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April 2017 events calendar for Chicago

Plan your April in Chicago with our events calendar of the best things to do, including concerts, theater openings and art exhibits

Photograph: Jaclyn Rivas
Lincoln Park

So long as it's not one of those Aprils cursed by snowstorms, it's finally safe to crawl out of hibernation and start scouring new Chicago shops for lighter clothes, and maybe even pay a visit to a few Chicago beaches on one of the nicer days. Celebrate the arrival of spring with a trip to the patio at your favorite cocktail bar, start hashing out your warm weather plans and figure out a few things to do on a rainy day—you know what they say about April showers, don't you?

RECOMMENDED: Events calendar for Chicago in 2017

Featured events in April 2017

Vintage Garage

Shop from up to 100 vintage vendors selling everything from furniture to clothes to vinyl in an Uptown parking garage on the third Sunday of each month from April to October. Dont' miss your last chance to load up on everything retro this year.

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Vintage Garage Chicago Flea Market , Uptown Sunday July 16 2017 - Sunday October 15 2017

Randolph Street Market Festival

Recommended

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.

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Beaux Arts Plumbers Union Hall Building , West Loop Saturday July 29 2017 - Sunday December 17 2017

Concerts in April 2017

Sheila E. + Morris Day and the Time

When Prince passed away, he left behind a towering musical legacy and a host of musicians who collaborated with him throughout his career. Drummer and singer Sheila E. played on Prince's Sign ‘O’ the Times, Black Album, and Lovesexy LPs while Minneapolis funk outfit Morris Day and the Time appeared in the film Purple Rain, which featured their song "Jungle Love." At Auditorium Theatre, the two acts join forces to pay tribute to his Purple Majesty with an evening of music and celebration.

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Until Sat Apr 1

Son Volt + Anders Parker

When Uncle Tupelo broke up in 1994, it's founding members embarked on very different paths. While Jeff Tweedy started Wilco and eventually broke away from his alt-country roots, Jay Farrar founded Son Volt and embraced traditional Americana. As its title suggests, the group's latest, Notes of Blue, adds some lonesome Mississippi melodies to the Farrar's musical vocabulary while comparing the state of the modern world to the trying times of the past. Versatile American singer-songwriter Anders Parker opens the evening.

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Until Sat Apr 1

Bastille

British synthpop act Bastille pumped up the melodrama on its 2013 debut, Bad Blood, updating the New Romantic polish of the ‘80s for the EDM generation. The group's latest LP, Wild World, ditches some of the throwback sheen in favor of more straightforward, guitar-driven alt-rock (though singer Dan Smith still retains his well-coiffed look).

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Until Mon Apr 3
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Chicano Batman + 79.5 + Sadgirl

Holy throwback soul! Dressed to the nines in matching suits, L.A. quartet Chicano Batman combine Brazilian Tropicalía with the effortless swagger of ‘70s soul music. The group's latest album, Freedom is Free, gives its retro tunes some contemporary context, with nods to political and social unrest amid the growling organ riffs and romantic lyrics.

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Until Fri Apr 7

The Psychedelic Furs + Robyn Hitchcock

Recommended

Melding moody post-punk melodies with glossy new-wave production, the Psychedelic Furs captured the shifting musical tides of the ’80s. Here, the English rockers return to the hometown of John Hughes, who named one of his seminal films after the group's songs, "Pretty in Pink." They haven't recorded any new album since reuniting in 2001, so you're gonna hear all of the hits. Prolific British singer-songwriter Robyn Hitchcock (who once fronted neo-psychedelic act the Soft Boys) opens the show.

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Until Sat Apr 8

Delicate Steve + Max and the Mild Ones

Few modern guitarists have a signature, but the colorful, sometimes-cartoonish riffs favored by Steve Marion are nearly unmistakable. As one man band Delicate Steve, he's created his own musical language, translating the joy of goofy, aimless noodling into succinct nuggets of joyful rock and roll. Local rockers Max and the Mild Ones open the show.

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Until Sun Apr 9
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Floating Points + JFDR

London producer Sam Shepherd isn't the first person to blend the tenets of jazz and electronic music. Recording under the moniker of Floating Points, Shepard uses the looping beats and motifs of electronic music as a source of inspiration for winding compositions that are performed rather than programmed. Joined by a small band, the live incarnation of Floating Points promises not only to replicate the warm tones of the its latest record Elaenia, but the human touch that defines it. Young Icelandic producer and singer JFDR (Björk is one of her biggest fans) opens the show.

