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April 2019 events calendar for Chicago

Plan your April in Chicago with our calendar of the best things to do, including concerts, theater and art exhibits
Photograph: Neal O'Bryan
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April can be a fickle month, when the weather could be so cold that you're forced to shovel snow or so warm that you finally get to return to one of your favorite Chicago beaches. No matter what climate the beginning of spring decides to bestow us with, there's no shortage of reasons to anticipate the arrival of April. Some of the best comic book conventions in Chicago occur this month, including the highly anticipated Star Wars Celebration and the annual Walker Stalker Con. Plus, Daily Show host Trevor Noah swings through the city, violinist Andrew Bird performs at one of the best jazz clubs in Chicago and gluttony reigns supreme at Chicago's Best Wingfest. Prepare for April showers and hours of springtime fun with the help of our April events calendar.

RECOMMENDED: Events calendar for Chicago in 2019

Featured events in April 2019

Photograph: Courtesy Chicago History Museum
Museums, History

“Silver Screen to Mainstream: American Fashion in the 1930s and ’40s”

icon-location-pin Chicago History Museum, Lincoln Park
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The Chicago History Museum's latest exhibition demonstrates the influence that Hollywood held over fashion during the Great Depression, displaying a collection of glitzy gowns made by designers and at-home dressmakers. You'll find garments on display from Paris, New York and Chicago, made by designers like Chanel, Vionnet, Valentina, Paul du Pont, Howard Greer and Adrian.

Grelley Duvall
Photograph: Courtesy Hideout
Comedy, Character

The Grelley Duvall Show

icon-location-pin Hideout, River West/West Town
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Originating as a two-night run as part of Steppenwolf Theatre Company’s LookOut series, actor Alex Grelle’s trippy tribute to Shelley Duvall and other underrated screen stealers hits the Hideout for its third year. Incorporating music (courtesy of local composer John Cicora), dancing, sketch comedy and acting, this surreal take on a variety show pays homage to its forbearers by celebrating overlooked and unexpected performers.

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Dawoud Bey
Photograph: Dawoud Bey, courtesy Museum of Contemporary Photography
Art, Photography

“Birmingham, Alabama, 1963: Dawoud Bey/Black Star”

icon-location-pin Museum of Contemporary Photography, Loop
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In 1963, the KKK bombed the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, killing four young black girls. To commemorate the event and pay tribute to the lives lost, Bey displays a series of side-by-side contemporary portraits, one of a child the same age as the slain children, the other of an adult the same age as the victims would have been in 2013.

Easter Maggie Daley
Photograph: Courtesy Medieval Times
Kids, Quirky events

Great Chicago Egg Hunt

icon-location-pin Maggie Daley Park | Chicago, IL, Millennium Park
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Medieval Times and Maggie Daley Park join forces for the Great Chicago Egg Hunt, a Middle Ages-themed Easter extravaganza. Royalty and knights on horseback show up to preside over a series of egg hunts on the park's main lawn, which allow children ages 2-12 to search for more than 25,000 candy-filled eggs. There are four sessions throughout the morning (at 10:30am, 11am, 11:30am and noon), but guests can stick around to decorate doughnuts from Stan’s Donuts or participate in knights-in-training drills.

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Clayton Hauck for Longman & Eagle
Clayton Hauck
Things to do, Quirky events

Adult Easter Egg Hunt

icon-location-pin Longman & Eagle, Logan Square
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Being a grown-up doesn't mean that you have to give up hunting for Easter eggs. Longman & Eagle hosts this annual scramble, hiding eggs throughout Logan Square and allowing teams of two people to scour the neighborhood searching for them. The teams that find the most eggs win a variety of great prizes (usually provided by local businesses) and all participants help raise money for One Tail at a Time. The hunt runs from noon to 2pm, but attendees can stick around after it's over for food and drinks at Longman & Eagle.

Walker Stalker Con 2016
Photograph: Jose Calvo
Things to do, Conventions

Walker Stalker Con

icon-location-pin Donald E. Stephens Convention Center,
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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 take place at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, where attendees will also have access to the concurrent Heroes and Villains Fan Fest. Confirmed guests include Jon Bernthal (Shane) and Lennie James (Morgan)—you can expect even more past and present zombie slayers to join the lineup as the convention draws near.

