Featured events in April 2018
Each year, C2E2 brings a ton of comic book creators and some notable TV and movie stars to McCormick Place for a bonafide pop-culture bonanza. If you hit the floor, you'll find costumed attendees mingling in a sea of comics, toys and assorted memorabilia. Head for the panel halls (or autograph lines) to catch a glimpse of celebrities like Superman Returns star Brandon Routh, SpongeBob SquarePants voice actor Tom Kenny and Goosebumps author R.L. Stine.
Back for a third year, the spring edition of Chicago Humanities Festival brings a lineup of artists, activists and thinkers to the city. This season's lecture series features installationist Ai Weiwei, Gone Girl author Gillian Flynn and artist Molly Crabapple. With this spring series, Chicago Humanities Festival kicks off its 2018, The Year of Graphic!
Just because you’re a grown-up doesn’t mean you have to give up on hunting for Easter eggs. Longman & Eagle organizes this annual scramble, hiding eggs all throughout Logan Square. Teams of two can scour the neighborhood between noon and 2pm, with all proceeds benefitting One Tail at a Time. The party continues at Longman from 2–4pm, where a winner will be crowned and prizes from Jim Beam, Revolution Brewing and Gordon Food Service will be awarded.
Bacon lovers rejoice! Baconfest is coming back to Chicago with more bacon than ever. Current attendees include Honey Butter Fried Chicken, Ada St., Margeaux Brasserie, Kimski and a whole lot more. Each participating restaurant and brewery is offering a bacon dish or drink, so loosen your belt and you'll be in bacon heaven.
Photographer Raeburn Flerlage documented Chicago blues musicians performing in the city in the ‘50s and ‘60s, providing an intimate look at some of the genre's biggest stars. "Amplified: Chicago Blues" sifts through a collection of than 1000 of Flerlage's images, including photos of Howlin Wolf, Willie Dixon, Koko Taylor and Muddy Waters. If you want to travel back in time to an era when blues clubs ruled the city, this is the peek into the past you've been searching for.
Experience the Halal lifestyle at the inaugural I Heart Halal expo at Navy Pier, which features all-natural foods and a grand bazaar filled with products that are permissible under traditional Islamic law. Muslim celebrities such as beauty blogger Nura Afia and personal trainer Koshal Azami will be in attendance giving talks, while the evenings will be filled with special events like a fashion show and a Muslim stand-up comedy showcase.
Before Record Store Day arrives, the annual CHIRP Record Fair fills the Chicago Journeymen Plumbers Union Hall with stacks of vinyl for collectors to sift through. More than 50 vendors show up for the event, which benefits CHIRP Radio and features sets from local DJs like ShowYouSuck and Miss Alex White. Plus, there'll be drinks from Dark Matter Coffee, a listening station and a family activity area. You've still got some room for records on that IKEA shelf—you might as well fill it.
The traveling Dragon Lights Festival has set up more than 40 gigantic Chinese lanterns in Soldier Field South Parking Lot, providing the perfect environment for some twilight selfies. The event features an enormous 200-foot-long dragon lantern, a whale, an adorable panda wall and plenty of other colorful creations. In addition to the lanterns, the festival also features nightly performances from acrobats, musicians and dancers as well as demonstrations of calligraphy, painting and knot-tying.
Celebrate the life and work of actor (and antique typewriter collector) Tom Hanks at this annual party. Each year, Hanks fans gather to show their appreciation for the nicest guy in Hollywood and raise money for his favorite charity, Lifeline Energy, while watching some of his finest films. The highlight of the afternoon is a raffle that includes items autographed by Hanks himself.
Chicago Media Project brings its second annual DOC10 Film Festival to the Davis Theater in Lincoln Square. The festival will screen 10 current documentaries, including: Won't You Be My Neighbor, a Mr. Rogers doc from Oscar-winning filmmaker Mogan Neville; Love Means Zero, about legendary tennis coach Nick Bollettieri; 306 Hollywood, which premiered at Sundance, and many more.
The downtown department store hosts this annual flower-filled extravaganza, transforming a floor of the historic building into a garden filled with real blooms and exotic plants. This season's "Once Upon a Springtime" theme explores the flora found in fairty tales—we're picturing romantic cherry blossoms, winding vines and cheerful daisies. Drop in to check out the free show during store hours.
There's no need to debate about which city has the best pizza in the world because nine out of ten Chicagoans agree that ALL pizza is delicious. That's why we gather at the annual Chicago Pizza Summit to sample pies from all over the city and knock back cold cans of Old Style. Presented by Old Style and the Empty Bottle, this year's festivities move to Thalia Hall for two sessions (at 2 and 5pm) of cheese, pepperoni, music and more. Local emcee ShowYouSuck hosts the event, which will also feature Chicago-themed art, an exhibition from the US Pizza Museum, exclusive merch and a surprise hometown musical guest.
AMC's television adaptation of The Walking Dead continues to shamble on, as does this annual convention devoted to the franchise's undead universe. This year, the festivities move to the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, where attendees will also have access to the Heroes and Villains Fan Fest. Actors Norman Reedus (Daryl) and Jeffery Dean Morgan (Negan) will be in attendance, alongside a long list of cast members, past and present.
If you're attending Walker Stalker Con, your ticket also gives you access to this superhero-focused event that takes place in the very same convention center. Heroes & Villains Fan Fest brings together talent from TV shows like Arrow, The Gifted and Gotham, giving you a chance to interact with some of the folks who bring your favorite stories to life on the small screen. The convention also lets attendees feel like a hero, with activities like archery, obstacle courses and more.
