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August 2010 Archives

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BY SARAH TEREZ-ROSENBLUM

This weekend at Warren Dunes State Park in Michigan, I didn’t think about my thighs. Afterward, perusing the official website, I searched for an explanation.

Perhaps I have the 1,950 acres of greenery or the magnificent Lake Michigan shoreline to thank. Possibly responsible: the 221 modern and rustic campsites, the 6 miles of trails, and the rugged dune formation rising 240 feet above the lake. Maybe stunned by the clean water and wooded pathways with which Mother Nature blessed this serene getaway-spot, I could practice only love and acceptance for the gifts she’d bestowed upon me.

Doubtful.

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David "Honeyboy" Edwards
9 p.m. at Hideout; $12
"Living legend" can be an overused term, but it's hard to think of any other way to describe 95-year-old "Honeyboy" Edwards. The singer/guitarist has been playing the Delta blues since the Great Depression and is one of the few people alive who can talk about the great Robert Johnson from personal experience. He's been recording since World War II and continues to tour regularly, but this will be his last scheduled stop in his hometown till next February.

Rundown Alzheimer’s
7 p.m. at U.S. Cellular Field; $15-$70
The Alzheimer’s Association has raised nearly $10,000 for this event, which features a two-mile run inside the Cell, followed by a concert by Brad Cole. There will also be raffles and prizes throughout the night.

Orgone
8 p.m. at Lincoln Hall; $10
Orgone’s distinct blend of hard-edged funk, disco and Brazilian- and African-inspired grooves have impressed some of the industry's heaviest hitters, resulting in a wide array of collaborations ranging from hip-hop giants De La Soul and Pharcyde to R&B sensation Anthony Hamilton and New Orleans funk legend Eddie Bo. For their show at Lincoln Hall they will be celebrating their newest album, Cali Fever, and since this is one of only three stops in the Midwest, expect them to be at their best. The Right Now, Nootka Sound and The Dirty Diamonds DJs open.

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As if we needed another reason to love Labor Day weekend even more, the folks over at North Coast Music Group (a collaboration between local independent promoters React Presents, Silver Wrapper, Cold Grums Productions, Kingtello and Metronome Chicago) comes along and gives us an even better way to kiss the summer goodbye.

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For three days North Coast will invade Union Park with a lineup that rivals any festival that this year has to offer. Performers include The Chemical Brothers, Nas & Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley, Umphrey’s McGee, Moby, De La Soul, Lupe Fiasco, Flying Lotus, Jay Electronica, Mayer Hawthorne & The County, Holy Ghost!, New Mastersounds and more. The lineup is still growing, but you can keep up here.

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Tall Ships Chicago

Through Sunday at Navy Pier; $9-$19

Find ships of all shapes and sizes, but mostly big, pirate-like vessels rolling in on Lake Michigan this weekend. In addition to boarding the ships, there are also plenty of kids activities on Navy Pier.

Phenomenal Phantasmagoria

Through Saturday at Excalibur; $20

The best way to describe this performance is freaks, aerialists and burlesque artists, putting on a show in a nightclub shaped like a castle. "Phenomenal Phantasmagoria" comes with a Vegas-sized load of glitz and kitsch, but its ingredients are 100 percent pure Chicago. Don't miss guest artists like sleek, sly stripper Lady Jack or world-conquering show-woman Madam Barker (aka punk clown goddess Molly Brennan).

Bucktown Arts Fest

Friday-Saturday at Senior Citizen's Park; free

Fight the (gentrification) powers that be with a hearty roster of local bands, art, performances and local food. The event has drawn upwards of 30,000 people to the Senior Citizens Park (at the corner of Oakley and Lyndale) in recent years. Not just because it takes place in a park is this event grassroots; unlike many such fairs in the city, put on by commercial production companies, volunteers proudly run the fun.

The Original Wailers

8 p.m. Friday at Beverly Arts Center; $25-$27

Although this may not be the Wailers we all remember, this incarnation has proven that they have the ability to continue the traditions laid down by the legendary Bob Marley. Session players Junior Marvin and Al Anderson, who both appeared on Natty Dread and Exodus, have done a masterful job of reinterpreting Bob’s classic work, yet they still manage to honor his integrity by not straying too far from the original compositions.

Taste of Greece

Noon-11 p.m. Saturday-Sunday in Greektown; free

Find Greek food (gyros, saganaki, lamb chops, baklava), music (from the Hellenic Five and Hellas 2000), belly dancing, the Jesse White Tumblers, kids' activities and more on Halsted Street in Greektown. Plus, you can learn the sirtaki (it's a dance) and possibly win a free trip to Greece.

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BY SARAH TEREZ-ROSENBLUM

At 14, my best friend and I begged to attend “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” the cult classic starring nubile Susan Sarandon and gender-bending Tim Curry. No, we were told, absolutely not. “Rocky” fans take drugs, carry knives, have orgies. Doubtful but duly shaken, we didn’t ask again.

Later, at 19, free of parental restrictions and dating a cast member, I made the first of many pilgrimages to the Oriental Theatre’s midnight show. The atmosphere, charged and expectant, was nowhere near as depraved as my parents warned. Instead, the theater seemed a sanctuary for young nonconformists, its occupants, although gussied up in fetishware were low key, even dorky.

Let’s face it, the fire-eating kids in capes might attract more attention, but the football players are the ones to fear. But like some kind of Time Warp, from the Baby Boomers to Generation Y-Did-You-Unfriend-Me-On-Facebook, grown folk continuously caution against “Rocky,” and youngins can never stay away.

For me the excitement always peaked about half an hour into the meandering movie; the rest a spiraling struggle against slumber. Still, when I heard about Skokie Theatre’s plans to screen “Rocky” Aug. 28 at 10:30 p.m., the young outcast in me perked up her ears. Wondering about the film’s enduring appeal, I asked a former member of Sensual Daydreams, the Milwaukee cast, to what she attributes its resilience.

