Tomorrow Never Knows 2011

chicago tomorrow never knows festival

For the better part of a decade now, Schubas has hosted the Tomorrow Never Knows festival. It has since expanded to sister venue Lincoln Hall and this year to the Metro as well. As the name of the event suggests, don’t attend expecting acts with the status of those headlining other festivals; rather, consider this your chance to catch these bands before they headline the larger festival circuit. Although it isn’t nearly as expansive as New York’s CMJ, there is still a wide variety of acts to see. 

The festival (happening January 12th – 16th) does a great job of bringing together the local (Freddie Gibbs, Yawn, Pet Lions, Young Man), national (Tanlines, the Helio Sequence) and international (Marketa Irglova, the Concretes). The music does tend to focus on the over-encompassing moniker of indie, but keep in mind that that now meaningless word ranges from hip-hop to experimental, folk, pop, electronica and beyond. With such a wide variety of shows to go to, here are my picks for who to catch at this year’s fest.

Band: Generationals
Venue: Schubas, Wednesday, January 12th, 8:00 PM, 18+
Also Playing: Magic Kids, Pet Lions, In Tall Buildings

What better way to forget winter’s blistering temperatures than by dancing to some good ole’ sunshine pop? The band combines the 60s analog (read: authentic) aesthetic with elements of modern electronic production. One of their songs is bound to take off the way Peter Bjorn and John’s ‘Young Folk’s did a few years back. Already creating a buzz, these guys are sure to hit it big in 2011 after the March release of their sophomore album, Actor-Caster.

Band: Mister Heavenly
Venue: Lincoln Hall, Friday, January 14th, 9:00 PM, 18+
Also Playing: Screaming Females, Title Tracks, the Dig

In what is surely turning into one of the oddest combinations of musicians, Mister Heavenly is an act not to be missed. With members from Modest Mouse, Man Man, and Islands, the band performed their second show with Michael Cera on bass (?!). There’s not a lot out there yet on these guys (save for a video footage from said show), but such an eclectic mix of creative people can never be bad. If nothing else, the perpetually awkward Cera is bound to have some great banter with keyboardist Honus Honus.

Band: Tanlines
Venue: Metro, Saturday, January 15th, 9:00 PM, 18+
Also Playing: Reptar, Young Empire, Yawn, Kid Color

The rhythm heavy Tanlines are sure to get your body movin’. Here’s another band to help ignore our current weather situation. The duo holds backgrounds in math rock and dance punk, but that doesn’t necessarily speak for the music. Expect an electronic take on tropical, African, and Balearic inspired beats. Although this may sound like trying to throw too many ingredients to the recipe, the final result has just the right amount of pop to beat your ear drums and hips to the same delightful taste.

Band: Little Dragon
Venue: Lincoln Hall, Sunday, January 16th, 9:00 PM, 18+
Also Playing: Alex Winston, Billy Goat, Mister Joshua

After what is sure to be an exhausting week, chill with the laid back lounge-grooves of Sweden’s Little Dragon. Scandinavia’s been producing an absurd amount of talent over the past decade, and it’s always a treat when their artists make their way across the pond to our fair city. Singer Yukimi Nagano’s vocals are the bands biggest hook and who you may have heard on a couple tracks from the Gorillaz album Plastic Beach out last year. Use this chance to give yourself the proper cool down to cap off the weekend.

Afternoon Shows

In addition to a concert every night, Schubas is hosting family friendly events during the weekends. The Ramones-esque Boogers take the stage on Saturday, and the eccentric part-android duo of Human-Tim + Robot-Tim play Sunday. For more intimate portrayals of the bands already playing the event, head to Reckless Records Wicker Park for the pop-haze of Sun Airway, the Feist-like Lia Ices, and Sub Pop rockers Jaill (playing the 12th, 13th, and 15th, respectively). All afternoon shows start at 3 PM.

As much fun as it is to brag about knowing bands before your friends, hopefully the most important byproduct of the festival is that you expand your musical horizons across a few genres and borders. Take a chance on some of these up and comers, because, just in case I haven’t beaten it over your head enough, tomorrow never knows.

(For show reviews, check out my coverage at all next week).

Andrew Hertzberg

About Andrew Hertzberg

If identity is an illusion, I’m a magician in training. And although Emerson was right in pointing out that “with consistency, a great soul has simply nothing to do” the one constant I don’t mind in my life is Chicago. Yes, even the boredom of her suburbs couldn’t suppress the glow of the city, my attraction as a moth to flame. The future is unwritten, the characters are ever-expanding, and the plot is a perpetual foray through rising actions, conflicts and falling actions; the setting, however, remains the same.

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