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Until Sun Apr 9

John Mayer

Blues nerd, Deadhead and notorious guitar solo facial contortionist John Mayer returns to the United Center in support of his latest album, The Search for Everything. Attendees can expect three distinct sets throughout the evening: one with his full band, one solo and another as part of his blues rock trio. If you're still craving more guitar noodling, you can catch mayer when he plays Wrigley Field with Dead and Company this summer.

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Until Tue Apr 11

Tinariwen + Dengue Fever

Recommended

Made up of Tuaregs from the Sahara who perform in traditional robes and sing in French and Tamashek, Tinariwen effortlessly slips into entrancing desert blues grooves that transcend language boundaries. The band's latest album, Elwan, is filled with songs that reflect on political turmoil and the harsh realities of desert life, all without losing a sense of hope for the future. Los Angeles-based Dengue Fever, who create psychedelic rock inspired by Cambodian pop music, open the show.

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Until Tue Apr 11
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The Zombies

As part of the initial waves of the British Invasion, the Zombies mined the same blues and R&B influences as their peers before embracing psychedelia. Recorded at Abbey Road Studio on equipment used by the Beatles, Oracle and Odessey puts a baroque spin on the Zombie' lush vocal harmonies and pop sensibitlies. Here, the surviving members of the group celebrate the 50th anniversary of that record with an in-sequence performance—purportedly the final time it will play these songs.

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Until Fri Apr 14
See more April 2017 concerts

Festivals in April 2017

Chicago Improv Festival

Recommended

The 19th annual Chicago Improv Festival celebrates the art of "yes, and..." with a week of off-the-cuff performances at various venues, featuring local talent as well as national performers.

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Until Sun Apr 2

Vintage Garage

Score an awesome Mid-century piece, impeccable 70's gear, or beef up your vinyl collection at this north side market in, yes, an Uptown parking garage. Markets run on the third Sunday of each month from April to October–each with a different theme. Next up: the "Midcentury Modern" market.

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Vintage Garage Chicago Flea Market , Uptown Sunday July 16 2017 - Sunday October 15 2017

Slo ’Mo

At this polysexual Logan Square dance-off, party purveyor Kristen Kaza and DJ Audio Jack drop the needle on love-drenched classics by Al Green, Marvin Gaye, Prince and the queen of lovers' rock, Sade. Admission is always free and the Whistler's capacity is limited, so there's usually a line out the door. Arrive early if you want to start grooving on the crammed dance floor ASAP.

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The Whistler , Logan Square Thursday July 20 2017 - Thursday June 21 2018
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Free events in April 2017

Free museum days at the best Chicago museums

Contrary to popular belief, 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 one of the perks of living in Chicago. RECOMMENDED: Complete guide to Chicago museums

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By: Zach Long

Humboldt Park

Designed by William Le Baron Jenney in the mid-1800s and enhanced several years later by Jens Jensen, Humboldt Park was once the nation’s greatest public park, boasting acres of Prairie-style gardens, grazing animals and a meandering river scene. Though the animals are long gone, the park still offers extensive rose beds as well as tennis courts, an inland beach, baseball fields and bike paths.

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Humboldt Park

Garfield Park Conservatory

Described as “landscape art under glass” when it opened in 1908, the conservatory, while being one of the largest in the world, also boasts revolutionary architecture. With the building’s haystack shape and walls of stratified stonework, landscape architect Jens Jensen considered the Fern Room in particular, with its “prairie waterfall”—a stone and water element within a glass structure—to be one of his greatest achievements. About 120,000 plants representing some 600 species occupy the conservatory’s 1.6 acres, and four times a year flower shows premiere to herald the change in seasons.

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East Garfield Park
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Slo ’Mo

At this polysexual Logan Square dance-off, party purveyor Kristen Kaza and DJ Audio Jack drop the needle on love-drenched classics by Al Green, Marvin Gaye, Prince and the queen of lovers' rock, Sade. Admission is always free and the Whistler's capacity is limited, so there's usually a line out the door. Arrive early if you want to start grooving on the crammed dance floor ASAP.

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The Whistler , Logan Square Thursday July 20 2017 - Thursday June 21 2018

Newberry Library

The Newberry Library, founded in 1887, is an independent research library located right in the heart of the Gold Coast. From illuminated medieval manuscripts to the personal papers of local authors, the Newberry is home to an impressive collection of work. The library hosts exhibitions, theatrical performances, lectures, seminars, workshops and more. It is free and open to the public. 