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Rock Your Heart Out Volume II
8:30 p.m. at Bull & Bear; $15
“Bachelorette” star Ed Swiderski hosts this event to raise money for his new organization, the Global Education Open Technology Foundation (http://www.geotf.org/). American Idol’s Jeffrey David Goldford will play a set, to go along with a two-hour cocktail reception with appetizers and drink specials. A raffle includes tickets to see Dave Matthews Band at Wrigley Field.

Leon Russell
8 p.m. at SPACE; $35
Session guru Leon Russell has credits with everyone from Eric Clapton to Frank Sinatra, flanked by gigs with Phil Spector’s Studio group, and later his own Church Recording Studio. This tour will probably showcase more of his country side, the kind he used to light up the Billboard charts with Willie Nelson duets in the late 70s. (Gavin Paul)

Bar AIDS
5-11:30 p.m. at various locations; $40
More than 35 bars and restaurants throughout Lakeview, Lincoln Park, Andersonville, River North and even Oak Park participate in this annual event to raise money for AIDS research. Most places offer drink specials, and a raffle includes prizes like tropical vacations and spa packages. Check out a list of participating places here.

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Tall Ships Chicago
10 a.m.-9 p.m. at Navy Pier; $9-$20
A boarding ticket gets you on the pirate-like ships, with programs and activities for the kids. Or just hang out on the pier and watch the big ships come in all weekend (show runs until Sunday).

Pizza and Beer Pairing
7 p.m. at Sheffield’s, $30
Pair your favorite Sheffield’s brews with the unique pie selections from Ian’s Pizza just down the street.

Rihanna
7:30 p.m. at United Center; $20-$500
Look for the R&B sensation to perform a bunch from her upcoming, yet-untitled dance album, including the first single “Only Girl.” Don’t have tickets to the show? You can catch her after party at Vision Nightclub, starting at 10 p.m. ($20).

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BY SARAH TEREZ-ROSENBLUM

When writer, performer and Irish dancer Maire Clerkin began writing about her upbringing, it became quickly apparent her memories “belonged on the stage more than the page.”

Always active in theater, Clerkin has toured the UK and Ireland with various theater pieces blending Irish dance and comedy, but “The Bad Arm- Confessions of a Dodgy Irish Dancer,” is her first one-woman show. Born of “a resistance to being labeled Irish, English, Irish-wannabe, punk, respectable, troublemaker,” Clerkin’s dance/comedy hybrid makes its Chicago debut as part of Fringe Festival.

Our Town: You grew up Irish dancing, by choice?
Maire Clerkin: My mother was the dancing teacher in our North London parish hall and my siblings and I were dragged along before we were old enough to rebel. I was the one who stuck with it, even through teenage times when it was regarded as un-cool beyond belief.

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Tatsu Aoki, Mwata Bowden, Justin Dillard, Ed Wilkerson
6 p.m. at Museum of Contemporary Art; free
The MCA presents Tuesdays on the Terrace, presented by Macy's. This week, the quartet performs a tribute to legendary saxophonist Fred Anderson, who passed away in June.

Movies in the Park
Dusk; free
Get on down the road (er, Lake Shore Drive) to see “The Wiz” at South Shore Cultural Center; or indulge the youngsters with a screening of “Monsters vs. Aliens” at Erie Park (630 N. Kingsbury).

Unsane, Today is the Day, Keelhaul
9:30 p.m. at Empty Bottle; $12
New York hard rockers Unsane have been making noise for going on two decades now. They join up with metalhead quartet Keelhaul and Today is the Day for what can only be described as a very loud show … in a good way. (21+)

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Gold Coast Art Fair
Friday-Sunday in Grant Park; free
The 53rd annual art fair attracts 450 artists and nearly 350,000 visitors. This year it moves to a new location in Grant Park, just across from the Art Institute.

Love's Labour's Lost
Through Sunday at Oak Park Festival Theatre; $10-$20
Oak Park Festival Theatre had a critical hit with its season opener, a sorrowful, starlit take on "Of Mice and Men." Its second show of the season is more typical outdoor summer fare, a Shakespearean comedy that's billed, alarmingly, as a bardic version of "Sex in the City." That warning aside, this should be a deft, enjoyable picnic of a show.

North Side Summerfest
Friday-Sunday at Lincoln and Irving Park; $5
This new fest (only in its fourth year) is all about the party, and you'll need to let off some steam after a grueling festival season. The music lineup includes all the festival staples, like Sixteen Candles (Friday), Too White Crew and Wedding Banned (Saturday) and Hairbangers Ball (Sunday).

Superstars of Burlesque
10:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday at Music Box; $20
America's top teasers descend on the Music Box for a weekend of glitz, debuachery and highly creative pasties. This two-night-only event, organized by Michelle L'amour (the Chicagoland area's duchess of skin) is guaranteed to be a fancy affair. Why? Every single performer holds a world title from the Burlesque Hall of Fame.

Demitria Taylor, Rob Blaine
9 p.m. Sunday at B.L.U.E.S.
One of the Eddie Taylor prodigal spawn, daughter Demetria doesn't get the limelight her brothers enjoy. But that'll be a passing phase when people start to pick up on her Memphis Minnie meets Koko Taylor sass, which she's been slinging in spades from B.L.U.E.S. to the Chicago Blues Festival without the fam. Opening guitarist Rob Blaine, 29, has seen stints with both the late, great Little Milton and The Chicago R&B Kings, heartily recruited for his ability to keep in time while traversing through blues, soul and funk, albeit armed with his most lethal weapon: a bearish growl channeled in '70s roadhouse lore.

