Live: Music Picks Feb. 27-March 5 

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Chali 2na & the House of Vibe
It’s been seven years since Jurassic 5 broke up. If you’re old enough to remember the Big Willie Style era of mid-2000s hip-hop, you should also remember how Jurassic 5 was a refreshing break from the bullshit. Reminiscent of groups like Cold Crush and Furious 5, this Los Angeles-based collective wasn’t necessarily the best, but they were one of the first to truly mainstream the movement of “conscious” rap. Their unofficial leader, Chali 2na, was probably the most entertaining of the bunch. Since 2007, the “Verbal Herman Munster” has been busy collaborating with legendary acts like Galactic and Ozomatli, and 2na’s latest project finds him linked up with the live funk band The House of Vibe. Scenic Byway and Flash & Flare will warm things up. The Urban Lounge, 241 S. 500 East, 9 p.m., $15 in advance, $18 day of show;; limited no-fee tickets available at


Hopeless Jack & the Handsome Devil
Who knew the Mississippi River had an outlet in Portland, Ore.? They might be from the Pacific Northwest, but duo Hopeless Jack & the Handsome Devil sure know how to conjure that soulful Southern sound influenced by blues greats such as Robert Johnson and Muddy Waters, as well as modern trailblazers like Scott H. Biram (see p. 38). Made up of Hopeless Jack (vocals, slide guitar) and Smilin’ Pete (“bangers and crashers”), the two musicians blend the classic delta style with a garage-rock flavor, creating a vibe that’s modern but still plenty swampy—just picture an Oregon swamp instead of one in Mississippi. Their latest album, Don’t Waste Your Time, No Money Here—released in summer 2013—is a rowdy, gritty ruckus, with whiskey-fueled energy and a whole lotta swagger. Check out the rockin’ “Firefly” and “Pack My Bags,” featuring backing female vocals that are a sultry foil to Jack’s spooky howl. Tony Holiday will open. The Garage, 1199 N. Beck St., 9 p.m., $5,


The Grouch & Eligh
Few indie-rap artists have been around longer and have fired off more classic projects than The Grouch & Eligh. Although these Los Angeles-based emcees often operate independently of each other, their best work often happens as an ensemble. Their fourth and latest collaborative release, The Tortoise & the Crow, is by far their most expansive. Essentially, it’s a triple-disc release with plenty of contributions from guests like Pretty Lights and Kreayshawn, but the brightest moments come from the tracks that feature only The Grouch & Eligh. On “End Game,” the duo get refreshingly personal and express what it’s like to be a rap vet: “I put my quarter up because I got next/ like the year was ’87 and you wasn’t born yet/ talking to my average listener on deck/ wondering how I ever got here in one breath.” Madchild, Pigeon John, DJ Juggy will also perform. The Urban Lounge, 241 S. 500 East, 9 p.m., $18 in advance, $20 day of show,; limited no-fee tickets available at

Gifted Canadian singer-songwriter Spencer Krug might have collaborated with a full band for his 2012 album, Heartbreaking Delivery, but on his latest, Julia With Blue Jeans On—released in fall 2013—the transcendent music is made with only two elements: his voice and his piano. The record is the third Krug has made under his Moonface moniker, and it’s … well, it’s hard to boil down into just a few words. It’s the stunningly beautiful combination of a man singing his heart out while also playing his heart out with prodigious skill on the keys, and it’s one of the best albums released so far this year. Krug must have some sort of link to the divine to draw inspiration from while writing his lyrics; the track “November 2011” is the truest love song I’ve ever heard: “Let me have this dance/ Because baby we both know we are both crazy.” The State Room, 638 S. State, 9 p.m., $20,


Russian Circles
It’s fitting that the cover of Memorial, the latest album from Chicago instrumental rock/metal trio Russian Circles, is a darkened mountain landscape covered in snow. The blend of orchestral Sigur Ros-esque atmosphere and funereal metal could be the soundtrack to an unfortunate soul lost in the winter wilderness: desolately beautiful, but utterly futile. The eight tracks are spellbinding, filled with tension that builds agonizingly slowly then explodes in crushing avalanches of sound. The final song, “Memorial,” features ethereal guest vocals by darkness-weaver Chelsea Wolfe, and few better musical matches have been found. Ken Mode and Amra are also on the bill. (Kolbie Stonehocker) Sunday, March 2 @ The Urban Lounge, 241 S. 500 East, 9 p.m., $12 in advance, $14 day of show,; limited no-fee tickets available at



Giraffula, the solo project of local musician Seth Cook, is one of the most fascinating local acts around. Using guitars, synthesizers, digital loops and his own voice/beatboxing, he creates experimental electro/indie-rock that’s as full and multifaceted as something a full band would put together, and it’s endlessly interesting to watch him at work. Cook puts on a live show that will make you smile as well as dance, as he entertains the audience between songs with funny banter and jokes. Cook’s first new album since 2012’s Sounds by Giraffula is scheduled to come out April 25, so that gives you plenty of time to get caught up by giving his older material a listen or catching him live at this show. Red Telephone, Uinta and Pest Rulz will also perform. The Urban Lounge, 241 S. 500 East, 9 p.m., free,


Middle Class Rut

When listening to the immense, rage-filled rock created by vocalist/guitarist Zack Lopez and vocalist/drummer Sean Stockham, it’s hard to believe these guys ever bothered with trying to belong to a “full” band—they seem to have everything they need between the two of them. But in the early 2000s, after the duo met in high school in Sacramento, Calif., they tried to build a full lineup, only to find that they always played and wrote better themselves. Luckily, Lopez and Stockham reunited a couple of years after the band fell apart, and began making music again. Their latest release, Pick Up Your Head—released in summer 2013—is an interesting mix of fiery shout-like vocals, heavy guitar riffs and a palette of ear-catching clicking, clacking percussion. Dinosaur Pile-Up, Brick + Mortar, The Young Electric and Betty Hates Everything will start things off. (Kolbie Stonehocker) Tuesday, March 4 @ Murray Theater, 4959 S. State, 6:30, $13; limited no-fee tickets available at

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Speaking of CW Music Picks, The Grouch & Eli,

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