Hang On To Your Shorts was the first production by Chimera Ensemble. It consisted of eight short plays that were presented back to back at the Den Theatre. All of the plays were excellent and show great promise for this new theatre company. The following reviews highlight the best four performances.
Saguaro is about a woman who dates a cactus. Whenever they fight, he doesn’t say anything. “So typical!” she says. The cactus NEVER says anything! The actress treats the cactus as completely human and this absurd concept makes this short play hilarious.
Logan and Milwaukee: The Logan Square Farmer’s Market is about two men fighting over the best location at a farmer’s market. One of men is a terrible guitar player and the other plays the triangle! The songs they sing are absurd and hilarious. These two performers must have rehearsed these songs many times to not bust out laughing after singing such ridiculous lines.
A Modest Proposal is about a couple in which the man is keeping a big secret. The man is worried that he isn’t living up to his full potential and is sleeping with lots of other women and is determined to sleep with more. The woman is shocked when she realizes he is cheating. The man insists that they don’t talk about her feelings, but instead focus on him! This leads to his insane proposal of, “Will you marry me tomorrow?” She responds “I can’t. I have to sleep with so many men!”
High Speed Disconnect is about a couple going on a first date while talking on their phones the entire time. They hardly say anything to each other and instead narrate their date over the phone. “We just met. Ya, she’s hot!” “He never talks to me. He’s always on the phone working!”
This new group showed a great deal of promise with this brilliant premiere. Catch Chimera Ensemble next in Sister Cities from August 20th to September 18th at the Den Theatre.
Simply put, live music played in the summertime warmth is good for the soul. Adding the ingredients of a pale pink sunset painted across the skyline, beautiful artwork, and some Chicago craft beer together results in near perfection. It’s a combination that incessantly comes to mind when recalling those perfect “summer nights” when in the deep depths of cold that we’ve come to know as January. It’s the same combination that was produced on Sunday evening with Blitzen Trapper at Logan Square Arts Festival.
Portland grown Blitzen Trapper ignited the main stage at Logan Square just as sunset was commencing. After a quick thank you directed at the crowd with a simultaneous Oregon shout-out, the band’s guitars got revving. A unique sound best categorized as “Alternative” blasted from the stage’s speakers and all at once, the seated audience bounced onto their feet. Beers, sangrias, and the occasional Chicago deep-dish in hand, the crowd swayed to the rhythm of the keyboards, bass, and drums. Among all the immensely memorable attributes, the vocals were what stuck in my head the entire drive home. Lead vocalist Eric Earley produced a smooth, strong sound derived from classical rock but fused also with modern day pop and country.
Among other eye catching facets, the festival included makeshift tents of various content, from hand painted glassware to wooden bottle openers. Artists spray-painted life size murals right there in the street, paying no mind to the many passing by snapping photos. Those present reflected the ambiance of the festival itself-casual, receptive, and welcoming. A warm evening listening to beautiful music, all one can hope for in a summer night.
See the preview here.
Don’t Look is the modern day love story of Eurydice (Allyce Torres) and Orpheus (Zachery Alexander) based on the Greek myth also involving Persephone (Rebecca Flores). They’ve been together so long, they can’t remember how they met. She is an out of work actress. He is a struggling poet. They love each other deeply and the chemistry is felt on stage. They embrace and kiss often. It wouldn’t surprise anyone in the audience if they were a couple in real life.
Orpheus works very hard on his art and starts to pull away. When Eurydice requests that he spend more time with her, he replies “My art needs love more than you do right now.” This deeply hurts her. The tension builds and their relationship struggles to survive.
It’s an intimate performance that fits well in the set created at the Den Theatre. The lighting and sound are expertly done to draw the audience into the world of the play. And to top it all, the performances by all the actors are fantastic and emotionally rich.
Get tickets now through July 3rd for Don’t Look presented by Something Marvelous!
“Researchers have uncovered evidence that suggests our brains bind us to the music we heard as teenagers more tightly than anything we’ll hear as adults” – Mark Joseph Stern on Slate
Eve 6’s self titled first album was released in 1998, when most of the audience tonight at the City Winery were teenagers. Now they are in their 30s and they appreciate a venue such as this winery that has seats, a full bar, and great food. Eve 6 surely didn’t think they would ever play such a place, but they are more than willing to. On their first song, “Leech”, it’s clear they aren’t an old band just going through the motions. They are happy to be doing what they love for a living and their stage presence is still strong.
