Weather be damned, mid-January is a good time to live in Chicago. Not long ago, the early new year was a snow-blasted wasteland for great events. Perhaps it's due to sheer stir-craziness, but the first month of 2015 is packed with festivals and concerts. Of course, there is Tomorrow Never Knows, the indie music showcase from the Lincoln Hall and Schubas folks that has been getting stronger year by year. We've already had Louis C.K. at Chicago Theatre and Bloodshot Records' 20th Anniversary Party. Later in the month is Chicago Psych Fest, and of course Buddy Guy keeps doing his thing.
Dance junkies should be in heaven, as Smart Bar throws a kind of de facto festival of house music to celebrate its renovations to the venue. It kicks off with a free party on January 15. The weekly Queen! party (January 18) gets insanely can't-miss with a house-music hall-of-fame in tribute to Frankie Knuckles, as Jamie Principle, Louis Vega, Tony Humphries and more step into the booth. The celebrations run through the month. Meanwhile, over at Primary, innovator and Daft Punk collaborator Todd Edwards pops in on January 15, spinning that crisp, hard and soulful sound.
That's not all. The crate-digging rare groove party Soul Summit throws its 5th Anniversary Party at Double Door on January 17.
Elsewhere, De La Soul quietly hits the Promontory to jam with Hypnotic Brass Ensemble (January 15), sad sack crooner Sam Smith moves up to arena level at UIC Pavilion (January 23) and football theme band Fall Out Boy plays a homecoming show at Lincoln Hall (January 24).
The Chicago Bluegrass and Blues Festival (through February 21) brings in tough and tender bar band Lucero (January 17) and more.
The Lyric offers the second installment of its cool Beyond the Aria series at Harris Theater (January 14) for those who want opera without all the, er, operatics.
In other fields, we have the first Chicago International Puppetry Theater Festival. Bundle up and go see something.