Music

This Week’s Music News: Joan Osborne, “Aliens,” and the Chicago Open Air Festival

Imogen Heap /Photo courtesy of Primary Talent

Chicago Open Air Festival celebrates hard rock and heavy metal this week, while Joan Osborne covers Bob Dylan and aliens play a concert at Garfield Park Conservatory.

Johnny Marr / Photo by Niall Lea/Courtesy of Grandstand Media

Johnny Marr
Veteran guitarist Marr is best known for his work in the Smiths and stints with Electronic and Modest Mouse. These days, he’s made the jump from sideman to frontman and is touring behind his third solo album, Call the Comet. Dance to Marr’s booming “eco disco” song “Armatopia,” which addresses climate change, and revel in his Smiths repertoire with “How Soon Is Now?”
Details: May 13, 7:30 p.m., at Vic Theatre; $35–$45

Imogen Heap
English singer-songwriter, producer, and engineer Heap stops by Chicago on a 40-city tour, her first in nine years in the U.S. An indie-pop darling of the early 2000s, Heap has been back in the spotlight collaborating with Taylor Swift, composing for the Harry Potter play, and being covered by Ariana Grande. The Grammy winner’s tour will include a reunion with her Frou Frou bandmate Guy Sigsworth and the launch of her new musical database, Creative Passport.
Details: May 14, 7:30 p.m., at Vic Theatre; $30–$40

Tim Hecker
Experimental composer Hecker is known for creating soundscapes that take the listener on a journey. His latest album, Konoyo, travels to Tokyo to record traditional Japanese imperial music called gagaku. Gagaku players join Hecker onstage as he reimagines their traditional flutes and strings in an ambient haze.
Details: May 14, 8 p.m., at Thalia Hall; $25–$35

Photo courtesy of Passion Pit/Facebook

Passion Pit
Has it already been a decade since Passion Pit released Manners? Dance away the passage of time with the Boston band’s jangly electro-pop beats. Th group is gearing up to release a new album, but we’ll be here for the Obama-era optimism and infectious melodies of Manners.
Details: May 15, 7:30 p.m., at Riviera Theatre; $36–$119

Mountain Goats
Enter a fantasy world with Mountain Goats on their 17th release, In League With Dragons. Inspired by role-playing games, frontman John Darnielle wrote the album with storytelling in mind, from an aging wizard to an opossum. Dungeons and Dragons meets honky-tonk as the prolific indie rockers build a unique musical environment for each story.
Details: May 15 and 16, 8:30 p.m., at Thalia Hall; $39–$51

Betty Who
Betty Who is everything a pop queen should be. The Aussie-born singer makes relatable, exuberant music that you can’t help but sing along to. Her third album, Betty, tackles experiences from moving on to getting engaged in perfect electropop charm.
Details: May 15 and 16, 7:30 p.m., at Vic Theatre; $26–$99

Photo courtesy of Betty Who/Facebook

Lucy Kaplansky
Celebrate the release of Everyday Street, Kaplansky’s first solo album in six years, at the Old Town School of Folk Music. The album opens with a duet called “Old Friends,” between the Chicago native and Shawn Colvin, reflecting on their friendship and early days in the Greenwich Village folk scene. From songs about walking her dog to visiting her ailing grandmother, Kaplansky sets the everyday to song.
Details: May 17, 8 p.m., at Old Town School of Folk Music; $28–$36

Drab Majesty
What better place than a lush conservatory to commune with an “interdimensional” band? Deb Demure speaks with the spirit world and delivers guitar-driven and echoing vocals on their behalf. Get there early to catch local psych-rockers FACS.
Details: May 17, 6:30 p.m., at Garfield Park Conservatory; $25

Photo courtesy of Drab Majesty/Facebook

Chicago Open Air Festival
If Lollapalooza isn’t for you, consider rocking out at Chicago’s only music festival dedicated to rock and heavy metal. Chicago Open Air Festival features two days of loud music and moshing, including the Cult, Meshuggah, and Gojira. Tool and System of a Down headline the bill of 14 artists.
Details: May 18 and 19 at SeetGeek Stadium; $70–$230

Joan Osborne Sings Bob Dylan
Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Osborne spent two residencies at New York’s Café Carlyle reimagining the music of Dylan. She collected these versions on her 2017 album, Songs of Bob Dylan. From “Tangled Up in Blue” to “Highway 61 Revisited,” hear the Bard’s classics shine in a new light.
Details: May 19, 5 p.m. and 8 p.m., at City Winery; $32–$46