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BY SARAH TEREZ-ROSENBLUM

September seems a ways off, but not if you plan to run Chicago’s 14th Annual Half Marathon and 5K at 7 a.m. on Sept. 12. As far as I’m concerned, the early bird catches the syphilis, but for those of you who fancy waking up at the break of dawn to run 13.1 miles, now’s the time to start training. Well, now or five weeks ago, because according to multiple unnamed but very official websites, the optimal timeframe in which to train for a half marathon is nine weeks.

Sponsored by New Balance, Gatorade and Ryder, the event sold out in 2009 and is only accepting 20,000 runners this year. According to the website, highlights include a “scenic view of downtown Chicago and Lake Michigan,” and a “commemorative long-sleeve T-shirt,” less than persuasive if you ask me. The lakefront is there whether you’re sweating and chafing or just sitting on a beach blanket sipping lemonade, and Village Discount sells long-sleeved shirts for less than a buck.

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History Pub Crawl
6:45 p.m. at Chicago History Museum; $20-$45
The monthly historic tour hits up the Gold Coast. Learn about the role the Chicago River and Lake Michigan have played in Chicago’s history, all while throwing back some cheap beers.

Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure
8 p.m. at the side project; $10-$20
A Sherlock Holmes musical might seem illogical, but critics say it's a stroke of deductive genius. Stephen Dietz's snappy adaptation shows the famous sleuth falling in love and getting high, not to mention emotional enough to sing. Strong performances and smooth-as-clockwork staging make this caper an obvious (not to say elementary) choice for summer entertainment.

Soulja Boy
7 p.m. at Congress Theater; $25
Soulja headlines the Youngest N Charge tour, which features a gaggle of young hip-hop artists including JaBar and Sammie Young

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Anders Osborn
8 p.m. at SPACE; $20-$34
Born Swedish and transplanted 'Nawlins, Osborne fell for Southern blues in his youth, when '70s soul was seeping into its stream. He can be compared favorably with Springsteen and Van Morrison, gifted with both electric crunch and a clean, bright howl. The singer/guitarist is now housed on Alligator Records, aging like blues-out David Gray in his somber moments, and Ben Harper in his fury. (Gavin Paul)

Taste of Andersonville Dinner Crawl
6 p.m. at Swedish American Museum; $25-$55 (tickets)
Foodies delight in this dinner crawl, which features two different routes with 11 neighborhood restaurants each. Spots include Andies Restaurant, Edgewater Lounge, Fireside Restaurant, George's Ice Cream and Sweets, Piatto Pronto, Charlie's Ale House, The Coffee Studio, Hamburger Mary's, The Wooden Spoon and a bunch more. Get tickets in advance and save 10 bucks. And if you’re feeling extra hungry, you can go on both tours.

Hellsent, Robust, DJ Dallas Jackson
10 p.m. at Subterranean; $7
Long before Chicago broke into the mainstream with the Cool Kids, Kanye, Lupe and post Electric Circus Common, there was the Galapagos4 camp and their intoxicating brand of heady lyricism. Hellsent is a relative newcomer to the label, releasing his solo debut Rain Water in 2006, but his lyrical grit has fit right in with G4's style of play since his early days with the Outerlimitz. His newest album False Profit is a critical analysis of mainstream rap and its inability to separate itself from its monetary roots. His performance at Sub-T will be in celebration of his new album, and label mates Robust and DJ Dallas Jackson will be in full support. (J Min)

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Chicago writer Jill Pollack founded Story Studio Chicago the year she turned 40. “Maybe it was my own little mid-life crisis,” she says, “but I closed a different business and decided to devote myself to my fiction writing.”

Noting a fiction community deficit, Pollack dove into creating a resource for writers of all levels. Seven years later, primed to embark on a new semester, Jill answers a few questions for Our Town.

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My Morning Jacket
7 p.m. at Charter One Pavilion; $46
Expect to see a return to the reverb-to-the-heavens Southern Kentucky soul for this quintet, which will kick it old school from Z (2005) and the more progressive Evil Urges (2008), and maybe a few new ones from an expected album in the next year or so.

Jason Adasiewicz
5:30 p.m. at Museum of Contemporary Art; free
See the jazz composer/percussionist at the Tuesdays on the Terrace series.

Rosh Hashana Boot Camp
6:30 p.m. at Spertus Institute; $18
Learn tricks of the Jewish cooking trade with Spertus kosher catering executive chef Laura Frankel.

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Chicago Air & Water Show
Saturday-Sunday along the lakefront; free
The lakefront fills up rapidly for this event, especially at the North Avenue Beach "Main Stage", where you'll get the best views and play-by-play commentary. You can get good views from other locations, including nearby Oak Street Beach. Wanna beat the crowds? Check out the practice flights, which go on periodically Thursday and Friday.

Catalina Wine Mixer
5 p.m. Friday at Faith & Whiskey; free
Inspired by the movie "Stepbrothers," this after-work event will feature $30 tableside boxed wine and $5 Harvey Wallbangers, DJ Texas Street Jesus spinning "Yacht Rock" hits, a $100 cash prize for best nautical-themed outfit and free pizza. "It's the f---ing Catalina Wine Mixer!"

The People's Drum Circle Pandora
Friday-Sunday at Quest Theatre Ensemble; free (donations accepted)
Let your inner flower child make some noise with Quest Ensemble. This take on the story of Pandora (and her box o' troubles) features a genius hippie-style drum circle, with the audience invited to bang away. Yes, a drum circle. You've been warned. Like everything produced by Quest, this show is as free as love.

Wrigleyville SummerFest
Saturday-Sunday at Seminary and Roscoe; $5
Put your street fest donation to good use, as proceeds benefit Resurrection Lutheran Church's after-school program and preschool. A Kids' Zone includes pony rides, a petting zoo, moonwalk, climbing wall and plenty more activities to keep little ones occupied. And don't forget to enter the bags tournament.

