Reigning Sound blend vintage soul and folk-rock textures into infectious garage rockon February 21, 2020 at 11:30 pm

Memphis musicians enjoy a well-deserved reputation for having more going on beneath the surface than they initially let on. Alex Chilton, Tav Falco, and Jim Dickinson are known for putting a trashy stamp on roots music in their songwriting, but they also incorporate outside influences at unpredictable times. Such is also the case with the Reigning Sound, led by singer-guitarist Greg Cartwright–a founding member of the Oblivians, a trio that deconstructs blues and punk until they sound nearly avant-garde. Though the Reigning Sound, which Cartwright launched in 2001, are far more earthbound, they also have many dimensions. Where the Oblivians use the blues as a touchstone, the Reigning Sound draw on Memphis’s soul legacy, and much like the garage bands that came from the city in the 1960s (the Gentrys, the Box Tops), they can incorporate that influence without camping things up. On their most recent studio album, 2014’s Shattered, Cartwright’s vocals sound like Van Morrison circa 1967, after he left Them but before the jazzy textures of Astral Weeks. While soul is front and center, a folk-rock strain runs through a significant portion of the record–and remarkably, it never sinks into lazy introspection. Cartwright’s message to the world sounds powerful even confined to a record, and he burns like a candle onstage. v

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Sparta marks a new beginning for NYC’s Psalm Zeroon February 21, 2020 at 11:53 pm

Psalm Zero have been playing a hybrid form of industrial metal informed by the noisier side of dark and electronic music since forming in New York in 2012. Originally the duo of multi-instrumentalist Charlie Looker (a classical composer and cofounder of experimental bands Extra Life and Zs) and guitarist Andrew Hock, the group showcased synth-heavy avant-rock compositions on their first two albums, 2014’s The Drain and 2016’s Stranger to Violence (both on Profound Lore). But shortly after the release of Stranger to Violence, Looker parted ways with Hock after Hock was accused of sexual assault. That decision forced Looker to cancel several previously scheduled tour dates, but he retained the Psalm Zero name and continued to write material for the band while occasionally collaborating with friends. The band’s new album, Sparta (on Looker’s Last Things imprint), features bassist Ron Varod and drummer Keith Abrams, known for their work with New York avant-garde/progressive metal group Kayo Dot (who headline this tour in support of their own new full-length, Blasphemy). Sparta feels more clear-hearted and intentional than Psalm Zero’s earlier records, perhaps as a result of Looker reassessing his approach after Hock’s departure. Whatever the reason, Sparta is an evolution: though the band’s roots in industrial metal and darkwave are still perceptible, a stronger sense of storytelling comes through on tracks such as “Return to Stone” (with guest vocals from Kristin Hayer, aka Lingua Ignota) and “Animal Outside.” Looker’s earnest-sounding singing on the latter recall Violator-era Dave Gahan, and make me wonder if this could’ve been an alternative-pop chart hit had it been released in 1990. It seems likely that Psalm Zero are just going to grow from here, so this show is a good chance to see them on their way up. v

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Talking About Beerhead’s “Collab AF” Februaryon February 22, 2020 at 5:18 am

The Beeronaut

Talking About Beerhead’s “Collab AF” February

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Chicago Bears: Team makes right move in cutting Gabriel, Amukamaraon February 21, 2020 at 10:26 pm

The Chicago Bears released a pair of veterans on Friday. Here’s why the moves were the right decision.

It turns out the freezing temperatures aren’t the only thing leaving Chicago this weekend.

In an unsurprising move, the Chicago Bears announced that veteran cornerback Prince Amukamara and wide receiver Taylor Gabriel will be released by the Bears, ending their tenure with the team.

Amukamara spent three seasons in Chicago, playing in all but four games. Gabriel spent the last two in the blue and orange, missing seven games due to concussions in 2020.

While the Bears have numerous other options in the secondary, it’s possible that they’ll turn to the 2020 NFL Draft to add depth to the receiving core given this year’s receiving talent in the Draft.

Given that both players are 30 and 29 years old, respectively, it’s an opportunity for the Bears to get a bit younger at both positions. It’s also a beneficial move for the two players themselves, as they’ll have a bit more time in searching for a new team for 2020 and beyond.

Perhaps most importantly, the move frees up $13.5 million in cap space for the Bears according to Spotrac. That’s a sizable increase in cap relief, basically doubling their total cap space to $27 million.

Though it’s not certain how exactly the Bears will spend their $27 million, rumors began to swirl on Thursday that the Bears could be targeting veteran quarterback Derek Carr. The soon-to-be 29 year old QB carries a cap hit of around $20-21 million in the three years remaining on his contract.

The rumors were further fueled by a cryptic Instagram post from Carr, hugging former teammate turned Chicago Bear Khalil Mack. Fans immediately began to speculate of a potential reunion.

