Chicago has long hosted one of the most robust lineups of summer music festivals in the nation, but the city doesn't rest on its laurels when cold weather settles in. Tomorrow Never Knows is a festival that every January brings a lineup of musicians and comedians to some of Chicago's best music venues (including Schubas, Lincoln Hall, Hideout, Metro and Smart Bar).
For the 2017 edition of the festival, organizers have put together a diverse bill that doesn't restrict itself to a single genre. You'll be able to see hip-hop (Open Mike Eagle, BadBadNotGood), psych rock (Wand, Jeff the Brotherhood), a tribute to David Bowie (Sons of the Silent Age) and some hilarious comedians (Beth Stelling, Phoebe Robinson). Check out the full Tomorrow Never Knows lineup below.
Tomorrow Never Knows 2017 lineup
Bouncing between jazz-fusion, krautrock and electronica, long-running instrumental outfit Tortoise has become even more unpredictable with age. Members of the Chicago-based group have departed the city in recent years, but the band reconvened to complete its 2016 release, The Catastrophist, its first album in nearly six years. For longtime fans, the twisting guitar riffs, complex rhythms and crisscrossing synth melodies won't come as a surprise, but for anyone unfamiliar with Tortoise, the group's music is likely to be a revelation. Texas electronic act Bayonne and local jazz-inflected instrumental rockers Monobody open the show.
Folk rock quartet Big Thief hails from Brooklyn, but a few decades ago, the band's more subdued ballads wouldn't have sounded out of place in the cafés and bars of Greenwich Village. The group's Saddle Creek debut, Masterpiece, balances out its quieter moments with some bursts of noisy energy, providing contrasting backdrops for singer Adrianne Lenker's narrative lyricism. Genre-hopping singer-songwriter Sam Evian, Indiana dream-pop act Hoops and local rock duo Campdogzz open the show.
Prolific prog-rockers Wand dig into their bag of tricks, conjuring up an array of tunes influenced by heavy metal warriors and analog synth wizards of old (a.k.a, the ‘70s). The rest of the bill is equally heady, including Brooklyn psych punks Acid Dad, motorik indie pop quartet Flaural and Illinois rocker Joe Bordenaro.
Ezra Furman is a youthful anachronism: A verbose lyricist marooned in an indie scene that favors headphone-friendly noisemakers. On his third solo release, Perpetual Motion People, the Evanston native conveys what it feels like to be young and adrift in an uncertain world. Eclectic Toronto indie-pop act Weaves and local elementary school teachers/musicians Dream Version open the show.
The heartfelt, brainily ambitious stylings of Evan Weiss, sit somewhere between heartfelt singer-songwriter fare and crunchy post-hardcore. Here, Into It. Over It. performs its emo-tinged 2011 record, Proper, in its entirety. The bill also includes post-rock influenced Baltimore outfit Pianos Become the Teeth and local songwriter Mother Evergreen.
There's an effervescent, restless quality to the output of Montreal producer and songwriter Marie-Helene Delorme (better known as Foxtrott), who combines self-taught vocal chops with skillful electronic arrangements on her debut, A Taller Us. She's joined by Los Angeles garage pop trio Ian Sweet, local atmospheric rockers In Tall Buildings and Chicago producer Woongi.
Minnesota singer-songwriter Caroline Smith is comfortable with herself, a sentiment that comes across in the R&B and synth-pop odes that populate her most recent album, Half About Being a Woman. Whether she's decrying unrealistic body imagery or singing about her girl friends, Smith makes music that celebrates her experiences and struggles as a woman. She's joined by genre-hopping singer Xenia Rubinos and soulful New York duo Overcoats.
German DJ and producer Marco Niemerski draws inspiration from ’80s funk, disco and soul on his 2014 debut, Glow, which includes collaborations with Chic's Nile Rodgers and Jamie Lidell. Tensnake's undulating grooves and dancefloor beats provide the perfect soundtrack for showing off your moves under a gleaming disco ball. Smart Bar resident Savile supports.
When she isn't behind the decks at Smart Bar, local DJ Marea Stamper can usually be found touring the world under her alias the Black Madonna. Specializing in dance music (including plenty of homegrown Chicago house), Stamper recently cracked the top 10 on Resident Advisor's annual list of the world's top 100 DJs—you'll understand why when she gets you on the dance floor. Ugandan producer DJ Rachel supports.
Part of the latest wave of emo-influenced bands, Pennsylvania quartet Title Fight has mostly turned away form its hardcore punk roots in favor of My Bloody Valentine-style atmosphere. The group's latest album, Hypernight, wallows in wave of immaculately sculpted shoegaze chords and some gratuitous whammy bar use—MBV frontman Kevin Shields would be proud. Earnest Massachusetts post-hardcore trio the Hotelier and Indiana shoegazers Cloakroom open the show.
Jeff the Brotherhood enjoy the simple things in life—namely drinking beer, getting stoned and writing psychedelic tunes about their preferred pastimes. Zones, the Nashville act's latest LP, is filled with pop rock anthems that are reminiscent of Weezer after a few hits from the "Hash Pipe." If you decide to chill out at this show, prepare to have your face melted. Boston post-punk act Pile and angsty Canadian garage rockers Chastity open the evening.
These days, Matador-signed Cali hardcore band Ceremony favors a feel-bad mid-tempo chug, contrasting with the energetic, scream-filled tracks that graced its previous albums. On its latest, The L-Shaped Man, the group wallows in obligatory breakup-album sadness, dabbling with more minimalist post-punk maneuvers that evoke Joy Division and Interpol. Local punks Negative Scanner, Atlanta rockers Muuy Biien and noise-makers Hogg open the show.
Industrial icon Chris Connelly leads his band of Bowie devotees, celebrating the 40th anniversary of the artist's first installment in his seminal Berlin Trilogy, Low. Sons of the Silver Age will be covering the album in full—expect an extremely reverent tribute to the Thin White Duke. New!, a tribute act devoted to legendary German krautrock act Neu!, opens the show. A portion of ticket proceeds will benefit cancer research at the Pablove Foundation.
Toronto quartet BadBadNotGood are like a great hip-hop DJ in the form of a band, harnessing jazz-fusion chops (and music school education) to create instrumentals that sound like they were sampled from a dusty crate of records. The group has backed artists like Ghostface Killah and Tyler, the Creator, but the best tracks on its latest record, IV, don't need an emcee—these songs speak for themselves. Identical twin jazz-rock duo the Mattson 2 and local rapper/producer Morimoto open the show.
Alternative hip-hop icon Open Mike Eagle grew up on the South Side of Chicago, attending break dancing sessions at Promontory Point and rapping with the city-wide Nacrobats crew. Now, the L.A.-based emcee chats with comedians on his Secret Skin podcast (he's college pals with Hannibal Buress) and raps about checking his phone too often on his latest album, Hella Personal Film Festival. Mixing poignant observations with esoteric references, OME's music is like a window into a stream of conciousness that refuses to take itself too seriously. A trio of Midwestern rappers—Psalm One and Femdot, both from Chicago, and Wisconsin emcee Crashprez—open the show.
Chicago favorite Stelling, who hosted Entertaining Julia at the Town Hall Pub before relocating to the West Coast a few years back, has been on the rise: She has two albums, a Comedy Central half-hour special and tons of TV appearances under her belt, and our friends at Time Out Los Angeles named her one of their 10 comedians to watch in 2016.