Long Grove Art Festival
Saturday-Sunday at Archer Municipal Lot near Fountain Square; free
Find a wide variety of original artwork: watercolor, acrylic and oil paintings, jewelry, photography, sculpture, ceramics, glass, fiber and mixed media. Continuous live music plays all weekend and a great variety of food and drink offered throughout the Fest. There's also a Wine & Dine in the Mill Pond lot off Robert Parker Coffin Road.

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I’ve just about had it with street fests. Market Days sent me over the edge. If I ran a street fest we’d serve fruit cups and cucumber water. Who are these people who can deep throat an Italian sausage in the blazing sun?

And speaking of phallic stand-ins, who actually thinks it’s a good idea to bring a snake to a packed festival? Would you invite Death or Public Speaking? No, because just like Snakes, thousands fear them.

When I leave the house in summer I’m prepared to confront exes who’ve spent winter hibernating, road construction and drunken blonds in Cubs shirts and stilettos; but add snakes and humidity to the mix and agoraphobia’s looking better by the day.

Which brings me to refrigerators, specifically those dotting the Magnificent Mile. An ostensibly snake-less summer attraction, the contraptions, dubbed “Fine Art Fridges,” are part of an art exhibit sponsored by ComEd. Representing everything from architecture to the gulf oil spill, the exhibit features work of local artists like Lucy Slivinski, whose piece, “In the Land of Love, There is No Garbage” is located at 505 N. Michigan Ave. Other artists including Mike Helbing and Nicole Beck also contribute, offering a total of nine inventive iceboxes.

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Jersey Shore viewing party
9 p.m. at Uncle Fatty’s Rum Resort; free
Make sure you GTL early, so you’ll be ready for tonight’s episode. Uncle Fatty’s is serving up $1 drinks and beers for the viewing, along with Jersey Shore-related contests.

DJ Jazzy Jeff, Cool Kids
10 p.m. at Beauty Bar; free
Old school meets new as Will Smith’s one-time sidekick plays from his solo projects. Joining him is the one of the hottest acts on the local hip-hop scene, Cool Kids, playing a DJ set.

Dancin’ in the Park
6 p.m. at Willye B. White Park (1610 W. Howard St.); free
Learn the basics of steppin’ and hip-hop moves with teachers from Old Town School of Folk Music, then practice them yourself at this two-hour event.

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Vox Arcana
10 p.m. at Hideout; $7
This local improvisational music trio headed by Tim Daisy is part of the Hideout’s Immediate Sound Series. They can loosely be described as a clarinet/cello jam band … but in a good way.

Grant Park Music Festival
6:30 at Millennium Park; free
Kora player Toumani Diabate joins the Grant Park Orchestra.

VIPretty Party
6 p.m. at Elle Homme Medical Spa; $25
Pamper yourself with mini-massages, waxings, facials and a gift bag that should be well worth the price of admission.

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BY SARAH TEREZ-ROSENBLUM

In kindergarten, I chose my best friend based on hair color, a vivid new-penny-copper. Imperfect fruit, no matter how luscious, disgusts me. I couldn’t love a hairless cat. Appears I’m shallow, a character flaw, and one which deprives only me.

Take cartoonist Nicole Hollander’s “Sylvia,” by all accounts feminist and funny, an evolving commentary on our times. Growing up, I encountered the cultish comic, but never connected. The reason: I was put off by its heroine’s looks. That’s right – although a self-professed feminist, I can’t hear Eleanor Roosevelt’s activism over her horse teeth. When I met Bella Abzug I said, “Never mind Congress, dear, how about we nix the hats?”

After speaking with the brilliant Hollander, however, I’ve vowed to reform. Her new book “The Sylvia Chronicles: 30 years of Graphic Misbehavior from Reagan to Obama,” hits stores this month and you can bet I’ll read. Goodbye knee-jerk superficiality. No more judging a book by its cover. Forget taking swipes at women’s looks. Starting now, I’m Naomi Woolf, not Rachel Zoe (speaking of hairless cats) … wait, do-over. Starting now.

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‘Top Gun’
Dusk at Chicago History Museum (outside); free
Is it bad that we always rooted for Val Kilmer’s character to wipe that stupid grin off Maverick’s face? Yeah, probably. Anyway, bring back that lovin’ feeling for Kelly McGillis and Tom Cruise as part of the Movies in the Parks series. Also showing tonight: "The Blind Side" (Fulton River Park, 601 W. Kinzie St.) and "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs" (Smith Park, 2526 W. Grand Ave.)

Reverend Raven and the Chain Smoking Alter Boys
9:30 p.m. at Buddy Guy’s Legends; $10
Voted Milwaukee's best blues band by the Wisconsin Area Music Industry earlier in his career, the Reverend aligned himself with harpist Madison Slim and a crew of Chain Smoking back-up singers to jam his own breed of chug-a-lug funk and blues. Expect a raucous romp at one of Chicago's best blues venues.

One Man Chicago ‘Meet the Men’ Happy Hour
6 p.m. at Rockit Wrigleyville; free
Meet the 20 contestants for the One Man Chicago pageant, which awards $5,000 to the winner’s charity of choice. Check out the contestants here, and then go mingle with them tonight with free apps and $5 “One Man Martinis.”

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BY ANNE ROYSTON

As the DJs quietly set up at Perry’s, the crowd thinned out to find beer or bathrooms or just take a breath. But the first droning sounds brought them right back. As that well-known digital voice intoned “Flaawwss … tradahmusss,” the crowd flocked to the front of the stage like flies to honey. Flosstradamus are the kind of DJs you dream of having at your party: They don’t let the beats stop for a moment, and they liberally pepper their set with shout-outs to Chicago and Chicago-based artists like Kid Sister.

The audience was similarly full of love, waving hands non-stop in the air. Near the front a blow-up doll gaily danced along. No wonder, then, that the hour passed like a minute. Among the big names that inevitably come with a big-name festival (and we’re not complaining, mind you) it felt good to have one of our own represent.

