Concerts in Chicago in November 2017
Though Young Thug may be best known for his Auto-Tuned vocals, it's his unpredictable marble-mouthed delivery and improvised lyrics that make him one of hip-hop's most interesting (and frequently imitated) personalities. On his recent mixtape, Beautiful Thugger Girls, the Atlanta rapper strips away the trap stylings of his previous records and embraces a more subdued R&B vibe—including a track that might be the closest he'll ever come to writing an acoustic guitar ballad. Taking a short break from his daily routine of writing 10 songs, Young Thug will kick off Red Bull Sound Select's 30 Days in Chicago concert series with an intimate show at Metro.
Once an anonymous singer-songwriter, Abel Tesfaye (a.k.a. The Weeknd) is now the one of the biggest artists in pop music—a Starboy, if you will—who is able to flesh out his hazy, nihilistic slow jams with contributions from the likes of Daft Punk and Kendrick Lamar. He's already stopped by Chicago once this year, but you can expect his latest United Center appearance to be another sold out affair.
When Logan Square roommates Max Kakacek and Julian Ehrlich (former members of the Smith Westerns and Unknown Mortal Orchestra, respectively) began making music together, they found inspiration in the lovelorn, soulful folk rock of the Band and Neil Young. Whitney's 2016 debut, Light Upon the Lake, wears its heart on its tattered plaid sleeve, whistfully reflecting on failed relationships and youthful trysts atop easy-going horn arrangements. At this Red Bull Sound Select 30 Days in Chicago show, the group is joined by local rockers Ne-Hi and Philly folk group Mt. Joy.
French multi-instrumentalist Cécile Schott puts down her baroque instrument and picks up some decidedly modern synthesizer on her new record, A Flame My Love, A Frequency. Recorded in response to the terror attacks in Paris, the electronic dub music-informed melodies meld with reflective lyrics that search for guidance and comfort in tragic times. Sea and Cake frontman Sam Prekop opens the show with a modular synthesizer set.
America's Got Talent finalist-turned-R&B star Kehlani has spent the past year working on her major label debut, SweetSexySavage, and appearing on tracks featured in blockbusters like The Fate of the Furious and Suicide Squad. Her quick rise to prominence makes sense—she's got the type of unassuming silky voice that's difficult to ignore and a ’90s-inspired sound that courts nostalgia without going overboard. 18-year-old rapper Kodie Shane and R&B singer-songwriter Blaise Moore fill out the bill at this Red Bull Sound Select 30 Days in Chicago show.
Reunited UK shoegazers Slowdive dial in the reverb and dreamy melodies on its new, self-titled LP, taking listeners back to a time before think pieces about genre revivals existed. The group's latest album sound like a conscious continuation of where it left off with 1995's Pygmalion, but informed by the decades worth of music that has been put into the world since then—a neat balancing act between nostalgia and progress.
Axl Rose, Slash and Duff McKagan are still getting along with one another and blazing through a catalog of heavy metal hits as GnR’s Not in this Lifetime tour makes its second stop in Chicago. It's hard to say how long this hatchet will stay buried, so if you want to your steamiest early ‘90s make out sessions, hurry up and catch the reunited act before Axl is forced to go solo again and subject the world to another Chinese Democracy.
It's almost as if LCD Soundsystem never left us in a climactic fashion just six years ago. James Murphy and his dance-rock band have headlined Lollapalooza and Pitchfork Music Festival over the past two summers—now they're returning to fill the Aragon with pulsing beats and impassioned refrains for three straight nights. Yes, you'll be subjected to some competent tracks from the group's recent American Dream LP, but your desire for disco ball-dappled renditions of "All My Friends" and "Dance Yrself Clean" won't go unfulfilled.
With her 2014 release, Bury Me at Makeout Creek, Mitski Miyawaki transitioned from orchestral avant-pop to yearning indie rock—a transformation that highlighted her talents for emotive melodies and pointed lyricism. Her latest, Puberty 2, is another collection of dreamy, gut-wrenching ballads that explore deeply personal topics, such as the singer-songwriter's struggles with depression and the constant uncertainty of adulthood. California indie rocker Miya Folick and Hazel English support at this Red Bull Sound Select 30 Days in Chicago show.
