012

    Bonnie Raitt claimed she was “intimidated” by the Chicago Theatre, but that hardly seemed the case Saturday in the first of two sold-out concerts at the Loop landmark.

  • Album review: Killer Mike, 'R.A.P. Music'

    May 18, 2012

    4 stars (our of 4)

  • Top weekend shows: HoZac Blackout Festival, Bonnie Raitt, This Land is Our Land

    May 18, 2012

    HoZac Blackout Festival: Three days, 23 bands straight out of the garage, or a similarly dank and unforgiving place, with guitars dialed to the “face melt” setting, presented by Chicago’s esteemed HoZac label. Headliners include Davila 666, the reunited Red Kross and Texas psychedelic legend Roky Erickson, 5 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 7 p.m. Sunday at the Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western Av., $20 and $25;

  • Donna Summer dead at 63; more than just a disco diva

    May 17, 2012

    Donna Summer was typecast as the disco-era “bad girl,” the diva who was too salty and sexual for some radio stations to play in the ‘70s. But she was also a musical revolutionary, a versatile singer who created a radical new template for dance and pop music with such songs as “Love to Love You Baby” and “I Feel Love.”

  • Emeli Sande a neuroscientist with pop-star talent

    May 17, 2012

    Before emerging in recent years as one of the most acclaimed young songwriters and artists in theU.K., Emeli Sande took a little medical detour.

  • Riot Fest moves to Humboldt Park with Iggy and the Stooges, Elvis Costello, Rise Against

    May 15, 2012

    Riot Fest, the annual punk festival, is moving outdoors for the first time this year, promoters say: Sept. 15-16 at Humboldt Park. The festival’s Sept. 14 opening will be held at the Congress Theater.

  • Spring Awakening festival expands inside Soldier Field

    May 15, 2012

    The Spring Awakening Music Festival scheduled for June 16-17 is expanding inside Soldier Field to meet ticket demand, promoters will announce Tuesday.

  • Album review: Best Coast, 'The Only Place'

    May 14, 2012

    3 stars (out of 4)

  • Donald 'Duck' Dunn dead at 70: A soul rhythm-section great

    May 14, 2012

    Donald “Duck” Dunn, who died Sunday at age 70 in Tokyo only hours after playing his final show with longtime friend Steve Cropper, was part of one of soul music’s greatest rhythm sections.

  • Album review: Beach House, 'Bloom'

    May 14, 2012

    2.5 stars (out of 4)

  • Top weekend shows: St. Vincent, Andrew Bird

    May 10, 2012

    St. Vincent: Annie Clark’s 2011 date in Chicago following the release of her  “Strange Mercy” album was marred by some technical issues that muted her world-class guitar playing. Here’s hoping this time her shredding talents come through loud and clear, 7:30 p.m. Friday at the Vic Theatre, 3145 N. Sheffield Ave., (sold  out);

  • Tonight's top show: Justin Townes Earle at Park West

    May 10, 2012

    Justin Townes Earle: The singer-songwriter has long since come out from under the long shadow cast by his father and forged a powerful identity of his own with five increasingly distinctive albums. The latest, “Nothing's Gonna Change the Way You Feel About Me Now” (Bloodshot), may do just that, 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Park West, 322 W. Armitage, $20;

  • Tom Morello keeps punk-rock spirit of Woody Guthrie alive

    May 9, 2012

    Tom Morello says he rarely gets nervous anymore before he performs, in part because he’s done just about everything from rocking stadiums with Rage Against the Machine to participating in protest rallies around the world as a guitar-thrashing activist. But he does admit to feeling a little jumpy whenever he plays with Bruce Springsteen, as he did a few weeks ago at the South by Southwest Music Conference in Austin, Texas.

  • Album review: Off!, 'Off!'

    May 7, 2012

    3 stars (out of 4)

  • Album review: Damon Albarn, 'Dr. Dee'

    May 7, 2012

    1 star (out of 4)

  • Despite 'Voice' challenge, 'American Idol' is still music show to beat

    May 5, 2012

    Despite mounting evidence that it had been eclipsed by “The Voice” in the network television sing-off sweepstakes earlier this year, “American Idol” remains the music show to beat.

  • Beastie Boys' Adam 'MCA' Yauch dead at 47

    May 4, 2012

    Adam “MCA” Yauch was co-leader of the Beastie Boys, a New York City trio that transformed hip-hop. But just as significantly, the group and especially Yauch transformed themselves, providing a model for how artists can mature and grow as people without losing their credibility or relevance.

  • Concert review: The Weeknd at Lincoln Hall

    May 4, 2012

    “This ain’t no … sing-along/So girl what you singing for?” crooned Abel Tesfaye, better known as the Weeknd.

  • Album review: Nick Waterhouse, 'Time's All Gone'

    May 3, 2012

    3 stars (out of 4)

  • M83's Anthony Gonzalez: 'I needed to put myself in danger'

    May 2, 2012

    Anthony Gonzalez grew up in Antibes in the South of France. The Mediterranean resort town is one of the most beautiful places in Europe, and Gonzalez says he had “the perfect childhood.”

  • Album review: Norah Jones, '... Little Broken Hearts'

    April 30, 2012

    3 stars (out of 4)

  • Tonight's top show: Saul Hernandez at Lincoln Hall

    April 30, 2012

    Saul Hernandez: The songwriter in two of  Mexican alternative rock’s most revered bands, Jaguares and Caifanes, is playing a rare acoustic tour, in which he’ll focus on how some of the more enduring songs in the Latin-rock canon were written and originally conceived, 10 p.m. Monday at Lincoln Hall, 2424 N. Lincoln Av., $25;

  • Album review: Santigold, 'Master of My Make-Believe' (3.5 stars out of 4)

    April 30, 2012

    Philadelphia native Santi White made a splash in 2008 with her self-titled debut album, back when she was known as “Santogold.” She turned heads with a smart mix of reggae and new wave, hit the road, then took her time making the follow-up, the even more expansive “Master of My Make-Believe” (Downtown/Atlantic).

  • Spiritualized's Jason Pierce hates making records, brilliant as they are

    April 26, 2012

    For an artist who has released some of the most transcendent albums of the last two decades, Spiritualized’s Jason Pierce is remarkably down on the process of recording them: “I really don’t like making records,” he says. “I like playing live a lot more. It always seems like a chore.”

  • Bruce Springsteen adds second Wrigley show

    April 23, 2012

    The bad news for Bruce Springsteen fans: His concert Sept. 7 at Wrigley Field with the E Street Band sold out in less than an hour after tickets went on sale last weekend.

  • Jack White front and center on 'Blunderbuss' ✭✭✭ 1/2

    April 23, 2012

    Over the last decade, Jack White has turned each of his bands into an outlet for certain aspects of his musical personality: uber-rocker in the White Stripes, drummer in the Dead Weather, songwriting sidekick in the Raconteurs.

  • Concert review: Willis Earl Beal at the Hideout

    April 20, 2012

    It wasn’t an apology so much as an explanation that Willis Earl Beal offered at the close of his set Thursday at the filled-to-capacity Hideout.

  • Treasure trove of George Harrison music unwrapped

    April 20, 2012

    George Harrisonwas recording steadily at the studio in his English country estate until nearly the day he died in 2001.

