Monday, March 4
"Skelethon," the 2012 record from brilliant rapper Aesop Rock is another lyrically dense effort that sounds as fresh as anything he's ever recorded. Tonight at Metro, Aesop Rock is joined by his Hail Mary Mallon bandmates Rob Sonic and DJ Big Wiz. Opener Los Angeles-based MC Busdriver last year released the formidable "Beaus $ Eros," his ninth studio album, which showcased his unique and often humorous style. Metro. 9 p.m.
English alternative rockers Muse hit United Center behind their sixth studio album, "The 2nd Law." The opener is Los Angeles-based four-piece rock band Dead Sara. Dead Sara's full-length debut record came out last year, and they'll be seen on an upcoming episode of the CW series, "The Vampire Diaries." 7 p.m.
Las Vegas-based rock band Imagine Dragons bring their "Night Visions" tour to the House of Blues for a two-night stand. They will be joined by Australian electro-pop duo Atlas Genius. Atlas Genius' debut full-length, "When It Was Now," was released in February and is a joyous set of melodic riffs and pulsating beats. Los Angeles-based rock quartet Nico Vega open the show in support of the recently released EP, "Fury Oh Fury." Watch the video for "Beast" here. House of Blues. 6 p.m.
Tuesday, March 5
Bobby Conn & wife Monica Boubou begin their monthlong residency at The Hideout. Each week the show will be based on a different theme and will feature a different band. The theme tonight is "Art Rock," and the band will feature Jeff Thomas (Mucca Pazza) on guitar, Theo Katsauonis (Joan of Arc) on drums, Brandon Bordenkircher on bass and Shana East from Girl Group Chicago assisting on vocals. Expect to hear tunes from the fantastic 2012 record "Macaroni," as well as cover songs from artists including the Plastic Ono Band and Roxy Music. And of course, Conn's flair for the theatrical makes this another residency not to be missed. The Hideout. 9 p.m.
Field Report is a band led by Christ Porterfield, who played in the Wisconsin folk band DeYarmond Edison with members of Megafaun and Justin Vernon of Bon Iver. Field Report's 2012 self-titled debut record is both beautiful and heartfelt and has earned the band some well-known fans, including Aimee Mann and Adam Durvitz of Counting Crows. The haunting "I Am Not Waiting Anymore," the gorgeous build of "Fergus Falls," and the stark "Incommunicado," exhibit a striking confidence that prove this is a band to keep an eye on. Watch the video for "I Am Not Waiting Anymore," and then go see them at SPACE. 7:30 p.m.
Also tonight: New York City's Caveman garnered some well-deserved attention from their ambitious 2011 debut-record, "CoCo Beware." Their sophomore self-titled follow-up is out in April, but you can listen to the awesome synth-driven lead single, "In the City," now. Brooklyn's Computer Magic have a video for new single, "A Million Years," but also give a listen to their spot-on cover of No Doubt's '90s jam, "Don't Speak." Schubas. 8 p.m.
Wednesday, March 6
"Invisible Life," the new record from Roberto Carlos Lange, aka Brooklyn-based experimental artist Helado Negro, is filled with lush, laid-back electronic dance grooves. Check out the single, "Dance Ghost," one of the first songs Helado Negro has sung in English, here. With local trio Songs for Gods and Radius. Empty Bottle. 9 p.m.
"Lonerism," the critically acclaimed 2012 record from Australian psychedelic-rock band Tame Impala was full of reverb-laden psych-pop that also managed to never lack for melody. See them tonight at The Vic. The band recently stopped by "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon" to perform "Elephant." Openers and fellow Australians The Growl exude a bluesy exterior on the ferocious single, "Cleaver Lever." 7:30 p.m.
Also tonight: Terrific local musician Erik Hall has been busy playing guitar in Chicago buzz band Wild Belle, but tonight he'll be performing a solo set at The Whistler. Hall put out a terrific indie-pop record in 2010 as In Tall Buildings, which included warm and inviting songs including "The Way to a Monster's Lair" and "Walking Man." The Whistler. With J Fernandez. 9:30 p.m.
