Your Curated Chicago Weekend 2/18-2/21

Damn, that three-day weekend already seems like a lifetime ago. I guess time flies when you spend an entire day marathoning a TV show and an entire other day listening to an album over and over again. The TV show was Gravity Falls--just about the only worthwhile thing the Disney Channel has ever produced, and holy moly is it worthwhile for anyone of any age--and the album was...can you guess? Oh, wait, trick question. There was only one album that came out last weekend, or at least that's the way it appeared in the media. And it was given to us by a certain rapper/phenomenon/walking contradiction from our very own city of Chicago, believe it or not. Unless you live in some sort of controversy-proof bunker, you realize I'm talking about Kanye West's beautiful mess, The Life of Pablo. After more than a month of teases, GOOD Friday singles, album name changes, Twitter beefs and gaffes, and unfiltered ravings of a madman moments of genius, Yeezy brought the music world to its knees with his monster album release show last week. Then he kept the music world at his beck and call by announcing that the album would be delayed an additional day (blame Chance the Rapper), then releasing it exclusively on Tidal. It's been a dizzying series of events to follow, particularly for a final product that certainly wasn't the "album of the life" that we were promised. TLOP is good, and there are some moments that qualify as excellent--particularly Chance's moment in the sun on "Ultralight Beam." But unlike My Beautiful Dark Twisted Famtasy, 808s and Heartbreak, or even Yeezus, Kanye's latest offering doesn't feel like something that will change the course of music history. The process of its release, though, might. With the exception of the week or so following David Bowie's death, the mainstream music media's spotlight has shone predominantly on Kanye. A few tweets were enough to send bloggers and critics into a tizzy. A name change for the forthcoming album inspired the public to throw up its hands in exasperation and collectively groan, "Really, 'Ye?" And the two singles Kanye released, "Real Friends" and "No More Parties in LA" (I'll charitably dismiss "Facts" as a fun afterthought rather than a disaster of a legitimate track), convinced everyone that the rapper wasn't done with greatness in music. Real talk: I had a think piece on Kanye's decline all prepared to pitch to numerous publications, then he dropped "Real Friends," and I had to delete the piece. Still, the whole process was confusing as hell, it made Kanye look even crazier than he normally does, and it even included a truly baffling, ugly moment wherein he decided it would be a good idea to proclaim Bill Cosby's innocence. But I think it was the most brilliant album release of all time. If the purpose of an album release is to get people hyped for the album, has there even been a better example of stoking the populace's fire? No. And there probably won't be again, because no other artist commands the spotlight the way that Kanye does, and no other artist can get away with committing his lunacies without damaging their reputation irreparably (Kanye's is already irreparably tarnished, so he has no reason to hold back). This was probably a once-in-a-lifetime affair, because now that Yeezy's done this, he'll probably just go with a secret release for his next LP because it's something he hasn't done. Anyways, on to this weekend's events: THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 18TH Indie City Writers @ Women and Children First, 5233 N. Clark St., 7:30 PM
WHAT: Local writers host a reading at Women and Children First.
SO WHAT: Our lovely lit editor Emma wrote up a beautiful preview of this event, and she knows way more about this than I do, so just click here for the full persuasion. But essentially, you get to hear up-and-coming Chicago writers read at a cool bookstore. It’s a chance to support local and experience the art that Chicago produces.
NOW WHAT: It’s free. RSVP here or just show up.
Chicago Slam Works' "Incendium" @ Stage 773, 1125 W. Belmont Ave., 8:15 PM
WHAT: Chicago Slam Works is the Chicago-based poetry and performance organization behind the Uptown Poetry Slam (Sundays at the Green Mill) and shows like “Handsome Animals.” Directed and co-written by J.W. Basilo, “Incendium” is an all new “play within a play within a cabaret show!”
SO WHAT: People assume that poetry is a simple form that belongs in coffee shops and libraries, but in actuality, “Incendium” proves that poetry can live anywhere. Plus one of our writers went to opening night and reviewed it here.
NOW WHAT: The show runs on Fridays at 8:15pm through March 4 at Stage 773. Tickets cost $20 and can be purchased here!
Mark Twain's "Old Times on the Mississippi" @ City Lit, 1020 W. Bryn Mawr Ave., 3:00 PM
WHAT: The City Lit crew reads Mark Twain’s classic reminiscence of his time working on a boat on the Mississippi River. SO WHAT: It’s Mark Twain, the seminal American author (take a seat, F. Scott Fitzgerald). And in these deep days of winter–seriously, is it getting warm again soon?–it will feel excellent to mentally travel down the country’s mightiest river in a simpler day. NOW WHAT: Getcha tickets here for $15. The Prince and Michael Jackson Experience @ Beauty Bar, 1444 W. Chicago Ave., 8:00 PM WHAT: A tribute to the music of Prince and Michael Jackson. Come prepared to pick sides and dance. SO WHAT: I mean, is it possible to dislike Michael Jackson’s music? It’s timeless. And if you ever wanted an excuse to wear the outfit from Thriller on a non-Halloween night, this is probably your only shot. DON’T WASTE IT. NOW WHAT: There’s a $5 cover charge at the door. Get more info here. SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 21ST David Bowie Tribute @ The Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western Ave., 9:00 PM WHAT: A number of local bands–Sweet Cobra, Coins, Skip Church, Pink Avalanche, Melina Ausikaitis, and Mines–will gather at the Bottle to pay tribute to the Starman/Ziggy Stardust/Thin White Duke/etc. with a night of David Bowie covers. SO WHAT: It’s hard to believe that it’s been six weeks since David Bowie’s shocking death. By now, we’ve all had enough time to dry the tears (it took me a solid three days, I think), so it’s high time to rejuvenate the feels. Plus, the Bottle is freaking awesome–its cozy walls will make the massive sound of Bowie resonate even more powerfully–and you can support some great local bands. And if you need another reason: this is a charity event supporting Girls Rock! Chicago. NOW WHAT: There’s a $5 suggested donation, but otherwise, this is a free event. (But please donate.)
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Zach Blumenfeld

Zach graduated from Vanderbilt University in 2015 and, seeking to put off law school, began writing about music and pop culture. Now he's hooked on concert reviews and the Chicago music scene and thinks he could be doing this for a while. Follow his random thoughts on Twitter @zachblumy