Every year from late October to early November I suffer from a condition I call “CMJ Envy.” I spend all my time reading blogs and articles about the burgeoning bands and rising artists taking the stage at New York’s annual CMJ Music Marathon, and I wonder why Chicago can’t have similar events headlining new music. But in fact we do have something as cool; it happens every week in bars and small venues all across the city. But our regular music showcases don’t get nearly the attendance and press attention that big sexy events like CMJ get year after year. Part of that is on us, as live-music fans; we need to make the effort to show up and support local and touring bands before the critical buzz starts. With that in mind, here are some upcoming music events that are not only a good excuse to leave the house in the coming weeks, but also way more interesting than reading other people’s blog posts about the “next big thing.”
I Hear Voices is a monthly singer-songwriter showcase held at Constellation (3111 North Western). It’s hosted and curated by songwriters Sima Cunningham and Michael Golas and features several performers presenting solo/acoustic material or debuting newer works. The event also features a short conversation with the artist, along with multimedia presentations about the works and art that inspire them. The next I Hear Voices takes place on November 24 and features singer/actress Bethany Thomas, Maceo Haymes from local hip-hop/funk/soul band O’My’s, and songwriter Jared Bartman. I Hear Voices is free, starts at 8pm, and is 18+.
Hip Hop Monthly takes place at Double Door (1572 North Milwaukee) on the first Thursday of every month and features a lineup of hip-hop performers and DJs from Chicago, the Midwest and occasionally beyond. This past month, for example, featured the Buffalo- and Chicago-based hip-hop collective Pseudo Slang. The next showcase (the eleventh, if you’re keeping count) takes place on December 4. Hip Hop Monthly is $5, starts at 9pm, and is 21+.
Over at the Empty Bottle (1035 North Western) the tiny but awesome indie label Eye Vybe Records—purveyor of punk cassette-tape goodness—holds their two-day festival exactly when Chicago needs it most: the weekend after Thanksgiving, when everyone is fed up with their relatives and ready to find escape in rock music and booze. Good Vybes Fest 2 will feature nine bands from across the country, and if you’re inclined toward punk, noise, or psych rock, it’s an event you’ll want to abandon your family for. Day One (November 28) features the lo-fi weirdness of Philly’s Purling Hiss, Milwaukee’s Moss Folk, and The Hanging Gardens, a moody Chicago psych-rock outfit that came on the scene earlier this year. Day Two (November 29) brings a reunion of seminal seventies protopunk band The Gizmos, Feelings (a great noise/punk band from Detroit) and up-and-coming noise-poppers Melkbelly, who combine buzzsaw riffs with bubblegum-sweet vocals. Definitely check out the latter so you can sound cool when they start making the rounds at a CMJ-type event in the near future. The Good Vybes Fest is $20 for a two-day pass, $10 for one night. Both shows start at 8:30pm and are 21+. (Keidra Chaney)