Thursday, March 7
There is a very high probability that the records from Portland's Unknown Mortal Orchestra and California-based Foxygen will appear on many 2013 year-end top 10 lists. "II," the recent record from UMO, is catchy lo-fi psych-rock, while Foxygen's "We Are The 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic," is a sprawling pop masterpiece with myriad influences ranging from the Rolling Stones to Love to T. Rex. Watch UMO's video for "II" standout, "So Good at Being in Trouble,' featuring Christopher Mintz-Plasse (McLovin in the film "Superbad") and Foxygen's video for "San Francisco," and I challenge you to try and get them out of your head. "Curiosity," the new record from Portland duo Wampire comes out in May, but get a preview with new single "Spirit Forest," here. Also check out first single "The Hearse," which also features a cover of "Das Modell" by Kraftwerk on the B-side, here. Lincoln Hall. 9 p.m.
Another spectacular edition of the Off The Record series takes place tonight at saki. Celebrate the forthcoming release of "The Invisible Way," the new record from Low at this listening party. "The Invisible Way" will be released on March 19, and Low will be playing stripped-down versions of the new songs. After the performance, stick around for a Q&A with the band and Wilco's Jeff Tweedy, who produced the new record. In the meantime, take a listen to "So Blue" from the new record here. saki. 7 p.m.
Hear Florida dream poppers Day Joy play songs from their recently released debut full-length record, "Go To Sleep Mess," tonight at the Empty Bottle. Está Vivo is the breezy folk-rock project of local musician Ryan McMahon. Local psychedelic rockers Wilshire open the festivities. Empty Bottle. 9:30 p.m.
A night of warm Americana is on tap tonight, headlined by Ireland's Autumn Owls at Schubas. The band recorded their debut full-length record, 2012's "Between Buildings, Toward The Sea," in Chicago with Brian Deck (Califone, Iron and Wine). New York City trio The End of America's latest record, "Shakey," is rootsy and inviting and features gorgeous harmonies. With local rock quartet American Wolf. 9 p.m.
Friday, March 8
When two members of the indie-pop band Scattered Trees decided to pursue other interests, the three remaining members of the band decided to carry on as On and On. The band's new record, "Give In," is decidedly less indie-pop but rather a magnificent collection of catchy dream pop with a hint of shoegaze. Check them out with the electro-pop of Psychic Twin tonight at Schubas. DJ and producer Kid Color, who has remixed On and On, opens the show. 10 p.m.
It's been awhile since 2010's "The Fakeout, The Tease and The Breather," the nifty record from local band Canasta. Last year the band celebrated their 10th anniversary by touring in Mongolia, and tonight you can welcome them back when they play their first local show in six months at ACE Bar. With Zapruder Point and Mike Roth. 9 p.m.
Tonight it's a party for the 20th annual Chicago Underground Film Festival at The Burlington with amazing Chicago shoegaze band Implodes. Implodes are set to release "Recurring Dream," the follow-up to their 2011 record, "Black Earth." Check out the video for "Scattered in the Wind," here. With Night Terror, the new electronic solo project of Tyson Torstensen of Ga'an and Magical Beautiful. 9 p.m.
Join The Burger Revolution tonight at Empty Bottle with a showcase presented by Fullerton, California's wonderful Burger Records. Local rockers Strychnine headline the night with the garage pop of Brooklyn's Fletcher C. Johnson, the garage rock of Texan John Wesley Coleman, the scorching rock of Milwaukee's Jaill and the energetic punk of Half Rats. Empty Bottle. 9:30 p.m.
Saturday, March 9
Pop star Pink brings her "The Truth About Love" tour to the United Center. Singles from the record "Blow Me (One Last Kiss)," "Try," and "Give Me a Reason" are all perfect dance-pop tracks. Sweden's The Hives returned in 2012 with their fifth full-length album, "Lex Hives." 8 p.m.