The Bears have also been linked to other veteran quarterbacks including Cam Newton, Teddy Bridgewater and Marcus Mariota.

Related Story: Addressing the Bears O-Line

With just under a month remaining until the start of the 2020 League Year, there will be plenty of time to speculate on the Bears moves for 2020. Until then, Bears fans will have no shortage of rumors and Instagram posts to pick apart.

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Michael O’Brien’s high school basketball notebookon February 22, 2020 at 5:02 am

The road to state has been released. Every team knows its playoff path after the brackets were released earlier today. I usually have some initial impressions but nothing really jumped out at me.

Seeing all the sectionals generally takes all the steam out of the regular season but there were some fun conference races decided tonight. And two other very notable things…

Indian Creek pulled it off. The Timberwolves finished the regular season a perfect 30-0. Drew Gaston scored 16 and Cooper Larsen added 15 in a 67-38 win against Somonauk tonight.

Also, seems worth noting that Manteno (ignored by the notebook all season) won it first conference title in 23 years.

Friday’s top games

Benet 43, St. Viator 40: The Redwings pick up another win on their late-season gauntlet. They still face Stevenson and St. Charles North before the playoffs begin.

Yorkville 49, Oswego 44: Interesting result here. The Foxes win it on the road.

Mundelein 63, Lake Zurich 41: The Mustangs are going to be an interesting case when it comes to the All-Area team. Conor Enright (14 points, seven assists) and Scottie Ebube (11 points, seven rebounds) have been very consistent this season.

Oak Lawn 55, Reavis 36: David Reyes scored 20 and Trey Ward had 14 for the Spartans, who have been out of the spotlight for awhile now. It will be interesting to see how they fare in the playoffs.

Hinsdale South 59, Addison Trail 50: The Hornets are 72-3 and conference champs. Aaron Tims scored 20 and Billy Durkin added 14.

Eisenhower 63, Argo 48: Jemel Jones scored 23 for the 22-6 Cardinals.

York 33, Hinsdale Central 29: It’s the first conference title since 2006 for the Dukes. Vince Doran got a bath…

Loyola 57, Fenwick 49: Matt Enghauser had 17 and Bennett Kwiecinski 14 as the Ramblers clinch the conference title on road. Bryce Hopkins scored 23 for the Friars.

Evanston 61, Glenbrook South 60 OT: Blake Peters had 16 and it sounds like Dom Martinelli was a bit hobbled but still scored 30 for the Titans.

Lockport 52, Lincoln-Way East 41: Really nice win for the Porters, who scored 21 in the fourth quarter. They had 12 assists on 18 buckets.

Waubonsie Valley 35, Naperville Central 32: Marcus Skeete wins it on a buzzer beater for the second consecutive game.

Schaumburg 35, Palatine 21: The Saxons win the MSL West.

St. Charles East 80, Wheaton North 73: The Saints have an interesting road in the playoffs and are pretty hot, 15-2 in 2020. The losses are to St. Charles North and Benet.

DePaul Prep 65, St. Ignatius 35: TY Johnson puts up 21 as the Rams dominate and put some points on the board. Brian Mathews had 16 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks.

Andrew 68, Lincoln-Way Central 48: Hmm. The Thunderbolts open my eyes a bit with this one. Noah O’Connor scored 21 and they are 16-10.

Tinley Park 76, TF South 71: Sophomore AJ Casey scores a career-high 40 points and grabes 11 rebounds.

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The Only Guide You Need for Pitchfork 2020on February 21, 2020 at 7:38 am

Pitchfork Music Festival is one of the most anticipated events in Chicago, and it brings in crowds from all over. This year, Pitchfork 2020 is ahead of the game, with eclectic lineups that feature diehard favorites and newcomers you’ll be glad to discover.

We’ve got all the important deets on this amazing festival, scheduled for July 17 – 19, because we know you want in on the fun.

Photo Credit: Pitchfork Music Festival Facebook
Where It’s At

The fest takes place every year in the Near West Side at Union Park, propped right in the middle of the triangular intersections of Ashland, Lake, and Ogden. If you’re taking the ‘L’, the Green or Pink Line to Ashland/Lake station is right on the northwest corner of the park. Parking availability is highly unlikely, so biking or taking a Lyft are recommended as well.

Entry Rules

Pitchfork 2020 is an all-ages fest. Make sure you’ve got everything you need from home because there’s absolutely no re-entry into the fest if you choose to leave. Feel free to bring non-professional cameras, backpacks, a sealed bottled water, and lawn chairs. Tents, flags, musical instruments, selfie sticks, and your pets are a big ‘NO.’ Lockers are available for your belongings.

