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The Top Five Things to Do This Week

Ear Taxi Festival, Fall Bulb Festival, Kanye West, Music Box Theatre Special Screenings, and Merge

HOMECOMING Kanye West plays the United Center Friday and Allstate Arena Saturday.   Photo: Cousin Daniel

The Five

Don’t-miss picks for Wednesday, October 5 through October 11, 2016

1 Ear Taxi Festival

New Music:Chicago’s new-music community, once the province of a few academically minded mandarins, now spreads its color and variety through many ambitious and mischievous ensembles. The downside of the abundance of groups, though, is that they mostly do their own thing. The composer Augusta Read Thomas wanted to change that, so she organized a festival encompassing all Chicago’s biggest new-music players, planned far enough in advance that the 34 events include 54 world premieres.
10/5–10. Free–$200. Various venues. eartaxifestival.com

2 Fall Bulb Festival

Gardens:More than 200 varieties of crocuses, daffodils, and tulips are up for grabs at this garden sale, along with a spread of local treats, sweets, and seasonal essentials (fresh apple cider, anyone?). For bonus autumn points, snap a selfie in front of the picturesque Gourd Mountain. (October 7 open only to Chicago Botanic Garden members.)
10/7–9. Free. Chicago Botanic Gardens, 1000 Lake Cook, Glencoe. chicagobotanic.org

3 Kanye West

Hip-Hop:Regardless of your thoughts about West’s divisive The Life of Pablo, his concert is not one to miss. Expect brilliant lighting and theatrics to accompany a deep catalog of solo and collaborative material. That it’s a hometown show for Yeezy is gravy.
10/7–8. $114–$3,429 via resellers. United Center (Oct. 7), 1901 W. Madison; Allstate Arena (Oct. 8), 6920 Mannheim, Rosemont. ticketmaster.com

4 Music Box Theatre Special Screenings

Film:Lake View’s stalwart indie film house toasts the birthdays of three classics—Howards End’s 25th and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly’s and The Battle of Algiers’s 50th—with anniversary screenings (in new 4K resolution for Howards End).
10/7–20. $7–$11. Music Box Theatre, 3733 N. Southport. musicboxtheatre.com

5 Merge

Theater:Andrew Hobgood directs Spenser Davis’s 1976-set exploration of the video game gurus at Atari and the culture clash that ensued after Warner Bros. bought the company. Can a group of pot-smoking arcade nerds adjust to life under the rule of a megacorporation? New Colony digs into the games that people (and businesses) play.
10/8–11/13. $15–$20. New Colony at Den Theatre, 1333 N. Milwaukee Ave. $15–$20. thenewcolony.org

What I’m Doing This Weekend

Jay Alan Yim
Jay Alan Yim Photo: Courtesy of Regina Merrill

Up next in our series of weekend plans from notable, in-the-know locals: Jay Alan Yim, composer and associate professor at Northwestern University’s Bienen School of Music. As part of the digital media collaborative LocalStyle, he premieres Naming Things, a sound installation at the inaugural Ear Taxi Festival.

“I’ll be spending a lot of time this weekend at the Harris Theatre, setting up and executing Naming Things. It’s a 20-minute loop of audio and video that we’ll put on three times in a row, almost every day of the festival. It’s a playful piece, but also one that asks a lot of questions—it’s inspired by some writing from Jorge Luis Borges, and includes animal imagery and sound in a variety of forms.

“I’m really, really looking forward to Ear Taxi—and not just because it represents the U.S. premiere of Naming Things, which I’ve been working on with my wife and creative partner Marlena Novak for so long. I’ve been in Chicago since 1989, and the new music ecosystem here has really flourished over those three decades. I can’t even pick a performance to call out, because I have so many longtime colleagues in the festival, and even some current and former students—I don’t want to sell anyone short. I’m going to try to attend as much of the festival as I can, and there’s a lot to take in. If you’ll pardon the metaphor, it’s like deep-dish pizza—really substantive, and uniquely Chicagoan.

“That said, I have nothing against a thin crust. My go-to place—especially when I have New Yorkers in tow—is Dante’s Pizzeria on Armitage. After a hot slice, I tend to end up at my neighborhood watering hole, Scofflaw, right down the street, for a safari through their gin list. They’ve got everything: Old Toms, barrel-aged, Dutch jenevers. Those Dutch gins, especially, are a favorite of mine, and I think any self-respecting gin fan should give them a try.

“I’m pretty partial to my neighborhood, Logan Square, and when I’m not tied up with work, I love to eat at places like Dos Urban Cantina—they’ve got great cocktails and food, really inventive stuff. A recent discovery that I can’t wait to go back to: Penumbra Wine Bar at Fullerton and Kimball. It’s a great place, and it’s starting to get some well-deserved attention, but I kind of hope it doesn’t get too popular so I can still get a table there. I also eat a lot of weekend meals at Serai on Milwaukee—Chicago’s only Malaysian restaurant, as far as I know—and Mana Food Bar on Division, great for omnivorous crowds.

“I like to work off a big meal with a nice walk down the 606, or by puttering around the garden. I’m sort of the sous-chef in our garden—Marlena is the mastermind behind the whole thing—but there’s something really meditative about just getting down and working the dirt. It’s a lovely way to recharge before getting back to creative work.” —As told to John Hardberger

Freebie of the Week

Jewelry for My Mother(s) and Other Microaggressions

Art:Laura Davis makes jewelry not to be worn, but as ceramic sculptures to contemplate the way women care for and share heirlooms. In an artist talk, Davis explains how she thinks about “the ghosts of the women” haunting the spooky necklaces and bracelets on display at her exhibition, which runs through January 8.
9/11 at 12:30 p.m. Free. Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington. cityofchicago.org

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