Jennifer Hudson, Jeff Garlin, A Pitchfork Insider

This week’s best of the best: Jennifer Hudson + Cibo Matto + Steve Earle = Pitchfork who? … Plus, for those who are festival bound, the Empty Bottle’s Peter Toalson offers his music picks

Singer Jennifer Hudson
PITCHFORK WHO? Jennifer Hudson plays a two-night gig at Ravinia this weekend.

THE FIVE

Don’t-miss picks for Wed 07.13.11 through Tue 07.19.11:

1

rock/pop Jennifer Hudson
Who else could run one-woman interference against Pitchfork? Chicago’s own JHud comes home for a two-night gig on the North Shore. While her sophomore album, released earlier this year, straddled 1970s-style soul and contemporary R&B with middling results, Hudson’s powerhouse singing is stunning—and should be even more impressive live.
GO: 7/16–17 at 7:30. $33–$80. Ravinia, Lake Cook and Green Bay, Highland Park. ravinia.org

ALSO THIS WEEK: Two more femmes fatales buck the Pitchfork trend: Cibo Matto, the late-1990s duo known for singing about beef jerky and birthday cake with ravenous abandon, hits Lincoln Hall 7/14 as part of a reunion tour. We’re hungry already.

2

rock/pop Steve Earle & The Dukes and Duchesses, featuring Allison Moorer
Some folks are too indie for Pitchfork, others aren’t indie enough, and then there are those who have been indie since before indie was indie: Following detours into agitprop and an ill-advised stab at multicultural urbanism, the gruff-voiced, deep-thinking Earle returns to his strengths (moving vocals, elegantly arranged country-folk) on his latest album, I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive. Moorer, Earle’s wife, adds her sultry singing to the proceedings.
GO: 7/19 at 7:30. $32–$35. Vic Theatre, 3145 N Sheffield. jamusa.com

3

comedy Jeff Garlin: No Sugar Tonight
The Second City alum holds forth on his addiction to sugar in a standup run at Steppenwolf. Talk about rush seats.
GO: 7/13–24. $25. Steppenwolf Theatre, 1650 N Halsted. steppenwolf.org

4

theatre Naked July
If you’ve never seen The Living Canvas, a kaleidoscopic bit of performance art wherein the actors wear nothing but light, do yourself a favor and streak on over to National Pastime. The troupe’s annual ode to undress isn’t terribly inclusive, body-wise (performers tend to be young and lean), but it is hypnotically fascinating. This year’s lineup also features a production of Salome, minus those pesky seven veils.
GO: Through 8/6; see website for schedule. $20 per show; $75 fest pass. National Pastime Theater, 4139 N Broadway. nakedjuly.com

5

beer Exploring Chicago’s Yeast Side: A History of Beer
No, really. It’s educational. Be there when Northwestern’s Chicago expert, Bill Savage, lectures on the city’s sudsy past aboard a booze cruise organized by the Chicago History Museum and stocked with Two Brothers beer. Still thirsty? We’ve got you covered.
GO: 7/17 at 6. $55. Tour convenes at North Pier Docks, 465 N McClurg. chicagohistory.org

ALSO THIS WEEK: Tour de Fat, New Belgium Brewing’s annual roadshow devoted to beer, bikes, and beer inspired by bikes, hits Palmer Square on 7/16.

WHAT I’M DOING THIS WEEKEND

Peter Toalson, program coordinator for the indie-rock venue the Empty Bottle and co-owner of its offshoot, Empty Bottle Presents, as well the Michelin-starred gastropub Longman & Eagle and the salon-themed saloon Beauty Bar.
Peter Toalson and his son, Levi

Up next in our series of weekend plans from notable, in-the-know locals—a.k.a. people we like: Peter Toalson, program coordinator for the venerable indie-rock venue the Empty Bottle (which just underwent a major gussying up), and co-owner of its offshoot, Empty Bottle Presents, as well the Michelin-starred gastropub Longman & Eagle and the salon-themed saloon Beauty Bar.

Friday
“My son, Levi, was born 07/18/2008, and his birthday has traditionally fallen on or around Pitchfork Music Festival weekend. So, in addition to all of the agents, artists, and parties, I’ve had to contend with a smattering of out-of-town family during the festival. That being the case, my 84-year-old grandmother has been spotted backstage on a more than a couple of occasions.