What to Wear

Pitchfork 2020 is a rain-or-shine event, but don’t let a little drizzle get you down; some rain dances during your favorite set are sure to help turn it around for you. Shorts, tank tops, short sleeves, and sundresses are appropriate for this peak summer month, but hats, closed-toe shoes, and raincoats are advised for bad weather. If you get wet, stop by the Buffalo Exchange, Futurgarb, or Transit Tees booths to pick up something dry.

Photo Credit: Pitchfork Music Festival Facebook
What to Do

When you need a break from jammin’ at the stages, check out some of the many tasty food vendors on site, such as Black Dog Gelato, Bang Bang Pie, Leghorn Chicken, and Wow Bao. Learn about a good cause at a non-profit booth like Girls Rock! Chicago or One Tail at a Time. Want to make a difference? Spend time talking with Pitchfork’s partner this year, RAINN, the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization. Plenty of local artists will be displaying their work, as well as a pop-up craft festival, book fair, and record shop. Talk about sensory overload!

Where to Stay

If you don’t live in Chicago, first of all—we’re sorry. You’re missing out. Second, don’t worry because we’ve got great places for you to crash. Partnered hotels include the Chicago Marriott at Medical District, which is closest to the fest. Others are the Chicago Athletic Association, Hyatt Regency, and the Hard Rock Hotel. Maybe you’ll run into one of the headliners after it ends! If those are a little out of budget, you can always rent an Airbnb in the area.

Pitchfork 2020 Lineup
Photo Credit: Pitchfork Music Festival

Friday, July 17

Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Angel Olsen, The Fiery Furnaces, Jehnny Beth, Deafheaven, Waxahatchee, Tim Hecker & The Konoya Ensemble, SOPHIE, Fennesz, Hop Along, Dehd, SPELLING, KAINA, Femdot

Saturday, July 18

Run the Jewels, Sharon Van Etton, Twin Peaks, Danny Brown, Thundercat, Cat Power, Tierra Whack, BADBADNOTGOOD, Dave, Oso Oso, Diving Niño, Boy Scouts, Ezra Collective, Margaux

Sunday, July 19

The National, Big Thief, Kim Gordon, Phoebe Bridgers, Yaeji, Caroline Polachek, DJ Nate, Maxo Kream, Rapsody, Faye Webster, Mariah the Scientist, Dogleg, The Hecks, Dustin Laurenzi’s Snaketime

For tickets and more info, head to the Pitchfork Music Festival website. We can’t wait to see you at Pitchfork 2020!

At UrbanMatter, U Matter. And we think this matters.

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Chicago Cubs Spring Training is Back. Here’s What to Expect in 2020.on February 21, 2020 at 7:50 pm

The end of February is here, and that can only mean one thing: the MLB is back! Every ball club officially reported for spring training earlier this past week. But there’s one team we’ve got our eyes on.

The Chicago Cubs spring training program kicked off last Sunday when the team arrived in Mesa, Arizona. In Arizona, the Cubs home field is located at Sloan Park. Fans are welcome to attend workouts during the day where they can interact with players. The team will also compete as a member of the Cactus League while they prepare for the upcoming season. Here’s what you can expect at this year’s Cubs spring training!

Chicago Cubs Spring Training

In an off-season filled with plenty of rumors about the future of this team, the Cubs enter spring training with the remainder of their core still intact. Many speculated the future of third basemen, Kris Bryant, who is up for an extension in 2021. But it doesn’t look like he’s going anywhere, as it was recently reported that Bryant would start as the leadoff hitter. This decision came from a somewhat new face to the Chicago Cubs, manager David Ross. While Ross isn’t exactly new to this team, he is new to the manager role, and he’s got some big shoes to fill after the team cut ties with Joe Maddon after last season. Speaking of Maddon, he currently manages the Los Angeles Angels, who are also scheduled to play the Cubs on March 2nd. Other notable games during the Cubs spring training include two match-ups with the White Sox on March 6th and 13th.

As far as new faces to look out for, there’s quite a few of them. The Cubs acquired a few RHPs over the off-season through trades and signings. In separate deals with the A’s and Dodgers, the team added Jharel Cotton and Casey Sadler. Pitchers Jeremy Jeffress and Ryan Tepera also signed one-year deals with the team. Some prospects to look out for on this team are SS Nico Hoerner, LHP Brailyn Marquez, OF Brennan Davis, and C Miguel Amaya. These youngsters will have a chance to earn a starting spot over the next month.

cubs spring training mascot
Photo Credit: Chicago Cubs Instagram

The Chicago Cubs’ first game of spring training is scheduled for this Saturday, February 22nd against the A’s. It won’t be long before the team takes the field for opening day on March 26th against the Brewers!

Baseball. Is. Back.

At UrbanMatter, U Matter. And we think this matters.

Tell us what you think matters in your neighborhood and what we should write about next in the comments below!