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BY ANNE ROYSTON

Green Street becomes a neighborhood at this year’s Lolla, with areas for shopping, eating, learning, and then the Prius Playground, in a class all its own. Stands from Bleeding Heart and Metropolis have you regretting that overpriced corn dog. Local farmers bring local flavor, too, including a Wisconsin cheese company selling, well, cheese on a stick (think saganaki). Perhaps the biggest difference, though, is the presence of more eco-conscious and activist organizations than ever, including the Chicago Public Library, Rock the Vote, and the Love Hope Strength Foundation.

BY ANNE ROYSTON

The fact that Lolla’s last day was drawing to a close might have had some intensifying effect at Perry’s. The majority of people at Felix da Housecat, anxious for their last chance to party, had been camping out for sets prior (and they wouldn’t pass on Digitalism, either).

Generously mixing old and new, Felix kept the crowd in a frenzy without sacrificing his old-school roots. “House music!” he shouted at one point, and everybody raised their hands in the air and roared. As people kept pushing forward and surfing over in desperate, gleeful attempts to reach the front, the music kept flowing. It was our legacy and we were paying homage.

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BY GAVIN PAUL

Really, any combination of drum and bass could have served to fuel the grassy discoteca Perry put together with his new stage, regardless of the talent behind the DJ thrown-in-the-round. Not to say that standing in the middle of it all didn't pulse something intoxicatingly physical. That was kind of the point, glow sticks and all – even if in reality it was pretty standard entry-level electronica.

On the festival circuit, large accolades go to Bonnaroo for integrating a little character into each stage, as a destination. Lollapalooza has been chastised for its corporate strings, but Sir Perry, your namesake gala, with the expanded grounds and crossover house super acts like Empire of the Sun headlining – with choreographed dance troupes and trees to climb – put on a good show.

Of the highlights on Sunday, a hot hour of converging irony saw it best, bodies full sweat into the rise and charge of scheduled Aussies Dirty South. Friends mouthed over the sound waves "filthy" and "crunchy" to each other, when the arms cuing the release revealed himself to be MSTRKRFT's JFK, to cheers en mass. I hate to say something like ignorance is bliss, because everyone there was well aware of how to give their body over to their minds, in soul shaking fury – myself included.

I've gotta hope that all those people who will be lining up to watch Erykah Badu this afternoon made it a point to arrive at the fest early enough to catch up-and-comer Nneka perform on the Parkways Foundation stage. The Nigerian artist may not quite have the stage presence (or appetite for controversy) that Badu does, but the talent and passion are certainly there.

During the short set, Nneka offered a reggae-inflected version of breakout single "The Uncomfortable Truth," telling everyone what her idea of "love" really is. After the song, she revealed that that emotion is the inspiration for everything she does -- and asked the crowd to send some back her way during her next trip to Chicago. Corny, perhaps, but it came off as pretty genuine. In any case, the slowed-down "Heartbeat" likely made even the most jaded audience members feel some kind of real emotion.

Miniature Tigers gave the early-rising Lolla crowd a much-needed dose of sunshine during its 11:30 a.m. set on the Playstation stage, though if you think of this Phoenix, Arizona, act as just playing lighthearted pop, you should listen closer to the dark (and, yes, often humorous) lyrics. Opener "Mansion of Misery" found lead singer Charlie Brand lamenting being "stuck in this negative vibe / I can't seem to find the way outside / I can't find a way to unwind." On "Lolita," he sounded like an angsty teen pining for the untouchable girl next door.

There was plenty of fun, too, as on crowd favorites like "Cannibal Queen" and "Rock & Roll Mountain Troll." Brand encouraged the largely young, and surprisingly energetic, crowd, asking them at various times to clap along and try their feet at Native American interpretive dancing (during the Rick Schaier-sung "Coyote"). The Tigers played around, too, with a decent amount of instrument-swapping going on throughout the set between Shaier (drums, keyboard, guitar) and Algernon Quashie (the same trio). Despite the persistent rain, this tempo-changing set proved to be an uplifting start to the final day of Lollapalooza.

BY JEFF MIN

Day 2 at Perry’s Stage understandably got off to a slow start. Concertgoers were a bit lethargic, still cleaning their palates from yesterday’s festivities and the after-parties that followed.

It was unfortunate that people weren’t completely tuned in because Lance Herbstrong opened with a strong set of world beats, which involved some decent live instrumentation. Chicago’s own Only Children followed to much the same reaction. Vonnegutt tried to liven the crowd up with their mash-up of rock and hip-hop, but fell woefully short due to their overly simplistic approach. Their set lasted a half-hour, which left live funk/hip-hop band FreeSol an opportunity to re-up the ante for the last half.

Thanks to all the buzz about their music over the past year, British trio the xx was bound to be a big draw. But it's hard to imagine anyone, including Lolla organizers, anticipated the massive audience that packed the Playstation stage for its set -- and if they did, they probably should've made other plans.

The packed space drove expectations even higher for a band that, really, doesn't belong in a festival setting. While whispery songs like "Crystalised" and "Islands" pack an emotional punch, they don't offer a whole lot in the way of big sound, which is really needed if you're going to entertain tens of thousands of sweaty, drunk, texting and conversating fans. The stuff likely sounded better up close, but that didn't do much for the many folks fighting for space on the fringes. Again, it's not the band's fault -- this just wasn't the right setting for these tunes. Lollapalooza is mostly meant for bands who make noise -- like Gogol Bordello, whose performance I headed to as soon as I could maneuver my way out of the gridlock (which took about 20 minutes).

The main knock on Lollapalooza is that the fest can sometimes seem to be stuck in a 1990s time-warp. It certainly felt that way as I walked toward the Kidzapalooza stage on Saturday afternoon. Blues Traveler was winding down its set on the Parkways Foundation stage, and every third person I passed was matching John Popper word for word on "The Hook."

