Welcome to Culture Hound, InsideHook’s deep dive into the month’s most important (pop) cultural happenings. Let's get to it.
DO: The Art of Falling
When two Chicago cultural institutions — The Second City and the Hubbard Street dance company — come together and collaborate on a show, you go. This is a theatre mashup for non-believers that mixes world-class sketch comedy with world-class contemporary dance. It was universally lauded by critics back in 2014, and if you missed it, you’ll have a second chance when the show returns this month for a short summer revival. Get your tickets here. (Opens June 9)
ENJOY: Star Wars: The Force Awakens floating hologram vinyl
If you’re like us, you might be a bit sick of the Star Wars resurg— Wait, what? I can enjoy John Williams’s amazing score on 180-gram vinyl and see holograms of a tie fighter and the Millennium Falcon as I listen? Let the Force continue. (June 17)
READ: The Empty Bottle Chicago: 21+ Years of Music / Friendly / Dancing
The Empty Bottle might seem like a small hole-in-the-wall corner tavern, but its place in Chicago’s music history is immense. For the music geek who loves good local folklore, this book edited by music journo John Dugan offers up a collection of firsthand accounts from those who know the landmark music venue best: from former bartenders to bouncers to bands who’ve graced the stage, including the Flaming Lips, Interpol, The Sea and Cake and more. True story: your correspondent once saw a man lick the length of the bar here for a beer. No regrets. (End of June)
Ed. note: Related but not directly: Elastic Arts’ exhibition celebrating the 20th anniversary of the local indie rock band Joan of Arc.
DJ Shadow - "Nobody Speak" feat. Run The JewelsFile under: Summertime Bangers
SAMPLE: DJ Shadow
DJ Shadow’s 1996 debut Endtroducing was such a sampling breakthrough it has its own Guinness World Record. The California producer returns after a five-year absence with The Mountain Will Fall (June 24), a more cinematic record with a trippy, funky cameo by Run the Jewels (take a listen above).
LISTEN: The Best Songs of June
Speaking of samples, our monthly Spotify playlist is highlighted by Australia’s wildly inventive The Avalanches, who return after 16 years with a sequel (we’ll claim it) the best album of this century. Their new single “Frankie Sinatra” is wonderfully weird mishmash of tubas, The Sound of Music and Danny Brown.
Photo: Do Division Fest/Rep 3
KICKOFF: Summer Street Fest Season
Three street fests worth going to: Do Division (June 3-5) is the unofficial official start of summer fest season. Go for the people-watching, stay for shopping and live music. Our “best for the family” pick: Andersonville’s Midsommarfest (June 10-12). Always a favorite, mostly because of the neighborhood folk you’ll find there. And later in the month, Taste of Randolph (June 17-19), where you’ll show Peter Bjorn and John your best whistling impression. (Throughout June)
READ: Love, Sex and Other Foreign Policy Goals
The first novel from comedy writer Jesse Armstrong — a former writer for HBO’s Veep, he’s also responsible for the amazing British nihilistic comedy Peep Show — shows his penchant for laugh-out-loud dialogue and social commentary on paper as well as screen. This is a road novel set in wartime (Milošević’s Yugoslavia) that manages to be legitimately funny while fiercely questioning humanity, art, culture and yes, sex and love. (June 7)
WATCH: Anything on June 24
We already called June 24 the best movie day of the year, as it offers something great for fans of explosion-heavy blockbusters (Independence Day: Resurgence), creepy Nicolas Winding Refn thrillers (The Neon Demon), “smart” films (the Matthew McConaughey-led Free State of Jones) or sharks/Blake Lively (The Shallows). We weren’t done: that Friday, you also get a Zappa doc (Eat That Question) and Todd Solondz’s very loose, dog-centric sequel to Welcome to the Dollhouse (Wiener-Dog).
GO: Rooftop Cinema Club
No offense to the Millennium Park Film Series, which also kicks off this month, but we’ll be taking our al fresco movies on a rooftop this summer. The Rooftop Cinema Club makes it Chicago debut this month, and moviegoers can expect comfy deck chairs, wireless headphones and elevated concessions and cocktails. We suggest making it a date night. (Wednesday to Sunday, starting June 15)
CONSUME: Sounds Delicious
An inventive monthly vinyl subscription service via Seattle’s music/food blog Turntable Kitchen, the just-launched (via Kickstarter) Sounds Delicious will deliver exclusive, limited-edition vinyl records featuring artists covering iconic albums. No word on which albums yet, but the indie roster doing the covering (The Pains of Being Pure At Heart, Mitski, Skylar Spence, etc.) portends good things. (Available for pre-order now)
Swiss Army Man
Plus: Swiss Army Man, aka the “Daniel Radcliffe farting corpse” flick that nauseated (and charmed) Sundance, opens nationwide (June 17) ... Honoring the 50th anniversary of Star Trek this year, you’re getting a director’s cut of Wrath of Khan (June 7), Blu-ray box sets of the original series (June 14) and Next Generation (June 7) and the Uncensored, Unauthorized Oral History of the show (June 28) ... Most influential album ever? The 4CD “collector’s edition” of the Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds (June 10) offers food for thought. And plenty of unheard music ... If you’re not tired of O.J. nostalgia, ESPN’s 30 for 30 offers a riveting, five-part take on the murder case and its aftermath (June 11) ... Finally, it’s not all about the outdoors. Stay inside and welcome back Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee (June 15), Orange is the New Black (June 17) and Bill Simmons, who debuts his new HBO talker Any Given Wednesday (June 22).
(Additional reporting by Rebecca Klar and Athena Wisotsky)