Concerts in Chicago: May live music calendar

Which of your favorite artists are coming to town this May? Explore our list of upcoming concerts in Chicago to find out

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Haim – (left to right) Alana, Este and Danielle

Haim – (left to right) Alana, Este and Danielle Photo: Rob Grieg

Summer is not technically here, but who cares about technicalities? We need to spend as much time outside as possible, considering the entire month of January was spent next to the radiator. Good thing May marks the start of the summer music festival season in Chicago, not to mention the outdoor concert season. The Do Division Street Fest is always a nice dry run for our marathon of festivals. FirstMerit Bank Pavilion hosts acts like Jack Johnson and Edward Sharpe alongside Lake Michigan. That being said, there are some killer live shows with ceilings and walls, as well. Chromeo does its best to fill the Daft Punk sized hole in our hearts. Haim tries to live up to the hype. Avicii gets fists pumping. Explore our picks of the top May gigs.


RECOMMENDED: Our complete calendar for concerts in Chicago in 2014


Yo La Tengo

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

The indie icons headline the sixth CIMMfest (Chicago International Movies & Music Festival), running May 1–4.

  1. Concord Music Hall 2047 N Milwaukee Ave
  2. Until Thu May 1
Buy tickets

Lo-Fang

  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

Matthew Hemerlein, who performs as Lo-Fang, shows off his modern-day singer-songsmithery, which matches soulful crooning to beats equally indebted to hip-hop and chamber music.

  1. Schubas 3159 N Southport Ave, at Belmont Ave
  2. Until Fri May 2
Buy tickets

Cloud Nothings

  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

It's essential adolescent stuff, shot through with fuzzy electricity like the Get Up Kids high on coffee and the early Replacements.

  1. Lincoln Hall 2424 N Lincoln Ave, between Fullerton Ave and Montana St
  2. Until Sat May 3
Buy tickets

Chromeo

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

The two have turned themselves into a kind of ZZ Top of disco revivalism.

  1. Lincoln Hall 2424 N Lincoln Ave, between Fullerton Ave and Montana St
  2. Fri Oct 17
Buy tickets

Queens of the Stone Age

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

Josh Homme, "the ginger Elvis," and his thrillingly intense band stir up their irresistibly sexy mixture of desert rock, blues, stoner metal and grunge.

  1. Aragon 1106 W Lawrence Ave, at Winthrop Ave
  2. Until Fri May 9
Buy tickets

Wolfmother

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

The three scruffy and skinny lads from Sydney play not-classic classic rock.

  1. Metro Chicago 3730 N Clark St, between Waveland and Racine Aves
  2. Until Mon May 5
Buy tickets

Joseph Arthur

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

New York fixture Joseph Arthur plays a heart-on-sleeve tribute to Lou Reed, digging into his hits and deeper cuts from the '80s and '90s.

  1. City Winery 1200 W Randolph St, at Racine Ave
  2. Until Tue May 6
Buy tickets

Woods

  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

The jangly, folky fuzzheads from Brooklyn play from their new album With Light and With Love. File next to Thee Oh Sees and Wye Oak, and remember to wear your burnous.

  1. Subterranean 2011 W North Ave, at Damen and Milwaukee Aves
  2. Until Wed May 7
Buy tickets

Jessy Lanza

  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

Secret diva of the frigid north, Canada's Lanza proves that frigid can be deeply sexy. Her downtempo soul recalls the ethereal babydoll synth-pop of Grimes, and James Blake, albeit with chillier R&B beats and steamier vocals.

  1. Schubas 3159 N Southport Ave, at Belmont Ave
  2. Until Thu May 8
Buy tickets

OFF! + Cerebral Ballzy

  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

Hardcore kings tour a new third album of raw, skate-punky tracks, Wasted Years. 

  1. Bottom Lounge 1375 W Lake St, between Ada St and Ogden Ave
  2. Until Thu May 8
Buy tickets

Television

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

One of the best rock bands New York ever produced.

  1. Metro Chicago 3730 N Clark St, between Waveland and Racine Aves
  2. Until Thu May 8
Buy tickets

Boys Noize

  • Price band: 1/4

From his early work with International DJ Gigolo and Kitsuné to the barrage of releases on his own label, Boys Noize can be counted on to turn the tables on dance-music conventions.