  • Top weekend shows: Soft Speaker, Nick Lowe, Cave

    April 20, 2012

    Soft Speaker: The co-ed quartet throws a curve on its latest release, “The Jockey” (SSPKR) in which it enlists “artists that we highly respect and admire” to interpret eight Soft Speaker tracks. There’s also one ringer, a live Soft Speaker track that captures the group’s fluid interplay, 9:30 p.m. Friday at Subterranean, 2011 W. North Av., $10 and $12;

  • Umphrey's McGee lets fans conduct the band in concert

    April 20, 2012

    Bands that improvise often talk about channeling what’s in the air, picking up on a collective vibe in the room and turning it into music. In keeping with these socially-mediated times, Umphrey’s McGee is taking that notion a step further: Why not let the fans orchestrate the band’s interaction?

  • Levon Helm, drummer and singer for The Band, dies of cancer

    April 19, 2012

    Levon Helm was the rarest of musical multi-taskers: an unflappable drummer and a singer who wrung soul out of every note. He also was a terrific team player and bandmate; he made the people around him sound good.

  • Taste of Chicago headliners include Jennifer Hudson, Death Cab, Chaka Khan

    April 19, 2012

    The first paid concerts in Taste of Chicago history will be announced Thursday, including performances by Jennifer Hudson, Death Cab for Cutie, Chaka Khan and Dierks Bentley.

  • Album review: Spiritualized, 'Sweet Heart Sweet Light'

    April 16, 2012

    3 stars (out of 4)

  • Woody Guthrie's music welcomes new multitudes

    April 13, 2012

    Decades ago, Woody Guthrie wrote the sparse lyrics for a song he never got around to recording, “New Multitudes,” a plea to future generations to stay the course: “Give me my new multitudes/Gonna build my world over/Gotta have new multitudes.”

  • Lumineers specialize in audience participation

    April 12, 2012

    A few weeks ago, the Lumineers were in the midst of the South by Southwest shuffle. The Denver band was playing a quick gig at a makeshift concert venue during the annual music conference: a downtown church in Austin, Texas. Amps and microphones were in place near the altar, but the Denver band abandoned them to stand on pews and wander the aisles. The group thrashed away on their instruments and invited the audience to sing with them, setting up a rousing call-and-response that made the lack of amplification irrelevant.

  • Tonight's top music show: Company Flow at Metro

    April 12, 2012

    Company Flow: The trio of El-P, Mr. Len and Bigg Jus made only one album in its first incarnation, but it was a landmark. The 1997 “Funcrusher Plus” combined tension-filled atmospherics, jagged beats, sci-fi musings and angry, political salvos that still resonate. Now the trio has reunited for some shows, including their first ever in Chicago, 9 p.m. Thursday at Metro, 3730 N. Clark St., $25 (advance) and $28;

  • April 10, 2012

    The 2012 Lollapalooza lineup to be announced Wednesday reaffirms that the culture of DJs and electronic artists is catching up with rock as a live attraction on the lucrative summer festival circuit. 

  • Album review: Bonnie Raitt, 'Slipstream' ✭✭✭

    April 9, 2012

    “Slipstream” (Redwing) marks Bonnie Raitt’s first album since 2005 and her first independent release in a career that stretches back to the early ‘70s. The album is a composite of two recording sessions, one a self-produced effort with her road band and the other a riskier, more rewarding collaboration with producer Joe Henry and his hand-picked studio musicians.

  • Album review: Alabama Shakes, 'Boys & Girls' ✭✭✭

    April 6, 2012

    3 stars (out of 4)

  • Top weekend shows: Anna Fermin, Cloud Nothings

    April 6, 2012

    Anna Fermin: The singer-songwriter has blended country, rock and folk influences on her past recordings with Trigger Gospel. Now a pair of new solo EPs, “Someday Afternoon” and “The Contender,” swing her in more of a pop direction. At times the production’s overdone, but the moodier tunes showcase the silky strength of her vocals, 9 p.m. Friday at FitzGerald’s, 6615 Roosevelt Road, Berwyn, Ill., $15;

  • Pitchfork adds Wild Flag, Beach House, Real Estate to festival lineup

    April 5, 2012

    The Pitchfork Music Festival filled out its July 13-15 lineup at Union Park by announcing 21 bands and artists Thursday, including Beach House, Wild Flag and Real Estate.

  • Tonight's top show: Wild Flag at Metro

    April 5, 2012

    Wild Flag: The quartet released a potent self-titled debut last year (my top album of 2011), and Carrie Brownstein, Janet Weiss, Mary Timony and Rebecca Cole are even better live, 9:30 p.m. Thursday at Metro, 3730 N. Clark St., $21;

  • Willis Earl Beal makes music out of loneliness

    April 3, 2012

    Willis Earl Beal wandered through most of his 28 years on the planet without a steady job or much direction until his loneliness become so consuming that he began to sing. Now he finds himself as a labelmate of Radiohead, M.I.A. and Adele. His debut album for Hot Charity/XL Recordings, “Acousmatic Sorcery,” is out this week.

  • Album review: Screaming Females, 'Ugly'

    April 2, 2012

    3.5 stars (out of 4)

  • Wilco to play baseball-park triple-header July 8

    April 1, 2012

    Baseball, fireworks, a Wilco concert – for certain Chicagoans (and you know who you are), that’s a quintessential summer package.

  • Album review: Dr. John, 'Locked Down' ✭✭✭ 1/2

    April 1, 2012

    3.5 stars (out of 4)

  • Top weekend show: Wanton Looks at Schubas

    March 29, 2012

    Wanton Looks: This Chicago quartet celebrates the release of its self-titled debut album with songs that have been honed over years of live gigs for maximum clenched-fist impact. Traci Trouble, Meg Thomas, Inga Olson and Susie Q. Winn combine metal virtuosity – 10-ton guitar solos, rampaging drums – with don’t-mess-with-me garage-punk attitude, 10 p.m. Saturday at Schubas, 3159 N. Southport, $8;

  • Danny Brown finds success by rapping about being broke

    March 27, 2012

    In a hurry-up culture, Danny Brown says taking his time was the key to the depth and off-kilter resonance of his 2011 breakthrough album, “XXX” (Fool’s Gold).

  • Pitchfork festival adds 11 bands, sells out 3-day passes

    March 26, 2012

    The Pitchfork Music Festival added 11 bands Monday to its lineup, and announced that three-day passes for the July 13-15 event at Union Park are sold out.

  • Album review: Madonna, 'MDNA'

    March 24, 2012

    3 stars (out of 4)

  • Radar Eyes: They love melody, chaos, cassettes

    March 21, 2012

    The drums, as Sonic Youth might say, pound an expressway through your skull. The bass forcefully walks the divide between rhythm and melody. Guitars throw a curtain of dirt over everything, and then smear it around. Beneath all the mayhem, melodies emerge and fight for room in the hectic mix.

  • Concert review: Black Keys at the United Center

    March 20, 2012

    Monday marked the Black Keys’ first time playing the United Center after more than a decade of working their way up the touring ladder. Hard to imagine, but at one time they had trouble filling 100-capacity clubs, now they’re drawing 15,000 a night.

  • Album review: The Shins, 'Port of Morrow'

    March 19, 2012

    2.5 stars (out of 4)

  • SXSW 2012: It's a wrap

    March 18, 2012

    AUSTIN, TEXAS -- Sure, plenty of stars and superstars descended on the South by Southwest Music Conference, which concluded Sunday after five days of glad-handing, pitch-making and music scouting by thousands of attendees. There were sets by everyone from Bruce Springsteen and Jack White to Erykah Badu and 50 Cent (with a drop-in from Eminem).