“I’ve got family arriving Friday in the early afternoon, so I’m taking them to Longman & Eagle for brunch. From there, I’ll head to the Empty Bottle office to finish up the week’s work and prep for all of the weekend’s festivities. I plan on popping over to the festival site at 7:30 to see James Blake. I’m hoping it’s weird. Then it’s back to the Empty Bottle to see Nguzunguzu and Total Freedom make their debut. I still enjoy their Wildness (Club Vortex Mixtape) and encourage folks to seek it out.”
 
Saturday
“I need to be at L&E fairly early, before things get too crazed, to change out some of the planters that were damaged by the recent hail storm. I doubt anyone wants to eat brunch while watching a guy covered in dirt wrestle with plants. Then I’ve got another L&E brunch scheduled, this time with a handful of music industry folks from a Brooklyn-based booking agency that I deal with daily. It’s occasionally nice to see the people I correspond with dozens and dozens of times a day. From there, I’ll take my son to the Pitchfork site to see G-Side and No Age. No Age made their Chicago debut at [the Empty Bottle’s] Adventures in Modern Music festival in 2007, and their set remains one of that festival’s best. While I’m in the neighborhood, I’m going to pop over to the Andrew Rafacz Gallery to see Space Out, Space In, a group video exhibition that opened last week.

“Then I’ll stop home to drop Levi off, clean up, and ready myself for two successive meetings with out-of-town booking agents. This’ll be tight, but I’m going to try to make the Cages set at the Empty Bottle at 8. After, I’ll drop by L&E to make sure dinner service is on track. With so many friendly agents and artists in town, we get a lot of requests for seatings there, so it can be a lot to coordinate. From there, it’s back to the Empty Bottle to meet up with some folks for the Cult of Youth set, a doomy folk group that’ll be opening for Austra. After, I’ll stop by Beauty Bar, where we’re hosting a Pitchfork afterparty with DJ sets from Deerhunter, Ariel Pink, and Twin Shadow. A good time, for sure, and a good opportunity to see some out-of-towners I’ll have yet to meet up with.”

Sunday
“I’m waking up early on Sunday and heading out of town for my son’s birthday, where we’ll be trying to catch up with that go-getting grandmother of mine.”

FREEBIES OF THE WEEK

rock/pop Blonde Redhead
These indie rockers have graduated from dissonant guitar clamor to pulsating, dreamy music that’s as unsettling as it is beautiful, thanks in large part to Kazu Makino’s ghostly singing. We would have paid big bucks to see them at Pitchfork—and forking over $22 to see their second Chicago gig, 7/19 at Bottom Lounge, would be money well spent—but thanks to the city’s no-misses Downtown Sound series, we don’t have to.
GO: 7/18 at 6:30. Pritzker Pavilion, Millennium Park, Michigan and Washington. millenniumpark.org

classical Rush Hour Concerts
This series offers bite-sized servings of classical music all summer long, but this week’s helping—the mezzo-soprano Emily Lodine singing a 20-minute opera inspired by Julia Child’s chocolate cake recipe—has our stomachs growling. Hey, Cibo Matto, you might want to hear this.
GO: 7/19 at 5:45. Series continues Tue through 8/30. St. James Cathedral, 65 E Huron. rushhour.org

dance Chicago Dancing Festival Ticket Release
This all-free fest doesn’t leap into town until 8/23–27, but if you don’t snag tickets the nanosecond they’re released next week (last year seats sold out in two hours), you can plan on pirouetting and walking away.
GO: Tickets for the MCA programs on 8/24 and 8/26 will be released 7/19 at 10 a.m. at the MCA box office, 220 E Chicago; via phone at 312-397-4010; and at mcachicago.org. Tickets for the Harris programs on 8/23 and 8/24 will be released 7/20 at noon at the Harris box office, 205 E Randolph, and via phone at 312-334-7777. Tickets for the Auditorium Theatre program on 8/25 will be released 7/21 at 11 a.m. at the Auditorium box office, 50 E Congress; online; and via phone at 800-982-2787. Limit two per performance. Details: chicagodancingfestival.com

 

Photograph: (HUDSON) Courtesy of Ravinia

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