Chicagoans bitch about our dreadful winter weather just as much as we choose to embrace it. Even in the recent temperature drop, parka-covered civilians flood the streets with an air of normalcy and frigid determination. If there’s one thing we’re willing to brave the cold for, in particular, it’s good music. So when Tomorrow Never Knows sets up its thirteenth annual run during the freezing month of January, what happens? Chicago shows up.
If partying outside the Empty Bottle with live music, beer and chili in the middle of Chicago winter sounds like a good idea, you probably already know about Music Frozen Dancing. The annual winter block party returns to the side street outside the venue for its fifth year on February 17, when Thee Oh Sees, ADULT., B Boys, DJ Taye, and C.H.E.W. perform everything from West Coast psych rock and Detroit synth rock to Brooklyn hip hop and Chicago punk. The free event will also feature Goose Island Beer and food from Bite Café, who will be serving chili from the champion of the Empty Bottle’s Annual Chili-Synth Cook Off to benefit the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless while Lumpen Radio DJs spin tropical tunes inside.
For the last three nights of 2017, Chicago rapper Noname transformed Lincoln Hall into her own personal living room, greeting fans and cracking jokes from the balcony as part of her Coming Home concert series. Each night of the sold-out event was its own unique experience, featuring different surprise guests that were introduced like family before a nearly glowing Noname took the stage every time with the charm and charisma of a Chicago homecoming queen.
NOVEMBER 8, 2017. One year since the election of Donald J. Trump as President of the United States. A year marked by environmental catastrophe, overt racism, rampant misogyny, and increasingly irreconcilable political divisions in a country that has lost its capacity to speak with those who hold opposing views from whichever echo chamber is currently disseminating its version of reality.
This feeling of despair casting a cloud over our collective consciousness was exacerbated by a recent few weeks that saw a horrific mass shooting at a music festival, followed by a horrific terrorist attack on a bike path, followed by a horrific mass shooting at a church. Followed by an unknown number of episodes of regular run-of-the-mill violence in a country awash in guns, paralyzed by partisanship, and increasingly incapable of outrage.
Yet for two hours on a Wednesday night in Chicago, it didn’t matter that America had stumbled into electing a small-minded, self-obsessed, orange-tinged national embarrassment as its commander-in-chief. No, for two hours on a Wednesday night in Chicago, none of that mattered. Because I got to see my favorite band.