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Heroes & Villains Fan Fest
Photograph: Courtesy Fan Fest
Things to do, Conventions

Heroes & Villains Fan Fest

icon-location-pin Donald E. Stephens Convention Center,
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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 The Haunting of Hill House, Arrow, The Flash and The Punisher. In addition to signings and photo opportunities, you'll be able to test your superhero (or villain) skills on the convention floor by participating in indoor bungee jumping or safe archery.

Gregg Bordowitz
Photograph: Courtesy Video Data Bank
Art, Contemporary art

“Gregg Bordowitz: I Wanna Be Well”

icon-location-pin Art Institute of Chicago | Chicago, IL, Grant Park
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The Art Institute assembles the first survey of artist, poet and activist Gregg Bordowitz’s career, beginning with his gay-rights and AIDS documentary, some aspect of a shared lifestyle. Named for a song by the Ramones (one of Bordowitz’s favorite bands), the exhibit also features examples of his poetry, site-specific installations and his recent explorations of televised stand-up comedy.

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Stacey Abrams
Photograph: CC/Wikimedia Commons/Kerri Battles
Things to do, Festivals

Chicago Humanities Festival Spring Fest

icon-location-pin Various locations throughout Chicago,
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Coinciding with a celebration of the Chicago Humanities Festival's 30th birthday, the organization's Spring Fest welcomes a lineup of artists, activists and thinkers to the city for conversations based around the theme of "power." This season's lecture series features Georgia House of Representatives Minority Leader Stacey Abrams, philanthropist Melinda Gates, Atlantic staff writer George Packer and author of The Friend Sigrid Nunez. 

Photograph: Jordan Avery
Things to do, Festivals

Chicago Rum Festival

icon-location-pin Logan Square Auditorium, Logan Square
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Presented by the experts at the Rum Lab, the Chicago Rum Festival (formerly the Midwest Run Festival) brings together producers from across the world for an afternoon of tastings and mingling. Guests can choose from one of three different tickets and work their way through more than 50 different rum expressions, accompanied by complimentary snacks and live music. All attendees will receive a two-ounce souvenir snifter cup.

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Concerts in April 2019

True Widow
Photograph: Courtesy Relapse Records
Music, Punk and metal

True Widow + Telekinetic Yeti + Rezn

icon-location-pin Sleeping Village, Avondale
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Half Acre celebrates the 10th anniversary of its ubiquitous Daisy Cutter Pale Ale with a concert at Sleeping Village, headlined by sludgy rock trio True Widow. The Texas act's 2016 release AVVOLGERE combines the heavy sounds of metal with the resolute rhythms and spacey atmosphere of shoegaze music, finding the eerie, captivating middle ground between the two disparate genres. Iowa doom metal band Telekinetic Yeti and local stoner rockers Rezn round out the bill at Half Acre's heady Decades celebration (which just happens to fall on 4/20).

Deerhoof
Photograph: Courtesy the artist
Music, Rock and indie

Deerhoof + Palm + Bleach Party

icon-location-pin Lincoln Hall, Sheffield & DePaul
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Endlessly catchy and boundlessly energetic, Deerhoof's two-plus decades of musical output is still full of surprises. The quartet's 2017 album, Mountain Moves, finds the group collaborating with artists like Lætitia Sadier and Xenia Rubinos, providing a contrast to the chirpy vocals of lead singer Satomi Matsuzaki and the band's blistering funk-punk arrangements. Here, the band returns to Lincoln Hall in celebration of the venue's 10th anniversary, joined by experimental Philadelphia rockers Palm and local outfit Bleach Party.

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Sunn O)))
Photograph: Ronald Dick
Music, Punk and metal

Sunn O))) + Papa M

icon-location-pin Rockefeller Memorial Chapel, University of Chicago, Hyde Park
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Named for the boutique brand of amplifiers they favor, Stephen O'Malley and Greg Anderson front Seattle drone collective Sunn O))), which is typically augmented by a rotating cast of collaborators. Donning monk robes, the group doles out thick slabs of distortion and feedback, blurring the line between the chaotic disarray of noise music and the brutal melodies of contemporary metal. Sunn O))) comes to the Rockefeller Chapel is support of Life Metal, the first of the group's two planned 2019 release, both recorded with Chicago's own Steve Albini at his Electrical Audio studio. Pack your earplugs and show up early for a set from David Pajo's longrunning project, Papa M.

