BY SELENA FRAGASSI | FOR THE SUN-TIMES
If recent concert announcements are any indication, 2015 is going to be a really rocking new year. Here’s a look at the highlights of who’s coming to town … so far.
Continues through Jan. 18: Tomorrow Never Knows 2015
There’s no time to hibernate. Winter’s best music festival brings the big acts of tomorrow center stage. This year’s lineup includes Aimee Mann and Ted Leo’s project The Both, Wisconsin soul-folk ensemble Phox, The Walkmen’s Hamilton Leithauser, songwriting whiz Strand of Oaks, noisy Cloud Nothings, dark priestess Zola Jesus, and more.Various venues and times, $15-30 per show, or $100 for a 5-day pass; tnkfest.com.
Jan. 21: The Vaselines
Kurt Cobain plucked them out of obscurity by preaching the good word about this Scottish alt-rock band while he was still alive. With only three LPs to their name since forming in the late ’80s, they’ve hit a stride the past few years and finally, just finally, might get the credit they deserve on their own terms. Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western. 9 p.m. $20. ticketweb.com.
Jan. 24: Fall Out Boy
Go small and go home seems to be the pop punkers’ latest intent. To celebrate the release of their new album “American Beauty/American Psycho,” the quartet plays only two gigs, including the super intimate Lincoln Hall, where you can hear new tracks like “Centuries” and maybe that new Chicago Bulls theme they did with Lupe Fiasco. Lincoln Hall, 2424 N. Lincoln. 9 p.m. Sold out. More info at lh-st.com.
Jan. 28: Wynonna & Friends
You might imagine that a 30-year career, including playing with your mother in The Judds, would produce quite the storybook for country star Wynonna. She divulges all in this “story and song” setting that takes you back to the small bars of Nashville where it all began.
City Winery, 1200 W. Randolph. 8 p.m. $65-75. citywinery.com/Chicago.
Feb. 5: Marilyn Manson
Charles Manson has a new bride, and Marilyn Manson has one of his best albums in more than a decade with January’s “The Pale Emperor.” Talk about shocking. His time on “Sons of Anarchy,” lessons in Robert Johnson blues, and working with composer Tyler Bates all had their hand in the re-evolution. Expect a high-concept show to match. Riviera, 4746 N. Racine. 8 p.m. $58; etix.com.
Feb. 14: Barry Manilow
The good news for Fanilows: You can spend Valentine’s Day with the patron saint of love songs. The bad news: He swears it’s for the very last time. With 13 musicians and singers accompanying him (including Dave Koz), expect a grab bag of hits done good before they are put in the vault. United Center, 1901 W. Madison. 7:30 p.m. $19.75-249.75; ticketmaster.com.
Feb. 17: Sleater-Kinney
While the members of this highly regarded indie punk band were never fully absent after their 2006 break — The Corin Tucker Band, Wild Flag and “Portlandia” being some of their other accomplishments — hearing news of Sleater-Kinney’s reunion and new album is the proverbial Second Coming for devout fans and a second chance for newcomers. One of the tours of the year. Riviera, 4746 N. Racine. 7:30 p.m. Sold out. More info at jamusa.com.
Feb. 20: Doomtree
The East Coast/West Coast rap charades were so ’90s. Today, hip-hop’s epicenter is in the Midwest where talents like the Minneapolis-based collective Doomtree dominate the scene. All seven members — Cecil Otter, Dessa, Lazerbeak, Mike Mictlan, Paper Tiger, P.O.S, and Sims — unite for the “All Hands” album and tour. Abbey Pub, 3420 W. Grace. 10 p.m. $15; ticketweb.com
Feb. 24: Catfish And The Bottlemen
We may have escaped British rule, but the U.K. still has a hold on us with its great music imports. The latest is Welsh rock band Catfish And The Bottlemen that bears a strong lineage to acts like Kasabian, Oasis and Arctic Monkeys. They’ve already been heralded a “best new act” by those in the know; catch them before they go wild. Schubas, 3159 N. Southport. 8 p.m. Sold out. More info at lh-st.com.
Feb. 26: Julia Holter & Spektral Quartet
Opposites still attract. Local chamber ensemble Spektral Quartet adds to its avant-garde repertoire (including a ringtone project and live sampler packs of old-school and super modern classical works) by partnering with Pitchfork favorite Julia Holter. The electronic artist helps debut Alex Thomas’ new composition, “Behind the Wallpaper.” Constellation, 3111 N. Western. 7 & 9:30 p.m. $12; ticketfly.com.
Feb. 28-March 1: Ed Kowalcyzk
Twenty years later, the frontman of ’90s alterna gods Live recaptures the magic of the band’s MTV Unplugged set in a special acoustic performance of seminal disc “Throwing Copper.” Hear “I Alone,” “Lightning Crashes” and “All Over You” the way they were truly meant to be heard. City Winery, 1200 W. Randolph. 8 p.m. Sold out. More info at citywinery.com/Chicago
March 6: The Church
With all the mega stars of the ’80s, the song “Under The Milky Way” found its own spot in the vast sky, giving neo-psych/new wave band The Church its own distinct following. In 35 years (and with 21 albums to boot), there’s still much to explore from these Australians — especially live. Double Door, 1572 N. Milwaukee. 8:30 p.m. $30; ticketfly.com.
