Music Guide to Tomorrow Never Knows Festival

Photo by John Gessner; Courtesy of Sarah Shook & The Disarmers

Chicago winters tend to be a sleepy time on the concert calendar. Fortunately, Tomorrow Never Knows offers a five-day music fest in the middle of January that will shake off your winter blues.

Catch emerging indie music acts at Lincoln Hall, Schuba’s Sleeping Village, Metro, Smartbar and comedians at the Hideout from January 16-20.

Photo by Zoe Prinds; Courtesy of Bad Bad Hats

Bad Bad Hats
Minneapolis trio Bad Bad Hats infuse frontwoman Kerry Alexander’s earnest lyrics with a sophisticated indie-pop sensibility. Dreamy synths give way to pop hooks on “Palm Reader” from their 2015 debut LP of the same name. Their tour will reflect the energy of their sophomore album, Lightning Round, which was recorded live in the studio.
Details: January 16, 9 p.m. at Schubas Tavern; $15

Charly Bliss
Charly Bliss wants to remind you to have fun. The Brooklyn power pop quartet crafts catchy choruses that recall belting into a hairbrush at a middle-school slumber party. Their syrupy melodies are tempered by ‘90s-inspired rock riffs, and the effect is a testament to the power of pop.
Details: January 16, 9 p.m. at Lincoln Hall; $15

Portland trio Grails has been experimenting with instrumental rock for two decades. Their loud and murky sound includes influences ranging from prog to hip-hop and western film scores. Arrive early to catch Black Duck, the new project featuring Bill MacKay and Douglas McCombs of Tortoise.
Details: January 17, 8:30 p.m. at Sleeping Village; $15

Photo by Audrey Melto; Courtesy of Snail Mail

Snail Mail
Lindsey Jordan captures the messy emotional work of being a teenager with a sageness that defies her age. The 19-year-old’s poetic musings on hope and heartbreak in a small town are complemented by her straightforward guitar pop. Jordan’s honesty brings back all the adolescent feels while making you wish you could have expressed them so eloquently.
Details: January 17, 9 p.m. at Metro; $18-21

Local psych-rock band Cave is back after a five-year hiatus, and they’re ready to get you lost in a groove. The five-piece released Allways in late 2018, bursting with Krautrock beats, funky basslines and wandering flute jams. CAVE is just the mellow psychedelic soundtrack needed to wake up your winter.
Details: January 17, 9 p.m. at Lincoln Hall; $15

Sarah Shook & The Disarmers
North Carolina band Sarah Shook & the Disarmers kick traditional country in the teeth.
Their two albums, 2017’s Sidelong and 2018’s Years, offer an honest and witty take on the classic genre. Sarah Shook’s storytelling and the country stylings of the Disarmers craft Americana with edge.
Details: January 18, 9 p.m. at Lincoln Hall; $15

Photo courtesy of Taylor Bennett

Taylor Bennett
Celebrate the birthday of one of Chicago’s brightest emerging hip-hop artists at the Metro. After releasing several mixtapes and EPs and starting his own label, Tay Bennett Entertainment, it’s safe to say Bennet has stepped out of his brother’s shadow to carve his own identity in the music world. Chance the Rapper and their father Ken will be in attendance along with King Louie, Queen Kay and DJ Caleeb.
Details: January 19, 7 p.m. at Metro; $17

L.A. beat scene artist MNDSGN crafts jazzy grooves with a dose of ‘80s R&B. It’s no wonder his smooth take on funk and hip-hop led him to form the Klipmode collective and to sign with Stone’s Throw. Catch “mind design” live for a trippy take on sounds.
Details: January 19, 9 p.m. at Lincoln Hall; $15

Oklahoma isn’t the likeliest origin for a dose of glittery, retro funk, but Tulsa trio Sports is serving just that. Like a modern rendition of Urban Cowboy, their 2018 album Everyone’s Invited features glowing buckaroos on the cover art and disco grooves inside. Fall into Sports’ funky basslines and lose yourself in their synths.
Details: January 20, 9 p.m. at Lincoln Hall; $15

Post-punk trio FACS was formed in 2017 by members of the late great Chicago band Disappears. Expect a haunting, minimal sound featuring discordant guitar and motorik drumming. Enjoy a rare opportunity to see a show in Metro’s fourth-floor auditorium, the Top Note Theatre.
Details: January 20, 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. at Metro; $16-20