Monday, February 11
In Guards We Trust, the newest album from New York buzz band Guards is a powerful collection of sunny pop anthems including the dynamic "Giving Out," the driving "I Know It's You," the shuffling "Not Supposed To," and the pounding and pulsating one-two punch of "Ready to Go" and "Silver Lining." Guards' leader, Richie James Follin, is the older brother of Madeline Follin of Cults, another NYC band that garnered similar buzz a couple of years ago. And Follin himself has quite the pedigree with his garage rock band the Willowz having worked with director Michel Gondry on his film Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. It's not incomprehensible to think that this band could be poised for arenas in the near future so catch them now. With Chicago's Mawcrest and local bedroom pop artist J Fernandez. Empty Bottle. 9 p.m.
Stylish New Zealand-born and London-based artist Willy Moon deftly combines 50’s rock-n-roll, pop, and electronics to create music that is both unique and interesting. He's toured with Jack White and his single “Railroad Track” was released on White’s Third Man label. And his bouncy song "Yeah Yeah" possibly sold you an iPod. His newest single, “My Girl” is a gem with a thumping beat and an unmistakable chorus. Look for his first full-length to come out in April. He has the chops and the looks to go with it so see him tonight at Schubas before he gets too big. 8 p.m.
Tuesday, February 12
Daniel Knox will play his 2010 album Evryman For Himself in its entirety for the second performance in his four-show Tuesday night residency series at The Hideout. The record is marked by piano-driven tunes that are both sparse and haunting but also occasionally whimsical and theatrical, as on the title track, which features some really nice kazoo work. And I'm not making that up. With Unmanned Ship. 9 p.m.
Wednesday, February 13
Lady Gaga spends a lot of time in town, sometimes shopping, sometimes drinking and sometimes eating out with her boyfriend, Taylor Kinney from NBC's Chicago Fire. This week we can finally see her do what she does best (no, not making outrageous tour demands) and that is perform in a way like no other person in pop music today. Tonight, Lady Gaga brings her "Born This Way Ball" to the United Center for the first of a two-night stand, which Lady Gaga describes as "an Electro-Metal Pop-Opera; the tale of the Beginning, the genesis of the Kingdom of Fame. How we were birthed and how we will die celebrating." A true star with a flair for fashion, style and over-the-top theatrics, this should be a magical evening that might even hold us over until we finally hear ARTPOP. I'm sure I won't be the only one singing tomorrow morning. 7:30 p.m. UPDATE: This show has been canceled due to illness.
Tonight at The Whistler, celebrate the release of “Flowers,” issue number three of the arts publication Monsters and Dust with music from Chicago's Mayor Daley. Led by guitarist and vocalist Kelly Carr, Mayor Daley's recent record, Sand Bath, is a slice of progressive rock heaven on tracks like the epic "Plastic Light" and the monsterous "Fifteen Silver Arrows." The Whistler. 9:30 p.m.
Thursday, February 14
In 2013, you are probably just as likely to discover new music while watching television and using Shazam rather than listening to the radio. If that sounds like you, you probably already know Los Angeles-based singer, songwriter and producer (check out his excellent work on the debut record from the Allah-Las) Nick Waterhouse. His style is a throwback to vintage soul and R&B and the songs "Say I Wanna Know" and "If You Want Trouble," from 2012's Time's All Gone, were ubiquitous if you spent any time watching commercials or have an interest in luxury automobiles. The thing is, these songs should be on the radio because they are tight, flawlessly produced and extremely catchy. This show is part of Winter Soulstice 2013. With Numero Group DJs. Metro. 9 p.m.
Another artist that you might have discovered while watching television is Kishi Bashi, the project of multi-instrumentalist and Of Montreal violinist, Kaoru Ishibashi. Kishi Bashi's "Bright Whites," from his first full-length record, 2012's 151a, was featured in a Microsoft commercial. The rest of 151a is full of experimental yet extremely accesible upbeat pop. Check him out tonight at Lincoln Hall. With Plume Giant. 9 p.m.
Local production duo and lovers of albums and tacos, The Hood Internet, headline the Chicago Reader's Fourth Annual Anti-Valentine's Day Party at Logan Square Auditorium. With Fly Honeys dance group, Slo 'Mo DJ Tess, and "Words From Our Loves, Words From Our Exes," featuring dating horror stories from Salonathon. 8 p.m.
Blazing local rock duo White Mystery's new album, Telepathic, drops April 20th, but hear them play new songs like the blistering "Jungle Cat," the fuzzy garage rock of "Secret Garden," and the chugging Stooges influenced jam, "Break a Sweat" tonight at Schubas. The band just concluded a European tour so expect them to be at the top of their game. Tonight's show is a benefit for the Christopher Saathoff Foundation. With Absolutely Not, Twin Peax and Post Honeymoon. Schubas. 9 p.m.
Catch a DJ set from Reuben Wu of U.K electro-poppers Ladytron at Beauty Bar. If you can't make it tonight, Wu will be back at Beauty Bar throughout the spring and summer for a monthly Thursday night residency starting in April. With Heaven Malone and a DJ set from Perfect Kiss. 9 p.m.