  • Wild Belle rules at SXSW

    March 17, 2012

    AUSTIN, TEXAS -- Write this name down: Wild Belle.

  • Spotify panel at SXSW outlines harsh realities of streaming

    March 16, 2012

    AUSTIN, TEXAS -- Streaming services have replaced downloads as the trendy new way to access recorded music, and, as usual, huge questions center on who in the recording industry will get paid and how much, if anything.

  • Springsteen SXSW concert review

    March 16, 2012

    AUSTIN, TEXAS -- It was Bruce Springsteen day Thursday at the South by Southwest Music Conference, but the singer instead turned the spotlight on his fellow artists.

  • Springsteen delivers SXSW keynote

    March 15, 2012

    AUSTIN, TEXAS -- Bruce Springsteen got a few laughs Thursday as he kicked off his South by Southwest Music Conference keynote by enumerating nearly every musical genre under the Texas sun, from jangle-pop and hip-hop to death metal and low-fi. "Just add 'neo' or 'post' " to every name on that list, he said, and you'd have hundreds more.

  • Black Keys and their 'rocketship to the moon'

    March 15, 2012

    “You guys are on a rocketship to the moon,” comedy-show host Stephen Colbert recently told his guests, Patrick Carney and Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys. Carney was stunned into silence, Auerbach laughed. For the boyhood friends from Akron, Ohio, it was a surreal punctuation point to a decade-long rise out of Midwestern obscurity into an international arena act.

  • Lollapalooza restructures Grant Park deal, ticket prices to rise

    March 14, 2012

    A new agreement with the Chicago Park District announced Wednesday will extend Lollapalooza's stay in Grant Park through at least 2021, while requiring the promoters to pay millions in annual city and county amusement taxes and state liquor taxes for the first time. Though it bolsters government revenue, the deal will likely mean that festivalgoers will pay more for tickets.

  • SXSW 2012: Is social media a music-industry savior?

    March 13, 2012

    AUSTIN, TEXAS --- Can social media save the music industry?

  • SXSW 2012 kicks off and Devo's in the house

    March 13, 2012

    AUSTIN, TEXAS -- It's South By Southwest season in Texas, and Tuesday is the day when the interactive and film portions of the conference schedule wind down and the music festival kicks in.  That means Austin is overun by tens of thousands of executives, tech nerds, agents and attorneys touting everything from cell phone aps to better algorithms for interacting with fans.

  • Album review: Caetano Veloso and David Byrne, 'Live at Carnegie Hall'

    March 13, 2012

    2.5 stars (out of 4)

  • Tonight's top show: Fiona Apple at Lincoln Hall

    March 11, 2012

    Fiona Apple: The mercurial singer resurfaces for a brief club tour, presumably as a teaser for a forthcoming album (her first since 2005) with another tongue-twister title, “The Idler Wheel is wiser than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords will serve you more than Ropes will ever do,” 8 p.m. Monday at Lincoln Hall, 2424 N. Lincoln Av., $40 (sold out);

  • Weekend's top show: Levon Helm at Old Town

    March 11, 2012

    Levon Helm’s Midnight Ramble: The Band’s drummer-vocalist holds regular “Midnight Rambles” at his barn in Woodstock, N.Y., and he'll bring that loose, Southern medicine-show vibe to Old Town and its annual fundraiser with guests including Donald Fagen (both nights), Little Feat guitarists Fred Tackett and Paul Barrere (Friday only), and Shawn Mullins (Saturday only), 5:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday at the Old Town School of Folk Music, 4544 N. Lincoln Av., $250;

  • Top weekend show: Raekwon, Freddie Gibbs at Cubby Bear

    March 9, 2012

    Raekwon and Freddie Gibbs: One of the most gifted of the Wu Tang Clan’s stable of MC’s, Raekwon, joins forces with Freddie Gibbs, who has put Gary, Ind., on the hip-hop map with his hard-hitting tales of street survival, 9 p.m. Tuesday at the Cubby Bear, 1059 W. Addison, $18;

  • Top weekend show: EMA at Lincoln Hall

    March 9, 2012

    EMA: Erika M. Anderson’s 2011 debut album, “Past Life Martyred Saints,” laid it all out – a lacerating demonstration of brutally honest songwriting and whirling guitar playing that earned her a victory-lap tour, 10 p.m. Saturday at Lincoln Hall, 2424 N. Lincoln Av., $12;

  • Alabama Shakes: No Fear

    March 7, 2012

    Brittany Howard stomps, shakes, whispers, and roars, riding the wave thrown up by her fast-rising band, Alabama Shakes. There’s the vulnerability and passion of bedrock soul in the vocals, the dynamics of the blues and the fury of garage-punk in the quartet’s music.

  • Album review: Bruce Springsteen, 'Wrecking Ball'

    March 2, 2012

    2 stars (out of 4)

  • Top weekend shows: Chieftans, Questlove

    March 1, 2012

    Chieftans: The Irish folk band celebrates is 50th anniversary (!!!) with a tour on the back of an album, “Voice of Ages,” that features collaborations with some of the many admirers Paddy Moloney and company have accrued over the decades, including the Decembrists, Bon Iver and the Civil Wars, 8 p.m. Friday at the Chicago Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan Av., $25 to $75;

  • Lila Downs a singer without borders

    March 1, 2012

    Lila Downs’ music is a lot like her upbringing: threads of seemingly unrelated cultures woven into an exotic, ever-shifting hybrid. She’s done everything from studying anthropology to dropping out of school to follow the Grateful Dead. She was a DIY artist and coffeehouse singer smitten with Mexican rancheras, John Coltrane and Whitney Houston who released her music on cassette in the ‘90s. Now she headlines theaters and arenas around the world, and sings with an opera-worthy voice in multiple languages.

  • Album review: Mark Lanegan, 'Blues Funeral'

    March 1, 2012

    2 stars (out of 4)

  • Monkees' Davy Jones dies at 66; a pivotal teen idol

    February 29, 2012

    Davy Jones was not pop music’s first teen idol. Preceding him were Ricky Nelson, Frankie Avalon and Fabian, among many.

  • Pitchfork festival to include Vampire Weekend, Feist, Godspeed You! Black Emperor

    February 28, 2012

    Vampire Weekend, Feist, Hot Chip and Godspeed You! Black Emperor will be among the performers July 13-15 when the 2012 Pitchfork Music Festival returns for its seventh year at Union Park.

  • Album review: Dirty Three, 'Toward the Low Sun'

    February 27, 2012

    3 stars (out of 4)

  • Concert review: Van Halen at the United Center

    February 25, 2012

    Van Halen was pretty much all business Friday at the sold-out United Center, and that’s saying something when that eternal hedonist, David Lee Roth, is involved.