Meanwhile, late-'90s chart-toppers The Verve Pipe were rockin' out for the Kidz. Granted, Brian Vander Ark and co. were doing mostly new stuff for a crowd that mostly wasn't born when "The Freshmen" hit No. 1. The band recently released "A Family Album," which is just what it sounds like -- music the whole family can enjoy. And really, that includes the teens and twentysomethings, too: it was hard not to at least tap your foot to upbeat tunes like the horn-laden "We Had To Go Home," the banjo-assisted "Suppertime!" and "Be Part of the Band," which was just cheesy enough to work. On "Complimentary Love," the band began to feel a bit like an even less threatening Barenaked Ladies.

The kids, of course, were the target audience, and they appeared to be having a good time, running around the bobbing their heads. They also weren't freaked out in the least by the two dudes who were standing quietly near the stage, dressed in full Mexican wrestling costumes.

A decent crowd was gathered at the Sony bloggie stage at 2 p.m., a full 15 minutes before Hollywood favorites (and recent Rough Trade signee) Warpaint took the stage. Rather than take advantage of the growing anticipation during its soundcheck, though, the all-female quartet (which used to include Shannyn Sossamon of "A Knight's Tale" fame) led with an extended jam. This was more than noodling -- I couldn't help but think of some of the Jicks' crisp rhythms -- but it wasn't exactly stuff that grabbed you right away. Still, it did announce to any in the crowd that these girls were here to rock. And they seemed to be having fun doing it, giving each other giggly smiles that were somewhere between "too cool for school" and "we're so happy to be here."

We were told not to be afraid to dance, but this wasn't really dancing music. There was definitely an insistent rhythm -- and plenty of fuzz -- on songs like "Beetles" ("let's dance naked and rip down the wall that makes me crazy") and the slow-burning "Krimson." This may not have been the most engaging set of the fest, but at least a few fans are sure to leave with a new musical crush.

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BY ANNE ROYSTON

Perhaps it was the beautiful weather -- and, in sharp contrast to last year, the lack of mud everywhere -- that led to unusually strong camaraderie at Lollapalooza Friday. Yes, it’s a festival that sprawls more every year, and it can be significantly tough to navigate, but luckily people are (mostly) happy to point the way (thanks, Steven!).

Toward the end of the night, as the crowd’s incessant milling began to orient itself toward Lady Gaga, a handful of believers headed ‘cross the street to Perry’s stage. Set like a spaceship among the trees, the stage drew in those who wanted the dance without the dramatics.

2ManyDJs (who are actually only two DJs) were decked out in white tuxes, lording it
over the equipment and not missing a beat. Full disclosure: one of these DJs is Soulwax, whose flawless transitions and crafty remixes of recognizable tracks, from new LCD Soundsystem to Beethoven, were spun over a bass sound that could make Soundbar weep. General good vibes took a turn for the snarky with a chant of “F**k Lady Gaga!,” but mostly people just wanted to throw their glowsticks in the air and sweat it out. And as the skyline glowed in the background of the city’s largest open-air club, they did just that.

Lollapalooza Spotlight: Morning Benders

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Early-arriving fans looking for a way to ease into Lolla Day 2 after a night on the town were in luck if they stopped by the Sony bloggie Stage for the Morning Benders' too-short set Saturday afternoon.

The shimmering guitars and sunny harmonies of the Brooklyn-based, California-bred quartet have drawn comparisons to the Beach Boys and rightly so. There's also a Beatlesque sheen to some of their songs, including the set-closing "Excuses," which wound down with an initially tentative, eventually enthusiastic sing-along.

Front man Christopher Chu's demeanor was as upbeat as his band's melodies, as he served up self-deprecation ("We are the Morning Benders ... still," he said during one break) and a gentle but persistent plea for audience participation.

By the end of the seven-song, 30-minute mini-set, he and his bandmates had won over the crowd with sometimes dreamy, sometimes soulful songs filled with "whoa-oh-oh" and "ooh-ooh-ooh" choruses that insinuate themselves in their listeners' heads like the memory of a happy summer day.

BY JEFF MIN

Day one at Perry’s Stage began on a beautiful morning in a new, more spacious area, located on the corner of Columbus and Balbo. The gorgeous weather and extra dancing room was in stark contrast to last year’s Lollapalooza, and had early concert-goers in good spirits.

The first set began with the winner of the “2010 Lolla Remix Throwdown” competition, which served as a nice warm-up for the more polished DJ Franco V. BBU capped the morning off with their brand of mildly political, and always danceable, party rap.
By early afternoon the crowd had thinned out a bit, leaving a much more relaxed setting compared to the morning rush. Cologne-based beat maestros Ancient Astronauts matched the shift in energy with a bass-heavy, downtempo set similar to their labelmates, Thievery Corporation. Ana Sia came on shortly after, and bridged the gap to famed soul/funk/hip-hop connoisseur Peanut Butter Wolf.

Wolf dug deep into his crates and opened with the classic Madvillain song “All Caps.” All of Wolf’s cuts were accompanied by video mash-ups, one of which included a classy Guru tribute. Halfway through his set he cued Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s “Shimmy Shimmy Ya” and it was clear that Wolf had a magnetic hold on the crowd, which made it all the funnier when he periodically stopped to give shout outs to underground hip-hop, James Brown and Hanson. A welcome highlight came when Wolf called local rappers The Cool Kids on stage for an impromptu performance.

Kidz In The Hall, who were joined onstage by a live band, and J. Cole followed up strongly and capped off what is likely to be the strongest showing of hip-hop the weekend has to offer.

By nightfall, Perry’s Stage was beaming with life thanks to energized sets by Caspa and Erol Alkan. Tiga’s set marked the beginning of the end, and by the time the final act, 2ManyDJs, hit the stage, the crowd had already lost itself in a mass of flaying limbs and youthful inhibition.