  1. The Mid 306 N Halsted St, at Wayman St
  2. Until Fri May 9
Buy tickets

Cage the Elephant + Foals + J. Roddy Walston & The Business

  • Price band: 2/4

Three different takes on modern rock. See them all.

  1. Aragon 1106 W Lawrence Ave, at Winthrop Ave
  2. Until Wed May 14
More info

The Haxan Cloak

  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

Bobby Krlic makes a sinister stew of slowed-down chants and Scott Walker-esque textures with his ethereal dronecore project. He'll be laying down brilliant dark, ambient tracks from his aptly-titled latest album, Excavation.

  1. Lincoln Hall 2424 N Lincoln Ave, between Fullerton Ave and Montana St
  2. Until Wed May 14
Buy tickets

Avicii

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

Untz untz untz untz. With banjo!

  1. Allstate Arena 6920 N Mannheim Rd
  2. Until Thu May 15
More info

HoZac Blackout Festival

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

HoZac, the fine local purveyor of garage rock, throws its annual fete with its usual mix of unearthed punk icons and modern scuzz-pop merchants. The Dictators headline.

  1. Empty Bottle 1035 N Western Ave, at Cortez St
  2. Until Sat May 17
Buy tickets

Manchester Orchestra

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

An American rock band that is neither from Manchester nor an orchestra.

  1. House of Blues 329 N Dearborn St, between Kinzie St and Lower Wacker Dr
  2. Until Thu May 15
Buy tickets

Lana Del Rey

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

She returns, hopefully promoting the promised sequel of David Lynchian torch-pop, Ultraviolence, recorded with Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys.

  1. Aragon 1106 W Lawrence Ave, at Winthrop Ave
  2. Until Fri May 16
Buy tickets

Foster the People + St. Lucia

  • Price band: 2/4

Foster the People named its new album Supermodel. Sums it up.

  1. Riviera Theatre 4746 N Racine Ave, at Broadway
  2. Until Fri May 16
Buy tickets

Of Montreal

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

The always flashy, always amusing troupe is back.

  1. Lincoln Hall 2424 N Lincoln Ave, between Fullerton Ave and Montana St
  2. Until Fri May 16
Buy tickets

Owls

  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

Hey, children of '90s emo, ever wondered what Cap'n Jazz would have sounded like 20 years later? Here's your answer.

  1. Subterranean 2011 W North Ave, at Damen and Milwaukee Aves
  2. Until Fri May 16
Buy tickets

Sohn

  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

One of the latest acts to sign with prestigious British label 4AD, Sohn is a hotly tipped singer, songwriter and producer whose debut album Tremors plays with the human voice and melancholy landscapes of ambient electronica. The next James Blake or Active Child? Almost certainly.

  1. Bottom Lounge 1375 W Lake St, between Ada St and Ogden Ave
  2. Until Fri May 16
Buy tickets

Haim

  • Price band: 2/4

A slick package of affectation, '80s Buckingham riffs, pose and polish.

  1. Riviera Theatre 4746 N Racine Ave, at Broadway
  2. Sat May 17
More info

Tennis

  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

Tennis could easily be described as "Polaroid pop."

  1. Lincoln Hall 2424 N Lincoln Ave, between Fullerton Ave and Montana St
  2. Until Sun May 18
Buy tickets

Howler

  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

The new Howler album rips like the bratty Replacements (and the cover is a nod to the like-minded Hootenanny). But what self-respecting Minneapolis band wouldn't want to sound a little like the Mats?

  1. Schubas 3159 N Southport Ave, at Belmont Ave
  2. Until Mon May 19
Buy tickets

Chet Faker

  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

Left-field R&B like James Blake, but with lines like "Your thighs / Kisses on the outside, baby, that's all I need."

  1. Lincoln Hall 2424 N Lincoln Ave, between Fullerton Ave and Montana St
  2. Until Tue May 20
Buy tickets

Atlas Sound

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

Bradford Cox continues to oscillate between his two bands—Deerhunter and the more personal and slightly lesser Atlas Sound. Somewhere in there he squeezed in a bit acting role alongside Jared Leto in Dallas Buyers Club. Let's hope none of that 30 Seconds to Mars stink rubbed off.