  • Top weekend shows: Occidental Brothers Dance Band International and the Life and Times

    February 23, 2012

    Occidental Brothers Dance Band International: The multi-racial Chicago band specializes in West African highlife music, which should be a perfect way to experience Old Town’s new, dance-oriented performance space in the Myron R. Szold Music and Dance Hall, 8:30 p.m. Friday at the Old Town School of Folk Music, 4545 N. Lincoln Ave., $10;

  • Tonight's top shows: Diamanda Galas, Scott Lucas and his Married Men

    February 23, 2012

    Diamanda Galas: The classically trained pianist has a titanic voice, and she won’t be using it to trill pretty love songs. She confronts the big issues with unflinching passion and brutal honesty. She’ll be performing pieces for voice and piano, including refashioned blues songs and selections from her Masque of the Red Death trilogy, which  addresses the AIDS crisis,  7:30 p.m. Thursday and Feb. 25 at the Museum of Contemporary Art, 220 E. Chicago Ave., sold out;

  • Album review: Sleigh Bells, 'Reign of Terror'

    February 20, 2012

    3 stars (out of 4)

  • Top weekend shows: Joe Ely at FitzGerald's

    February 17, 2012

    Joe Ely: The Texas songwriter is a renaissance man even among his roots-rocking brethren, touching on everything from Tex-Mex and honky-tonk to punk and rockabilly in a career that spans more than four decades. He’s still one of the most dynamic performers you’ll ever see, providing a soundtrack for dancing, brawling and just about everything in between,  9 p.m. Friday-Saturday at FitzGerald’s, 6615 W. Roosevelt Rd., Berwyn, Ill.,  $20;

  • Charles Bradley pours tragic life into soul-searing music

    February 17, 2012

    It wasn’t until he was in his sixties that Charles Bradley had the resources and support to finally record his debut album. That 2011 release, “No Time for Dreaming” (Dunham/Daptone), is essentially his autobiography, the story of a soul man-in-waiting, of perseverance in the face of death, poverty and ill fortune.

  • Beach Boys with Brian Wilson to play Chicago Theatre

    February 15, 2012

    Fresh off a reunion with Brian Wilson at the nationally televised Grammy Awards, the Beach Boys will announce a 50th anniversary tour Wednesday that will bring them to the Chicago Theatre on May 21.

  • Album review: Heartless Bastards, 'Arrow'

    February 14, 2012

    3.5 stars (out of 4)

  • New Chicago concert venue hires Old Town's longtime talent buyer

    February 13, 2012

    A major new venue will arrive on the Chicago concert scene this summer, and it’ll be booked by one of the local music community’s most respected figures.

  • Grammy Awards 2012: Adele takes home six awards

    February 13, 2012

    The Grammys cast aside their celebratory vibe Sunday to pay tribute to singer Whitney Houston, whose death over the weekend hung heavy over the 54th annual awards show.

  • Whitney Houston: A voice that served the song

    February 12, 2012

    Whitney Houston was for nearly two decades the center of pop music, an inspiration to several generations of pop divas, from Mariah Carey to Beyonce, and countless “American Idol” contestants.

  • Top weekend show: Megadeth and Motorhead

    February 10, 2012

    Megadeth and Motorhead: For metal-heads, these two bands aren’t just icons from a bygone era. Their music has a certain age-less relevance.  Megadeth’s Dave Mustaine and Motorhead’s Lemmy cling to their original visions with a pitbull tenacity, 6:30 p.m. Friday at the Aragon Ballroom, 1006 W. Lawrence Ave., $42.25;

  • Sharon Van Etten learns how to share

    February 8, 2012

    Sharon Van Etten was a struggling, uncertain artist trying to find an audience on tour in 2010 when she was awakened one morning with some life-changing news. The night before, the National’s Aaron Dessner had joined Bon Iver on stage at the MusicNow festival in Cincinnati to perform Van Etten’s song “Love More” in front of thousands of fans.

  • Tonight's top show: Craig Finn at Empty Bottle

    February 7, 2012

    Craig Finn: The Hold Steady singer ventures out on his own with his first solo album, “Clear Heart Full Eyes” (Vagrant), which offers the moody, downcast flip side of his band’s celebratory rock, 9:30 p.m. Tuesday at Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western Av., $12 and $14;

  • Album review: Paul McCartney, 'Kisses on the Bottom'

    February 6, 2012

    2 stars (out of 4)

  • Album review: Van Halen, 'A Different Kind of Truth'

    February 6, 2012

    2.5 stars (out of 4)

  • Madonna sells, sells, sells at Super Bowl halftime

    February 5, 2012

    In the mecca of conspicuous consumption that is the Super Bowl, Madonna – the most material of all the girls – was right at home Sunday as the queen of halftime.

  • Top weekend shows: Estelle, Bobby Womack and Millie Jackson

    February 3, 2012

    Estelle: With this rare club performance, the sultry British singer preps the release of her first album, “All of Me,” since her 2008 U.S. breakthrough, “Shine,” 8 p.m. Friday at the Double Door, 1572 N. Milwaukee, $20;

  • Neutral Milk Hotel is back at last -- but for how long?

    February 2, 2012

    When last seen on stage in Chicago playing a full set, in 1998 at the late, great Lincoln Avenue club Lounge Ax, Neutral Milk Hotel’s Jeff Mangum strummed his guitar so hard it appeared the strings and wood would shatter. He sang vivid stream-of-consciousness lyrics about surreal gardens, Anne Frank and God with eyes closed, as if reliving a religious experience. There was a ramshackle band behind him, and a rapt audience in front of him, but Mangum was so wrapped up in the music that he might as well have been the only person in the room.

  • Album review: Joe Louis Walker, 'Hellfire'

    January 30, 2012

    3 stars (out of 4)

  • Top weekend shows: Otis Clay, Joe Henry

    January 27, 2012


  • Album review: Lana Del Rey, 'Born to Die'

    January 26, 2012

    2 stars (out of 4)

  • Today's top shows: Glen Campbell, Kathleen Edwards

    January 26, 2012

    Kathleen Edwards: The Canadian singer-songwriter is showcasing her first album in four years, “Voyageur” (Zoe Records), coproduced by Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon. It traces the arch of a disintegrating love affair with a mix of melancholy and occasional but much-needed dark humor, 8 p.m. Thursday at Lincoln Hall, 2424 N. Lincoln Av., $20;

  • Album review: Leonard Cohen, 'Old Ideas'

    January 24, 2012

    3.5 stars (out of 4)

  • Rise Against protests against lack of protest songs

    January 24, 2012

    Rise Against singer-guitarist Tim McIlrath is in a band that has defied his own modest expectations, rising from the Chicago punk and all-ages scene to headlining arenas (the band headlines UIC Pavilion on Friday). Through it all, he’s been unwavering in his belief that music can change lives and promote dialogue by addressing big issues from a personal perspective.

  • Top weekend show: Chicago Bluegrass and Blues Festival

    January 20, 2012

    Chicago Bluegrass and Blues Festival: Master bluegrass musicians David Grisman and the Del McCoury Band headline, with help from the String Cheese Incident’s Bill Nershi and Yonder Mountain String Band’s Jeff Austin, as well as Joe Purdy, the Giving Tree Band, Henhouse Prowlers and Majors Junction, 2 p.m. Saturday at the Auditorium Theatre, 50 E. Congress Parkway, $39.50, $44.50, $49.50, $59.50;

  • Album review: Craig Finn, 'Clear Heart Full Eyes'

    January 20, 2012

    2.5 stars (out of 4)

  • Springsteen: new album, tour, possible Chicago date

    January 19, 2012

    As with all things related to new Bruce Springsteen product, the release of the singer’s latest studio album, “Wrecking Ball,” on March 6 is just the start of what is shaping up as a major year for the singer.

  • The Kills' killer chemistry

    January 15, 2012

    The most stunning moment on the latest Kills’ album, “Blood Pressures” (Domino), is the one that’s perhaps most out of character. Alison Mosshart and Jamie Hince have long been celebrated for their scuzzy take on electro-blues and punk, but the song “The Last Goodbye” puts them in a decrepit lounge at closing time, delivering a sparse, tough-but-tender ballad.