Perry’s Stage certainly matched the expectations set last year, and one can only hope Day 2 will follow suit.

The new, improved Perry's Stage at Lolla offers a less packed, less circular and also less intense experience than in previous years. For J. Cole's show, at least, there was very little jockeying for space, which made for a somewhat subdued atmosphere at first. But there was some definite energy in the air once the North Carolina-bred rapper (and Jay-Z's Roc Nation signee) hit the stage.

While the set did at times threaten to sink into hip-hop cliche, J. Cole did overall show the raw skills that caused Jigga to back him. Once the beat dropped on "Dollar and a Dream 2" and "Who Dat," it was plain to see that "A Star Is Born" (the "Blueprint 3" track on which he guested) was more than just a boast -- it was a promise.

Lollapalooza Spotlight: Mavis Staples

Richard Manuel and Rick Danko -- name-checked along with the other members of The Band by Mavis Staples after her transcendant rendition of ''The Weight'' Friday at Lollapalooza -- are gone now.

So too are so many others who have influenced Staples, from her dad, Staples Singers patriarch Pops Staples, to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. But a few weeks past her 71st birthday, she demonstrated she is very much still with us and going strong with a set that was equal parts tent revival, history lesson and roadhouse jam.

The setlist drew from her forthcoming album – "You Are Not Alone" -- due Sept. 14 and produced by fellow Chicagoan Jeff Tweedy. Not afraid to play the hometown card, Staples called out Tweedy to play on several songs, including John Fogerty's "Wrote A Song For Everyone," and he seemed to be enjoying himself immensely, strumming an acoustic and providing backup vocals while Staples commanded the spotlight.

She shifted easily from the spiritual "Creep Along Moses" to the civil rights anthem "Freedom Highway," which was inspired, as she noted afterward, by the march on Selma. "I'm still on that highway, y'all," Staples said. "I'm still on that highway and I will be till Dr. King's dream is realized."

And she'll still be singing the Staples' classic, "I'll Take You There," an extended take of which closed out Friday's show. But while some bands now deliver rote versions of their hits -- Do we want to hear another version of "Jumpin' Jack Flash" by the Stones? -- Staples and her band have a knack for making the old songs sound fresh and the new ones sound familiar.

"You ain't seen the last of me yet," Staples promised as her set wound down. "I'll be back."

For now, she'll head off on another leg of her journey down the backroads of American music. It's worth tagging along on that ride, especially with such an engaging travel companion.


The older Raphael Saadiq gets, the more he seems to go back in time. The man who was at the forefront of the New Jack Swing movement with Tony! Toni! Tone! back in the late 1980s has taken a more soulful Motown style as of late, case in point his newest album, The Way I See It.

Friday afternoon's show at Lollapalooza had much of the same approach, as he played some of his new work before "takin' it back some" with his familiar favorites.

No matter what era, he's here to entertain. Backed by a band numbering nearly a dozen deep, all clad in matching crisp, dark suits, Saadiq concurrently played the role of lead singer, conductor, dancer, and crowd riler. When he sang "Keep on runnin'," he punctuated the lyrics by running in place.

But it's hard to keep a good soul singer down, and Saadiq didn't waste any time getting into some music made for lovin'. Strapping on a bass - and stripping down to just an undershirt - Saadiq croons, "Kissin' you is not enough ... Makin' love is what I want to do." And, from the look on his face (accentuated by the big screen behind him) you know he means it.

There was no time for getting smitten, as moments later a rendition of "Fallin' In Love" reminds us that "Fallin' in love is easy/Stayin' in love can be tricky."

Winding down the set, Saadiq went old school (or would it be new school compared to the Motown-heavy set?) with a medley from his TTT days that included radio-friendly hit "Feels Good," followed by Saadiq asking, "Can you feel me, Chicago? I can feel you, too."

Oh, we feel you. We feel you real good.

Didn't see him at Lolla? Check out Saadiq's show tonight at Kingsbury Hall/The Vibe.

All Lolla, All the Time

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Here at Our Town, we’re anxiously awaiting the start of Lollapalooza tomorrow afternoon. We’ll be there all weekend to bring you coverage of the lesser-known acts and side stages at the Fest, so be sure to check back regularly. And for even more comprehensive coverage, be sure to follow Thomas Connor’s music blog for all breaking Lolla news.

And, as we count down the hours, here’s a little preview of what you can expect down in Grant Park this weekend:
Lolla’s Grid Wars – We make the hard choices of the best bands to see
The Late, Late Shows – A roundup of the best Lolla after-parties
Rock ‘n’ Bowles – We talk to Lolla food guru Graham Elliot Bowles
Weekend Warrior – You mean there’s other stuff going on this weekend?

Which acts are you most looking forward to seeing? Tell us.

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Sarah Terez Rosenblum (@SarahTerez) is an MFA-holding writer, teacher and Spinning instructor. She's also the Theater Listings Editor for Centerstage Chicago. Look for her posts twice a week.

Chicago writer and actor Rebecca Kling has something many artists would kill for; having lived in first a male and now an increasingly female body, her grasp of the human experience is arguably greater than most. Trans Form, her 2009 one woman show, both educational and fanciful, “explored how being closeted [and] coming out felt as a trans woman,” but with her newest project, Uncovering Mirrors, Kling hopes to “look forward, instead of focusing on what's past.” Part of the Chicago Fringe Festival, Kling’s show investigates “how someone who has spent a few years transitioning claims that identity and presents it to the world.”

Refreshingly idealistic, in conversation Kling projects wit and self-awareness, clearly articulating her writing process and objectives.

“My overarching goal for any artistic project,” she says, “is to learn something about myself. The easiest aspect of creating a show is discovering a general theme or themes. For Uncovering the Mirrors, it's examining how I can find comfort and pride in my identity. Much more challenging, is the nitty-gritty of writing. I always have difficulty letting go of things that aren't working. For example, I recently came into possession of a 1975 Growing Up Skipper doll; when you twist her arm, she grows taller and sprouts boobs. It's absolutely absurd, and I really wanted to work it in [but she] wasn't right for this show.”