It's time once again for the annual Hideout SXSW Send-Off Party. This day is always highly enjoyable, and the lineup today can't be beat. Start things off early with the garage pop of Twin Peaks. Next up is Judson Claiborne, who put out a wonderful record in 2010 called, "Time and Temperature," and just released "Neo-Pagan Lovesong," a new track from their forthcoming record. Excellent eight-piece soul outfit The Congregation will keep the party going, playing songs from their solid debut record, "Right Now Everything." Scott Lucas & The Married Men's 2012 record, "Blood Half Moon," deftly combines the rock of Lucas' other band, Local H, with impassioned Americana. What can be said about the The Waco Brothers that hasn't already been said? I've never left a Waco Brothers show without a smile on my face, and I imagine today will be no different. Oh, and booze. Stick around for Chicago greats Frontier, who successfully straddle the line between noise and electronic music, but don't be surprised to hear jazz and pop mixed within their arsenal. Summer Girlfriends, had a great 2012, releasing "Shockwaves," an inspired collection of surf-tinged girl-group garage rock. Multimedia electronic duo Mahogany will provide a feast for your eyes as well as your ears. Outer Minds will play their outstanding mix of garage rock and psychedelia culled from the two great records they released in 2012 before the night comes to a close with production duo and mashup artists The Hood Internet. The team released "FEAT" last year and jams like "One For The Record Books" and "Critical Captions" should be a perfect way to end the marathon day. The Hideout. 3:30 p.m.
The piano-driven trio Jukebox The Ghost bring their infectious brand of dizzying pop tunes to Metro tonight. The band released "Safe Travels," their third full-length record in 2012, and it's fun and quirky without ever becoming annoying. Refreshing songs like the upbeat "Somebody" and "Oh Emily" are nice, but whenever I need to put a smile on my face, I always go back to "Good Day" from their debut. With the earnest indie pop of Matt Pond, who just released his 10th full-length record "The Lives Inside The Lines In Your Hand," and Cleveland four-piece The Lighthouse and The Whaler. Metro. 7 p.m.
Haunting local trio My Gold Mask's latest record, the often beautiful "Leave Me Midnight," is a superb disc of dark and atmospheric art rock. Watch the video for "Leave Me Midnight" stunner "Burn Like the Sun," here. With local electronic duo Shuteye and K Serra, the electronic project of Chicagoan Rachel Sarah Thomas. Schubas. 10 p.m.
Catch the catchy electro-pop of London's Citizens! tonight when they play songs from their 2012 record, "Here We Are," at Lincoln Hall. With Minneapolis pop band Grayshot and local power-poppers Future Monarchs. Lincoln Hall. 10 p.m.
It's a release party for "You Could Be Something When You Disappear," the new record from tremendous local outfit The Astronomer. Take a listen to The Astronomer's Charles Kim and Nick Ross from their recent appearance on WBEZ's The Morning Shift. With Dolly Varden's Steve Dawson, Alton Smith and Colby Maddox. Old Town School of Folk Music's Szold Hall. 8 p.m.
Impose Magazine presents a SXSW send-off party tonight at Empty Bottle featuring the folk-pop band Cult of Youth. With the catchy punk of The Slo Slo Gos, Kansas City's Lazy and New York's Big Ups. Empty Bottle. 9:30 p.m.
Attend a Chicago Underground Film Festival after party with face melters Alma Negra at Township. With noise-rock duo Low on High featuring filmmaker Jon Moritsugu and artist and filmmaker Lyra Hill. 10 p.m.
Sunday, March 10
Deathfix is a collaboration between Brendan Canty of Fugazi and singer-songwriter-producer-DJ Rich Morel, who has worked with many artists including New Order, Depeche Mode and The Killers. The duo started working together while touring with Bob Mould. The seven-song debut record, "Deathfix," is a nice collection of pretty straightforward pop-rock, including the terrific power-pop of leadoff track "Better Than Bad," the humorous "Dali's House," and the simmering "Hospital." With Douglas McCombs' excellent Chicago instrumental combo Brokeback and Dubpixels with visual assistance from Robin Bell. Schubas. 8 p.m.