  • Album review: The Weeknd, 'Echoes of Silence'

    January 12, 2012

    3.5 stars (out of 4)

  • Van Halen to play 2 Chicago shows

    January 6, 2012

    Van Halen announced its first tour in four years Thursday, including dates Feb. 24 at the United Center and April 1 at the Allstate Arena.

  • Album review: Guided By Voices, 'Let's Go Eat the Factory'

    January 4, 2012

    3 stars (out of 4)

  • Alligator's Bruce Iglauer among Chicagoans of the Year

    December 22, 2011

    Each year the Tribune recognizes a handful of Chicagoans as its artists of the year. This year, Alligator Records founder Bruce Iglauer is among them. Here's why:

  • Top concerts 2011, from Le Butcherettes to Paul Simon

    December 20, 2011

    Here are my favorite concerts from 2011:

  • Album review: Common, 'The Dreamer/The Believer'

    December 18, 2011

    3 stars (out of 4)

  • Old Town School rolls out historic song archive

    December 16, 2011

    The Old Town School of Folk Music has had a lot of legendary and influential artists pass through its doors during its 55 years, and many of them have been documented on recordings that up until now have been available only to the school’s music students and teachers.

  • Old Town School set to open new concert venue, classroom space

    December 16, 2011

    It all started in a private home in 1957 with a small group of folk guitarists learning the chords to “Sloop John B.” Now 55 years later Frank Hamilton, Win Stracke and the other founders of the Old Town School of Folk Music would hardly recognize the place. Or, to be more precise, places.

  • Top weekend concerts: Country Calendar show, Hideout Christmas panto, Morrissey

    December 15, 2011

    Chris and Heather’s 2012 Country Calendar Show: Artist Heather McAdams’ annual calendar of country stars is brought to life with performances by Scott Ligon and Kelly Hogan (as George Jones and Tammy Wynette), the Possum Hollow Boys (Lonzo and Oscar), Robbie and Donna Fulks (Jimmy Martin), the Modern Sounds (Merle Travis) and more, 9 p.m. Friday at FitzGeralds, 6615 Roosevelt Road, Berwyn, Ill.,$20;

  • Top weekend shows: Valerie Simpson, Tori Amos

    December 9, 2011

    Valerie Simpson: With the recent passing of her husband and songwriting partner, Nick Ashford, Simpson will go it alone for the first time in what should be an emotional evening of memories and classic songs, 8 p.m. Saturday with the Whispers at the Star Plaza Theatre, Merillville, Ind., $39;

  • Nick Lowe interview: Pop music for grown-ups

    December 8, 2011

    As a singer, songwriter and producer, Nick Lowe was one of the key figures in the rise of the pub-rock, punk and new-wave scenes in the U.K. during the ‘70s. With a hard-edged blend of rock ‘n’ roll, soul and country, he led Brinsley Schwarz and later Rockpile, and collaborated with kindred spirits such as Graham Parker and Elvis Costello, who covered Lowe’s “(What’s so Funny About) Peace, Love and Understanding.”

  • Box sets 2011, from Beach Boys to U2

    December 6, 2011

    Here are the most notable box sets of the season in rock and pop:

  • Album review: Amy Winehouse, 'Lioness: Hidden Treasures'

    December 5, 2011

    1 star (out of 4)

  • Tonight's top show: Jane Birkin at Portage Theatre

    December 5, 2011

    Jane Birkin: The actress and singer also was once the wife of the late French songwriter-producer-provocateur Serge Gainsbourg, and together they made one of the sexiest and most suggestive hits of all time, the 1969 single “Je T’Aime … Moi Non Plus.” Now Birkin is touring with a band to pay tribute to Gainsbourg and a boundary-pushing era of French orchestral pop, 8 p.m. Monday at Portage Theater, 4050 N. Milwaukee, $25 (advance) and $30;

  • There's more to Florence Welch than wispiness and eccentricity

    December 5, 2011

    If Florence Welch, she of the kimono sleeves and the stratospheric voice, had begun to levitate Sunday at the sold-out Chicago Theatre, her fans probably wouldn’t have been all that astonished.

  • Philadelphia hip-hop group makes career-best album

    December 2, 2011

    4 stars (out of 4)

  • Top weekend shows: Poi Dog Pondering, Jerry Lee Lewis

    December 2, 2011

    Poi Dog Pondering: The collective will give an overview of its two incarnations on consecutive nights in “A Tale of Two Cities: The Austin Years and The Chicago Years.” On Friday, the band’s original Austin-based lineup will perform songs from its early ‘90s albums, then the current Chicago-based lineup will focus on albums released since 1995, beginning with “Pomegranate” through this year’s “Audio Love Letter,” 9 p.m. Friday-Saturday at Metro, 3730 N. Clark St., $25;

  • Grammy nominations 2012: Kanye West, R. Kelly, Numero Group get multiple nods

    December 1, 2011

    Kanye West wasn’t the only artist with Chicago connections to receive plenty of attention Wednesday at the 54th annual Grammy Award nominations.

  • Kyuss Lives, and so does stoner-rock legacy

    November 30, 2011

    Kyuss deserves its own chapter in the hard-rock and metal history books, but the quartet was swallowed up by the Southern California desert from which it came after a handful of early-‘90s albums. The band was a cult favorite at best, but kindled a scene alongside a handful of likeminded bands that fused rumbling heaviness and melody: Monster Magnet, Fu Manchu, Sleep. The tag applied to the sound was “stoner rock,” and it finally found a commercial niche in the last decade, thanks in large measure to Queens of the Stone Age, led by Kyuss cofounder Josh Homme.

  • Smashing Pumpkins revisit breakthrough albums

    November 27, 2011

    “Gish” Deluxe Edition (EMI); 3.5 stars (out of 4)

  • Top weekend shows: Tinariwen, Bad Examples

    November 25, 2011

    Tinariwen: With their hypnotic rhythms and weaving guitars touching on influences both familiar and exotic, this nomadic band is a hardened road crew -- their first gigs were in the Saharan desert. Tapes of their music circulated throughout Africa before breaking through to Western audiences in recent years. Dancing a must, 9 p.m. Friday at Metro, 3730 N. Clark St., $26 (advance) and $29;

  • Tonight's top show: Naked Raygun at Metro

    November 23, 2011

    Naked Raygun: The pioneering Chicago punk band still delivers the goods in concert. The quartet now squeezes gigs in between day jobs, which fits with their no-nonsense, blue-collar sound, 8 p.m. Wednesday at Metro, 3730 N. Clark St., $22;

  • Lydia Loveless: Defiance on the farm

    November 22, 2011

    Lydia Loveless does a lot of venting on her second album and debut for Chicago-based Bloodshot Records, “Indestructible Machine.” Growing up in rural Ohio outside Coshocton, population 11,000, Loveless says feeling like an outcast was inspiring in a perverse kind of way. “One good thing about not having a lot of friends,” she says with a laugh, “it gave me plenty of time to write songs.”

  • Album review: Rihanna, 'Talk That Talk'

    November 21, 2011

    2 stars (out of 4)

  • Album review: Kate Bush, '50 Words for Snow'

    November 18, 2011

    3 stars (out of 4)

  • Top weekend shows: Charlie Musselwhite, Zac Brown Band

    November 18, 2011

    Charlie Musselwhite: The great blues harpist is coming off a 2010 release, “The Well” (Alligator), that ranks with his strongest work. In a career that dates to the hard-scrabble 1960s Chicago scene, Musselwhite shows no sign of slowing down, 8 p.m. Friday at Space, 1245 Chicago Av., $20 and $35;

  • Los Lobos' songwriting team a 40-year conversation

    November 15, 2011

    Louie Perez and David Hidalgo have been writing songs together for 40 years, providing the backbone for Los Lobos albums and a couple of Latin Playboy projects. Their tunes have been covered by artists ranging from Robert Plant and Pop Staples to Phish and Waylon Jennings.

