Don’t-miss picks for January 18 through January 24, 2018
1 Lalah Hathaway
R&B:“It’s a brutally difficult time to create art,” the Chicago-born singer told Forbes last fall. “As artists, what strikes us is what we can hang onto, [and] a lot of times that is pain.” On her October release, Honestly, Hathaway explores that pain, referencing the 2014 Ferguson protests, Standing Rock, and Charlottesville on her way to illustrating the intersection of social justice and contemporary life.
1/18 at 6:30 p.m. $35–$63. House of Blues. livenation.com
2 On the Threshold of Winter
New Music:Ensemble Dal Niente puts on Michael Hersch’s one-woman opera, based on the dying-breath verses of the Romanian poet Marin Sorescu. Ah Young Hong, the soprano who premiered the piece in 2014, resurrects the role of a woman not going gentle, accompanied by savage, gloomy instrumentals that oscillate between unsettling tonality and disjunct atonality.
1/18, 1/20. $30. Victory Gardens Biograph Theater. dalniente.com
3 Rayland Baxter
Country:Rayland Baxter on social media is a far cry from Rayland Baxter on a record. While the singer’s tweets offer rapid-fire quirkiness and are occasionally cryptic (for example, “fLat water in a tweLve ounce can … a pLease to drink”), his alt-country tunes are painfully grounded in reality. The storyteller’s poignant takes on contemporary life have helped revitalize the Americana music genre.
1/20 at 9 p.m. $15–$17. Lincoln Hall. lh-st.com
4 Dozin’ with the Dinos
Kids:Kids ages 6 to 12 can spend a bona fide night at the museum via this sleepover at the Field, which includes educational programming and a flashlight tour. The event starts at 5:45 p.m. on Friday. Pickup is at 9 a.m. on Saturday.
1/19, 1/26. $60–$90. Field Museum. fieldmuseum.org
5 Hatfield & McCoy
Theater:The infamous Appalachian feud unravels in this bluegrass-tinged musical—part Romeo and Juliet, part Li’l Abner, and wholly original. Shawn Pfautsch and Matt Kahler’s score calls for backwoods instruments like fiddle, mandolin, and upright bass, all of which color a twanging tale of forbidden love in the hollers of Kentucky and West Virginia.
1/19–3/11. $20–$50. House Theatre at Chopin Theatre. thehousetheatre.com
6 Chicago Polar Bear Plunge
Recreation:Few events bring out Chicago’s celebrity population like this charge-for-charity into icy Lake Michigan. Locals Vince Vaughn and Chicago Fire star Taylor Kinney have joined in the past, as have out-of-towners Lady Gaga, Jimmy Fallon, and Dax Shepard. That said, it’s rude to rubberneck—jump on into the water yourself.
1/20 at noon. $30–$40. Oak Street Beach. chicagopolarbearclub.com
7 Janelle James
Comedy:Fresh off the release of her debut album, Black and Mild—not to mention a tour with Chris Rock and a slot on Wyatt Cenac’s Night Train—New York comic Janelle James brings her wry brand of standup to The Hideout.
1/20 at 7 p.m. $10. Hideout. hideoutchicago.com
8 Gertrude Abercrombie: Portrait of the Artist as a Landscape
Art:Known for hosting wild jazz parties at her Hyde Park home in the ’40s, Abercrombie also developed a style of surrealist painting that often featured solitary women in moody Midwestern landscapes.
1/20–3/4. Free–$9. Elmhurst Art Museum. elmhurstartmuseum.org
9 Comedy at the Knitting Factory
Comedy:Founded by local hero Hannibal Buress, this Brooklyn-based trio and their namesake show wield plenty of clout in New York. All three hosts—Clark Jones, Will Miles, and Kenny DeForest—have been named among the 50 funniest people in Brooklyn by Brooklyn Magazine. While those accolades don’t mean much in Chicago, expect pedigree standup and doubtless some big-name guests.
1/21 at 7 p.m. $15–$17. Hideout. hideoutchicago.com
Rock:You’d be forgiven for missing this Spanish quartet’s charming debut, Leave Me Alone, in 2016’s flood of big releases—but even two years later, their sunburned, woozy garage-pop is like a much-needed shot of vitamin D in the doldrums of January.
1/21 at 9 p.m. $15–$17. Lincoln Hall. lh-st.com