Before the pandemic, I never felt like there was much of a hibernation period for Chicago music.
It helps that the organizers of Ian’s Party made a habit of throwing a multi-venue festival on the first weekend of the new year; if you’re unfamiliar with that underground rock ’n’ roll extravaganza, my 2018 Reader oral history of Ian’s Party can give you a snapshot of it. Then a few weeks into January there’s Tomorrow Never Knows, the five-day jamboree created by the Schubas team in 2005.
I’ve usually found enough shows to keep me out of the house a few nights a week between these two festivals, but I appreciate the fact that this city’s music communities have the chutzpah and drive to host two music festivals during a time of year that the weather and my desire for warm environs conspire to keep me home more often. (And I’ve yet to touch on big February events, such as the Frequency Festival and the Empty Bottle’s block party, Music Frozen Dancing, which, yes, takes place outdoors.)
Ian’s Party has yet to return since the start of the pandemic. But Tomorrow Never Knows kicks off tonight and will continue for the following four evenings at Schubas, Lincoln Hall, Sleeping Village, and Golden Dagger. I previewed Doss’s Saturday night Lincoln Hall headliner, but the Reader doesn’t have a larger TNK preview package. I think that’s OK, because there’s so much else happening in local music outside of this one festival that me and my colleagues want to cover; you can always find out what those shows are in our concert previews tab online and in print. Our coverage of the local music scene doesn’t exist in a bubble, and I had no question that other Chicago outlets would cover TNK. And several have so far: the Sun-Times recommended five acts, the Tribune suggested two performances as part of a winter music preview, and These Days staffers put together a feature of their favorites.
Still, part of what I enjoy about TNK is the opportunity it’s given me in the past as a listener and concert-goer to expand my understanding of what music sounds like now. I focus so much on local music I realize I can often miss what’s happening elsewhere that might be interesting to me; TNK provides me with a manageable window into what’s happening in music, here and elsewhere. Which also presents me with a nice opportunity to share that with our readers. For this week’s newsletter, I made a playlist filled with music by TNK 2023 performers. It’s an incomplete and imperfect playlist. Some of the acts don’t have music on Spotify—notably local indie-folk unit Morinda, led by Bailey Minzenberger of breakout rock group Friko. (This is just one of the many problems with building a cultural memory on a foundation exclusively informed by a single corporation—great art will always go missing simply through an act’s lack of participation.)
I’ve structured this playlist as I normally do: by flow, not by a daily lineup. So if there’s something that piques your interest, do look up when and where they’re playing. With that in mind, I put the daily schedules below, with links to past Reader stories where applicable. And regardless of whether or not you go, I hope you hear a song that’s new to you and get wrapped up in it.
Wednesday, January 18:
Golden Dagger: Soldial, Mariah Colon
Lincoln Hall: late night drive home, Stoop Lee, Late Nite Laundry
Schubas: Tomberlin, Free Range, V.V. Lightbody
Sleeping Village: Dazy, Footballhead, Graham Hunt
Thursday, January 19:
Golden Dagger: Rose Hotel, Morinda, Sleeper’s Bell
Lincoln Hall: Cloakroom, Lifeguard, Pink Frost
Schubas: Cheekface, Girl K, OK Cool
Sleeping Village: 700 Bliss, Fatboi Sharif, Piwa
Friday, January 20:
Golden Dagger: The Curls, Ted Tyro, Courtesy
Lincoln Hall: The Stone Foxes, Shane Guerrette, Blue Dream
Schubas: Armand Hammer, Yungmorpheus, Mother Nature
Sleeping Village: Ana Everling Quartet, Quin Kirchner
Saturday, January 21:
Golden Dagger: Saltwater Tap, FènixDion, Madame Reaper & The Gentlemen’s Club
Lincoln Hall: Doss, Ariel Zetina, Sqip
Schubas: The Slaps, Advance Base, Casper McFadden
Sleeping Village: Global Currency, Foreigner, DJ Mochi & DJ Iggy
Sunday, January 22:
Golden Dagger: Fury, Angelenah
Lincoln Hall: Mavi, Elton Aura, Flowurz
Schubas: Jaguar Sun, Plastic Picnic, Brigitte Calls Me Baby, Work Wife