  • Tonight's top show: Lykke Li at the Vic

    November 14, 2011

    Lykke Li: The Swedish singer upped the artistic ante on her second album, “Wounded Rhymes” (Atlantic/LL), with arrangements steeped in vintage pop that dramatize her ice-queen longing, 7:30 p.m. Monday at the Vic Theatre, 3145 N. Sheffield, $29;

  • Album review: Drake, 'Take Care'

    November 13, 2011

    3 stars (out of 4)

  • Top weekend shows: Mastodon, Paul Simon

    November 11, 2011

    Mastodon: The Atlanta quartet rewrites the metal handbook with virtually every release. Their latest, “The Hunter” (Reprise), provides a relatively concise overview of their wide-ranging sound, covering everything from progressive journeys to thrashing sprints, 7 p.m. Friday at the Riviera, 4746 N. Racine, $24;

  • Patrick Stump finds life beyond Fall Out Boy

    November 9, 2011

    It doesn’t take a musical genius to read between the notes of Patrick Stump’s first solo album, “Soul Punk” (Island), to realize that the Fall Out Boy singer and songwriter left a few things unsaid in his old band.

  • Concert review: Feist at the Riviera

    November 5, 2011

    As her concert wound down Friday at the Riviera, Leslie Feist stood amid a sea of fans that she had invited on stage to slow dance.

  • Top weekend shows: Feist, Blind Boys of Alabama

    November 4, 2011

    Feist: She’s hit commercial paydirt with lighter fare such as “Mushaboom” and “1234,” but the singer-songwriter shows some darker, more somber edges on her latest album, “Metals,” 8 p.m. Friday at the Riviera, 4746 N. Racine, $34;

  • Le Butcherettes a riot on stage

    November 1, 2011

    When last seen at Lollapalooza in Grant Park a few months ago, Le Butcherettes’ Teri Gender Bender was working out a few issues on stage: bending and twisting her body into positions once only attempted by Cirque du Soleil contortionists, pounding the floor like a flamenco dancer in her bare feet, leaping into the audience, and working herself and her band to exhaustion until her drummer literally threw up – and kept playing.

  • Roger Waters expected to bring 'The Wall' to Wrigley Field

    October 28, 2011

    Roger Waters is expected to bring his massive tour of Pink Floyd’s “The Wall” to Wrigley Field next summer.

  • Album review: Lou Reed and Metallica, 'Lulu'

    October 28, 2011

    1 star (out of 4)

  • Top weekend shows: Azita, Eleanor Friedberger, Opeth

    October 27, 2011

    Opeth: The Swedish band has evolved from its growly, grinding death-metal origins into an increasingly progressive and even experimental outfit, as chronicled on their recently released 10th studio album, “Heritage” (Roadrunner), 7:30 p.m. Friday at the Vic Theatre, 3145 N. Sheffield, $28.50;

  • Joan Baez on the new protest era: The whole world's watching

    October 26, 2011

    Joan Baez is calling from Paris the morning after a sold-out concert, and she’s seen the news reports coming out of Chicago.

  • Tonight's top show: 'Flying Saucers Rock 'n' Roll'

    October 25, 2011

    “Flying Saucers Rock ‘n’ Roll”: If you know that’s the title of the rockabilly classic by Billy Lee Riley you’ll likely enjoy the new book of the same name by Jake Austen. The Rocktober magazine editor and “Chic-A-Go-Go” TV-show creator will read from his new book of interviews with unjustly obscure musical cult figures, and Milt Trenier of the Trenier brothers, who presaged rock ‘n’ roll in the ‘40s and ‘50s, will perform, 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Claudia Cassidy Theater at the Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington St., free;

  • Album review: 'The Bridge School Benefit Concerts -- 25th Anniversary Edition'

    October 25, 2011

    3 stars (out of 4)

  • Album review: Coldplay, 'Mylo Xyloto'

    October 23, 2011

    2 stars (out of 4)

  • iPod turns 10: Has convenience and portability made music more disposable?

    October 21, 2011

    A cultural shift that eventually became a landslide began 10 years ago this month, though almost no one noticed at the time. Apple Inc. rolled out a portable MP3 player it dubbed the iPod, and after a promising opening quarter in 2002, sales dropped more than 50 percent.

  • Top weekend show: Deadmau5 at Aragon

    October 20, 2011

    Deadmau5: Toronto DJ Joel Thomas Zimmerman’s headlining set at Lollapalooza last August offered further confirmation of his ascent to the top of the electronic-music ranks. If nothing else, the outfits his fans wear should be impressive – be prepared for an invasion of oversized rodents, 8 p.m. Saturday and 5 p.m. Sunday at the Aragon Ballroom, 1106 W. Lawrence, $50;

  • Tonight's top shows: Trombone Shorty, Boris

    October 19, 2011

    Trombone Shorty: Though still in his mid-twenties, trombonist Troy Andrews is a two-decade veteran of New Orleans’ vibrant music scene, and his latest album, “For True” (Verve Forecast) is his best yet, connecting the dots between jazz and hip-hop, rock and funk, 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at  Park West, 322 W. Armitage Av, $20;

  • Album review: Patrick Stump, 'Soul Punk'

    October 18, 2011

    3 stars (out of 4)

  • Smashing Pumpkins pummel the Riviera

    October 15, 2011

    “Oh, Chicago, I’m coming home to you,” Billy Corgan sang Friday at the sold-out Riviera.

  • Das Racist: An ongoing experiment in having serious fun

    October 13, 2011

    Das Racist started as something of a lark, two former college acquaintances riffing on not fitting in.

  • Portishead at the Aragon: The wait was worth it

    October 13, 2011

    In the early ‘90s, the British fishing town of Portishead produced a namesake band that made beautifully disturbing music: anguished vocals over chilled hip-hop break beats, accented by Spaghetti Western guitars and eerie atmospherics.

  • Bryan Ferry at the Civic Opera House - an elegant subversive

    October 12, 2011

    For Bryan Ferry on Tuesday, it was a tale of two sets.

  • Album review: Bjork, 'Biophilia'

    October 9, 2011

    2 stars (out of 4)

  • Concert review: Van Hunt at Schubas

    October 8, 2011

    Van Hunt’s concert Friday at a sold-out Schubas ended the way it began, in a hail of feedback.

  • Weekend's top show: Wild Flag at Empty Bottle

    October 7, 2011

    Wild Flag: As good as the combination of Sleater-Kinney’s Carrie Brownstein and Janet Weiss with Helium’s Mary Timony and the Minders’ Rebecca Cole sounds in theory, it’s even better in its unruly and uninhibited reality, 10 p.m. Saturday and 9:30 p.m. Sunday at Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, $15;

  • Van Hunt turns major-label rejection into musical triumph

    October 6, 2011

    Van Hunt, who is back with a terrific new album that he will showcase Friday at Schubas, is trying to be philosophical about one of the worst periods of his life. In 2008, the acclaimed, Grammy-winning singer-songwriter was preparing to release his third studio album, “Popular,” when it was shelved by his label at the time, Blue Note.

  • Concert review: St. Vincent at Metro

    October 6, 2011

    Annie Clark, who records under the name of St. Vincent, loves to role play.

