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January 2017 events calendar for Chicago

Dig into January events in Chicago with our calendar of the best things to do, including picks from theater, art and music

Photograph: CC/Instagram/tina.poon

A new year means a fresh start, a chance to be the best version of you possible.  Unless your New Year’s resolution is to stay in more, we’ve got a calendar full of ways to get out there and kick 2017’s ass from the get-go. Hit up the best cocktail bars in Chicago, hunker down with some delicious comfort food, go see some world-class comedy— Chicago certainly doesn’t shut down in the winter. So throw off those blankets and let our January 2017 events calendar guide yout winter in Chicago.

RECOMMENDED: Events calendar for Chicago in 2017

 

Featured events in January 2017

Indoor and outdoor ice skating rinks

Plunging temps don’t mean you have to hide away, especially when you have easy access to so many of the city’s excellent indoor and outdoor skating rinks. Between your many merry Christmas events, time reserved rooting for the Blackhawks and nights out sipping steamy hot cocktails, find time to hit the ice with your family and friends this winter. 

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By: Kris Vire

Chinese New Year parades and celebrations in Chicago

If you need a few extra weeks before digging into your New Years Resolutions, you're in luck: You've got another chance to begin anew on Chinese New Year. The Year of the Rooster falls on January 28 this year. Whether you're more in the mood for a dragon dance or a great Chinese restaurant, we've rounded up some of the best Chinese New Year celebrations in Chicago. 

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By: Nick Kotecki

Tomorrow Never Knows 2017 lineup

Chicago has long hosted one of the most robust lineups of summer music festivals in the nation, but the city doesn't rest on its laurels when cold weather settles in. Tomorrow Never Knows is a festival that every January brings a lineup of musicians and comedians to some of Chicago's best music venues. You'll be able to see hip-hop (Open Mike Eagle, BadBadNotGood), psych rock (Wand, Jeff the Brotherhood), a tribute to David Bowie (Sons of the Silent Age) and some hilarious comedians (Beth Stelling, Phoebe Robinson).

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By: Zach Long

Handmade Market Chicago

Recommended

Handmade Market Chicago returns to beloved Ukie Village club The Empty Bottle for an October–April market. More than 30 sellers will ply their homemade arts and crafts for this monthly celebration of the local and artisanal.

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Empty Bottle , Ukrainian Village Saturday April 8 2017

Adler After Dark

Recommended

The Adler Planetarium's monthly 21 and up nighttime event invites adults to explore the Museum Campus attraction while enjoying drinks and entertainment. January's event gets extra terrestrial with "First Contact." 

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16 Mar 2017

Donut Fest

After a successful first year Donut Fest returns to Chop Shop for year three. Vendors include Glazed and Infused, West Town Bakery and many others.

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Until Sun Jan 29

Concerts in Chicago in January

Ian's Party

Kick off 2017 at a three-day music festival devoted to showcasing local bands of all stripes. Ian's Party spreads the celebration between Wicker Park venues Double Door and Subterranean, with tickets available for individuals shows or the entire weekend. Throughout the festival, you'll be able to catch sets from prominent Chicago bands like Negative Scanner, Meat Wave and Paper Mice. Best of all, you'll be able to find out what bands with names like Underground Railroad to Candyland and Nnamdi's Sooper-Dooper Secret Side Project actually sound like.

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Until Sun Jan 8

Tortoise + Monobody

Bouncing between jazz-fusion, krautrock and electronica, long-running instrumental outfit Tortoise has become even more unpredictable with age. Members of the Chicago-based group have departed the city in recent years, but the band reconvened to complete its 2016 release, The Catastrophist, its first album in nearly six years. For longtime fans, the twisting guitar riffs, complex rhythms and crisscrossing synth melodies won't come as a surprise, but for anyone unfamiliar with Tortoise, the group's music is likely to be a revelation. Local jazz-inflected instrumental rockers Monobody open the show. This concert is part of the Tomorrow Never Knows festival.

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Empty Bottle , Ukrainian Village Sunday March 26 2017

Big Thief + Sam Evian + Campdogzz

Folk rock quartet Big Thief hail from Brooklyn, but a few decades ago, the band's more subdued ballads wouldn't have sounded out of place in the in the cafés and bars of Greenwich Village. The group's Saddle Creek debut, Masterpiece, balances out its quieter moments with some bursts of noisy energy, providing contrasting backdrops for singer Adrianne Lenker's narrative lyricism. Genre-hopping singer-songwriter Sam Evian and local rock duo Campdogzz open the show. This concert is part of the Tomorrow Never Knows festival.

