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Looking ahead to the first big concerts of 2011: Winter is hot these days

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Weezer (File)

Whether you get slizzered (like a G6) or join sad ol' Dick Clark for a rockin' New Year's Eve, you'll have just a few days to catch your breath before Chicago's live music scene roars back to life.

The early winter weeks used to be quiet and subdued in the clubs and arenas, but no longer. With summer festivals sucking the creative air out of those rooms, Chicago's winter concert bills are heating up.

Here are some of the shows worth checking out between now and spring break ...

Weezer -- The relentless Rivers Cuomo brings his band back to Chicago for two special "Memories" shows. The first (Jan. 7) will feature a complete performance of Weezer's self-titled debut, known as "The Blue Album," followed by a set of greatest hits. The next night (Jan. 8), they play the often-debated masterpiece/catastrophe "Pinkerton," plus a different set of hits and misses. The two-night, sold-out stand is at the Aragon Ballroom, 1106 W. Lawrence.

Tomorrow Never Knows -- This annual winter music fest returns with a typically wide array of rock, pop and folk performers, including Swell Season pianist Marketa Irglova, innovative Gary rapper Freddie Gibbs and Montreal's excellent band Besnard Lakes. Shows take place over five nights, Jan. 12-16, at three North Side venues: Lincoln Hall, Schubas and Metro. For a complete schedule and ticket information, see

Liz Phair -- Chicago's beloved and bedeviled alt-rock queen sprung a new album on us this summer, "Funstyle," that's equal parts brave, brilliant and bizarre. Is she simply stumbling through different genres and styles, or is she parodying them? The answers surely lie on stage, 8 p.m. Jan. 22 at Metro, 3730 N. Clark. Tickets: $25, (800) 514-ETIX,

Linkin Park -- They're still big enough to play arenas, and Linkin Park's latest album, "A Thousand Suns," received strangely good reviews. Expect to hear everything from "In the End" to "Waiting for the End" in this multi-hour sonic assault. Pendulum and Does It Offend You, Yeah? open. 7 p.m. Jan. 26 at the United Center, 1901 W. Madison. Tickets: $42.50-$72.50, (800) 745-3000,

Yo La Tengo -- It's a music column, so I'm obliged to point out whenever Yo La Tengo approaches the metro area. The beloved New Jersey experimental rock trio has been concentrating much of its compositional talent for film scores in recent years. 8:30 p.m. Feb. 4 at Metro, 3730 N. Clark. Tickets: $22.50, (800) 514-ETIX,

Music Decemberists.jpg
The Decemberists -- In recording the band's sixth album, "The King Is Dead," due Jan. 18, singer-songwriter Colin Meloy says the Decemberists reached "the zenith of excess." Which may be why they're also considering working with Green Day's "American Idiot" director on their own Broadway musical. Wye Oak opens. 7:30 p.m. Feb. 4 at the Riviera Theatre, 4746 N. Racine. Tickets: $30, (800) 514-ETIX,

Best Coast and Wavves -- A joint tour between Bethany Cosentino's band Best Coast and Wavves, led by her boyfriend Nathan Williams, was about as inevitable as the joint Christmas single they released in December ("Got Something for You"). Her sweet, catchy pop and his fun, skater rock will be a blast of a bill. 7 p.m. Feb. 8-9 at Lincoln Hall, 2424 N. Lincoln. Tickets: $15, (773) 525-2501,

11-13 Stewart Robyn 21.jpgRobyn -- First, the Pitchfork festival in July. Then, a sardined Metro in November. Now, the Swedish dance-pop goddess returns for another hot, spunky show, this time at the roomier (but no-doubt still jam-packed) Riviera Theatre, 4746 N. Racine. 7:30 p.m. Feb. 11. Tickets: $25, (800) 514-ETIX,

The Dismemberment Plan -- Boston's great post-punk band (with a superb New Year's Eve song, "The Ice of Boston") was together from '93 to '03. Since then, they've reunited for some private benefits, but this winter they've booked 10 dates across the country, including Chicago, for a little edgy emo nostalgia fest. 9 p.m. Feb. 20 at Metro, 3730 N. Clark. Sold out.

