Looking for some cool things to do and see in Chicago in the week ahead?
We’ve got these suggestions to consider:
New song cycle
In recent years, R&B hybrid Raphael Saadiq has been busy writing music for films and television, including the score for HBO’s “Insecure.” Now on his first album in eight years, “Jimmy Lee,” he’s written an intensely personal song cycle that delves into stories of love, troubled relationships and the deaths of three of his siblings. The New Yorker says Saadiq has created “a novelistic song cycle that seems at once intensely private, broadly political, and undeniably funky.” At 7:30 p.m. Feb. 21, Vic Theatre, 3145 N. Sheffield. Tickets: $35. Visit jamusa.com.
Cats on the big screen
Free your mind from all the noise out there and enter the curious and humorous world of our feline friends. The annual Cat Video Fest is a compilation of the latest and best feline videos culled from new and classic clips into one 75-minute feature. The family-friendly screenings raise funds for local cat charities and shelters. At noon Feb. 22-23 and 7 p.m. Feb. 25 at Music Box Theatre, 3733 N. Southport. Tickets: $8-$12. Visit musicboxtheatre.com.
The four Findlay sisters who make up the Australian psych-rock band Stonefield have been on one amazing trip going from practicing in their family shed as teens to touring with the likes of Fleetwood Mac, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and King Gizzard. Their recent album, “Bent,” is filled with melodic rock that the Brooklyn Vegan says “seamlessly combines psych, prog, indie rock and heavy metal.” Lead singer and drummer Amy Findlay says the songs come from an “honest, raw energy that has been burning within us and waiting for its moment.” At 9 p.m. Feb. 25, Sleeping Village, 3734 W. Belmont. Tickets: $12, $14. Visit sleeping-village.com.
Inspired by winter
Last seen in Chicago in 2014, the Quebec-based circus troupe FLIP Fabrique returns with a new show, “Blizzard,” which explores the eight-company member’s intimate relationship with winter. A unique vision of what 21st-century circus can be, it’s a dizzying display of aerial arts, acrobatics, trampoline routines and clowning plus more astonishing feats of their own invention. At 6 p.m. Feb. 21 and 2 p.m. Feb. 22, Harris Theater, 205 E. Randolph. Tickets: $10-$15. Visit harristheaterchicago.org.
Teen poets compete
The youth poetry festival Louder Than a Bomb returns for five weeks of slam-style bouts featuring high school and middle school students. Founded in 2001 by poets Kevin Coval and Anna West of the organization Young Chicago Authors, it’s the largest event of its kind and encourages young people from all backgrounds to understand the importance of their own story and those of others and to carry on the rich oral traditions of great Chicago authors such as Gwendolyn Brooks and Studs Terkel. From Feb. 26-March 21, at various locations. Tickets: $2-$20. For a complete schedule of events, visit youngchicagoauthors.org.
Art from China
Artists working in China have long experimented with various materials ranging from the commonplace to the unconventional, the natural to the synthetic including plastic, wood, water, hair, silk, cigarettes and gunpowder. “The Allure of Matter: Material Art from China” (Feb. 6-May 3) brings together works from the past four decades in which conscious material choices have become a symbol of the artists’ expression. The best-known here is Ai Weiwei, who has used pottery, porcelain, stone, bronze and wood, all materials imbued with Chinese tradition, to question how cultural value is assigned and accrued. The exhibit is divided between the Smart Museum of Art, 5550 S. Greenwood (free) and Wrightwood 659, 659 W. Wrightwood (Free, or $16 for reserved entry time). Visit smartmuseum.uchicago.edu or wrightwood659.org.
Known for its highly physical, emotionally driven work, Same Planet Performance Project has been one of Chicago’s most inventive contemporary dance companies since 1997. In a program that director Joanna Read is calling “Wild Terrain,” the company performs two premieres: Read’s “Bad Bunny” is a physical mediation on the meaning of consent while Ivy Baldwin’s “Ammonite” focuses on concerns about the destruction of the natural world. At 7:30 p.m. Feb. 21-22, Dance Center of Columbia College, 1306 S. Michigan. Tickets: $10-$30. Visit dance.colum.edu.
Comedians Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim, creators of the TV series “Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job,” are in the midst of the Mandatory Attendance Tour, an evening of “new spoofs, goofs and insanity and some very special surprises.” (Their new Adult Swim series, “Beef House,” a madcap comedy about five men and one of their wives living under one roof, debuts March 29.) At 8 p.m. Feb. 22, Chicago Theatre, 175 N. State. Tickets: $47+. Visit ticketmaster.com.
Mary Houlihan is a Chicago freelance writer.