Singer-songwriter Syd Straw made a name for herself in the mid-'80s singing for The Golden Palominos, a cult band formed by drummer Anton Fier that also featured contributions from Matthew Sweet, John Lydon and R.E.M.'s Michael Stipe. Since then, she's put out a number of well-received solo records, the last being 2008's Pink Valour. Tonight at City Winery, it's a special Valentine's Day edition of Syd Straw's Heartwreck Show! with special guest Freedy Johnston, a talented singer-songwriter in his own right. 8 p.m.
Night two of the Mother Monster at the United Center. With Madeon and Lady Starlight. 7:30 p.m. Lady Starlight will also be doing a DJ set at Berlin after the show. 10 p.m. UPDATE: The Lady Gaga show has been canceled due to illness, but Lady Starlight will still be at Berlin for her DJ set.
I've never had a bad meal or a bad time at Handlebar, one of Chicago's great treasures. Tonight, the restaurant will shut down so they can celebrate their 10-year anniversary at Empty Bottle. All of the bands playing tonight work at Handlebar and also happen to be members of some of Chicago's finest bands working today including Pink Frost, who recently announced news about their highly-anticpated follow up to 2011's Gargoyle Days, the energetic garage rock trio The Runnies, and Touched By Ghoul. Empty Bottle. 8 p.m.
Also tonight: Bad Books, a band consisting of the collaboration between introspective singer-songwriter Kevin Devine and members of Atlanta's rockers Manchester Orchestra play tonight at Subterranean. With The Front Bottms and Weatherbox. 7:30 p.m.
Friday, February 15
Experimental electronic duo Matmos, released The Ganzfeld EP in 2012, which was based on the classic Ganzfeld experiment, and have a new record, The Marriage of True Minds, out next week on Thrill Jockey. They have also recently been part of the ensemble for the Robert Wilson production “The Life and Death of Marina Abramovic”, featuring Marina Abramovic, Antony and Willem Dafoe See them at the Empty Bottle with fellow Baltimore band Horse Lords and Matchess. 9:30 p.m.
Speaking of experimental music, spend the weekend with a band that has been doing it better than everybody else for nearly 40 years as The Residents gear up for a two-night stand in Chicago starting with a performance tonight at Schubas. 9 p.m.
Eleventh Dream Day, one of the best bands to come out of Chicago, will be heading north tonight to play a free show at Lake Forest College's Lily Reid Holt Memorial Chapel. With Miracle Condition. 9 p.m.
See classically trained cellist Ben Sollee perform songs from his terrific 2012 record, Half-Made Man, at SPACE. While the cello is certaintly at the forefront, this isn't a Yo-Yo Ma record. These are earnest, well constructed pop songs featuring radiant vocals and warm melodies. With Jonathan Allen Guerra. 8 p.m.
A tremendous bill of local bands at The Burlington tonight with the explosive psychedelic pop of Radar Eyes, the first ever show from fuzzy garage rockers Basic Cable, a band featuring members of Heavy Times and Running, and Negative Scanner, a new project with members of Uh Bones and Tyler Jon Tyler. Awesome. 9 p.m.
And: The dream pop of Il Tandre Neu and the lovely pop of The Uglies at Cole's. "If You Fall in Love," from The Uglies' Summer EP, should get the bitter taste of Valentine's Day out of your mouth very nicely. 10 p.m.
Saturday, February 16
Winter Soulstice 2013 hits Metro tonight with the Black Joe Lewis & The Honey Bears. Their 2011 record, Scandalous, is a tasty mixture of high-energy funkiness, horn fueled soul, classic blues, and vintage R&B. With Soul Summit DJs and B.S Brass Band. Metro. 9 p.m.
DeVotchKa is probably best known for their music that appeared in the 2006 Steve Carell film Little Miss Sunshine, including "How it Ends" and "Till The End of Time." Their 2011 record, 100 Lovers, is absolutley gorgeous and the band is stunning live. Park West. 8 p.m.
A couple of extremely talented singer-songwriters will fill out the night at Schubas. Rebecca Rego will perform the early show opening for Whitehorse and Dan Phillips' Zapruder Point highlight the late show with Benjamin Francis Leftwich and Ty Maxon. 7 p.m. and 10 p.m.
And: Celebrate the music and legacy of Dr. Dre at Dre Day 2013. Hosted by Psalm One and Rich Jones, the night will feature a Dr. Dre beat Set by Max & Pore, Nate Dogg Tribute by Wes Resteless, DJ Intel, Maker, DJ Trew, DJ Big Once, DJ Pickel, Kool Hersh. Double Door. 9 p.m.
Sunday, February 17
Lawrence Peters is undoubtedly one of the best musicians in the city having a hand in countless bands including the Velco Lewis Group and Plastic Crimewave Sound. He also was featured prominently on Anthony Bourdain's Travel Channel program, The Layover, when it filmed in Chicago. Tonight, Peters, who as a historian's knowledge of traditional country music, will be playing his outstanding take on the genre with his combo, The Lawrence Peters Outfit. Cloudbirds, the beautiful harmony-laden project from former members of local band The M's open the show. Schubas. 8 p.m.