Diane Coffee
Photograph: Alexa Viscius
Music, Rock and indie

Diane Coffee + Woongi

icon-location-pin Schubas Tavern, Lake View
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A former child voice actor who played characters in animated series like Kim Possible and Lilo & Stitch: The Series, Shaun Fleming has continued putting on new identities through the albums he's release under the name of Diane Coffee. After portraying King Herod in the Lyric Opera's production of Jesus Christ Superstar last year, Fleming entered the studio to write an album that deals with the anxieties of life in a digital age. On Internet Arms, Fleming approaches contemporary electro-pop music with the theatricality of his glam rock alter-ego, creating soaring synth-dappeled anthems that recall the radio-friendly fare of Robyn and Lykke Li. During a special show commemorating the 30th anniverary of Schubas Tavern, Diane Coffee is joined by local synth-pop group Woongi.

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Billy Bragg
Photograph: Anthony Saint James
Music, Folk, country and blues

Billy Bragg

icon-location-pin Lincoln Hall, Sheffield & DePaul
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English folk singer Billy Bragg is best known for his collaborating with Wilco on the Woody Guthrie-penned Mermaid Avenue records, but he'll be focusing on some of his earliest songs when he brings his One Step Forward, Two Steps Backward tour to Lincoln Hall. During the three-night stand, Bragg will deliver a career-spanning set (April 25) before digging into his first three album, which marked his transition from a pub-rock frontman to a folk musician with a message (April 26). During this final show, Bragg will perform tracks from Workers Playtime, The Internationale and Don't Try This At Home, which are rife with overtly political lyrics.

Neko Case
Photograph: Courtesy Anti-Records
Music, Folk, country and blues

Neko Case + Shannon Shaw

icon-location-pin Vic Theatre, Lake View
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In the decades since she recorded her first solo EP in the kitchen of her Chicago apartment, Neko Case has established herself as a formidable country and rock troubadour (and an integral part of Canadian indie rock super group the New Pornographers). Co-produced with Björn Yttling of Peter Bjorn and John, Case's latest album, Hell-On, plays to all of her strengths, filled with folk-rock ballads that showcase Case's powerful voice and her reliably dark sense of humor. During Case's two-night stand at the Vic, Shannon Shaw of Shannon and the Clams supports.

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Music, Rock and indie

Foals + Preoccupations + Omni

icon-location-pin Riviera Theatre, Uptown
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In a just world, UK rockers Foals would be as big as contemporaries like Alt-J and Mumford and Son, headlining an arena tour through the states. As it stands, the Oxford act has become one of Britain's most prominent alt-rock acts, with a major label record deal and the clout to release its sprawling new album in two parts. For the most part, Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost Part 1 sticks to what the band does best, melding tricky rhythms with driving synths and proggy guitar riffs across a series of larger-than-life anthems. While the exectution doesn't always live up to Foals ambitions (or justify its scale), seeing the band work out the material's kinks onstage should make for an invigorating evening. Make sure to get to the Riviera Theatre early to catch sets from Atlanta power-trio Omni and post-punk act Preoccupations.

Music, Punk and metal

The Original Misfits

icon-location-pin Allstate Arena, Suburbs
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Glenn Danzig, Jerry Only and Doyle Wolfgang von Frankenstein reunited onstage for the first time in 33 years at Riot Fest in 2016, but the Original Misfits are coming back to Chicagoland for another evening of classic punk rock. Expect to see plenty of smiling skull T-shirts in the crowd as you listen to renditions of classic horror-tinged tracks like "Night of the Living Dead" and "Skulls."

Theater in April 2019

Photograph: Liz Lauren
Theater

Lottery Day

icon-location-pin Goodman Theatre | Chicago, IL, Loop
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The Ike Holter Theatrical Universe finally has its Avengers. Roping in characters from his six previous Rightlynd Saga plays, Holter delivers a grand finale. When local Rightlynd matriarch Mallory (J. Nicole Brooks) throws a backyard barbecue, none of her guests have any idea what she has in store. Lili-Anne Brown directs at the Goodman Theatre.

