Three Must-See Acts This Week

Sidewalk Chalk at Yoshi's, Glass Jaw at the Regency, and Phoebe Bridgers at Great American.

Indie folk

Phoebe Bridgers

8 p.m., Wednesday, July 18, at Great American Music Hall. $18;

Born and raised in the shadow of Los Angeles, singer-songwriter Phoebe Bridgers writes somber, ethereal folk music that is unafraid to confront personal struggles while maintaining a dry, satirical outlook in her lyricism. Bridgers began her journey in music at a young age, studying vocal jazz at the prestigious Los Angeles County High School for the Arts. However, despite the rigor in school, Bridgers learned what she needed to know about music by playing in local punk bands and simply attending shows on a regular basis. After her breakthrough appearance on an Apple commercial covering Pixies’ “Gigantic,” folk-star Ryan Adams caught wind of Bridgers, referring to her as a “musical unicorn.” She released her debut EP Killer in 2015 through his Pax Am label, to critical acclaim. During a hefty tour schedule over the next couple of years, including runs with like-minded musicians Conor Oberst and Julien Baker, Bridgers worked on material that would eventually compose her debut album Stranger in the Alps, which was released last September to glowing reception. The album explores heavy topics like past relationships and mental health, all in the context of a rapidly shifting social environment. Yet Bridgers never yields into territory where she is writing sad music for the sake of being sad, as her biting sense of humor seeps into her lyrics in standout tracks, like “Motion Sickness.”


Jazz fusion

Sidewalk Chalk

10 p.m., Thursday, July 12, at Yoshi’s Oakland. $15;

Self-described as the natural evolution of jazz, hip-hop, and soul, Sidewalk Chalk doesn’t merely operate in the overlap among those three genres; they’ve created their own singular sound in the process. Composed of seven highly talented musicians, fronted by MC Rico Sisney and vocalist Margaret Vagle, the Chicago collective met in college and has been playing together since 2008. The lineup solidified after the release of the acclaimed 2012 debut album Corner Store, which exemplified Sidewalk Chalk’s ability to seamlessly blend elements of jazz, rap, and soul to create a personal, modern sound distinct to Chicago’s music scene. Last summer saw the release of An Orchid Is Born, the band’s fourth studio album, which pointed a critical lens at the social-justice issues prevalent since the 2016 election. When speaking of the recording of the album, bassist Josh Rosen explained to Richmond Magazine, “Sometimes, your hopes can get dashed and you feel super alone and helpless, but not only will you bloom again and have hope, that dark dormant period was necessary to get you there.” Despite the serious nature of An Orchid, Sidewalk Chalk’s live performances are quite the opposite, as the fast-paced and exciting showmanship is sure to satisfy strict jazz fans just as much as newcomers to the genre.


Glassjaw. Photo by Julian Gilbert



(with Quicksand) 7:30 p.m., Tuesday, July 17, at Regency Ballroom. $32.50;

Spearheaded by testosterone-fueled bro-metal bands like Limp Bizkit and Slipknot, the turn of the millennium was — to put it bluntly — an apocalyptic wasteland when it came to quality heavy music. As always, though, all you had to do was look past the Billboard charts to discover an entire world of inventive and genuine hardcore-influenced bands, with artists like Thursday, The Dillinger Escape Plan, and Glassjaw at the forefront of this burgeoning national music scene. No strangers to struggle or controversy, New York’s Glassjaw, led by vocalist Daryl Palumbo and guitarist Justin Beck, has seemingly gone to hell and back since starting the band more than two decades ago. Despite greedy record labels, lyrical controversy, and Palumbo’s health problems that forced the band to pull out of tours, this combined adversity has only forced Glassjaw to mature into one of rock’s most resilient acts. While the band has a relatively small discography compared to its contemporaries, few hold the distinction of creating a genre-defining album like 2002’s Worship and Tribute, which is not only a signature post-hardcore masterwork, but firmly agreed by critics as one of the greatest albums of the 2000s. Last year saw the release of Glassjaw’s long-awaited third album, Material Control, the first since Worship and Tribute. It should put to rest any fears longtime fans had about the band going “soft,” as the album is a blistering 35 minutes of unrestrained aggression, with a renewed sense of purpose.

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