Featured Image Credit: Chicago Cubs Instagram




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These Are the Best St. Patrick’s Day Bar Parties in Chicagoon February 21, 2020 at 10:22 pm

Grab Your Tickets to the Best St. Patrick’s Day Bar Parties in Chicago

Every year, Chicagoans go all out for St. Patrick’s Day. We dye our river green. We drink our beer green. We all dress up in green. Especially if we’re not Irish.

Green Curtain Events is a premier entertainment and events organizer in Chicago, and they’re the masterminds behind all of the best St. Patrick’s Day bar parties. Some of the best bars in Chicago are in on it, too, including Fatpour, LiqrBox, Whiskey Business, Woodie’s Flat, and more! Though technically St. Patrick’s Day is on Tuesday, March 17, this year’s parties mostly fall on Saturday, March 14, so you can make the most of your weekend. Make your St. Patrick’s Day plans before tickets sell out!

st. patrick's day bar parties
Photo Credit: Green Curtain Events

Bounce Sporting Club | 324 W Chicago Ave

Bounce Sporting Club is sure to deliver all an energetic party crowd is looking for this Chicago St. Patrick’s Day. Experience a wide variety of Table Selections, Video Plasma Walls, Light Shows, and a Premier Crowd at this early morning Irish banger.   

Tickets: Starting at $60+

st. patrick's day bar parties
Photo Credit: Green Curtain Events

The VIG | 1527 N Wells St

“Slainte!” It’s pronounced “Slaan-sha”… and it’s all going down at The VIG this St. Paddy’s holiday. Join the who’s who of the Chicago party scene as we toast to an Irish encounter like no other at this wildly popular attraction in Old Town.

Tickets: Starting at $75+

st. patrick's day bar parties
Photo Credit: Green Curtain Events

Broken Barrel Bar | 2548 N Southport Ave

You’ll find the ultimate Irish tailgate scene at Broken Barrel Bar this St. Patrick’s Day in Chicago. The neighborhood staple will feature a premier crowd, party antics, multi-room format, and vast array of group table packages for reserve.  

Tickets: Starting at $60+

st. patrick's day bar parties
Photo Credit: Green Curtain Events

Clutch | 316 W Erie St

At Clutch, experience the premier St. Paddy’s Day kickoff! This River North hot spot will feature second to none ambiance, production, energy, and service for a morning celebration you won’t want to miss.

Tickets: Starting at $60+

st. patrick's day bar parties
Photo Credit: Concrete Cowboy

Concrete Cowboy | 646 N Franklin St

St. Patrick himself wouldn’t miss out on the celebration that’s brewing at Concrete Cowboy. Giddy Up! And get there early, as this River North attraction kicks off the biggest party day in Chicago with an 8 am Irish drink & appetizer package, oversized booths for reserve, dedicated dance floor, and floor-to-ceiling natural lit windows.  

Tickets: Sold Out, Tables Available Starting at $325+

st. patrick's day bar parties
Photo Credit: Green Curtain Events

Fatpour Wicker Park | 2005 W Division St

It’s time to “Pour Some Paddy’s On Me” with a two-story madhouse at Fatpour (Wicker Park). Where over-the-top antics, Irish party scene, and more are sure to satisfy all in attendance. Let a wide table selection and even private-room-accommodations suit your group needs with arguably the best location in Chicago.  

Tickets: Starting at $55+

st. patrick's day bar parties
Photo Credit: Fatpour McCormick

Fatpour McCormick | 2206 S Indiana Ave

Get ready for the “South Side Irish Pride Party”, which can only be found at the latest sensation to hit Chicago’s South Loop: Fatpour (McCormick)! Guests can rock out with floor-to-ceiling windows, video plasma walls, group table packages, and a premier Irish-party-ambiance.

Tickets: Starting at $25+

st. patrick's day bar parties
Photo Credit: Green Curtain Events

Hopsmith | 15 W Division St

Get Your Green On this St. Paddy’s at Hopsmith. With multiple floors of crowd-pleasing amenities, retractable skylight roof, and floor to ceiling windows… this Gold Coast spotlight is the epitome of an Irish eruption. Luxury Table Packages and a Premier Crowd will all lead the way for a St. Paddy’s Celebration second to none. 

Tickets: Sold Out, Tables Available Starting at $250+

st. patrick's day bar parties
Photo Credit: Green Curtain Events

Houndstooth | 3369 N Clark St

Houndstooth Saloon is serving up everything a wild party-crowd could be looking for this Chicago St. Patrick’s Day. Where new style and old vibes collide perfectly at this friendly attraction in Wrigleyville. Irish antics, tables for reserve, and even private rooms for large group accommodations are now on tap at Houndstooth!  

