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The Top Five Things to Do This Week in Chicago

Helltrap Nightmare, Cubs Convention, Blues for an Alabama Sky, Too Hot to Handel: The Jazz-Gospel Messiah, and Ceremony

HOT PIPES Alfreda Burke and Rod Dixon perform in Too Hot to Handel.   Photo: Paul Natkin

The Five

Don’t-miss picks for January 11 through January 17, 2017

1 Helltrap Nightmare

Comedy:Not for the faint of heart, this comedy showcase blends gross-out humor with experimental music. Hosted by comic Sarah Sherman, the show should appeal to fans of Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim. January marks Helltrap’s first anniversary, which Sherman celebrates with a “birthday funeral” fugue of uncomfortable humor.
1/12 at 9 p.m. $12. The Hideout, 1354 W. Wabansia. hideoutchicago.com

2 Cubs Convention

Convention:Last year’s celebration of the lovable once-losers was a spirited affair; this year’s should be downright legendary. With the team’s 108-year championship drought over, this long-running get-together is no longer for die-hards. Half the city will be jockeying for tickets to this toast to all things Cubs.
1/13–15. Sold out; see resellers. Sheraton Grand Chicago, 301 E. North Water. chicago.cubs.mlb.com

3 Blues for an Alabama Sky

Theater:Pearl Cleage’s poetic classic unfolds during the Harlem Renaissance, in an apartment building where artists, doctors, and social activists grapple with their dreams amid social turmoil.
1/12–2/12. $38–$68. Court Theatre, 5535 S. Ellis. harleminhydepark.com

4 Too Hot to Handel: The Jazz-Gospel Messiah

Gospel:Now in its 12th year, this gospel take on Handel’s Messiah, featuring 100 voices and a 45-piece orchestra, commemorates the life of Martin Luther King Jr.
1/14–15. $29–$78. Auditorium Theatre, 50 E. Congress. auditoriumtheatre.org

5 Ceremony

Rock:Once a pillar of hardcore punk, Ceremony has shifted focus in its five-album tenure. The group’s latest album, The L-Shaped Man, channels Joy Division’s demure postpunk more than anything fast and furious. The result is a heart-wrenching collection of songs lamenting the dissolution of a relationship.
1/14 at 9 p.m. $15. Schubas Tavern, 3159 N. Southport. lh-st.com

What I’m Doing This Weekend

Sarah Sherman Photo: Courtesy of Sarah Sherman

Up next in our series of weekend plans from notable, in-the-know-locals: Comedian Sarah Sherman, who hosts Helltrap Nightmare this Thursday night at The Hideout.

“This Thursday is Helltrap’s one-year anniversary. It’s a half alt-comedy, half experimental noise music show with a lot of puppets. If you get into the world of Helltrap, there’s a lot of slime, and we encourage everyone to be their most bizarre selves in the show. We have a lot of stand up, a lot of performance artists and a lot of female-identifying voices in the show, because a lot of the show deals with the grotesqueness of the female body. The show’s actually going to be structured as a funeral. There will be a birthday cake, and that’s all that I’m going to spoil.

“After the show we have a party at The Hideout, DJ’d by Ariel Zetina. She’s going to play some Crazy Frog, some Kaskade maybe. I’m going to try and stay up late for the first time in my life, so that’ll be great.

“On Friday, the Lincoln Lodge at Subterranean is always dependable for awesome standup and bizarro variety works. I’m a cast member there. Friday is also the The Holy Fuck Comedy Hour at The Annoyance Theatre. It’s partially an improvised sketch comedy, and it’s a bat shit insane show. There’s a lot of wigs and a lot of screaming.

“Also on the 13th, there’s an art opening that I’m interested in going to—this artist Erin Hayden has a show at the Randy Alexander Gallery. She’s a multi-disciplinary artist and she’s got a bunch of paintings and videos that I want to catch. And she’s really funny.

“Helltrap is part of the Tomorrow Never Knows festival, and I’m excited to see a lot of other shows at the fest. These two bands, Hogg and Negative Scanner, are playing on the 14th at Schubas. Hogg is this nightmare industrial noise group and they’re really horrifying and I love that they’re in the festival. And also Phoebe Robinson, who does this podcast in New York called Sooo Many White Guys. She’s at The Hideout on Saturday as part of the festival. She’s so awesome, she’s like a powerhouse. And she just wrote a series of essays called You Can’t Touch My Hair, which is really awesome.

“On Sunday, there’s karaoke at Cafe Mustache, which is always a really supportive place to do karaoke if you just want to rip. If you just want to shred and have an entire audience and think you’re literally on American Idol, do karaoke at Cafe Mustache.” —As told to Jamison Pfeifer

Freebie of the Week

Embodiment Abstracted: The Influence of Yvonne Rainer

Art:Choreographer Yvonne Rainer shook up the dance world in the 1960s by incorporating ordinary movements (slouching, shuffling) into routines, ultimately questioning what a normal body is and does. In this group exhibition honoring Rainer, eight dancers from Lebanon, Belgium, and Chicago incorporate her style into performance-art videos.
1/13–3/4. Free. Gallery 400, 400 S. Peoria. gallery400.uic.edu

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