Mick Jenkins And The Rest of This Week’s Must-See Acts

...And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead on Saturday at Bottom of the Hill, Mick Jenkins on Tuesday at The Fillmore...

Art rock 

…And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead

8:30 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 18, at Bottom of the Hill. $18; bottomofthehill.com

A consistently potent force that refuses to be pigeonholed into a particular genre, …And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead boasts a reputation as one of the most ambitious bands from the turn of the millennium, with classic albums like 1999’s Madonna and 2002’s Source Tags & Codes that have garnered critical acclaim and a cult fanbase. Formed in 1994 by longtime friends and multi-instrumentalists Jason Reece and Conrad Kelly, Trail of Dead quickly became legends within their native Austin’s punk scene due to their chaotic and aggressive live shows, later signing with Merge Records to release their sophomore album Madonna, an expansive yet uncompromising listen that introduced listeners to the band’s unique balance of noise-filled freakouts with prog-like tendencies. The group’s 2002 album, Source Tags & Codes, is considered by many critics as one of the best rock albums of its decade, as it hears the band master their idiosyncratic sense of dynamics coupled with emotive songwriting. Now entering their 25th year as a band, Trail of Dead are set to release their tenth studio album, X: The Godless Void and Other Stories, and its excellent single “Don’t Look Down” hints that the band is experimenting with a more pop-forward sound. 

Photo by Bryan Allen Lamb

Hip-hop

Mick Jenkins

(with EarthGang) 7 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 21, at The Fillmore. $25; thefillmore.com

Armed with a laid-back flow that matches his woozy, jazz-tinged production, Mick Jenkins is a rapper whose seemingly carefree attitude should not be mistaken as lackadaisical, as the MC has established himself as one of the genre’s most captivating storytellers. Born in Alabama but raised on Chicago’s South Side, Jenkins initially discovered his musical talent after winning a rap-battle competition while in college, inspiring him to release his own mixtapes online, the first being 2012’s The Mickstape. Jenkins quickly made himself known amongst Chicago’s hip-hop scene after the release of his ambitious 2013 mixtape, Trees & Truths, leading to collaborations with fellow Chicagoans Chance the Rapper and Vic Mensa. The following year saw the release of Jenkins’ breakthrough mixtape The Waters, a tightly-focused work that hears Jenkins explore systemic injustices along with personal anxieties in a sobering  manner. Jenkins would return in late 2018 with Pieces of a Man, an intimate and confessional experience that hears an audibly wiser Jenkins grapple with faith and self-worth. Jenkins’ newest EP, The Circus, is an introspective peek into Jenkins’ mind entering the new decade, as the rapper touches upon existential and personal issues without lingering excessively.

Photo by Lewis Brock

Soul 

Maverick Sabre 

8 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 22, at Rickshaw Stop. $20; rickshawstop.com

A compelling songwriter with an exquisite voice to match, Maverick Sabre’s natural creative versatility allows the artist to maneuver between normally dissonant soundscapes in an effortless manner. Born Matthew Stafford, the London-born, Irish-raised musician got his start in music by lending his powerful vocals via collaborations with Irish rappers Terawrizt and Nu-Centz when he was a teenager, and released his debut mixtape, The Traveling Man, in 2010. Sabre’s 2011 EP The Lost Words introduces listeners to the artist’s natural grasp with hip-hop and soul, as Sabre carves his own niche within the overlap between the two genres that feels singular to himself. The following year would see the release of Sabre’s debut studio album, which expands upon the sound explored in The Lost Words, allowing Sabre to incorporate a wider array of sonic influences, as standout track “Let Me Go” sounds like a marriage between the bombast of ’60s big band and the iciness from Dummy-era Portishead. Sabre’s newest album, When I Wake Up, was released last March to universal acclaim, as Sabre’s bold lyricism stands out as the musician’s most poignant and thoughtful work to date. 

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