10 gotta-see shows for your 2006 to-do list


January 6, 2006


The weeks after Christmas leading up to the slow thaw of March are traditionally the music industry's slowest: There are only a handful of major albums released, and many touring acts opt to wait until the spring before heading back out on the road.

This isn't to say that there aren't a number of great performances and promising new releases to look forward to in the winter months, or that there's even more incredible music already scheduled to drop later in 2006.

Here, then, is a chronological Top 10 of my most eagerly anticipated concerts in the new year, and a brief look ahead at more of what's to come on album and onstage.

1. Jan. 11-12: The Syn at Martyr's, 3855 N. Lincoln: One of the many psychedelic pop bands that flourished in London in the wake of the Beatles and the Summer of Love, the Syn is best remembered today as the first band featuring bassist Chris Squire, later of Yes. But the group's music prevails, especially the indelible single "Grounded," on the recent reissue "Original Syn," and Squire has reunited to tour with the band's original vocalist Stephen Nardelli. The group is performing for two nights next week, and tickets are $35; for more info, call (773) 404-9494.

2. Jan. 12-15: The Tomorrow Never Knows Fest at Schubas, 3159 N. Southport: Speaking of great psychedelic pop, the genre certainly didn't end with the '60s, and for the second year, Schubas is hosting a multi-day festival which takes its name from the Beatles' psychedelic classic and highlights some of the best young groups making otherworldly sounds. The lineup is Kevin Tihista, Andrew Morgan and Tenki starting at 9 p.m. on Thursday (tickets $10); Manishevitz, the Spinto Band, the 1900s and Moonlight Towers starting at 9 on Jan. 13 ($12); chin up chin up, Pit Er Pat, Tapes 'n Tapes and Lake Holiday at 9 on Jan. 14 ($10) and Magnolia Electric Co., Palliard, Smallwire and the Deaths at 9 on Jan. 15 ($12). For more info, call (773) 525-2508.

3. Jan. 23: Colin Meloy at the Park West, 322 W. Armitage: Meloy is building a growing reputation as the leader of ork-popsters the Decemberists, who recently signed to Capitol Records, but here he is performing as a solo artist, which should shed light on his greatest strength: his songwriting. The show starts at 7:30 p.m. and tickets are $15 at the box office; call (773) 929-5959.

4. Jan. 23 and 25: The Rolling Stones at the United Center, 1901 W. Madison: Yes, last summer's concert at Soldier Field found the world's richest rock 'n' roll band coasting through the same old set list of golden oldies, with Keith basically phoning his parts in. But, hey, it's always a spectacle. The possibility for magic always remains. And you never know if one of 'em may just have a heart attack right there on the stage. Tickets are $60 to $160 through Ticketmaster, (312) 559-1212.

5. Jan. 27: Low at Logan Square Auditorium, 2539 N. Kedzie: Northern Minnesota's beloved purveyors of moody "slo-core" released another stellar effort in 2005's "The Great Destroyer," and despite the recent loss of its longtime bassist, the group is said to be in rare form onstage. His Name Is Alive and Death Vessel open at 9:30 p.m., and tickets are $15; visit www.emptybottle.com.

6. Feb. 8: Black Rebel Motorcycle Club at Metro, 3730 N. Clark St.: The Bay Area trio is another group that released an incredibly strong disc in 2005 (the bluesy and roots mood-rock masterpiece "Howl") which I never got to see live. Now, they're coming back to perform with Elefant and the Morning After Girls starting at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $20; call (773) 549-4140.

7. Feb. 11: High on Fire at Double Door, 1572 N. Milwaukee: No, nothing will ever be as heavy as Matt Pike's first band, Sleep, architects of the most massive noise stoner rock has ever produced. But High on Fire produced its best album yet with 2005's "Blessed Black Wings," and the group is never less than incendiary live. The Bronx, Big Business and Buried Inside open at 9:30 p.m., and the cover is $12; call (773) 489-3160.

8. Feb. 14: Supergrass at the Vic Theatre, 3145 N. Sheffield: Oasis may move the units, and Blur may garner the critical respect, but Supergrass remains the best live band the Brit-pop movement has given us, and it will be performing in support of 2005's' impressive "Road to Rouen." Pilotdrift opens at 8 p.m., and tickets are $22; call (773) 472-0449.

9. March 30-31: Coldplay at the United Center: Nothing will top the moody British rockers performing at Metro circa the release of their excellent third album, "X & Y." But Coldplay remains one of the most vital acts currently playing the arenas, with a catalog strong enough to hold 22,000 people firmly in their thrall. Former Verve leader and Chris Martin hero Richard Ashcroft opens, and tickets are $41.50-$81.50 through Ticketmaster.

10. April 12-13: David Gilmour at the Rosemont Theatre, 9300 W. Bryn Mawr, Rosemont: Finally, it may not be exactly what every Pink Floyd fan yearns for -- a full-fledged reunion tour of the group's greatest incarnation, a la its brief set at Live 8 last year -- but a solo jaunt by guitar god David Gilmour is certainly the next best thing, and it's been decades since he has performed in the States on his own. Tickets are $50 to $125 through Ticketmaster.

Other upcoming concerts of note include: the godfather of soul, James Brown, at the House of Blues on Thursday; Josh Rouse at the Black Orchid on Jan. 19; Dark Star Orchestra at the Park West on Jan. 20; Big Head Todd & the Monsters at the Vic on Jan. 21; the much-hyped female singer-songwriter Feist at the Park West on Jan. 27; Sheryl Crow at the Auditorium Theatre on Jan. 28 and Yellowcard at Metro on Feb. 1.

Also: Aimee Mann at Park West on Feb. 1; Great Big Sea at the Vic on Feb. 2; Ricky Martin at the Chicago Theatre on Feb. 2; jam merchants moe. at the Aragon on Feb. 3; the reconstituted INXS at the Chicago Theatre on Feb. 4; Keith Urban at the Allstate Arena on Feb. 10; Less Than Jake at House of Blues on Feb. 13; St. Etienne at Metro on Feb. 15; B.B. King at House of Blues on Feb. 16; hip-hop great RJD2 at Metro on Feb. 24; Animal Collective at Logan Square Auditorium on Feb. 25; Queen with Paul Rodgers at the Allstate Arena on March 23, and Motion City So'undtrack at the Vic, April 1.