  • Future of Music Summit: More chaos ahead for artists

    October 4, 2011

    WASHINGTON, D.C. -- At the intersection where Capitol Hill policy, technological innovation and musical creativity meet, tensions spilled over at the two-day Future of Music Summit while government officials washed their hands of the mounting chaos.

  • Copyright director, congressman put onus on private sector to solve digital crisis

    October 3, 2011

    WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Don't hold your breath waiting for an overhaul of U.S. copyright law to reflect the massive  changes the Internet has ignited in the way consumers access music.

  • Cheap Trick lobbies Congress to regulate temporary stages

    October 3, 2011

    WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The sky was falling on Cheap Trick when the band was playing the Ottawa Bluesfest in mid-July.

  • Album review: Tom Waits, 'Bad as Me'

    October 2, 2011

    3.5 stars (out of 4)

  • Album review: DJ Shadow, 'The Less You Know, the Better'

    October 1, 2011

    2.5 stars (out of 4)

  • Concert review: Fleet Foxes at Chicago Theatre

    October 1, 2011

    “Why in the night sky are the lights hung?/Why is the Earth moving around the Sun?”

  • Top weekend shows: Fleet Foxes, Oval, Diane Izzo Memorial Concert

    September 30, 2011

    Fleet Foxes: The Seattle group’s pristine multi-part harmonies are now augmented by a more powerful sense of instrumental dynamics, as its headlining set last July at the Pitchfork Music Festival affirmed, 7:30 Friday-Saturday at the Chicago Theatre, 175 N. State St., $38 (sold out);

  • Tonight's top show: Liturgy at Empty Bottle

    September 28, 2011

    Liturgy: Though so-called “black metal” is generally perceived as something of a brutal downer, this Brooklyn outfit manages to turn all that inky annihilation into something transcendent and strangely uplifting, 9 p.m. Wednesday with John Maus at the Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western Av, $15;

  • Tonight's top show: PS I Love You at Schubas

    September 27, 2011

    PS I Love You: A Canadian guitar-drums duo that delivers concise pop songs with epic guitar strokes. Paul Saulnier approximates the sound of three guitarists on his instrument, while Benjamin Nelson bangs out precisely orchestrated parts like a human drum machine, 8 p.m. Tuesday at Schubas, 3159 N. Southport, $10 and $12 (door);

  • Album review: Van Hunt, 'What Were You Hoping For?'

    September 26, 2011

    3.5 stars (out of 4)

  • Album review: Mastodon, 'The Hunter'

    September 26, 2011

    3 stars (out of 4)

  • Album review: Wilco, 'The Whole Love'

    September 22, 2011

    3 stars (out of 4)

  • R.E.M.: The essential albums

    September 21, 2011

    On the day of R.E.M.'s break-up, a quick guide to the group's essential albums:

  • R.E.M. breaks up, leaves behind career that balanced hits, integrity

    September 21, 2011

    R.E.M. broke up Wednesday, with an exit nearly as modest as its entrance.

  • R.E.M. calls it quits

    September 21, 2011

    After more than three decades as a band, R.E.M. is breaking up.

  • Kids These Days rising fast

    September 21, 2011

    A year ago, Kids These Days was a callow Chicago band for whom playing Lollapalooza was little more than a dream. The band’s MC, Vic Mensa, still wanted to attend the festival, but he didn’t have the money. So he tried to jump a fence to get in – bad move. He ended up losing his grip and falling backward off the fence onto a transformer.

  • Nirvana, Pearl Jam revisit era-defining music

    September 18, 2011

    Nirvana: “Nevermind: Super Deluxe Edition” (Geffen)

  • Fall album preview

    September 16, 2011

    Here come the would-be blockbusters. The music industry inevitably rolls out new releases by its biggest artists in the fall, just in time for holiday gift-giving. This year is no exception, with studio albums expected from Drake and Mary J. Blige; a host of reissued and archival material by revered rock acts such as U2 and Nirvana; and new long-form downloads (or discs) from both the first “American Idol” winner and the most recent. Here’s a rundown of what’s in store:

  • Top weekend shows: Kings Go Forth, Sergent Garcia, Lindsey Buckingham

    September 16, 2011

    Kings Go Forth: If it’s horn-fueled soul you want with the edges left intact, this multi-cultural big band from Milwaukee is the real deal. Their 2010 album, “The Outsiders are Back” (Luaka Bop), is a blast, and their live show is even better, 9 p.m. Friday at Double Door, 1572 N. Milwaukee Av., $12;

  • Raincoats to finally make Chicago debut

    September 15, 2011

    Like the Velvet Underground and Big Star, the Raincoats were one of those bands who were better at inspiring future generations of bands than selling records.

  • Album review: Das Racist, 'Relax'

    September 14, 2011

    3.5 stars (out of 4)

  • Album review: Lydia Loveless, 'Indestructible Machine'

    September 13, 2011

    3.5 stars (out of 4)

  • Album review: St. Vincent, 'Strange Mercy'

    September 11, 2011

    3.5 stars (out of 4)

  • Wild Flag: Year's first 4-star album

    September 9, 2011

    4 stars (out of 4)

  • Fall preview: Bargain-priced concerts

    September 8, 2011

    “Money’s too tight to mention,” the Valentine Brothers sang in the early ‘80s -- and that anthem to economic hard times still applies today. But great music can be had this autumn that won’t bust your wallet. Here’s a sampling of some relatively inexpensive must-see shows:

  • Album review: Lindsey Buckingham, 'Seeds We Sow'

    September 5, 2011

    3 stars (out of 4)

  • Concert review: Pearl Jam at Alpine Valley Music Theatre

    September 4, 2011

    Pearl Jam didn’t design the first of its 20th anniversary concerts Saturday at Alpine Valley Music Theatre with the casual fan in mind.

  • 'Soul Train' concert to celebrate 40-year anniversary

    September 2, 2011


  • Top weekend shows: North Coast Music Festival, Psalm One

    September 2, 2011

    Psalm One: One of Chicago’s most prolific and innovative MCs is back with a new self-released album, “Get in the Van, Vol. 3,” in which she aims squarely at the hips with beats that are even more aggressive and danceable than usual, 10 p.m. Friday at the Hideout, 1354 W. Wabansia, $12;

  • Album review: Lil Wayne, 'Tha Carter IV'

    August 29, 2011

    2 stars (out of 4)

  • Album review: Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks, 'Mirror Traffic'

    August 24, 2011

    3 stars (out of 4)

  • Jerry Leiber and Nick Ashford: Their greatest hits

    August 23, 2011

    The songwriting world lost two titans Monday when Nick Ashford and Jerry Leiber died within hours of each other.

  • Concert review: Katy Perry at Allstate Arena

    August 22, 2011

    There was one how-did-she-do-that? moment at Katy Perry’s show Sunday at Allstate Arena, something I’ve never seen before at a pop concert.