Tickets: Starting at $35+

st. patrick's day bar parties
Photo Credit: Green Curtain Events

Irish Oak | 3511 N Clark St

From the moment you walk in… you’ll soon realize why Everyone’s Chi-rish at Irish Oak. Wrigleyville’s ultimate party destination pairs traditional Irish heritage with a modern whiskey throw-down featuring party antics, table service, group accommodations, and so much more.  Every day is St. Patrick’s Day at Irish Oak… but it’s not every day a party like THIS happens.  

Tickets: Starting at $45+

st. patrick's day bar parties
Photo Credit: Green Curtain Events

LiqrBox | 873 N Orleans St

LiqrBox will be taking their Irish celebration to a whole new level this Chicago St. Patrick’s Day. With an unparalleled light show, a wide range of table selection, and multiple floors of pure madness… giving all in attendance an “out-of-the-box” experience for the #1 party day in Chicago.  

Tickets: Starting at $40+

st. patrick's day bar parties
Photo Credit: Green Curtain Events

Parlor Wicker Park | 1824 W Division St

Lay your St. Patrick’s Day party-foundation down at Parlor (Wicker Park)! Where top of the line food & beverage magnificence collide with an expansive venue space, premier crowd, and exterior patio scene sure to please all party goers. The party kicks off early for this Wicker Park neighborhood favorite.

Tickets: Starting at $60+

Photo Credit: Green Curtain Events

The Whale | 2427 N Milwaukee Ave

Test your luck at Logan Square’s premier party venue! The Whale will be kicking it off early this St. Patrick’s Day with a mornin’ food & appetizer package. Enjoy a hint of class with your Irish celebration, premier service, and trendy tables for reserve; not to mention a party crowd to match!  

Tickets: Starting at $25+

Photo Credit: Green Curtain Events

Whiskey Business | 1367 N Milwaukee Ave

It’s a “Chi-rish Invasion” at Whiskey Business, one of Wicker Park’s most popular St. Paddy’s destinations! Featuring Luxury Table Packages for Reserve, Outdoor Party Patio, Irish Drink & Meal Package, and a Premier Crowd topping off Chicago’s wildest party day of the year.

Tickets: Sold Out

Photo Credit: Green Curtain Events

Woodie’s | 1535 N Wells St

Retro vinyl gets an Irish makeover this Chicago St. Patrick’s Day at Woodie’s in Old Town. Positioned on arguably one of the finest party blocks in the city, all three floors will be slamming with Irish drinks, bites, and a whole lot more. If you’re looking to be entertained… Woodie’s is sure to start you up, and won’t let you down.     

Tickets: Sold Out, Tables Available Starting at $350+

st. patrick's day bar parties
Photo Credit: Green Curtain Events

Merchant | 3137 W Logan Blvd

Already known as Logan Square’s “all day bar”… Merchant will be kicking it off early this St. Patrick’s Day with a mornin’ food & drink package. Find your Irish happy place here and celebrate one of Chicago’s favorite days of the year.

Tickets: Starting at $30+

st. patrick's day bar parties
Photo Credit: Green Curtain Events

Utopian Tailgate | 1608 N Wells St

Utopian Tailgate is Chicago’s greatest rooftop party scape located in the heart of Old Town. Let an indoor/outdoor whimsical venue rock your St. Paddy’s celebration on Chicago’s favorite party day of the year. Equipped with an electric Dance Party Avenue, Skyline Views, and Group Table Packages, guests will experience a premier celebration in charismatic style.  

Tickets: Sold Out, Tables Available Starting at $250+

st. patrick's day bar parties
Photo Credit: Green Curtain Events

Trophy Room | 170 W Ontario St

It’s Trophy Room for the Win this St. Patrick’s Day Chicago! Sports Lounge meets Day Club at this wildly popular River North attraction for an early mornin’ Irish throw-down like no other.  

Tickets: Starting at $40+

Photo Credit: Green Curtain Events

Clover | 722 W Grand Ave

Clover is a neighborhood bar with an old-school feel, and you’ll love their prime location off of Grand Ave in Chicago’s River West to start your St. Patrick’s Day celebration. It doesn’t get much more “Irish” than Clover, and the party doesn’t get much better anywhere in Chicago either!  

Tickets: Starting at $30+

Photo Credit: Green Curtain Events

Rebel & Rye | 726 W Grand Ave

A whiskey lover’s dream, Rebel & Rye is the newest gem in River West and now your favorite spot to start your St Patrick’s Day celebration. It’s a high-class encounter featuring music, select table service, group accommodations, and so much more.  

Tickets: Starting at $30+

Photo Credit: Green Curtain Events

The Reveler | 3403 N Damen Ave

In the tradition of a great American bar, this neighborhood spotlight will host the ultimate St Paddy’s Day in the heart of historic, Roscoe Village. The Reveler, a state-of-the-art gathering spot with a vast array of plasma TVs, floor-to-ceiling windows, wide selection of table packages and even private-room-accommodations has all your party group could be looking for with a celebration like no other.  