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Until Wed Jan 11

Wand + Acid Dad + Flaural + Joe Bordenaro

Recommended

Prolific prog-rockers Wand dig into their bag of tricks, conjuring up an array of tunes influenced by heavy metal warriors and analog synth wizards of old (a.k.a, the ‘70s). The rest of the bill is equally heady, including Brooklyn psych punks Acid Dad, motorik indie pop quartet Flaural and Illinois rocker Joe Bordenaro. This concert is part of the Tomorrow Never Knows festival.

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Until Thu Jan 12

Ezra Furman + Dream Version

Recommended

Ezra Furman is a youthful anachronism: A verbose lyricist marooned in an indie scene that favors headphone-friendly noisemakers. On his third solo release, Perpetual Motion People, the Evanston native conveys what it feels like to be young and adrift in an uncertain world. Local elementary school teachers and indie rockers Dream Version open the show. This concert is part of the Tomorrow Never Knows festival.

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Until Thu Jan 12

Foxtrott + Ian Sweet + In Tall Buildings

There's an effervescent, restless quality to the output of Montreal producer and songwriter Marie-Helene Delorme (better known as Foxtrott), who combines self-taught vocal chops with skillful electronic arrangements on her debut, A Taller Us. She's joined by Los Angeles garage pop trio Ian Sweet and local atmospheric rockers In Tall Buildings. This concert is part of the Tomorrow Never Knows festival.

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Until Fri Jan 13

Caroline Smith + Overcoats

Minnesota singer-songwriter Caroline Smith is comfortable with herself, a sentiment that comes across in the R&B and synth-pop odes that populate her most recent album, Half About Being a Woman. Whether she's decrying unrealistic body imagery or singing about her girl friends, Smith makes music that celebrates her experiences and struggles as a woman. She's joined by soulful New York duo Overcoats. This concert is part of the Tomorrow Never Knows festival.

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Until Fri Jan 13

Tensnake + Savile

Recommended

German DJ and producer Marco Niemerski draws inspiration from ’80s funk, disco and soul on his 2014 debut, Glow, which includes collaborations with Chic's Nile Rodgers and Jamie Lidell. Tensnake's undulating grooves and dancefloor beats provide the perfect soundtrack for showing off your moves under a gleaming disco ball. Smart Bar resident Savile supports. This concert is part of the Tomorrow Never Knows festival.

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Until Fri Jan 13

Title Fight

Part of the latest wave of emo-influenced bands, Pennsylvania quartet Title Fight has mostly turned away form its hardcore punk roots in favor of My Bloody Valentine-style atmosphere. The group's latest album, Hypernight, wallows in wave of immaculately sculpted shoegaze chords and some gratuitous whammy bar use—MBV frontman Kevin Shields would be proud. This concert is part of the Tomorrow Never Knows festival.

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Until Sat Jan 14

Jeff the Brotherhood + Chastity

Recommended

Jeff the Brotherhood enjoy the simple things in life, namely drinking beer, getting stoned and writing writing psychedelic tunes about their preferred pastimes. Zones, the Nashville act's latest LP, is filled with pop rock anthems that are reminiscent of Weezer after a few hits from the "Hash Pipe." If you decide to chill out at this show, prepare to have your face melted. Angsty Canadian garage rockers Chastity open the evening. This concert is part of the Tomorrow Never Knows festival.

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Until Sat Jan 14

Ceremony + Negative Scanner + Muuy Biien + Hogg

These days, Matador-signed Cali hardcore band Ceremony favors a feel-bad mid-tempo chug, contrasting with the energetic, scream-filled tracks that graced its previous albums. On its latest, The L-Shaped Man, the group wallows in obligatory breakup-album sadness, dabbling with more minimalist post-punk maneuvers that evoke Joy Division and Interpol. Local punks Negative Scanner, Atlanta rockers Muuy Biien and noise-makers Hogg open the show. This concert is part of the Tomorrow Never Knows festival.

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Until Sat Jan 14

Sons of the Silent Age

Recommended

Industrial icon Chris Connelly leads his band of Bowie devotees, celebrating the 40th anniversary of the artist's first installment in his seminal Berlin Trilogy, Low. Sons of the Silver Age will be covering the album in full—expect an extremely reverent tribute to the Thin White Duke. A portion of ticket proceeds will benefit cancer research at the Pablove Foundation. This concert is part of the Tomorrow Never Knows festival.

