By: Allison Lapinski
It is January in Chicago, which ensures a few things: cold and unforgiving weather, angry Bears fans, and an escape from it all at Tomorrow Never Knows Festival. Since 2005, the winter festival gives a platform for upcoming and trending artists across several venues, spanning five days. This year’s festival is set from January 15th-19th, and will feature artists at the Metro, Lincoln Hall, Schubas Tavern, Sleeping Village, and the Hideout.
Not only does TNK provide a great space for Chicagoans to step out of the dreary winter nights, but the festival organizers aptly promote some of the brightest independent singer-songwriters and musicians in indie music.
Here are a few of our picks from this year’s lineup:
Caroline Polachek was a personal favorite maximalist pop queen who dominated the end of 2019 with her first solo LP Pang. As a member of the duo Chairlift beside Aaron Pfenning, Polachek’s voice embodied a sort of dream pop that was easily lost behind the synths and complex production of their songs. As a soloist, however, Polachek brings an exciting and dark perspective to pop music. You’ve probably heard the catchy song “So Hot You’re Hurting My Feelings” played randomly at an Anthropologie or in a Netflix original at some point since last November. But do not sleep on the sensational deepcuts; such as “The Gate” or “Insomnia.” Polachek’s sold out show at Lincoln Hall will be the perfect kick off to TNK 2020.
This Vancouver post-punk collective is one to watch for fans of groovy punk rock reminiscent of the Talking Heads and mixed with the rhythms of Parquet Courts. Comprised of Crack Cloud members, N0V3L feeds from the energy of former projects, but is far more radical in their approach. Last year, the band released their EP “NOVEL,” which is a manifesto to many problems that young people are facing in this new decade. For instance, the song “Will To Power” is a journey in itself– from the angular guitar solo to the philosophically unfiltered chants about the estrangement of the powerless. Definitely something Karl Marx could get down with.
Meg Duffy of Hand Habits is a favorite of WLUW’s for their willingness to promote gender fluidity and a delicate approach to love and loss through their music. Last April, Meg sat down with one of our staff members and shared so many insights following the release of their 2019 album “placeholder.” The album conceptually focuses on the California wildfires and the fear of losing the trust of those you love. Likewise, Duffy recently recorded a cover album, entitled “wildfire covers,” to raise money to help in the conservation of the Amazon. Duffy’s ability to bring attention to issues that they are passionate about through music is one of the most inspiring aspects that similarly attracts a base of loyal and informed fans. Bring tissues when Hand Habits graces Schubas on January 18th, joined by local favorite Fran.
To conclude the festival, we recommend the ballads of folk singer-songwriter Alexander Buck Meek. Beside vocal powerhouse Adrienne Lenker, Meek plays guitar in the magnetic quartet Big Thief. In his solo work, Buck Meek evokes a much more down-home style of folk music. His 2018 self-titled album feels like a story book of Americana anthems. On the guitar, Meek masters the instrument with an assortment of impressive chord changes and blues-style acoustic musings. Buck Meek needs no excuse to catch his Sunday show at Schubas.
The full lineup for this year’s festival can be viewed at TNK online, where you can also purchase tickets and find more information. Don’t hesitate to stop by the WLUW table for a quick hello!