Gone are the days when the winter music scene hibernates. With the continued success of the Tomorrow Never Knows Festival in Lincoln Hall and Shuvas, along with a wealth of concerts on the docket, the winter months are as packed with new shows as the rest of the season. Here are some of the best for early 2023.
Free range: Free Range’s wistful, soothing track is the perfect balm for a bitterly cold Chicago winter. The annual Tomorrow Never Knows Festival is bigger and better looking than ever. In this latest set, Sophia Jensen, who plays as Free Her Range, opens for Indie Her Rock Her performer Tomberlin. Still, her blend of freerange indie rock and alternative country shines on its own, with a sense of confidence and reassurance that suggests 2023 will surely bring Freerange’s inevitable success. Last year Jensen released ‘Want to Know’ and ‘All My Thoughts’. ,” Free Range’s strongest single to date. January 18, 7:00 PM, Shubus, 3159 N. Southport Ave, $25 (18+). lh-st.com
Dear Melancholy: It’s been almost three years since Dearly Somber released their last EP, and almost five years since their Hourglass album, but the group’s wistful tracks are a perfect fit for today’s dark and perpetually confused world. Sounds more relevant than ever. Here, they serve as a surprising yet complementary opening act for the sinuous folk-rock of Squirrel Flower. The set is part of his 5th anniversary set for Sleeping Village and promises to please fans old and new alike. January 26, 9 pm, Sleeping Village, 3734 W. Belmont Ave., $18-20 (21+). sleeping village.com
Still Waters x Stuntsz presents: Last Night a DJ Saved My Life: The house chief is overjoyed! January may be a wasted time in the world of dance music, but Metro shakes things up with this special night filled with his back-to-back DJ sets from a mix of local and New York-based selectors. I’m here for We especially like Sean J. Wright and Hiroko Yamamura. Get ready to sweat it out and enjoy the full line-up of him. 10pm, January 27, Metro, 3730 N. Clark Street, $19 (21+). etix.com
Plaid: After making music for themselves and in collaboration with other artists (including Björk) for over 30 years, the British duo continues to surprise and delight with releases. Their latest full-length album, Feorm Falorx, is a return to form, with the band seamlessly blending his IDM and techno elements to make synthetic sounds organic. Hopefully catch them for this rare state set that traverses the duo’s broad and rich catalog of music. January 28, 9 pm, Sleeping Village, 3734 W. Belmont Ave., $21-$25 (21+); sleeping village.com
Mavis Staples: Is there anything about Mavis Staples that hasn’t been said before? Fierce and entertaining, Staples’ live shows are always entertaining in any situation. And for her latest Chicago show, Staples will return to her center of symphony for one night, playing a mix of well-known hits and her lesser-known contemporary jams. Chicago icon Staples’ performance will delight longtime fans. Singer-songwriter and spoken word artist Celisse opens. February 4, 8 pm, Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan Ave., $40-199. cso.org
Reggie: Well over 21 years old, this Bay Area-raised, Chicago-based singer-songwriter makes pop music that is both visionary and poignant. This fall, Leezy will release her confident 10-track music collection that captures the angst and intelligence of her contemporaries, including Billie Eilish, her Dove Cameron and her early Lana del Rey. “Metanoia” has been released. Think hip-hop-like beats and propulsive percussion mixed with evocative synths. Catch her here (and at an excellent price) before she inevitably explodes nationally and internationally. February 11, 9:30 PM, Golden Dagger, 2447 N. Halsted., $12 (21+); Golden Dagger.com
roots: After a successful headliner at last year’s Pitchfork Music Festival, The Roots are back in town with the newly opened Salt Shed Music Venue. It’s been a minute since the group released their new album, but that doesn’t mean their righteous, instrument-forward brand of hip-hop has lost its groove. . What keeps them apart in the world of algorithm-driven music is their signature blend of groups of danceable grooves and poignant lyrics. The Roots have rarely toured in recent years, so catch them here in case they take another long hiatus between live sets. March 18, 8pm, The Salt Shed, 1357 N. Elston Ave., $59-$85 (17+). ticketmaster.com
Ray: She may only be 25 years old, but British singer Raye has had a seemingly long and illustrious career in the music industry. In the past, she has collaborated with artists such as David Guetta and written songs for superstars such as Beyoncé. In 2023, Ray will release her long-awaited debut her album, My 21st Century Blues. Following her previously released singles, this album is a stylish and strong mix of R&B, pop and dance her music. March 19, 7:30 PM, Lincoln Hall, 2424 N. Lincoln Ave, $20-25. lh-st.com
Britt Julious is a freelance critic.