Tickets: Starting at $25+

Photo Credit: Green Curtain Events

Celtic Crown | 4301 N Western Ave

Celtic Crown is Chicago’s quintessential Irish watering hole. The lucky day brings you multiple rustic rooms to party like a hooligan, traditional music, giveaways and more. Belly up to the bar or settle in serious with one of our many group table packages for reserve.  

Tickets: Starting at $25+

Photo Credit: Green Curtain Events

Trace | 3714 N Clark St

No neighborhood parties quite like Wrigleyville, and that’s exactly where you’ll find yourself to kick off the biggest bar day of the year at Trace. Early morning banger meets Late night neon with one of the best morning drink packages Chicago has to offer. Not to mention table packages, large group accommodations, and unique party avenues to top it off.  

Tickets: Starting at $25+

Photo Credit: Green Curtain Events

Full Shilling | 3724 N Clark St

Chicago’s party reputation sets the bar at the Irish icon in the heart of Wrigleyville, Full Shilling. Go for the Gold and Go All Out with a four-hour drink & appetizer package featuring your classic Irish favorites and antics.  

Tickets: Starting at $25+

Photo Credit: Green Curtain Events

Butcher’s Tap | 3553 N Southport Ave

Carve up some fun at the appropriately named Butcher’s Tap, one of Wrigleyville’s finest tap houses in the Windy City and home to a St. Paddy’s morning celebration like no other. Multi-floors and party avenues will be of plenty, as well as a vast selection of table packages to accommodate party groups of all sizes.   

Tickets: Starting at $30+

Wanna know what’s it like to attend a Green Curtain Events St. Patrick’s Day extravaganza? Peep the video below to check out last year’s St. Patrick’s Day bar parties.

[embedded content]

St Patrick’s Day Chicago from Nick Pobutsky on Vimeo.

At UrbanMatter, U Matter. And we think this matters.

Tell us what you think matters in your neighborhood and what we should write about next in the comments below!

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“BUILD YOUR SELF,” Light in Winter, Uppers and Downers, and more to do this weekendon February 21, 2020 at 6:00 pm


There are plenty of reasons to leave your house this weekend. Let us help fill your cultural calendar with our list of recommended things to do.

Through 2/23: Liliana Padilla’s play How to Defend Yourself follows what happens to seven college students who gather for a DIY self-defense course after a sorority member is raped, and unleash unexpected reservoirs of rage, confusion, trauma, and desire. Fri 7:30 PM, Sat 3 and 7:30 PM, Sun 3 PM, Victory Gardens Theater, 2433 N. Lincoln,, $31-$65.

2/21-4/2: BOLT resident Tamara Becerra Valdez presents her deep interest in material culture and human interaction in “BUILD YOUR SELF,” an exhibit featuring found objects and assemblage. Opening reception Fri 2/21, 5-8 PM. Mon-Fri 9 AM-5 PM, Sat noon-6 PM, Chicago Artists Coalition, 2130 W. Fulton,, free.

2/22-3/29: The exhibition “Something Blue” marks ten years of the artist-run-space LVL3. The show features ten artists paying homage to the traditional American ten-year wedding anniversary gift, tin. Opening reception Sat 2/22, 6-10 PM. Sun 1-4 PM, private showings by appointment, LVL3, 1542 N. Milwaukee, 3rd floor,, free.

Fri 2/21: Sensorium is live text and music-based collaborative performance inspired by Lindsey Dorr-Niro’s “object / coda” art exhibition featuring Marty McConnell and DJ Rob Sevier. 6:30 PM, Regards, 2216 W. Chicago,, free.

Fri 2/21: The touring dance project IN THE WURKZ focuses on the lives of dancers from the west and south sides of Chicago. Capacity is limited; RSVP online. 7 PM, Stony Island Arts Bank, 6760 S. Stony Island,, free.

Winifred Haun & Dancers at Unity Temple - MATTHEW GREGORY HOLLIS

Winifred Haun & Dancers create Light in Winter: Dance and Music at Unity Temple a site-specific dance performance for Frank Lloyd Wright’s Unity Temple in Oak Park, featuring music by Chicago composer Renee Baker of the Chicago Modern Orchestra Project. Fri 7:30 PM, Sat 5:30 PM, Unity Temple, 875 Lake, Oak Park,, $29, $24 Unity Temple Restoration Foundation members, $19 students and children.

Sat 2/22: Illinois Women in Cannabis hosts its inaugural conference, featuring sessions on employment opportunities in the cannabis industry, pertinent legal topics, and networking. Keynote speaker is Illinois State Senator Celina Villanueva. Breakout session speakers include chef Mindy Segal, Akele Parnell, and Jolene Rivera. 8 AM-2 PM, Chicago-Kent College of Law, 565 W. Adams,, $60-$100.