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Raphael Saadiq
10 p.m. Friday at Kingsbury Hall/The Vibe; $30
We're gonna go ahead and assume that you know Lollapalooza is in town this weekend, but the best part of the annual mega-festival is all of the after-parties and shows associated with Lolla artists. Since Saadiq (of '90s R&B sensation Tony! Toni! Tone! fame before going solo) has the fan-unfriendly 2 p.m. Friday slot at Lollla, this might be the best chance to see him.
More: Can't decide which acts to see at Lolla? Let us help.

Retro on Roscoe
Saturday-Sunday in Roscoe Village; $6
Billed as Chicago's most popular neighborhood festival at over 50,000 people, Retro on Roscoe includes three stages of continuous entertainment (including Too White Crew on Saturday, Wedding Banned on Sunday and Hairbangers Ball both nights), an antique car show, kids' activities and interactive cooking demonstrations from award-winning chefs. And don't miss the Windy City Chili Cook-Off.

Northalsted Market Days
Saturday-Sunday on Halsted;$5
Welcome to the largest two-day street fair in the Midwest, with 17 entrance gates and three music stages featuring more than 30 local and national acts. Know this: it's a very, um, lively crowd.

Rod Blagojevich Superstar
Friday-Sunday at Metropolis Performing Arts Centre; $28.50-$33.50
We've got this play, and it's so bleeping golden, you just knew it had to come back. Second City takes it to the 'burbs (Arlington Heights, to be specific) for another run, just as we await our favorite ex-governor's fate in his bribery trial. We're gonna assume Blago won't make any more appearances anytime soon, but it's still a pretty funny show.

Paul Cebar Tomorrow Sound
8 p.m. Saturday at SPACE; $12-$22
Want to avoid the Lolla scene, but still get your music fix for the weekend? Head to Evanston for this show, which mixes zydeco, blues and some African-sourced rhythms to the point of ska.

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By Jeff Min

Whether you’re a longtime fan or a recent convert to the Devo-lution movement, there’s little questioning the fingerprint (or lash mark, rather) that Devo has left on pop culture. Sure, the always catchy “Whip It” is the song we all remember, but truth be told these guys have a pretty firm grasp on what good pop music is all about; retroactive yet timeless.

Their new album Something for Everybody isn’t too far removed from what they were doing in the early ‘80s, which ought to make Thursday’s performance at Congress Theater a pretty nice throwback. If you’re going, consider yourself lucky. Now if you want to take your undying loyalty to new heights, keep reading.

By now you’ve probably noticed that the iconic Energy Dome (made popular during their Freedom of Choice era) has changed from the familiar red to blue, as seen in their 2010 Winter Olympics performance.

Well naturally we here at the Sun-Times got our hands on not one, but two of those swanky domes to give away to our loyal readers, you. And to sweeten the pot even more we have two autographed posters we’re going to throw in just for the hell of it.
First two responders in our comments section get one of each.

3 Things To Do Today

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Ted Nugent, Val Halla
9 p.m. at House of Blues; $36
Get a case of Cat Scratch Fever with this classic rocker, who grew up in Palatine. Even though ultra-conservative Uncle Ted might protest, it’s probably a good idea to leave your guns at home for this show.

Dental Society Midwinter Meeting
8 p.m. at Chicago Dramatists; $20-$25
Spend a surreal night on stage at this hilarious gathering of dentists, which closes this weekend. Laughing gas is optional.

“The Black Panthers: Making Sense of History”
10 a.m.-5 p.m. at DuSable Museum of African American History, $1-$3
Check out more than 50 historical photos from Stephen Shames, who was the official photographer of the Black Panthers.

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Sarah Terez Rosenblum (@SarahTerez) is an MFA-holding writer, teacher and Spinning instructor. She's also the Theater Listings Editor for Centerstage Chicago. Look for her posts twice a week.

Some crushes take more work than others. For example, back in ‘88, I flew all the way to Connecticut because David Letterman wanted me to deliver cookies and an empty whiskey bottle to his foyer before stealing his Porsche. I said, “David, can’t I vibe on you from afar?” But he was adamant. Man, the things I do for love!

Luckily, I stumbled across my latest crush right here at a Chicago summer street fest, you know, the one with the henna tattoo booth? Yeah, that one. I never miss it; I’m a sucker for $20 mojitos. I was haggling over the price of a toe ring (totally hip right now since it’s 1994) when the first snarling lines of Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance“ wafted toward me from a nearby stage. Thinking it was Gaga and I could save myself a trip to L.A., I dropped the ring into a pile of bottle cap magnets and braided leather bracelets to race toward the music’s source.

My disappointment turned instantly to awe as I realized the performer before me, beautiful and charismatic, has one thing Lady Gaga doesn’t; she’s local.

Readers, meet August’s Chicago Crush of the Month:

3 Things To Do Today

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Seu Jorge, Almaz
8 p.m. at Logan Square Auditorium; $25
Multi-talented musician and actor Seu Jorge has been touring to promote his self-titled album, taking a three-week North American tour.

Wine 102
7:30 p.m. at Webster's Wine Bar; $40
Take your oenophilia up a notch with this course and tasting on the basics of wine structures.

Dance in the Park
6:30 p.m. at Douglas Park Cultural & Community Center; free
Learn moves from the Douglas Park Dance Program students at this quarterly dance event.

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Single City is a twice-weekly blog about the Chicago dating scene written by Sun-Times Media Wire reporter Sally Ho. Got a question? Email her!

For close to 100 years, people have gone to the movies with romance in mind (the darkness, the entertainment, the talking points for afterward).

Although this prototypical date is time-honored, never-fail and always wonderful, here are two modern updates you can try this week:

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