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Rush & Division

Carrie Secrist Gallery

Carrie Secrist Gallery celebrated its 20th anniversary in early 2013 and over the past two decades has focused on established contemporary artists, with a recently renewed interest in adding new, emerging artists to its roster. Among our favorite works the gallery has exhibited are Kim Keever's water tank diorama photography; Megan Greene's recontextualized Audubon prints and Derek Chan's abstract paintings thoughtfully incorporating Native American symbolism.

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West Loop
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PBR Bingo

On the first Monday of every month, Boiler Room turns into a hip, Logan Square nursing home for its monthly PBR Bingo night. Guests can grab a few slices, sip a beer and wait for their numbers to be called while competing for various Pabst Blue Ribbon-themed prizes.

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The Boiler Room , Logan Square Monday July 3 2017 - Monday December 4 2017

Night Names

Recommended

Set a new high score at this arcade bar’s monthly queer night. Guests can take advantage of free pinball (make sure you take a turn on the classic Star Wars and PIN·BOT tables), enjoy bar specials or bust a move in the back room with resident DJ Essential Logic.

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Logan Arcade , Logan Square Thursday July 6 2017

Congrats on Your Success

Recommended

Comedy review by Matt Byrne Since its start in 2012, stand-up comedy showcase Congrats on Your Success has steadily built up an audience of dedicated regulars, who pack every bit of available space in Logan Square's Uncharted Books. The show's loose, friendly vibe is reinforced by interactive bits and between-set segments that engage attendees with the show's hosts and producers, who describe their audience as "DTF."Lured by the promise of free, BYOB comedy located in a used bookstore just steps from the Logan Square Blue Line stop, these crowds are treated to sets from Chicago's comedy scene staples as well as many up-and-comers who rarely get stage time outside the open mic circuit. 

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Uncharted Books , Logan Square Thursday July 6 2017 - Thursday March 1 2018
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Fabitat

Recommended

This all-inclusive LGBTQ night that started at Double Door’s Door No. 3 is now at Beauty Bar, featuring live music, drag performances and DJ sets. It's one of the most promising new alt-queer party outposts in town.

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Beauty Bar , River West/West Town Until Wednesday June 27 2018
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Theater in April 2017

Chicago Underground Comedy

Recommended

This outstanding night of comedy takes in four to five comics each week. Keep your eye on some of these folks: they're going places.

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Beat Kitchen , North Center Tuesday July 11 2017 - Tuesday April 24 2018

Congrats on Your Success

Recommended

Comedy review by Matt Byrne Since its start in 2012, stand-up comedy showcase Congrats on Your Success has steadily built up an audience of dedicated regulars, who pack every bit of available space in Logan Square's Uncharted Books. The show's loose, friendly vibe is reinforced by interactive bits and between-set segments that engage attendees with the show's hosts and producers, who describe their audience as "DTF."Lured by the promise of free, BYOB comedy (with some free beverages for those who show up early enough) located in a used bookstore just steps from the Logan Square Blue Line stop, these crowds are treated to sets from Chicago's comedy scene staples (past headliners include Liza Treyger and C.J. Sullivan, both of whom can be seen on Comedy Central) as well as many up-and-comers who rarely get stage time outside the open mic circuit. "Congrats has been a number of [comedians’] first showcase," explains producer Rebecca O'Neal. "We just book who we think is the funniest and who we think our audience will enjoy the most."This supportive approach makes things a bit riskier, and it can be easy to spot who's still figuring themselves out onstage. But few showcase audiences are as receptive and patient with performers as Congrats's. The producers are looking to spread COYS's freewheeling, BYOB spirit in 2014 with a series of free one-off shows, called Fun and Dones, held at other alternative venues.

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Uncharted Books , Logan Square Thursday July 6 2017 - Thursday March 1 2018

Actual Murderers

Sketch troupe Actual Murderers combines live and filmed elements in their monthly show at the Beat Kitchen.

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Beat Kitchen , North Center Sunday July 9 2017 - Sunday December 10 2017
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ClickHole at the Hideout

Writers from ClickHole, the Onion’s sister site that cranks out deadpan spoofs of Upworthy-style viral content, convene at the Hideout for a live show each month. See what the creators of articles like, "90s Kids Rejoice! The Spider Eggs They Used To Fill Beanie Babies Are Finally Hatching" write outside of the site.