Sat 2/22:
The laid-back, unassuming, eminently cool aesthetic of Pilsen’s Thalia Hall is such a harmonious fit for veteran stand-up Todd Barry that it’s wild he hadn’t performed there yet in his many stops through Chicago. The ASMR-voiced comic and author will play the historic venue for the first time as part of his facetiously-named Stadium Tour. 7:30 PM, Thalia Hall, 1807 S. Allport, 312-526-3851,, $25-$35.

Sun 2/23: Uppers and Downers is a celebration of craft beer and coffee culture (sometimes combining both!) featuring samples from national roasters and brewers. 11 AM-3 PM and 4-8 PM, Thalia Hall, 1807 S. Allport,, $65.

Sun 2/23: Peach celebrates and unifies LGBTQ women, trans folks, and non binary folks with drinks, food, art, and music Peach Presents: The Spot. This weekly hangout happens every Sunday at Elixir with local DJS, cocktails, and various performers and hosts. 3-10 PM, Elixir, 1509 W. Balmoral,, free. v

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Defending your lifeon February 21, 2020 at 7:00 pm

The fish has rotted from the head all the way to the last scale on the tail. The rule of law feels like a joke. Cruelty is the point, as more than one observer has noted of the dominant ethos of the current administration. In light of that dark reality, how do we empathize and still keep ourselves safe? What does “safe” actually mean now?

Two plays that opened this past month–How to Defend Yourself by Liliana Padilla at Victory Gardens (running through this Sunday) and Do You Feel Anger? by Mara Nelson-Greenberg at A Red Orchid Theatre (running through March 15) ask those questions of the audience–without necessarily pointing a way to any solid fail-safe answers. There are significant differences in tone between the two plays. How to Defend Yourself employs a realist approach, while Do You Feel Anger? is in more of a Kafkaesque dark absurdist mode. But each uses the framework of a familiar training situation–a self-defense class in the case of Padilla’s play and a corporate seminar in Nelson-Greenberg’s–to upend our notions of how we confront deeply ingrained systems of oppression and violence and the trauma we all carry from being entangled in those systems.

Both also use settings–a college gymnasium, a conference room–that seem generic and sterile, but become increasingly fraught over the course of their respective stories. The collision between the controlled environments and the unfiltered emotional maelstroms the characters unleash adds to the sense that the concept of neutrality itself no longer exists. No space is a safe space, to put it bluntly.

But Padilla and Nelson-Greenberg handle their stories with such warmth and wit that I’ve found myself going back to both plays in my mind in recent weeks, trying to figure out why they feel so keenly vital to the current moment.

In How to Defend Yourself, a group of five young college women and two young men come together for self-defense classes after a sorority sister, Susannah, is sexually assaulted. The attack was so brutal that she’s been hospitalized, unable to speak. But as the classes unfold, the play reveals the tensions and desires driving all the participants, as well as their guilt about whether they did enough to protect Susannah. Padilla raises smart poignant questions about the limits of self-defense. “Your body is a weapon,” says class leader Brandi. But training your body can’t always help you overcome what’s in your mind when you’re soaking in rape culture.

Marti Lyons, director of How to Defend Yourself, says “Part of the brilliance of this particular play–and I adore Do You Feel Anger? as well–is that in this dialogue, there is something that is being illuminated about things that feel sort of inherent to the system that we live in. One of the beauties of Liliana’s work is that they are really compassionate. They really have love for each of their characters. And even while having empathy for each of the characters, we can still see the different ways that they participate in or stand by or perpetuate various violences, whether they’re individual violences or symbolic violences or subjective violences.”

Padilla, who took karate classes as a child, notes that the play they wrote immediately before How to Defend Yourself took place in the rec room of a community center. “I think this space of the gym, this space of the rec room as a quote-unquote neutral or liminal space for people to come together made a lot of sense to me.”

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Do You Feel Anger? - FADEOUT MEDIA

In Do You Feel Anger?, Sofia, an empathy coach who has been hired to help workers at a credit collection agency be less monstrous to the people they’re calling, finds herself sucked into a corporate culture where horrible behavior is normalized. It’s so terrible, in fact, that Eva, the nicest employee of the bunch, is routinely mugged in the break room every day. Her male boss makes noises about looking into it, expressing the same level of committed concern Susan Collins displays for the wanton violations of the Trump administration. (He promises to send some sternly worded e-mails, and suggests that maybe they’ll investigate the situation one of these days.)

Nelson-Greenberg was inspired in part by finding out that being an “empathy coach” is an actual job. “I think the play was a little bit of a reaction against some platitudes that I was hearing, especially right after the election, that stuff of ‘we just have to love one another through this moment and love is all that matters.’ I’m not meaning to come out against love, I believe in love, but I just started thinking about why that platitude is so much harder to live than it is to say.”

