While I’m not ambivalent towards the holiday, I have on occasion neglected my martyr- (or at least Chaucer-) inspired duties as a significant other until the very last minute, which left me with two options: wander randomly into downtown stores, hoping that my look of desperation will tip off helpful clerks to my plight, or buying concert tickets. I like the latter approach because it doesn’t require shoehorning more stuff into my apartment, and it sets aside yet another date night in the future.
(Or, you can argue that February 14th is unnaturally early for Valentine’s Day, as it’s implausible that birds would be mating in February in England.)
Anyway, some choice picks for the spring concert season:
February 25-26: Drive-By Truckers: Literate yet massive three-guitar southern rock, steeped in regional mythology and Lynyrd Skynyrd, whose tragic story provided the basis for the DBTs’ breakthrough, Southern Rock Opera (the Vic, $25).
February 26: Randy Newman: To my mind, America’s greatest singer-songwriter, and would pair well with the Drive-By Truckers’ show the night before (Park West, $58).
March 4: Iron & Wine, Eleventh Dream Day: New-folkie Sam Beam, aka Iron & Wine, should provide a nice chillout after the local favorites open (Riviera Theater, $26).
March 10: Marnie Stern: An electric guitar virtuoso who applies metal-guitar techniques to elliptical, minimalist melodies ($12, Subterranean).
March 12: Mavis Staples: Celebrate the gospel/R&B legend’s recent Grammy victory (North Shore Center for the Performing Arts, $50-$60).
April 5: Mountain Goats: Actually, I take that back; John Darnielle is probably my pick for America’s greatest singer-songwriter, and has played more than one of the best shows I’ve ever seen in Chicago (the Vic, $19).
April 21: Budos Band: 10-13 member big band playing Afrobeat- and Middle Eastern-inflected instrumental jazz, the kind of music that will make you want to commit espionage (Subterranean, $13).
April 22: Eleventh Dream Day, 1900s: Good combination of Chicago indie both old and new, in a venue with excellent sound (Lincoln Hall, $12).
April 26: Hauschka: Volker Bertelmann is a pianist and composer who writes mainly for a "prepared" piano, modified with the sort of stuff you might find in your junk drawer; it gives his minimalist compositions percussion and texture, and he comes across like a more accessible John Cage (Schubas, $12).
May 5: Yelle: A French electro-pop chanteuse who’s a more charming alternative to the Lady Gaga/Ke$ha/Katy Perry juggernauts rolling through town in coming months (Bottom Lounge, $20).