December 5, 2023

On the Radar: Good Guy Chance, RIP Kurt and Layne, New QOTSA + More


New Queens of the Stone Age music, Chance the Rapper making Chicago proud, and remembering lost grunge icons are all on my mind this week. This and more on this week’s On the Radar.

Remembering grunge icons Kurt Cobain and Layne Staley

April 5 will forever be cemented in our minds as the day we lost two rock icons. The first is Nirvana frontman, Kurt Cobain. 2017 marks 23 years since he died April 5, 1994. Cobain’s story is one filled with anger, frustration and addiction. But rather than going into speculation, finding “hints” of his apparent suicide in his music, or obsessing over his grim death, let’s remember the music. Despite whatever problems may have had, he and the rest of Nirvana gave us wonderful music. Albums like Nevermind and In Utero still inspire young musicians today. Though the music was written over 20 years ago, it still finds a way to speak to later generations who weren’t even thought of at the time. It’s a wonderful gift he gave us. And though his death may still bring you to tears, just think of all the joy his music brings.

The same goes for Alice in Chains’ Layne Staley, who died April 5, 2002. Staley is another person whose life was taken over by addiction. His talent and death are often overshadowed by Cobain, but there’s no doubt about his influence on music. Listen to an album like Dirt and you’ll hear some of the most gut-wrenching lyrics recounting Staley’s battle with heroin addiction. He laid bare what he was going through via his music. And it still connects with people to this day. So while both of these talented men are gone and will forever be missed, let’s give them tribute by remembering them for the music they gave us instead of obsessing over their complicated lives.

Good guy Chance the Rapper strikes again

Just when you thought Chance the Rapper couldn’t be more awesome, he outdoes himself again! Last weekend, Chance held another conference to announce his newly created New Chance Arts and Literature Fund. The project, in conjunction with the Children First Fund for Chicago, is a program that will work on providing supplies and equipment for reading and arts programs in schools that have seen a decrease in graduation rates. Funding starts this fall for the 2017-2018 school year.

“As an artist and an after-school teacher, I know that the arts are essential. They teach kids invaluable lessons,” Chance told reporters.

Along with this announcement, he also revealed the Chicago Bulls will be donating $1 million to help support Chicago Public Schools. Previously, Chance donated $1 million to these struggling schools. His efforts to help CPS have clearly paid off. His Social Works non-profit has raised $2.2 million donations since his last press conference. No wonder Drake thinks he should run for mayor of Chicago. He’s got my vote.

Queens of the Stone Age post cryptic teaser online – related to new album?

For the past year or so Queens of the Stone Age have been talking about making a new album. Details about it have been sparse, but we might soon learn more about it. Last week, the band posted a cryptic teaser online for something called “Coming Twenty Five.” Along with this title is an image of shattered glass in the form of a “Q.”

It’s not clear whether or not this is the title to their follow-up to 2013’s …Like Clockwork. Hopefully, we’ll soon get some answers. Reports surfaced last month that the band are finished with the album. Meanwhile, the band are set to play a number of shows in Australia along with a set at the Outside Lands Festival in San Francisco.

Upcoming Shows

Gucci Mane PowerFest 2016
Gucci Mane PowerFest 2016. Photo: Jeremy Franklin

John Mayer is taking a break from Dead and Company and heading out on his own once again. Catch him at the United Center on April 11. Special guest is The Record Company. Find tickets on sale here.

Synthpop band Chairlift are calling it quits and are touring one last time before saying goodbye. Their last concert in Chicago happens Friday, April 14 at Park West. Unfortunately, the show is still sold out. There’s always the resale ticket market, but I wouldn’t go for it.

Atlanta rapper Gucci Mane hits up Chicago on April 12 at the Chicago Theater. He’s bringing special guests Dreezy and DJ Sean Mac along for the ride. Tickets are on sale now.

Finally, make sure you catch loveable weirdos The Flaming Lips at the Riviera Theatre on April 17.  The band is touring in support of their latest album Oczy Mlody, which dropped earlier this year. Tickets are still available.

Chicago Artist Spotlight: NE-HI

It seems like Chicago’s rock scene is hitting its stride with bands like Meat Wave and The Orwells being some of the hottest acts in the genre. Another act to add to this list is NE-HI. Forming back in 2013, this garage rock band is setting the local rock scene on fire. Back in February, their record release show at The Empty Bottle sold out in a matter of days. And their latest album, Offers, is still receiving favorable reviews.

So why should you check them out? Their raw, garage rock sound, which often has surf rock vibes, is infectious. Songs like “Stay Young” and “Out of Reach” are made for the lazy days of summer when you don’t want to move, you just want to relax. Most importantly the songs are fun, gritty, and unpolished – something that’s sorely missed in the age of autotune.