March 7: British Invasion Tour
Cue the shrieking. Fifty years after The Beatles first ushered the British Invasion to our shores, a who’s who of U.K.’s gilded pop stars mark the occasion in concert. Included are Peter Asher (Peter & Gordon), Denny Laine (The Moody Blues, Wings), Chad & Jeremy, Mike Pender (The Searchers) and Terry Sylvester (The Hollies, Swinging Blue Jeans). City Winery, 1200 W. Randolph. 7 p.m. $60-75; citywinery.com/Chicago
March 7: The Juliana Hatfield Three
After a storied career forming The Blake Babies, playing with The Lemonheads and touring solo, the jilted rock queen heeds her own advice of “Become What You Are” by finally getting the loved Juliana Hatfield Three (with Dean Fisher and Todd Philips) back together. The reunited will play the album in full and debut new material. Lincoln Hall, 2424 N. Lincoln. 9 p.m. $20; lh-st.com.
March 27: The Decemberists
The Portland folk rock troupe is getting really good at mixed messages. After wowing the world with 2011 album “The King Is Dead” and calling things off with last EP “Long Live the King,” the group makes a triumphant return in 2015 with a new album, “What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World.” Don’t try to figure it out; just listen. Chicago Theatre, 175 N. State. 7:30 p.m. $35; ticketmaster.com
April 3: Belle & Sebastian
After taking some time off to write and direct musical film “God Help The Girl,” Stuart Murdoch was itching to get back to work with his longtime indie pop bandmates. But this is no old trick; for the Scots’ ninth effort, “Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance,” get ready for lots of synth, drum machines and disco. Apparently they want to dance, too. Riviera, 4746 N. Racine. 8 p.m. $40; etix.com.
April 3: OK Go
Band geek chic has always propelled this alternative rock group. They made a music video choreographed completely on treadmills, helped POTUS promote the first ever Maker Faire in 2014 and even recently programmed Lindsay Lohan’s new online game. Brains aside, the former Chicagoans get down to earth with quality electronic power pop as on new album “Hungry Ghosts.” Metro, 3730 N. Clark. 9 p.m. $25; etix.com.
April 24: Sean Watkins
Last year brought Nickel Creek’s long-awaited reunion —a nd in 2015, we get even more of member Sean Watkins as he embarks on a tour to debut material from his newest solo album, “All I Do Is Lie,” which characteristically mixes bluegrass, folk, pop and rock without any creases. Space, 1245 Chicago Ave., Evanston. 7 p.m. $12-22; ticketweb.com.
May 8: Ministry
Never believe a word Al Jourgensen says. The proclaimed godfather of industrial music has had more farewell and reunion tours than a cat has lives, but anyone who has seen the “Jesus Built My Hotrod” band live knows you can never kill off something so good. Along with members of Prong, Static-X and Killing Joke, Jourgensen is ready for another go. House of Blues, 329 N. Dearborn. 9 p.m. $69.69; livenation.com.
May 13: The Who & Joan Jett
Although Roger Daltrey has hinted that “The Who Hits 50” tour is part of a “long goodbye,” make no mistake that we’ll still be talking ’bout them for generations to come. See them while there’s still time — and go early for newly inducted Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Joan Jett. (Also 10/15 at United Center). Allstate Arena, 6920 N. Mannheim Rd., Rosemont. 7:30 p.m. $49.50-154.50; ticketmaster.com.
June 26-27: Lady Gaga & Tony Bennett
New odd couple alert. Tony Bennett has a special guest when he returns to Ravinia this summer: Lady Gaga. The two will stage performances of the jazz standards on their recent duet album, “Cheek to Cheek,” but don’t count on Bennett singing any “Paparazzi” backup. Ravinia, Green Bay and Lake Cook roads, Highland Park. Tickets on sale April 28; ravinia.org.
June 24-25, 28-29: U2
They gave us “Songs of Innocence” for free last year, but expect to pay up for U2’s latest tour. Not that it’s not worth it. The veteran Irish rockers always put on a show deserving of a stadium with rollicking versions of hits like “One,” Where the Streets Have No Name” and “With Or Without You,” plus all that new stuff that you can’t erase. United Center, 1901 W. Madison. 7:30 p.m. $30-275; ticketmaster.com.
Aug. 16: Idina Menzel
From “Frozen” to “Glee,” “Wicked” and “Rent,” Idina Menzel is one of today’s biggest stars of Broadway and musicals. Her world tour whittles together a collection of her engrossing hits, including the song we just can’t seem to “Let It Go.” Jay Pritzker Pavilion, Millennium Park. 7:30 p.m. $25-125; ticketmaster.com.
Aug. 29: Foo Fighters
If you missed their surprise set at Cubby Bear last fall, here’s plenty of warning to catch Foo Fighters this summer. The band’s “Sonic Highways” lead them back to Chicago where they’ll overtake Wrigley Field alongside local alums including Cheap Trick, Naked Raygun and Urge Overkill. Wrigley Field, Clark and Addison. 5:30 p.m. Sold out. More info at chicago.cubs.mlb.com.
Selena Fragassi is a local freelance writer.