Chicago / Milwaukee Concert Preview
March 9-17, 2011

First Appeared in The Music Box, March 2011, Volume 18, #3

Written by John Metzger

Wed March 9, 2011, 06:30 AM CST

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Dan Bern - Live in New York

3/9 - Dan Bern - S.P.A.C.E. - Evanston - 8:00 p

Despite his propensity for using vulgar language, Dan Bern pens thought-provoking tunes that not only challenge the status quo but also reveal his sensitive side. His latest set Live in New York follows closely on the heels of last year’s Live in Los Angeles. Each of the endeavors contains concert performances of a careful selection of material that has been culled from the full range of his career. In Bern’s world, pleading songs of love like I’m Not the Guy brush against political perspectives such as Talkin’ Tea Party Blues. Yet, it all sounds like a cohesive statement about life in 21st century America. In the midst of his longest tour in four years, Bern will perform at S.P.A.C.E. in Evanston on March 9. Bern has several recording projects in the works, and he’ll likely offer a mixture of old and new material over the course of the evening.

Sarah McLachlan - Laws of Illusion

3/11 - Sarah McLachlan - Riverside Theater - Milwaukee - 8:00 p
3/12 - Sarah McLachlan - Chicago Theatre - Chicago - 7:30 p

Last year’s Lilith Fair tour attracted less interest in some markets than Sarah McLachlan had hoped. Nevertheless, she has managed to turn lemons into lemonade. Scaling back the production, she, along with Butterfly Boucher and Melissa McClelland, has assembled a more intimate rendition of the festival. In the midst of a three-month trek across the country, the entourage will perform at Milwaukee’s Riverside Theater on March 11 and at the Chicago Theatre on March 12. Over the course of each evening, McLachlan will mix material from her latest set Laws of Illusion with fan favorites, such as Building a Mystery, Angel, and Sweet Surrender. In an interesting twist, she’ll also field questions from the audience.

Cold War Kids - Mine Is Yours

3/11 - Cold War Kids - Riviera Theatre - Chicago - 7:30 p
3/12 - Cold War Kids - The Rave - Milwaukee - 7:00 p

Based upon the reviews that have greeted Mine Is Yours, Cold War Kids is in the midst of a meltdown. The band has always shown more promise in concert than it has fulfilled in the studio. Instead of building upon its strengths, the outfit has been magnifying its weaknesses. Its sophomore set Loyalty to Loyalty was a lesser version of Robbers & Cowards. Mine Is Yours sinks even further into generic mediocrity. Whenever it steps on stage, however, Cold War Kids typically has made a strong case for its work. The group likely is hoping that it can seize the moment when it performs at Chicago’s Riviera Theatre on March 11 and Milwaukee’s The Rave on March 12. Still, it’s hard to imagine that Cold War Kids will achieve the same level of success with the material from Mine Is Yours. The new songs are just too predictable to hold anyone’s attention for very long.

Bright Eyes - The People's Key

3/15 - Bright Eyes - Riviera Theatre - Chicago - 8:00 p

Over the past few years, Conor Oberst has been fulfilling his penchant for roots-oriented music via his work with Monsters of Folk and the Mystic Valley Band. Not surprisingly, then, his long awaited return to Bright Eyes heads in a different direction. Building upon the electronic arrangements that filled Digital Ash in a Digital Urn, Bright Eyes’ latest set The People’s Key boasts a sizeable supporting cast, including members of bands that are signed to his Saddle Creek label — The Faint’s Clark Baechle, Cursive’s Matt Maginn, and Now It’s Overhead’s Andy LeMaster, among them. In 2009, Oberst told Rolling Stone that The People’s Key would be Bright Eyes’ final effort, though the fresh framework for Oberst’s material might prolong the outfit’s life. In other words, Bright Eyes’ show at the Riviera Theatre in Chicago on March 15 won’t be its last trek through town. So instead of a career-spanning, retrospective showcase, fans likely will be treated to a healthy dose of The People’s Key.

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Of Further Interest...

Concert Preview for Chicago / Milwaukee: March 1-8, 2011

Concert Preview for Chicago: February 15-28, 2011

Concert Preview for Chicago / Milwaukee: February 1-14, 2011

Concert Preview for Chicago / Milwaukee: January 18-31, 2011

Local Concert Preview for Chicago: March 4-15, 2010

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