Ke$ha -- "TiK ToK" went to No. 1 a year ago, though it feels like about a decade. Who woulda thunk this Lady Gaga-lite would have become one of the top-selling artists of 2010? You can see her on "Dick Clark's Rockin' New Year's Eve," of course, but she continues her exhaustive tour this winter. 6:30 p.m. Feb. 24 at House of Blues, 329 N. Dearborn. Tickets: $31.50-$38, (312) 923-2000,

Kid Rock -- Detroit's native son can at least claim to be a great value. When else could you hear Bob Seger, Lynyrd Skynyrd, 38 Special, the Eagles and David Allan Coe in one two-hour show? Opener Jamey Johnson has some great alt-country songs. 7 p.m. Feb. 26 at United Center, 1901 W. Madison. Tickets: $29.50-$89.50, (800) 745-3000,

Lady Gaga -- At Lollapalooza, we were treated to an abbreviated version of the ruling queen of pop's highly staged "Monster Ball" tour. The whole shebang comes to Chicago, stuffed with blockbuster hits and Cher-shaming costume changes. The Scissor Sisters open, so it's off the fab meter. 8 p.m. Feb. 28 at United Center, 1901 W. Madison. Sold out.

Girl Talk -- Mash-up master Gregg Gillis, a k a Girl Talk, put on a helluva show last New Year's Eve here. He's back later this winter, supporting a newly released, free batch of downloads, "All Day," that push post-modernism and irony almost out of sight. See how he works his magic. 7 p.m. March 4-5 at the Congress Theater, 2135 N. Milwaukee. Tickets: $30 (March 4 sold out),

Bright Eyes -- Earnest folk-rocker Conor Oberst declared last year that he wanted to retire Bright Eyes, the band he'd led for nearly 15 years with Mike Mogis and Nate Wolcott. He hit the road as Conor Oberst & the Mystic Valley Band, but it was no Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks. So Bright Eyes returns with a new album, "The People's Key," due Feb. 15, and a tour to go with. 7:30 p.m. March 15 at the Vic Theatre, 3145 N. Sheffield. Tickets: $30, (800) 514-ETIX,


And, just to add some warm, summery (sweaty, crowded...) thoughts to your 2011 calendar, here are dates already scheduled for the year's summer fests here and around the country:

South by Southwest -- March 16-20, Austin, Texas (
Lollapalooza (Chile) -- April 2-3, Santiago, Chile (
Coachella -- April 15-17, Indio, Calif. (
New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival -- April 29-May 8, New Orleans (
Sasquatch -- May 27-30, Quincy, Wash. (
Ravinia -- dates TBA, usually begins pop and classical programming end of May, celebrating the 75th anniversary of the CSO's summer residency (
Bonnaroo -- June 9-12, Manchester, Tenn. (
Solid Sound -- Wilco-curated fest, June 24-26 in North Adams, Mass. (
Summerfest -- June 29-July 10, Milwaukee (
Taste of Chicago -- June 24-July 4, Grant Park in Chicago (
Warped Tour -- July 9, First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre in Tinley Park (
Pitchfork Music Festival -- dates TBA, usually mid-July (
Lollapalooza (U.S.) -- Aug.5-7, Grant Park in Chicago (
North Coast Music Festival -- premiered last summer and will return Labor Day weekend 2011 to Chicago's Union Park

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This page contains a single entry by Thomas Conner published on December 31, 2010 6:00 AM.

Sam Prekop's 'Silhouettes' turns on its heartlight was the previous entry in this blog.

To please please you: Weezer digs up 'Memories' for special tour, playing 'Blue Album,' 'Pinkerton' is the next entry in this blog.

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