The Weeknd may be the reigning king of dark and moody hip-hop, but Atlanta rapper 6lack can get just as dour about failed relationships and career struggles. That's probably why he ended up as a featured artist on the Weeknd's recent Legend of the Fall tour, appearing during a break in the headliner's set to perform his breakout single "PRBLMS" from his 2016 debut Free 6lack. Now he's at the top of the bill for a Red Bull Sound Select 30 Days in Chicago concert, joined by Chicago rapper and singer Tobi Lou and Seattle R&B artist EMI.
Long before Mumford and Sons picked up banjos, Scott and Seth Avett were perfecting a blend of folk, bluegrass and pop balladry that made the brothers a critical and commercial sensation. On their latest visit to the city, Avetts return to the Chicago Theatre for another three-night stand at the venue—a picturesque setting for all of those sterling vocal harmonies.
Saxophonist Kamasi Washington didn't debut his latest jazz opus, Harmony of Difference, in a club—instead, the triumphant six-song suite was on display at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, accompanying a video installation. The former sideman for Kendrick Lamar and Flying Lotus continues to take a stab at the future of jazz, while paying his respects to the genre's storied past. Even if you don't know the difference between John Coltrane and Charlie Parker, you'll find the groove in Washington's refreshingly contemporary melodies.
Flying Lotus' burbling electronics and mercurial jazz rhythms have infiltrated hip-hop and pop music, but the Los Angeles producer has still found new ways to create tracks that are strange and unexpected. His latest tour outfits everyone in attendance with a pair of 3D glasses and makes certain that the visuals are just as mind-blowing (and all-encompassing) as the cosmic rhythms and melodies being pumped out on stage. It's probably not the best place for your first acid trip.
Since their debut as Parquet Courts, brothers Max and Andrew Savage have proven that guitar rock can still be intelligent and subversive. On the band's latest stripped-down, Velvet Underground-inspired album Human Performance, the New York group puts its razor-sharp wit to good use, lashing out against gentrification one minute and lamenting the departure of a girlfriend the next—an artful and snotty display that doesn't get lost in pretentiousness. Local punk rockers Meat Wave support at the Red Bull Sound Select 30 Days in Chicago show.
Blessed with a voice that's powerful enough to cut through the din of a rowdy dive bar, singer-songwriter Lydia Loveless imbues her country-tinged compositions with some punk rock energy. Her latest release, Boy Crazy and Single(s), outfits a 2013 EP with B-sides and outtakes that demonstrate her alt-country chops, brutally honest point of view and ability to put a fresh spin on Prince's classic "I Would Die 4 U."
Guernsey-born wunderkind producer Alex Crossan (a.k.a. Mura Masa) became interested in electronic music after listening to Hudson Mohawke, James Blake and Gorillaz—a mish-mash of influences that gives his self-titled debut LP a distinctly British flair. Collaborations with the likes of Charli XCX, A$AP Rocky and Damon Albarn play to the strengths of the vocalists, echoing the approach of Crossan's favorite cartoon band. If his music is the self-assured, his live set seems sure to impress. Canadian synth duo Tennyson and mysterious Irish singer Bonzai open this Red Bull Sound Select 30 Days in Chicago concert.
Is it ever too early to hear Mariah Carey belting our her holiday classic, "All I Want for Christmas is You"? The diva brings her seasonal tour to the Chicago Theatre the week before Thanksgiving—if department stores can begin cashing in on the holidays earlier and earlier, so can Carey. She's got two albums worth of original and traditional Christmas songs to draw from, so expect plenty of sleigh bells, glittering yuletide gowns and a few unexpected gifts from Carey's catalog of pop ballads.
After a year spent singing electro-country ballads as her musical alter-ego Jackie Lynn, singer-songwriter Haley Fohr returns to her Circuit des Yeux project with the release of her latest album, Reaching for Indigo. Confronting a tumultuous, life-changing experience, Fohr's latest suite of songs is her most varied to date, placing her distinctive baritone vocals over a succession of sparse piano melodies, gentle string arrangements and distorted guitars. New York-based avant-garde instrumentalist Ka Baird (who performed on Fohr's record) opens the show.
