Tomorrow Never Knows 2020: The 10 must-see acts

Tomorrow Never Knows 2020: The 10 must-see acts

Before Pitchfork and Lollapalooza and all street festivals take over the city this summer, Chicago’s annual winter music festival Tomorrow Never Knows warms up local venues for five days with a showcase of upcoming talent in music and comedy.

The 15th anniversary of this annual gem, founded in 2005, is no less impressive with a whole host of national, international and local talents that include Schubas (3159 N. Southport), Lincoln Hall (2424 N. Lincoln), The Hideout (1354 W) take over Wabansia), Metro (3730 N. Clark) and Sleeping Village (3734 W. Belmont).

Here are our choices for shows you don’t want to miss:

Taylor McFerrin

Taylor McFerrin, shown in 2004 Getty Images

Multi-talented instrumentalist is just one way to describe this Brooklyn-based producer / composer / vocalist and percussive beatboxer who seamlessly combines ethereal visions of R&B, electronics and free-form jazz. Taylor is the son of the accomplished singer Bobby McFerrin and is also experimenting with his view of music, showing fragments of the souls of the 60s and 70s, the Beat Generation and the modern avant-garde like Flying Lotus, McFerrin’s debut album on his Brainfeeder label. . January 15 at Schubas, 8 p.m.


Chicago-based artist Melissa Harris is an exciting mix of Lana Del Rey and Grimes with sensual darkwave electro songs on her latest album, “Where We Live,” which she writes and produces from the do-it-yourself studio built into her dining room on the north side. She opens for the equally talented Caroline Polachek, who after years went solo with the Dream Pop Act Chairlift from the 2000s, which became known with the Apple commercial hit ‘Bruises’. January 15 at Lincoln Hall, 9 p.m.

The New Negroes with Baron Vaughn & Open Mike Eagle

The popular Comedy Central series goes live in The Hideout with an evening with the co-hosts of the show, including Open Mike Eagle from Chicago. The socially conscious stand-up / musical revue, which takes its name from “The New Negro” by Alain Locke, a term that began to refer to the Harlem Renaissance, is a platform for a variety of black artistic expression and previously has Lizzo, George Wallace featured, Method Man, Hannibal Buress and others. Don’t be surprised if special guests come by. January 16 at The Hideout, 7 p.m.

Jude Shuma

While his psychedelic tunes like ‘Float’ are ripped directly from a summer playlist – with equal parts Beach Boys and Tame Impala for inspiration – the restrained Chicago artist brings the warm, vague tones to this winter festival. Shuma can already be seen in shows such as “Quantico”, “Riverdale” and “Ballers” and connects the dots with more definitive lighting in 2020. He opens for chill songwriter Goth Babe. January 16 at Lincoln Hall, 9 p.m.

Stella Donnelly

Stella Donnelly arrives for the 33rd annual ARIA Awards 2019 in Sydney, Australia. Getty Images

The blunt, fearless feminist songwriter has written the de facto 2019 version of “Exile In Guyville” with her 2019 debut “Beware of the Dogs” that highlights a spotlight on misogyny and the patriarchal cohesion of rock music while having a light-hearted indie doll – rock sound reminiscent of another popular Aussie, Courtney Barnett. Expect more great stuff from this young visionary, nominated for Breakthrough Artist of the Year at the ARIA Music Awards 2019. January 17 at Lincoln Hall, 9 p.m.


For fans of Gang Of Four, Joy Division, Devo, The Strokes and Interpol, this music collective from Vancouver creates catchy, dancing tunes spun in a nostalgia spider web. Their debut EP, released in February, clocks in just 21 minutes, but is full of politically charged folk songs and some pleasant saxophone accompaniments. Go early for the groovy punk time warp from CB Radio Gorgeous. January 17 in Sleeping Village, 9 p.m.

Three busy debras

Sandy Honig, Mitra Jouhari and Alyssa Stonoha are the three Debras in fake “Stepford Wives” skits that follow the daily life of the crazy trio in the everyday capital of Lemoncurd, Connecticut. Their deadpan humor caught the attention of Amy Poehler, who is currently helping to produce the comedy series of the adult swim group. January 18 at The Hideout, 9:00 PM

Black marble

One of the few Tomorrow Never Knows shows this year in Metro is a must-see. Black Marble comes from New York with a gloomy sound that has been praised as a return to the best of the cold-wave genre in combination with a cunning synth-pop attitude that pays homage to New Order. Lo-fi indie rockers Hoops starts things. January 18 at Metro, 8 p.m.

Liza Treyger

Liza Treyger attends the premiere of the screening and party for the comedy series “At Home with Amy Sedaris” by truTV in 2017 in New York City. Getty Images

From roasting Miley Cyrus teen fans to thoughts about pregnant women and not buying baby gifts, nothing is conventional for this funny lady who has been hailed by Variety as one of the Top 10 comics to watch out for in recent years . Treyger cut her teeth in the Chicago scene and is currently working on a show related to her formative years in the city, while she has also appeared in Comedy Central and Netflix specials. January 19 at The Hideout, 6:00 PM

Frances Quinlan

Singer Frances Quinlan of Hop Along plays on stage during FYF Fest 2016 at Los Angeles Sports Arena in 2016. Frazer Harrison / Getty Images

Best known as the unequivocally charming front woman of the indie band Hop Along in Philadelphia, Frances Quinlan will release a new solo album on January 31 with songs like ‘Now That I’m Back’ that imbues her same narrative, highly literate songwriting style with soft keyboards and guitars that really make her unique vocals shine. January 19 in Sleeping Village, 9:00 PM

Selena Fragassi is a local freelance writer.