As the play unfolds, Sofia (played by Emjoy Gavino) starts using the bastardized semantics of the men who surround her, and laughing at their sexist jokes. (A visual gag called a “piss chart” is talked about, and though we never see exactly what it entails, we can imagine from context that it’s a sadistic misogynistic trope.) Sadieh Rifai’s Eva ends up feeling even more abandoned and betrayed by Sofia’s (well-intentioned) attempts to break through with the men, who don’t seem to think they need any fixing in the first place.

Director Jess McLeod says, “Mara and I would talk often about how secretly the MO is to maintain the status quo. What does that look like, and what does it mean to actually believe the status quo can change, and what needs to happen for that to happen? Can empathy be taught? I personally think it can. Do people want to learn it? I think that’s a really good question. Tension is mounting everywhere. It’s getting harder and harder to say that the status quo is normal.”

That resistance to maintaining the status quo is also something that the creators of these works have addressed in the very DNA of the plays, and in the rehearsal process.

Padilla, who began writing their play while attending graduate school at the University of California-San Diego (where Nelson-Greenberg also studied), identifies the structure of the work as being its own resistance in a way to the dominance hierarchies we’re fed from an early age.

“I spent my first year of grad school convinced that I didn’t know how to write a play,” Padilla says. “Which is almost entirely about internalized oppression. Because with the plays that I was writing, I was trying to sort of map them onto plays I had read or studied, largely studying quote-unquote classics, which are often structured in a protagonist-oriented storyline. And I think that the way I conceive of the world is way more driven around community and collective change and transformation.” Encountering Annie Baker’s 2009 play, Circle Mirror Transformation, which takes place at drama classes in a community center, helped create what Padilla calls “an aha moment. It was the story of a group, and it’s all about the accumulation of physicality and the accumulation of energy inside a room.”

Steph Paul, the movement director for Padilla’s play, has, like Lyons, been with the show since its premiere last March at Actors Theatre of Louisville. Finding the physical keys for the characters was crucial for helping the actors embody them, while also making sure that they were protected, especially while enacting the simulated fights in the play. “I think a lot of the physical expressions and movements in the play are so related to the characters peeling back and revealing additional layers about themselves,” says Paul. “I feel in life, we present ourselves in certain ways. We present ourselves based on the spaces we’re in. We present ourselves in ways that make us feel safe, or in ways that are about ‘I want people to see me as blank.'” She adds, “For me, the movement was an exploration and an opportunity to learn more about the electricity and the energy and the truth that is running through all of these bodies.”

Ensemble-driven pieces are nothing new, of course; but Padilla’s play scrupulously avoids pushing forward any one character as more sympathetic (or flawed) than another. In viewing the play, we’re also reminded that rape culture doesn’t play favorites, so to speak. We’re all affected by it.

Defend I wrote because I needed to,” Padilla says. “I needed to tell the truth to myself, in so many different ways. It was so scary to use the word ‘rape,’ much less talk about my own experiences, much less use the word ‘survivor.’ I think as a human, unless I did that, it was going to hold me back as someone using my voice.”

The creators for both productions note that, while misogyny and systemic violence form the matrix for the worlds of these plays, the men we see onstage are also victimized by it. “It’s not that these men specifically are the enemies of the women in the room,” McLeod says. “It’s that the patriarchy is the enemy of everyone. Now the patriarchy also constructs power dynamics in the room and that also means that there are many ways in which the women lose and the men come out a little bit ahead, but Mara would say often during the process, in a way which I felt was really important for the actors–‘there are no winners here.”’

Nelson-Greenberg says, “If you were to turn the volume down on the play, it might look like the world that we move through every day. The goal is to sort of normalize the absurdity inside the world, so then those structures set up in the play hopefully start to become increasingly recognizable as structures that exist in our own world.”

Both plays also end with flashes to different worlds that in their own ways, leave us wondering how we can transform the darkness. Lyons notes that she recently listened to an interview with Peggy Orenstein about her new book, Boys and Sex, in which Orenstein expressed her surprise at how easily the teenage boys she interviewed opened up to her about the subject. “One of the things that I really love about what’s happening in [How to Defend Yourself], in this work that doesn’t propose a solution, is that there is something really powerful in just taking stock in where we’re at.” She adds, “There is something about the ways that the characters also hold space for each other, to the extent that they can with different resolve, and with different success and failure. There are some dangerous things that are expressed, but one of the things that made me so excited about the play is having characters say the things that I feel and that I know other people feel that aren’t being spoken about. How do you address a problem that you can’t even talk about?”

Maybe creating that space in the theater to talk about it is one way to keep the light of empathy lit. v

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