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Hideout , River West/West Town Thursday July 6 2017 - Thursday December 7 2017

That's Weird, Grandma

Want to look cool to your favorite pipsqueak (and adult friends, too)? Introduce them to Barrel of Monkeys' joyously long-running public show. The troupe conducts writing workshops with CPS grade school students by day, then transforms the kids' stories into hilarious or heartfelt skits and songs, performed with abandon by a spirited ensemble.

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Neo-Futurarium , Uptown Monday July 3 2017 - Monday August 28 2017

Dear Diarrhea

Combining Mortified–style dredging of the past with improvised scenes, this monthly show asks guests to read embarrassing passages from their childhood diaries, poetry, LiveJournals, fanfic and more; a team of improvisers then spins out scenes based on the source material.

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iO Theater , River North Saturday July 8 2017 - Saturday August 12 2017
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I Saw You

Bruised Orange Theater Company’s long-running weekly show mines Chicago personal ads for dramatic (and comic) interpretation.

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Town Hall Pub , Lake View Until Wednesday December 27 2017

Art and dance in April 2017

“#Aiweiwei”

Recommended

Chinese artist Ai Weiwei was taking photos that bluntly confront political and social issues long before Twitter or Instagram was invented. You’ll find some of his best shots (including one of him giving the White House the bird) collected in this exhibit, which is based around diaristic photographs he took during the 1980s and '90s in New York and Beijing. 

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Museum of Contemporary Photography , Loop Until Sunday July 2 2017

"L’Affichomania: The Passion for French Posters"

Immortalized on the walls of cafés, bistros and dorm rooms across the nation, vintage French posters are a decorative staple that date back to the late 1800s. The Driehaus Museum's latest exhibition presents 45 turn-of-the-century French posters from its collection, celebrating the affichomania (the "poster craze") that inspired art collectors to acquire these impressionistic creations from the streets of Paris.

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Richard H. Driehaus Museum , River North Until Sunday January 7 2018

“Eternal Youth”

Larry Clark’s infamous photograph series “Kids” (taken during the filming of the scandalous 1995 film of the same name) is the centerpiece of this exhibition, which examines the portrayal of youth in contemporary art. Grappling with the simultaneous innocent and sexualized depiction of young people, the MCA fills "Eternal Youth" with work by Dawoud Bey, Mona Hatoum, Thomas Hirschhorn, Jack Pierso and more.

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Museum of Contemporary Art , Streeterville Until Sunday July 23 2017
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"The Wall of Respect: Vestiges, Shards and Legacies"

As part of Chicago's Year of Public Art, the Chicago Cultural Center pays tribute to the Wall of Respect, a seminal mural that inhabited the side of a building at 43rd Street and Langley Avenue in 1967. Exhibit curators Romi Crawford, Abdul Alkalimat and Rebecca Zorach examine how the Organization of Black Arts and Culture designed and gathered artists to paint the mural, which depicted black leaders and icons.

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Chicago Cultural Center , Loop Until Sunday July 30 2017

“Chicago Works: Chris Bradley”

The latest exhibition in the MCA's "Chicago Works" series focuses on local sculptor Chris Bradley, who replicates everyday objects and places them in new contexts. An ordinary bag of ice is a creative challenge for the artist, achieved by casting cubes out of glass (so that it will never melt). The objects he creates are approached with a sense of humor—why else would a flower pot and a ladder be found affixed to the blades of a ceiling fan?

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Museum of Contemporary Art , Streeterville Until Sunday July 2 2017
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"Dan Friedman: Radical Modernist"

Noted graphic Dan Friedman is the subject of the Chicago Design Museum's latest exhibition, which his contributions to the post-modern and new wave typography movements. The self-curated exhibit (completed before Friedman passed away in 1995) includes a collection of Friedman's work, including photographer, prints and furniture that take risks and celebrate self-expression.

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Chicago Design Museum , Loop Until Saturday August 12 2017

"Tania Pérez Córdova: Smoke Nearby"

Using borrowed items—such as a cell phone SIM card or a single earring—Mexican artist Córdova creates sculptures that force viewers to consider the interactions involved in obtaining her materials. In "Smoke Nearby," Córdova's first solo U.S. museum exhibition, she showcases a selection of works featuring found objects, which she calls "contemporary relics."  

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Museum of Contemporary Art , Streeterville Until Sunday August 20 2017
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Comments

1 comments
Eileen B
Eileen B

Interested in supporting a non-profit organization of supporters and survivors of sexual abuse/assault?

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) is hosted a walk on April 9th to raise awareness and collect donations for survivors to attend the 2016 SNAP Conference being hosted in Chicago.

Come out and walk for a great cause April!!!