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Until Sun Jan 15

The Newberry Consort

The Newberry Library’s early music ensemble breaks out harps and fiddles for a program dedicated to the music and poetry of 14th century German nobleman Oswald von Wolkenstein. While the music is classical, the experience of seeing the group is decidedly modern, featuring visuals and supertitles that will enhance your understanding of this historic composer.

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Until Sat Jan 14

Chicago Sinfonietta: MLK Tribute Concert

Conductor Mei-Ann Chen leads the Chicago Sinfonietta in its annual tribute to the life and enduring message of Dr. Martin Luther King. With the help of a diverse group of young musicians, the orchestra presents a jubilant program that culminates in Ode to Joy from Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9.

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Until Mon Jan 16

BadBadNotGood + Mattson 2

Toronto quartet BadBadNotGood are like a great hip-hop DJ in the form of a band, harnessing jazz-fusion chops (and music school education) to create instrumentals that sound like they were sampled from a dusty crate of records. The group has backed artists like Ghostface Killah and Tyler, the Creator, but the best tracks on its latest record, IV, don't need an emcee—these songs speak for themselves. Identical twin jazz-rock duo the Mattson 2 open the show. This concert is part of the Tomorrow Never Knows festival.

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Until Sun Jan 15

Open Mike Eagle

Alternative hip-hop icon Open Mike Eagle grew up on the South Side of Chicago, attending break dancing sessions at Promontory Point and rapping with the city-wide Nacrobats crew. Now, the LA-based emcee chats with comedians on his Secret Skin podcast (he's college pals with Hannibal Buress) and raps about checking his phone too often on his latest album, Hella Personal Film Festival. Mixing poignant observations with esoteric references, OME's music is like a window into a stream of conciousness that refuses to take itself too seriously. This concert is part of the Tomorrow Never Knows festival.

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Until Sun Jan 15

Steve Gunn + Lee Ranaldo + Meg Baird

Recommended

Once a guitarist in Kurt Vile's band, Steve Gunn struck out on his own to craft a signature blend of acoustic Americana, bluesy boogie and deep, nomadic jams. He's joined by Sonic Youth co-founder guitarist Lee Ranaldo, who has spent the years since the band's separation continuing to write twisting avant-rock songs. Meg Baird, who fronts Oakland psych rockers Heron Oblivion, supports.

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Until Mon Jan 16

Alkaline Trio

Matt Skiba takes break from his new gig as lead singer of Blink-182 to reunite with Illinois punks Alkaline Trio. Expect to hear some cuts from the group's forthcoming ninth album, as well as plenty of pop-punk classics over the course of three nights at Metro. Heck, they may even bust out their cover of Berlin's 1982 single "The Metro."

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Until Fri Jan 20

Ben Gibbard + Julien Baker

Death Cab for Cuite frontman Ben Gibbard goes it alone during a speical two-night stand at Thalia Hall. The former king of sensitive, emotional indie rock hasn't put out a solo record since 2012's Former Lives, but he's got plenty of cuts from The O.C. soundtrack and some more recent tracks to fill out his set. Memphis singer-songwriter Julien Baker opens the show.

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Until Fri Jan 20

The Lumineers + Andrew Bird + Margaret Glapsy

Ho! Hey! After providing the rollicking folk soundtrack to countless movie trailers and commercials, the Lumineers have returned with the slightly more mature Cleopatra. The Denver-based group's latest batch of tunes are bit more moody and reserved, reflecting upon its rapid rise to fame with spare acoustic instrumentation. Don't worry—you'll still have plenty of opportunities to sing (or shout) along. Violin-plucking singer songwriter Andrew Bird and grungy California folk rocker Margaret Glapsy support.

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Until Fri Jan 20

Kings of Leon + Deerhunter

Recommended

On its latest record, WALLS, Kings of Leon downplay the group’s Southern twang and embrace big, arena-ready rock in the style of former tour mates U2. They're the kind of songs that, for better or worse, pair perfectly with “Sex on Fire.” Show up early to catch an opening set from experimental indie rockers Deerhunter.

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Until Mon Jan 23

Mogwai

Scottish post-rock stalwarts Mogwai have been creating grandiose instrumental music for more than two decades—the kind of tracks that get included in movie trailers, French zombie TV shows and documentaries about the end of the world. During it's stop at Thalia Hall, the group will perform selections from its soundtrack for the 2015 doc Atomic, Living in Dread and Promise, which uses archival footage to explore the benefits and dangers of nuclear science.