  • Tonight's top show: Death Cab for Cutie at UIC Pavilion

    August 20, 2011

    Death Cab for Cutie: Now well into its second decade, the Seattle quartet continues to make reliably melodic, lyrically introspective albums, adding a twist of more densely textured atmosphere to its latest, "Codes and Keys" (Atlantic). 7:30 p.m. Thursday at UIC Pavilion, 525 S. Racine, $38.50;

  • Tonight's top show: Steve Reich Tribute at Millennium Park

    August 20, 2011

    Steve Reich tribute: Two Chicago ensembles, eighth blackbird and Third Coast Percussion, will honor avant-garde composer Steve Reich on his 75th birthday by performing some of his finest pieces, including "Double Sextet," "Mallet Quartet" and the pivotal "Music for 18 Musicians." 6:30 p.m. Monday at Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park, free;

  • Tonight's top show: Ladyfest Midwest 2011

    August 20, 2011

    Ladyfest Midwest 2011: Three of Chicago's best underground bands — the Wanton Looks, the Cathy Santonies and Hollows — join forces to mark the 10th annual celebration of women in rock, with proceeds going to charity. 10 p.m. Saturday at the Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western Ave., $15;

  • Tonight's top show: Phish at UIC Pavilion

    August 14, 2011

    Phish: The quartet, decade-long rulers of the jam-band universe created by the Grateful Dead, tour relentlessly, but they always seem to be at their best whenever they play the UIC Pavilion, their multi-night stands inevitably inspiring a level of revelation that they don’t routinely achieve elsewhere, 7:30 p.m. Monday-Wednesday at UIC Pavilion, 525 S. Racine, $58;

  • Jimmie Vaughan a terrific team player

    August 14, 2011

    Jimmie Vaughan is one of the great guitarists of the last 30-40 years, though you might not know it – he’s not about calling attention to himself. He’s about substance and economy rather than excess and showmanship.

  • Wanton Looks: 'Upset, ticked off, ready to rock'

    August 10, 2011

    Traci Trouble and Meg Thomas had been bumping around the Chicago scene for several years in separate bands when they finally saw each other play at a pool hall in Buffalo Grove in 2006. Thomas, a classically trained drummer, loved Trouble’s take-no-prisoners stage presence and commanding attitude. Trouble admired Thomas’ ferocious virtuosity. Before long they were writing hard-hitting but melodic rock songs together and decided to form a band: the Wanton Looks.

  • Album review: Sam Phillips, 'Solid State: Songs from the Long Play'

    August 9, 2011

    3.5 stars (out of 4)

  • Album review: Army Navy, 'The Last Place'

    August 9, 2011

    3 stars (out of 4)

  • Album review: 'Watch the Throne' a royal waste

    August 8, 2011

    2 stars (out of 4)

  • Lollapalooza Day 3: Rain, more rain, and a Foo Fighters finale

    August 8, 2011

    Lollapalooza 2011 is a wrap with record daily attendance (90,000), adding up to the most populated festival in North America (270,000) over the three-day weekend. Here’s an hour-by-hour account of Sunday’s action, once again from yours truly (GK) and my invaluable colleague Bob Gendron (BG):

  • Lollapalooza sets a record for fence jumpers too

    August 7, 2011

    It's not just record attendance this weekend at Lollapalooza with 270,000 people in Grant Park. As the festival enters its final day Sunday, it's also experiencing a record number of fence jumpers.

  • Lollapalooza Day 2: Rain, retro and Eminem

    August 7, 2011

    Day 2 of Lollapalooza in Grant Park has crossed the finish line. Here’s an hour-by-hour account with reporting from yours truly (GK) and the ever-vigilant Bob Gendron (BG):

  • Lollapalooza Day 1: Hello, Brazil, and Coldplay says 'So long' to Amy Winehouse

    August 6, 2011

    Day 1 of Lollapalooza 2011 is in the books, as the first of 130 bands played on eight stages Friday in Grant Park. Attendance was maxed out – with 90,000 people expected each of three days at the festival. Here’s how Friday went down, with reporting from yours truly (GK) and Bob Gendron (BG):

  • Foo Fighters to headline Metro in Lollapalooza after-show

    August 4, 2011

    The Foo Fighters, who already are scheduled to close the Lollapalooza festival Sunday, also will play a more intimate concert Saturday at Metro.

  • Lollapalooza's must-see bands: An hour-by-hour guide to 3 days of music

    August 2, 2011

    Lollapalooza: More than 130 bands and artists on eight stages play 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday-Sunday in Grant Park; all three days sold out.

  • Jill Scott: No sugarcoating, even when the White House calls

    July 28, 2011

    Before she was a renowned R&B singer, Jill Scott was working the boisterous poetry circuit in Philadelphia. So when she gave a spoken-word performance last May at the White House, she was going back to her roots -- albeit in front of a slightly more intimidating audience, including President Barack Obama.

  • Album review: Jimmie Vaughan, 'Plays More Blues, Ballads & Favorites'

    July 25, 2011

    3 stars (out of 4)

  • Tonight's top shows: Decemberists, Ted Leo

    July 24, 2011

    The Decemberists: After venturing onto the cliffs of progressive rock with the 2009 concept album, “The Hazards of Love,” the Portland band returns with one of its most concise, melodic batches of songs yet, “The King is Dead,” 7:30 p.m. Monday at the Aragon, 1106 W. Lawrence, $27.25;

  • Amy Winehouse, dead at 27: One acclaimed album, great promise left unfulfilled

    July 23, 2011

    Amy Winehouse, who was found dead Saturday at her home in London, left behind a small body of celebrated work and immeasurable unfulfilled promise. She was 27.

  • Top weekend show: Gillian Welch at the Vic

    July 22, 2011

    Gillian Welch: With her partner David Rawlings, the singer is back with her first album in nearly a decade, “The Harrow & the Harvest,” a sparse collection of melancholy beauties, 7:30 p.m. Friday at the Vic, 3145 N. Sheffield, $29;

  • Mavis Staples, Andrew Bird to headline Hideout's 15th-anniversary block party

    July 19, 2011

    The Hideout will celebrate its 15th anniversary at its annual block party Sept. 24 with Mavis Staples, Andrew Bird, Jon Langford and Booker T. Jones.

  • Wild Flag: 'It just sort of exploded'

    July 19, 2011

    Carrie Brownstein is rolling on the stage while simultaneously trying to play her guitar and break it. The normally reserved Mary Timony is right there with her, grinning while playing her guitar behind her back. Rebecca Cole keeps the keyboard bass line pumping while pogoing. And Janet Weiss, behind the drums, is rolling and tumbling with her sticks while doing her best not to crack up. She knows she’s got the best seat in the house for what would prove to be Wild Flag’s eighth and final show at the South by Southwest Music Conference in Austin, Texas, last March.

  • Album review: Cool Kids, 'When Fish Ride Bicycles'

    July 14, 2011

    2.5 stars (out of 4)

  • Album review: Sons and Daughters, 'Mirror Mirror'

    July 11, 2011

    3.5 stars (out of 4)

  • Top weekend show: Chicago Folk and Roots Festival

    July 8, 2011

    Chicago Folk and Roots Festival: The Old Town School of Folk Music’s annual throw-down is a multi-act, family-friendly event that includes as headliners R&B singer Delbert McClinton and rockabilly siren Rosie Flores (Saturday) and Cuban flutist Maraca and Congolese rapper Baloji (Sunday), 12:30 p.m. Saturday and noon Sunday at Welles Park, Lincoln and Montrose, $10 donation ($5 for seniors and children);

  • Dave Matthews Band Caravan: Everything you need to know

    July 7, 2011

    Just when it seemed Chicago was jam-packed with summer festivals, a strange confluence of bedfellows – rival promoters Jam Productions and Live Nation, several South Side aldermen, and jam-band kingpin Dave Matthews – got together earlier this year and decided to stage another one on a huge parcel of lakeside property that can only be dubbed the “Nearly Forgotten Chicago.”

  • Tribune archive: The Boss pulls off celebrating Seeger

    June 16, 2006

    This column was originally published on June 16, 2006.

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