  1. Lincoln Hall 2424 N Lincoln Ave, between Fullerton Ave and Montana St
  2. Until Wed May 21
Buy tickets

Iceage

  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

The Copenhagen art-punk quartet returns for a brief second round in support of recent Matador debut You're Nothing. Nihilists, put on your dancing shoes.

  1. Subterranean 2011 W North Ave, at Damen and Milwaukee Aves
  2. Wed Oct 22
Buy tickets

Metronomy

  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

Metronomy perform songs from their fantastic new album Love Letters. After the proggy British yacht-rock of the last record, the new one sees a new whimsical ELO direction.

  1. Metro Chicago 3730 N Clark St, between Waveland and Racine Aves
  2. Fri Sep 12
Buy tickets

Panda Bear + DJ Dog Dick

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

As Animal Collective lies low, its two main frontmen go solo again. (They're like the hipster Genesis.) Avey Tare has his Slasher Flicks, while the more Beach Boys inspired Panda Bear tours with new tunes from an LP tentatively titled Meets the Grim Reaper.

  1. Thalia Hall 1807 S Allport St, at 18th St
  2. Until Wed May 21
Buy tickets

Third Rail Music Festival

  • Price band: 3/4

The lastest and arguably unnecessary entry into the Chicago summer music festival pool is this quirky EDM party, to be held in a six acre parking lot in an industrial corridor alongside the Chicago River.

  1. Chicago Tribune Festival Lot 560 W Grand Ave, 60654
  2. Until Sun May 25
Buy tickets

Future

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

Atlanta's king of emo Auto-Tune rap hits Concord in support of his sophomore studio effort, Honest.

  1. Concord Music Hall 2047 N Milwaukee Ave
  2. Until Sun May 25
Buy tickets

Talib Kweli

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

Since emerging in 1998 to link up with Mos Def and form Black Star, socially conscious MC Talib Kweli has made a name for himself as a solo artist of true integrity—even Jay Z references his verbal dexterity: “If skills sold/Truth be told/I'd probably be/Lyrically/Talib Kweli.” Catch the underground icon for at Metro, backed by a live band.

  1. Metro Chicago 3730 N Clark St, between Waveland and Racine Aves
  2. Until Sun May 25
Buy tickets

Barry Gibb

  • Price band: 3/4
  • Critics choice

Stayin' alive, indeed.

  1. United Center 1901 W Madison St, between Wood St and Damen Ave
  2. Until Tue May 27
Buy tickets

Conor Oberst + Dawes

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

Adored and decried in almost equal measure by the country-rock/alterno-pop community, Bright Eyes main man steps out solo.

  1. Metro Chicago 3730 N Clark St, between Waveland and Racine Aves
  2. Until Fri May 30
Buy tickets

Loops & Variations

  • Critics choice
  • Free

The coolest free concert series in the city, blending modern classical with art-pop, kicks off with synth-pop act YACHT, minimalist Hauschka (pictured) and Q Ensemble.

  1. Millennium Park, Pritzker Pavilion 205 E Randolph St, Michigan Ave and Columbus Dr
  2. Until Thu Jul 3
More info

Brodinski + Louisahhh! + Club Cheval

  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

Don't let the "Bro" scare you off. Bromance Records is one of the hottest electronic imprints in the world, and a far cry from brostep. The Parisian label is home to Gesaffelstein, who dabbled in Kanye's Yeezus, and the brand takes that techy, kitchy retro French sound in harder, darker directions. Bromance kingpin Brodinksi headlines a label spotlight at Spybar, with deep house doctor Louisahhh!, one of the too few female DJs in the game, in support. Not to be missed.

  1. Spy Bar 646 N Franklin St, between Ontario and Erie Sts
  2. Until Fri May 30
Buy tickets

Do Division Street Fest 2014

  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

The official start of festival season. J Mascis, People Under the Stairs, High on Fire, JC Brooks, Bass Drum of Death, Screaming Females and more hit the street.

  1. Division St between Damen Ave and Leavitt St Division St, between Damen Ave and Leavitt St
  2. Sun Jun 1
More info

Jack Johnson + Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeroes

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

Shoes not required.

  1. FirstMerit Bank Pavilion 1300 S Linn White Dr, at Solidarity Dr
  2. Until Sat May 31
Buy tickets


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