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Until Tue Jan 24

Chicago Psych Fest VIII

Recommended

Melt your mind at the annual Chicago Psych Fest, which gathers trippy underground musicians of all persuasions. In its eighth year, the two-day festival offers up another solid lineup, beginning on Friday night with sets from psych rockers Post Animals (featuring Steve from Stranger Things), audio-visual duo Spectralina, local shoegazers Diagonal and synth tinkerer TALsounds. On Saturday, guitarists Ryley Walker and Bill MacKay join forces with drummer Michael Zerang, accompanied by sets from Dos Santos: Anti-Beat Orquesta, Magic Carpet and Metal Tongues

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Until Sat Jan 28

Twenty One Pilots

Combining reggae, rap-rock and a bit of ukulele balladry, Ohio duo Twenty One Pilots has become one of the hottest new pop acts—no wonder they’re so “Stressed Out.” The group's EMØTIØNAL RØADSHØW Tour rolls through the United Center—you better believe that these unlikely Top 40 juggernauts will sell the place out.

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Until Sat Jan 28

Art in Chicago in January

"MCA DNA: Riot Grrrls"

The MCA's latest exhibition in its ongoing DNA series confronts the gender inequality that still haunts the art world. Named after the ‘90s feminist punk movement, "Riot Grrrls" showcases paintings by notable female artists like Mary Heilmann, Charline von Heyl and Judy Ledgerwood. The exhibition also features work by younger artists, including Molly Zuckerman-Hartung and Amy Feldman.

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Museum of Contemporary Art , Streeterville Until Sunday June 4 2017

"Tattoo"

Learn about the history of tattooing, a practice that dates back at least 5,000 years and holds different cultural connotations around the world. Developed by Paris’s musée du quai Branly-Jacques Chirac, "Tattoo" contains 170 objects, including historical artifacts and detailed silicone models that are covered in ink.

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The Field Museum , Museum Campus Until Sunday April 30 2017

"Above, Before & After"

A painter may insist on hanging their canvases on a gallery wall, but some artists prefer to blur the line between their work and the environment in which it is presented. In "Above, Before & After," the MCA assembles a collection of two- and three-dimensional works that exploit the relationship between art and the viewer.

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Museum of Contemporary Art , Streeterville Until Sunday June 18 2017

Theater and Comedy in Chicago in January

The Winner…of Our Discontent

Back in August, Second City Theatricals launched a touring show in collaboration with the online magazine Slate. Explicitly political but “completely unbiased,” Unelectable You attempted a journalism-esque false balance, suggesting that candidates Trump and Clinton, insurgent-turned-surrogate Sanders, the vast field of failed Republican candidates and the whole presidential process were equally worthy of send-up. The stab at objectivity made much of the material feel timid.   Second City’s new mainstage cast makes no such claim to impartiality. The Winner…of Our Discontent, debuting just over a month after the election, delivers on its title: Its writer-performers are reeling, hurt, afraid and angry. Their reactions to the results of November 8, and the cognitive dissonance of its continuing repercussions, are understandably, admirably raw.   But is Second City raw actually Second City at its most effective? You could argue that the institution’s proficiency with polish and spin have historically served it best in terms of explicitly political material. While I wouldn’t suggest that it’s these performers’ job to try to understand “the other side” any more than it’s their job to mend the republic, the political rhetoric in the new revue—which can feel like a good three-quarters of the show—is both as righteous and as lopsided as the average Facebook feed.   Then again, perhaps any Trump voter coming to a comedy show in Chicago at this moment and expecting not to be chall

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The Second City , Lincoln Park Until Saturday April 1 2017

Cupid Has a Heart On

This long-running, lovey-dovey musical sketch show has found the perfect home in Stage 773's cabaret theater. It's refreshingly raunchy for date night, although its quaint take on dating in the age of social media feels a little rusty and outdated at times.

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Stage 773 , Lake View Until Saturday June 24 2017

Hamilton

Recommended

Let’s not mince words, since we’ve already spilled so many of them: 'Hamilton,' writer-composer-lyricist Lin-Manuel Miranda’s biography of Alexander Hamilton as refracted through a hip-hop, pop and R&B lens, is a sprawling, stunning, singular achievement. 

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The PrivateBank Theatre , Loop Until Sunday September 17 2017

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