Waco Brothers at Wire

My photos of the Waco Brothers — as fun and lively as ever — on Saturday, May 22, at Wire in Berwyn. …


The Sadies at Wire

My photos of the Sadies — as always, one of the best live rock bands — on Saturday, May 22, at Wire …


Rhys Chatham at Constellation

My photos of Rhys Chatham’s performance on Friday, May 20, at Constellation, along with a picture of opening act Natural Information Society.

Photos by Michael Brosilow, Steppenwolf Theatre. Photos in top row, from left to right: Madeline Weinstein as Wendy Gilbert, Jack Edwards as Louis Gilbert and Rebecca Spence as Mary Page Marlowe; Blair Brown as Mary Page Marlowe and ensemble member Alan Wilder as Andy; Laura T. Fisher as Mary Page Marlowe and Ian Barford as Ray. Photos in bottom row: Caroline Heffernan as Mary Page Marlowe and Amanda Drinkall as Roberta Marlowe; Tess Frazer as Lorna, Annie Munch as Mary Page Marlowe and Ariana Venturi as Connie; Carrie Coon as Mary Page Marlowe; Coon and Gary Wilmes as Dan.

If a writer of prose knows enough about what he is writing about he may omit things that he knows and the reader, if the writer is writing truly enough, will have a feeling of those things as strongly as though the writer had stated them. The dignity of movement of an iceberg is due to only one-eighth of it being above water.

Letts perversely denies us the chance to share in what should be the most fascinating passages in the play—that is, in the play that hangs like a hungry spirit over this one, waiting to be written.

Each scene is superbly written, but the pieces are more satisfying than the whole.

For any life, remarkable or otherwise, is made up only partly of the choices, often the lousy choices, that we make for ourselves. It also is a construction of the choices that others make on our behalf, especially when we are very young, and from which extrication can prove difficult, if not impossible.

“It’s pretty fragile.” Those words, spoken by the title character in “Mary Page Marlowe,” the exquisite new play by Tracy Letts having its premiere at the Steppenwolf Theater here, refer to a quilt in need of some delicate dry cleaning. But they resonate with many meanings in Mr. Letts’s haunting, elliptical drama about the evolutions, reversals and resurrections in a woman’s life. A quilt is a clever symbol for the unusual structure of the play itself.

→ May 19, 2016


Cate Le Bon and Mega Bog at Schubas

As I’ve said in previous blog posts, the Welsh-born singer-songwriter Cate Le Bon has developed into one of today’s most exciting musicians. …


Cross Record at Schubas

In 2013, I saw a couple of concerts by Cross Record, a group led by the promising Chicago singer-songwriter Emily Cross. (See my blog …


Record Store Day 2016

My photos of musical performances I saw on Record Store Day, Saturday, April 16 — mostly at Permanent Records, plus a picture of …

Songhoy Blues at Martyrs’

There’s a serious and sobering story behind the band Songhoy Blues. These four musicians are in a sort of exile — as …


The Necks at Constellation

The Necks have been improvising beautiful music for many years now. You might call them a jazz trio — after all, they …


Freakwater at the Hideout

Freakwater is the sound of two pining, earthy, twangy voices coming together — the voices of Janet Bean and Catherine Irwin, who …


Spunk at Constellation

The concert Wednesday, March 16, at Constellation was the first U.S. performance by Spunk, a quartet of Norwegian woman who have been improvising music …


Wussy at the Red Line Tap

The great Cincinnati rock band Wussy has a new album out, Forever Sounds — an outstanding follow-up to its 2014 album Attica! — …


Le Butcherettes at Subterranean

Le Butcherettes, the Mexican garage punk band led by the phenomenal Teri Gender Bender (aka Teresa Suárez), returned to Chicago on Thursday, …


Music Frozen Dancing 2016

For the last three years, the Empty Bottle has hosted an outdoor winter concert called “Music Frozen Dancing.” It’s a somewhat ridiculous …


Bitchin Bajas at the Hideout

On Tuesdays in February, the Hideout hosted a residency of concerts featuring Chicago musician Rob Frye. I was there on Feb. 23, …


Favorite Films of 2015

1. World of Tomorrow Yes, it’s a short film, so few people would put in the same category with the year’s best …


Chicago Psych Fest

For the seventh year, the Hideout hosted Chicago Psych Fest last week, with three nights of music from the more experimental, trippy …


The Go! Team at Lincoln Hall

It was nearly a decade since the last time I saw the Go! Team — when the British group played at Lollapalooza in 2006 …


Vulgar Boatmen at Schubas

Way back on April 21, 1990, I saw the Vulgar Boatmen perform a free in-store set at the old Reckless Records store …


Favorite albums of 2015

I could say this about almost any year: I heard a lot of great music in 2015 — and I surely missed …


Drinks at the Empty Bottle

Welsh singer-songwriter-guitarist Cate Le Bon has moved way beyond her early acoustic songs. Her solo music got spikier and stranger — and …


The Ex at Lincoln Hall

The Ex, a Dutch art-punk band that’s been around since 1979, returned to Chicago for the first time in four years, playing …


Algiers at the Empty Bottle

Algiers — a band of Atlanta natives based in London — released a powerful self-titled debut album this summer. The music has been …


Patrick Watson at Lincoln Hall

The Montreal musician Patrick Watson returned on Monday, Sept. 28, to Chicago’s Lincoln Hall, where I saw him perform in 2012. (I …


Great Chicago Fire Fest #2

It was not a fiasco this time. For the second year, Redmoon Theater created a Great Chicago Fire Festival for the city …