Weekend Agenda: January 17–19
The Reverend Horton Heat, an exploration of extinct art spaces, and the Chicago SketchFest, all on this weekend's list of recommendations.
Veteran master of psychobilly summons the spirit of the Weird West during a stop at the House of Blues
Although he’s in his 29th year as psychobilly’s standard-bearer, you won’t find the Reverend Horton Heat removing himself from life on the road. Instead, he’s still kicking up a ruckus like a come-to-life tattoo, preparing for the release of his new record (coming out next week via longtime Chicago alt label Victory Records) with a Friday-night show at the House of Blues (329 N. Dearborn St.). Amid the sea of bowling shirts and flame sleeves, you’ll probably also spot some tributes of B-grade horror movies: a Svengoolie-approved opening slate includes veteran doom-bringers Nekromantix, guitar mutator Deke Dickerson, and undead Canadian punks The Creepshow. (9 p.m. $20+; buy tickets here)
Issues of civil strife and sectarian violence hit close to home in this play at A Red Orchid Theatre
For most of us, stories of civil unrest and sectarian violence have as much personal resonance as a point on a map or a voice on a newscast. In the familiar-yet-not world of Solstice, one family’s struggle with life on the wrong end of a budding war serves as a microcosmic rumination on religious faith, terrorism, and the limits of an honest life. Written at the height of the Iraq War by British playwright Zinnie Harris, the play transcends its original topicality during its Midwest debut at A Red Orchid Theatre (1531 N. Wells St.). The performances of two ensemble members are especially resonant—Larry Grimm and Kirsten Fitzgerald bring a doomed sweetness to their roles as Michael and Terese, two parents whose careworn fondness for one another masks deeper secrets soon forced to the surface. (Saturday at 8 p.m.; Sunday at 3 p.m. $30; buy tickets here)
Nearly 170 troupes. More than 1,000 performers. The country’s largest sketch festival brings the funny on its second weekend
As the center of the sketch-comedy world, it’s only fitting that Chicago also hosts the country’s biggest sketch-comedy festival. Stretched over two weekends, the 2014 edition of Chicago SketchFest showcases the antics of 169 comedy troupes flown, bused, and pogo-sticked in from across the country. Of course, there’s plenty of local talent on display, too. A quick peek at the performers list reveals dozens of troupes populated by Second City and iO alumni. The festival boasts packed schedules on each of its final three nights at Stage 773 (1225 W. Belmont Ave.), so we recommend grabbing a one-night pass and heeding the advice of the onsite guides. However, if you only have time to catch one act, check out The Tweet Show (Friday and Saturday at 10 p.m.), the rapid-fire ode to 140-character zingers from New Yorkers Samantha Martin and Matthew Robert Gehring. (Friday–Sunday; check the schedule and buy tickets here)
Art series explores the long-gone artists, collectives, and spaces that helped shape Chicago’s current art scene
Chicago’s art world is constantly moving: galleries open and close, collectives form and fold, and artists move in and out of the city. Instead of keeping their creative compasses pointed solely toward the future, artists Anthony Stepter, Anthony Romero, and Erin Nixon decided to carve out a space for consideration of the past. With Extinct Entities, they’ve invited artists from Chicago’s past and present to offer new thoughts on the now-departed groups and galleries that shaped the city’s current scene. The festival wraps up the main part of its program this weekend at Links Hall (3111 N. Western Ave.). Highlights include commentary from Sarah Mendelsohn and Fred Schmidt-Arenales on Lauren Berlant’s 2007 installation “I Think About Iraq Every Day,” Nic Kay’s tribute to the anti-AIDS crusaders of ACT UP Chicago, and documentary remembrances of shuttered Lincoln Square coffee shop The Nervous Center. (Friday–Sunday at 7 p.m. $5+ for single tickets, $30 for a festival pass; buy tickets here)
Get in some winter recreation with skiing, snowboarding, and tubing in nearby Bartlett
If it’s going to keep being this cold (and trust us, it is), you might as well use the chill to get in some solid downhill runs. Contrary to what Wisconsin’s tourism board would have you believe, you don’t have to head north of the state line for skiing and snowboarding outings. Instead, head out to Villa Olivia (1401 W. Lake St., Bartlett), the powder-covered crown jewel of the Bartlett Park District. Just a 40-minute drive from downtown, the complex maintains numerous runs calibrated for novices and experts alike. Speaking of novices: the complex hosts lessons for those unacquainted with the fine art of slope navigation. If that’s not your scene, it also has a tubing course suitable for both kids and kid wannabes. (Check here for rates and hours; call the snow phone at 630-540-4199 for up-to-date conditions)
Photo courtesy of Victory Records
Tyler is a writer, storyteller, and musician from Chicago. His stories have appeared on stage at shows including Mortified, Story Club, and Lethal Poetry.