Photograph: Sam Doyle Photography
Theater

I’m Gonna Pray for You So Hard

icon-location-pin The Den Theatre, Wicker Park
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Actress Halley Feiffer, daughter of lauded cartoonist Jules Feiffer, penned this play about an actress whose father is a famous playwright. Over the course of a boozy weekend, the two of them have it out, saying things that can’t be unsaid. Amanda Caryl Fink and Tim Kidwell star in this scabrously funny play, directed by Cole von Glahn.

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Photograph: Spenser Davis
Theater

Language Rooms

icon-location-pin The Den Theatre, Wicker Park
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Ahmed loves his country and his job as an interrogator at a shadowy government facility. But when Ahmed’s loyalties get called into question, he finds himself driven to preserve his reputation at all costs. This dark comedy from Yussef El Guindi, directed by Kaiser Zaki Ahmed, should delight fans of The Office and George Orwell alike.

Photograph: Suzanna Mars
Theater

A Chorus Line

icon-location-pin Ruth Page Center for the Arts, Rush & Division
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Porchlight Music Theatre head honcho Brenda Didier directs this stone-cold Broadway classic about 17 dancers who find themselves at the audition of a lifetime sharing their life stories. With a book by James Kirkwood, Jr. that’s equal to Marvin Hamlisch’s eternal score, A Chorus Line always delivers. The dancing should be pretty great, too.

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Theater

Cambodian Rock Band

icon-location-pin Victory Gardens Biograph Theater, Sheffield & DePaul
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Fans of Lauren Yee (Hookman, King of the Yees) know that the San Francisco-born playwright rocks. Her play Cambodian Rock Band just makes that rocking literal. Weaving together history, drama and songs by L.A. outfit Dengue Fever, the show follows a father and daughter as they reckon with the legacy of the Cambodian genocide.

Photograph: Courtesy of Chicago Shakespeare Theater
Theater

Hamlet

icon-location-pin Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Streeterville
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Bad news: Broadway star Raul Esparza, who was originally set to star in this Barbara Gaines production, had to drop out. Good news: New York vet Maurice Jones is stepping into the role of the moody Danish prince alongside a gaggle of Chicago greats like Karen Aldridge, Larry Yando and Mike Nussbaum. Hamlet himself may be a killjoy, but that’s enough to get us excited.

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Photograph: Courtesy The House Theatre of Chicago
Theater

Pinocchio

icon-location-pin Chopin Theatre, River West/West Town
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This original adaptation of Pinocchio from The House Theater of Chicago stars U.K.-born puppeteer Sean Garrett—known around these parts for his riotous work in The Table at Chicago Shakes. The show is recommended for adults and those ages 11 and up. Translation: Stuff’s going to get a wee bit dark.

TheaterWit.Venue.jpg
Photograph: Max Herman
Theater

Admissions

icon-location-pin Theater Wit, Lake View
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It’s hard to tell: Is Operation Varsity Blues a blessing or a curse for Joshua Harmon’s satire about college admissions and white liberal hypocrisy? Either way, Harmon’s play is sure to make audiences squirm—just like his script for Bad Jews, which Jeremy Wechsler directed to great acclaim at Theater Wit in 2015.

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Photograph: Nico Fernandez: A Little Photo Studio
Theater

Hannah and Martin

icon-location-pin Theater Wit, Lake View
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This play is a blistering drama about the real-life love affair between German-Jewish journalist Hannah Arendt and her mentor, German philosopher Martin Heidegger, whose work supported the Nazi regime. Christina Gorman and Lawrence Grimm star, with Louis Contey directing for Shattered Globe Theatre.

Photograph: Evan Hanover
Theater

Remember the Alamo

icon-location-pin Neo-Futurarium, Uptown
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Soft-rock icon Phil Collins plays a surprisingly central role in Remember the Alamo, Nick Hart’s moving if messy meditation on Mexican-American identity. This being a Neo-Futurists production, the show is an effervescently self-aware combination of elements: sketches, musical numbers, pop-culture references, shadow puppetry and personal stories from the performers, to name a few.

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More to explore

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