The Growing Concerns Poetry Collective combines spoken poetry and hip hop, with original music and soundscape. McKenzie Chinn and Mykele Deville spin lyrical narratives while Jeffrey Michael Austin mixes pre-recorded sounds into beautiful soundscapes. It’s a fantastic collaboration that creates a very smooth vibe in the room.
Buddy Wakefield is a poet, a spoken word artist. He bares his soul on stage telling stories from his life which are full of serendipity. Tonight, he acknowledges the presence of the first person to whom he came out and how glad she has come. He also talks in depth about his former partner. He continues by performing a love poem he wrote for him. It was a very emotional moment, of which there are many in his performance. It’s clear why he won the Individual World Poetry Slam Finals watching him do his thing at the Den Theatre.
The Brink is a cabaret of song and dance that is quite unique. It was created in partnership with Links Hall, Chicagos DCASE, Darmouth College/VoxFest and the Cricoteka Centre in Krakow, Poland. The European influence is very strong in its style. It shares some similarities with the Trap Door Theatre, who are known for putting on cutting edge shows from Europe. The playlist is composed of American pop and jazz standards performed in their own original style.
The instrumentation is unique as well. In addition to the vocals, there is a piano, a small drum set, and a theremin, which controls the pitch and volume based on the position of the performers hands. The performances are also sexy at times. For example, one performer sings wearing a white button down shirt without pants while water is poured over her head.
Get tickets now for The Brink! Through March 31st! It’s sure to be an experience you won’t soon forget!
This is the story of Gilda Radner, from Saturday Night Live to her movies with her husband, Gene Wilder, to her death from cancer. It’s told from the point of view of the writer Alan Zweibel, her lifelong friend whom she met at SNL. It’s a very light hearted tale that fans of Radner will surely enjoy.
Dana Tretta is very likable as Gilda Radner. She possesses that same old school charm. Jackson Evans is great as Alan Zweibel. He portrays him as a true friend, always putting her needs above his own. And lastly, Jason Grimm is so funny as Everyone Else. He literally plays every other character. In one scene, he switches hats about 20 times to play 20 different people in hilarious fashion.
Get tickets now for Bunny Bunny through April 15th!
The Weather Station are from Toronto, just like the headliner tonight, Bahamas. The lead singer, Tamara Lindeman, asks the crowd, “Are you ready for a slow one?” At first, it seems like a joke, since most of the songs so far have been slow. However, the next song is extra slow as they drag out the notes. When music is at this pace, each note counts, and the band sure does use each note wisely. Their soft rock / folk sound is reminiscent of Aimee Mann. Lindeman also resembles her a touch in appearance and this is good company to be in. This young band is off to great start!
And of course, Bahamas killed it again. See our past reviews of them here.
Mat Kearney has been coming to Chicago often since he released Nothing Left to Lose in 2006. He started at Schubas and has since played at the Metro and at the Chicago Theatre. He says playing a packed Raviera Theatre for the first time is enough to make him die happy. He has built his fan base solidly through all this touring and by releasing a solid stream of albums.
A highlight of the night is when he plays “Heartbeat” from the 2015 album, Just Kids. It’s a great dance and pop tune that makes for a joyous live performance. Kearney is all smiles and he runs around the stage. Also, in a tribute to Tom Petty, they play a bit of “Free Fallin’” in a cool slowed down version that becomes a big sing along.
For “Where We Gonna Go from Here”, it’s just Mat on acoustic guitar. It’s great when a band can switch gears like this. To have slow parts and fast parts really creates a full show. At the end of the encore, he closed with “Nothing Left to Lose” from 2006 and it sounds just as fresh as it did 12 years ago!
Choreography by Talley Beatty
With a song like “Faces” by Earth, Wind & Fire, it has to be a fun piece. And Alvin Ailey does not disappoint. It’s incredibly lively and vibrant with dancers in bright and colorful outfits dancing all over the stage with giant smiles on their faces. It’s like being in a 70’s dance club, disco ball, and all! There is even the guy who took way too many drugs bumbling around the stage. This is a great piece to open up the night.
Choreography: Gustavo Ramirez Sansano
This is a very artistic piece. The staging is all black and white. The music is eerie. Dance can be a very abstract art, and this is the case here. It’s good to see this dance company continuing to experiment.
Victoria Choreography by Gustavo Ramirez Sansano Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater Credit Photo: Paul Kolnik email@example.com nyc 212-362-7778
Choreography by Alvin Ailey
This is a full company piece that is met with a loud applause right when it starts. It’s gospel music that plays which gives the piece a religious feel. It’s happy, sad, and beautiful. Since its premiere, it has been performed continuously around the globe and it has become the most widely seen modern dance piece in the world.
Get tickets now for Alvin Ailey through Sunday!
See our review of Alvin Ailey from last year!
Every performance is affected by its context. Tonight, Pretty Sister, had the difficult task of following Spencer Ludwig and playing before Betty Who. Ludwig had just amazed the audience as a one man band playing keyboards, trumpet, and singing along to a modern funky beat. So, when Pretty Sister, aka Zak Waters, took the stage to just sing along to his prerecorded music, it was a bit of a comedown.
It also didn’t do him any good when he said “I’m not used to this cold. I’m from California”. He wasn’t going to get any sympathy from a Chicago crowd 5 months into winter. The highlight of his set was when Ludwig joined him on stage with his trumpet. Waters seemed to notice his set wasn’t going so well. He even mentioned that he also “was ready for Betty Who.” So, he wrapped up his set quickly.
The Betty Who performance that followed was incredible. It was a tough task to play in the middle. It would probably suit him better to be the first opener. His music is good, but it needs a better context.