She isn't headlining arenas yet, but spend just a few minute watching Lizzo perform and you'll know that she'd be up to the task. The Minneapolis singer is unrelentingly self-assured, armed with a scathing sense of humor—whether she's celebrating her body or calling out her exes, Lizzo pulls no punches. After signing to a major label and contributing a breakout track ("Good As Hell") to the latest Barbershop movie soundtrack, she seems poised to headline stages even bigger than Thalia Hall's. Boston rapper Bia and New York emcee Junglepussy support at this Red Bull Sound Select 30 Days in Chicago show.
As a teenager, Fatimah Warner was part of the same Chicago Public Library art program that mentored artists like Chance the Rapper and Saba. The Bronzeville native's background as a poet shines through in the stark yet beautiful lyrics that populate her debut mixtape, Telefone, delivering verses that confront her insecurities and mortality with low-key candor. Compton emcee Buddy and indie hip-hop singer the Last Arful, Dodgr open this Red Bull Sound Select 30 Days in Chicago concert.
Before he founded Califone, singer-songwriter Tim Rutli channeled his love of blues and folks music at the head of Red Red Meat. The band's propulsive, distortion-ridden arrangements yielded a contract with vaunted indie label Sub Pop at the height of the grunge era, but records like Bunny Gets Paid and Jimmywine Majestic never really achieved anything more than cult status. In the group's hometown of Chicago, Red Red Meat became something of an institution at the Empty Bottle where it headlined a New Year's Eve show (the burlap poster for the gig still hangs behind the bar) and later reunited in 2009. To mark the venue's 25th anniversary, Rutli is getting the original lineup of the group back together (joined by two members of Califone) for a trip down memory lane, with support from Tim Kinsella's eclectic Joan of Arc project (November 24) and local guitarist Ryley Walker (November 22).
She was featured on Chance the Rapper's Coloring Book ballad "Same Drugs" and recorded songs with Prince before his untimely death, but Chicago singer Eryn Allen Kane's sophomore EP Aviary: Act II is the best introduction to her vocal prowess. On tracks like "How Many Times," Kane confronts the untimely loss of black lives with an R&B ballad, incorporating impassioned, gospel-informed vocal gymnastics that you can't help but pay attention to. Local hip-hop and soul ensemble Sidewalk Chalk open this Red Bull Sound Select 30 Days in Chicago concert.
Everyone's favorite vegan (remember when he shut down the grills at Riot Fest?) returns to Chicago behind his pleasantly morose new album, Low in High School. The record will presumably find the 58-year-old form Smiths frontman ruminating on long bygone teenage angst—lead single "Spent the Day in Bed" certainly seems to wallow in youthful indiscretions. As usual, we can't be entirely sure that Morrissey will even show up—he's canceled several recent concerts in Chicago due to illness.
One of indie rock's most cerebral and capable bands, New York quartet Grizzly Bear embrace the kind of highly-collaborative group democracy that results in five-year gaps between albums. Thankfully, it's new LP Painted Ruins was worth the wait, offering another collection of beautiful harmonies, introspective lyrics and progressive chamber-pop arrangements that will likely become the subject of a college thesis or two. Singers Ed Droste and Daniel Rossen still make their wistful melodies sound effortless, harnessing a bit of cinematic flair that makes these songs sound fit for the kind of venues that Grizzly Bear played when it toured Radiohead. Baltimore gospel revivalist Serpentwithfeet opens the show.
Hot off of a Best New Artist win at the MTV Video Music Awards and the platinum single "Location," 19-year-old R&B singer Khalid's only real problem is that he's got a name that's easy to get confused with DJ Khaled. While his debut album, American Teen, is peppered youthful allusions to Uber, texting and subtweets, the breezy arrangements that surround them are classic and soulful, right down to the bouncing basslines and sparse rhythms. Headlining the penultimate night of Red Bull Sound Select 30 Days in Chicago, he'll be joined by young pop sensation Amber Mark and singer-songwriter (the teenager behind"Siracha") Marteen.
Atlanta trap crew Migos (the guys behind "Bad and Boujee") are so hot right now that even Katy Perry tried to hop on the bandwagon by featuring them on a song. SoundCloud sensation Lil Yachty is already showing up in Target commercials and inspired teens to scale fences and poles to catch a glimpse of his packed set at Lollapalooza. Separately, these two hip-hop acts are a big deal, but the finale of Red Bull Sound Select 30 Days in Chicago will see them sharing a stage, with support from Ro Ransom and Shaboozey. Hopefully you already have tickets.