It's been 25 degrees pretty much every day for a few weeks now. So you're conditioned, you can hack it. Chicago's annual Tomorrow Never Knows festival starts Wednesday night at three North Side venues, and there are some great bookings you won't want to miss, including area rapper Freddie Gibbs. Here are five other reasons to brave the cold:
The Helio Sequence
Singer-guitarist Brandon Summers tries so hard to put on a good show that he nearly ruined his voice a few years ago. After medical care and some lifestyle changes, he and keyboardist-drummer Benjamin Weikel returned with a beautiful record, 2008's "Keep Your Eyes Ahead," shimmering with echoey synth sounds and ringing guitars -- and Summers' now husky, even more enchanting voice adding extra gravitas to the mix. Door closed, window opened, etc. There's no new record to push on this outing, just another set of fine music from this Portland, Ore., duo.
8 p.m. Wednesday at Lincoln Hall, 2424 N. Lincoln. With Sun Airway, Houses and California Wives.
Magic Kids are (yawn) another orchestral pop band that (wha?) isn't as self-consciously serious as the others. The debut album named after their hometown, "Memphis," sounds like the project that should've happened years ago: a collaboration between Brian Wilson and Belle & Sebastian. They're on a bill with another highly orchestrated act, the Generationals, so the evening should pack a lot of ambition into an intimate space.
8 p.m. Wednesday at Schubas, 3159 N. Southport. With the Generationals, Pet Lions and In Tall Buildings.
OK, so the "Once" follow-up from the Swell Season didn't exactly make the lightning strike twice, and Irglova -- the Czech piano-playing half of the Oscar-winning duo -- was absorbed into Glen Hansard's band, the Frames. She ended a 2010 interview saying she prefers being a side player in a band, so this solo show will either justify that desire or (finally) present her as the striking, unique artist we suspect is lurking under the shyness. Either way, it's a rare opportunity to hear her classically trained, piano-based ballads without too much outside imposition.
8 p.m. Thursday at Schubas, 3159 N. Southport. With Sam Amidon, Jeremy Messersmith and Bone & Bell.
The Besnard Lakes
Montreal husband-wife duo Jace Lasek and Olga Goreas made the year's best earbud record, "Besnard Lakes Are the Roaring Night," a sprawling soundscape that unites spacious, ringing Cocteau Twins mystery and fuzzy, sometimes stomping shoegazer rock. How will it sound reverberating through the snug space at Lincoln Hall? I suspect awesome.
8 p.m. Thursday at Lincoln Hall, 2424 N. Lincoln. With Frankie Rose & the Outs, Lia Ices and A Lull.
Another classically trained musician at the festival, Carey got his land legs as a percussionist for Bon Iver. Now he's released his own LP, "All We Grow," which takes the light, pretty side of the band and stretches it through some soft but urgent tracks that are, not surprisingly, rhythmically complex. It's music that should make for a beautiful show, and if we're lucky he'll pull out his Talk Talk cover.
9 p.m. Saturday at Schubas, 3159 N. Southport. With Darwin Deez, Young Man and Lionlimb.
Tickets to individual shows are $15, and multi-day passes are available. See the TNK site for complete information.