40 whisky distillers from across the country gather in Soldier Field from the Whisky X, which combines a plethora of boozy samples with food from local chefs and food trucks. Once you've sipped the offerings of Bulleit Bourbon, WhistlePig and The Macallan, stick around for a concert from alt-rockers the Mowgli's.
More than 200 vendors hawk their antique housewares, furniture, ephemera, clothing and more at this indoor-outdoor festival. Stop in for vintage clothes and jewelry, a vinyl swap meet, a fancy food market and global goods bazaar or bring your own items for appraisal. This event typically occurs on the last weekend of each month. During the warm-weather months of May–September, the market adds an outdoor area, offering even more vintage shopping and a beer garden.
This month-long interactive event invites kids and their families to explore the human body through a two-story theatrical environment inside the Chicago Children's Theatre. Along the way, your youngsters will encounter costumed organisms, hear original music, make their way through an obstacle course, participate in art activities and check out curiosities from the Field Museum. Audiences are limited to groups of 20, and entry times are staggered every 15 minutes on Saturdays and Sundays through April 8.
Concerts in April 2018
With the Black Keys on hiatus, Dan Auerbach hits the road behind his latest solo album, Waiting on a Song, which finds the frontman indulging in his love of vintage soul and pop through a selection of lavishly produced arrangements. To add some authenticity to his retro sound, he's backed by a house band made up of session musicians who played with the likes of Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash. Bluesman Robert Finley and surf-punks Shannon and the Clams support.
Aussie dance-pop act Cut Copy masterfully blends plaintive British rock lyricism with bouncy house beats and infectious synth melodies. The group's recent album, Haiku From Zero, embraces the dance floor rhythms and production of the ‘80s and ‘90s, grounding itself in same casually rebellious rave culture mined by acts like LCD Soundsystem and Hot Chip. It's the kind of breezy pop that seems to coax some humanity from the machines used to make it. Los Angeles electro-pop act Kauf opens the show.
Virginia singer-songwriter Lucy Dacus is the latest in a long line of young artists who sound wise beyond their years. On her latest album, Histories, Dacus grapples with heartbreak and despair throughout a collection of earnest indie rock ballads that maintain a certain amount of optimism, even in the face of darkness and troubling times. Indie rockers And The Kids and Adult Moms open the show.
Experimental Chicago musician Jaime Fennelly debuts his expansive new Mind Over Mirrors album with a series of concerts at the Museum of Contemporary Art. Inspired by the work of naturalist writer Henry Beston, Bellowing Sun blends Fennelly's otherworldly synthesizer arrangements with otherworldly chants, rhythms and fiddle melodies provided by musicians Jim Becker, Janet Beveridge Bean and Jon Mueller. Surrounded by the audience, the entire performance takes place beneath a rotating illuminated sculpture that lends a shifting aura to the proceedings.
After years of costume changes, video montages and general tomfoolery, parody-master Weird Al Yankovic is hanging up the fat suit for his latest, stripped-down tour. Self-consciously dubbed the Ill-Advised Vanity Tour, the setlists will focus on Yankovic's early songs and original material, dating back to the days of the Dr. Demento Show. Here's hoping that Yankovic treats the shows like an episode of VH1 Storytellers, so that we can finally learn what inspired him to write the 11-minute epic "Albuquerque."
Each year, the Burlington hosts a showcase of exciting female and female-identifying musicians during the daylong Frontwoman Fest. The lineup includes sets from electropop act Superknova, R&B singer Jordanna and experimental rockers Little Church. Decima, Ovef Ow, Glad Rags, Glitter Moneyy, Fauvely, Black Sandwich, Erzulie, Alysha McElroy-Hodges and Freddie Old Soul are also confirmed to perform.
It's become a cliché to say that Ty Segall is prolific, but even as his release schedule has slowed down ever-so-slightly, he's still churning out enough songs that you'll probably need a checklist to keep up. On Freedom’s Goblin, Segall’s 10th full-length album in as many years (countless side-projects notwithstanding), the West Coast garage-rocker once again proves that he’s one of the most capable purveyors of pop melodies drenched in buckets of psychedelic fuzz.
After crafting sprawling prog-rock based on a Japanese folktale and paying tribute to musical heroes R.E.M., the Decemberists take another unexpected turn on the group's latest album, I'll Be Your Girl. The record's first three songs recast Colin Meloy and company has a buoyant synth-pop act, revealing a jaunty, fun-loving side of the band that often gets lost amid its earnest refrains and ambitious conceptual undertakings. Nautical indie-pop outfit Tennis support.
During the early ‘90s, Afghan Whigs and Built to Spill both managed to land major label record deals on the heels of critically-acclaimed independent releases. Decades later, they're hitting the road together on a co-headlining tour that could be pegged as nostalgic if not for the fact that both groups are still producing vital work. While the Afghan Whigs explore melodramatic alt-rock, you can expect Built to Spill to supply the triumphant guitar solos. Electro-pop duo Rituals of Mine open the show.
Ever since he started rapping in the ‘80s, Bronx MC Kool Keith has been known by many names, including Dr. Octagon and Dr. Dooom. With the exception of a single major-label release (1999's Black Elvis/Lost in Space) Keith has remained independent as a hip-hop artist, harnessing his eccentric flow with the help of producers such as Dan the Automator and DJ Qbert. During his latest appearance in Chicago, Keith teams up with local hip-hop duo the Palmer Squares.
Free events in April 2018
You don't have to spend a fortune in order to visit some of Chicago's best museums and cultural institutions. If you're willing to plan ahead, you can take in masterpieces at the Art Institute or gaze at tropical fish while strolling through Shedd Aquarium without spending a dime. You'll need to be an Illinois resident to take advantage of many of these offers, but that's just one of the perks of living in Chicago.