“The next song became a prom theme. We never went to prom!” They then launch into “Here’s To The Night” and the audience is instantly transported back to their high school dances. The power of music to bring back memories is truly amazing. It’s also great to finally see the song performed live for the first time for so many of the crowd who lived in small towns where they didn’t tour.
“People ask if we ever get tired of playing this next song. No, never. This song gave us everything!” The crowd rises to their feet to dance and sing along to “Inside Out”. “I would swallow my doubt turn it inside out! Find nothin’ but faith in nothin’!” The waiters don’t know what to do as the aisles are filled with people jumping around. The City Winery has officially been rocked more than usual for this West Loop restaurant. Eve 6 still has the ability to put on a great show and are definitely worth seeing after all these years!
See a recent Eve 6 setlist here.
The lights go dark and Prince’s “When Doves Cry” plays over the speakers. The body of the French patriarch descends from the ceiling. He died mysteriously and now his family and his wife, Beartice, fight for control of the house. Beartice’s arguments with La Veuve (the widow) are a major highlight of the performance. They hurl insults at each with great flair “That’s why you could never hold on to a man!”
Also, her three daughters speak very lively to each other. They talk with such direct honesty which is only possible among sisters. Their conversation about their sexual desires gets quite a reaction from the audience. The sisters also dance to “Single Ladies” by Beyonce in a joyous fashion.
The dialog contains a lot of French mixed in with English. In addition to the glossary in the playbill, here are a few other French translations:
Oui – Yes (pronounced “wi”)
S’il vous plait – Please
Madame – Mrs
Bonjour – Hello
Selah – praise or meditation in the Bible
Overall, it was a very entertaining performance that mixed together comedy, drama, and history. Catch This House Will Not Stand at Victory Gardens Theatre through July 10th.
Blitzen Trapper, a rock band out of Portland, is set to take the stage this weekend at the Logan Square Arts Festival on Sunday evening. They exhibit a fusion of country, rock, and folk into a unique sound that is perfect for a Chicago audience. While listening to this intriguing experimental band, one is also able to enjoy art, food, and drink-all of Chicago’s finest. You won’t want to miss the incredible ambiance created from live outdoor music in one of the city’s most beautiful spots, Logan Square.
A trio unlike any other, Screaming Females is a show you won’t want to miss. Headlining the Logan Square Arts Festival on Saturday evening, they are anticipated to be one of the more memorable of the weekend, known for their punk and indie rock flare. With six full length albums having already been released, their show is sure to elicit perfection in
instrumentation. Their long list of reputable performances includes features on MTV as well as performances with many renown bands such as the Arctic Monkeys. They are sure to give the audience a show this weekend, and against the beautiful backdrop of the Chicago skyline, it’s definitely worth a drop-by.
Michael Angelakos’s songwriting process for Passion Pit has always been to filter and reshape. Many sounds on Kindred that you’d assume are synths are actually his voice, minced on a computer, morphed by pedals. Michael samples Michael. It’s an ability to look at himself from a slight distance and tweak and adjust, which also extends to his character off record.
He aspires to “create worlds” with his music, and fittingly his studio resembles the Hadron Collider. There are buttons and switches and knobs on everything, his restless mind echoed in his workstation. He makes his weird ‘Hands Across America’ utopian bangers out of broken Casios and diaristic candor. (“If you’re going to be honest with your music, you might as well be brutally honest.”) The creation of “Five Foot Ten” entailed Michael pressing the same key on a cheap ‘90s synth while cycling through 160 different sounds, then running them all through his Russian space station-looking Eurorack modules. “Looks Like Rain” uses a sampled 808 kick drum as a chordal instrument. Everything is run through a filter and Passion Pit itself is but a larger filter. It’s Michael’s life run through the psyche of his inner 19 year old. The young and insecure part. The part that only ten years ago was nine. —Brent Katz
As a visual artist, Broken Arrow, Okla., native JD McPherson is well versed in the process of working within clearly defined formal parameters, and he employs a similarly rigorous discipline with his music. On Signs & Signifiers (Rounder, April 17), McPherson’s seductively kickass debut album, produced by JD’s musical partner, Jimmy Sutton, this renaissance man/hepcat seamlessly meshes the old and the new, the primal and the sophisticated, on a work that will satisfy traditional American rock ’n’ roll and R&B purists while also exhibiting McPherson’s rarefied gift for mixing and matching disparate stylistic shapes and textures.
Buy tickets here!