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March 2017 events calendar for Chicago

Plan out your March in Chicago with our calendar of the best things to do, including picks from theater, art and music

Photograph: Max Herman

March in Chicago conjures one color: green. From the river to the drunk people to the junk at drug stores, Chicago does not skimp on the St. Patrick’s Day celebrations. But March also marks the creaky beginnings of spring—little blades of grass peeking out here and there. But don’t get your hopes up; it’s not quite outdoor bar weather yet. Because as they say, Chicago comes in like a lion, and goes out like…well, like a drunk lion. Start planning your month with our March 2017 events calendar for Chicago.


RECOMMENDED: Events calendar for Chicago in 2017

Featured events in March 2017

The best St. Patrick's Day events in Chicago

St. Patrick’s Day: When all of Chicago is Irish. Of course, we have a huge Irish-American population in Chicago, but you don’t need to be from the isles to have a good time on St. Paddy’s. From seeing bagpipers and Irish dancers at the parades, to seeing the river turn green, to throwing back a Guinness (or twelve) at your local Irish pub, there’s no wrong way to celebrate. Take advantage of all our city of immigrants has to offer around St. Patrick’s Day in Chicago—just don’t forget to wear green! 

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By: Grace Perry

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 April 29 2017 - Sunday December 17 2017

Baconfest

Bacon lovers rejoice! Baconfest is coming back to Chicago with more bacon than ever. Current attendees include Black Dog Gelato, Piece, Glazed and Infused, Bang Bang Pie Shop, Taco in a Bag 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.

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UIC Forum , Little Italy, UIC Friday March 31 2017 - Saturday April 1 2017
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Concerts in March 2017

Dawes

Los Angeles folk rockers Dawes string together the types of vocal harmonies that you haven't really heard since the last night Crosby, Stills and Nash got along with one another. The group's latest album, We're All Gonna Die, contains songs that tell stories, confronting morality and relationships with the clear-eyed lyricism and melodic heft of great the ’70s songwriters the quartet carefully emulates.

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Until Wed Mar 1

Mind Over Mirrors + Brokeback

It's a double album release night at Constellation, as two Chicago-based acts celebrate (and perform) their latest projects. First up, Tortoise bassist Doug McCombs picks up a guitar and revives his long-running Brokeback project, playing sweeping, Morricone-tinged tracks from his new LP, Illinois River Valley Blues. Then, ambient artist Jaime Fennelly (better known as Mind Over Mirrors) debuts his latest record Undying Color, a trippy symphony of droning synthesizers that features members of Eleventh Dream Day, Califone and Circuit des Yeux.

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Until Fri Mar 3

METZ + Screaming Females +Sneaks + Dim

Recommended

Each year, the Empty Bottle thumbs its numb nose at Jack Frost by throwing a block party in the dead of winter. Considering the mild weather we've had, it could be freezing or the temperatures might be spring-like. Noisy Canadian trio METZ and New Jersey indie rockers Screaming Females headline the outdoor concert, joined by minimalist electronic act Sneaks and local shoegazers Dim. Goose Island will have booze for sale, Dark Matter is bring the coffee and Bite Cafe will warm your belly with chili. Did we mention that admission is totally free?

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Until Sat Mar 4
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Adam Torres + Quinn Tsan

Austin, Texas singer-songwriter Adam Torres is an old soul with a powerful falsetto that sounds like its being piped in from across the generations of folk rock history. On his latest EP, I Came to Sing the Song, Torres presents a collection of subdued ballads that document the journey of searching for a purpose in life. He's joined by Minneapolis musician Quinn Tsan, who has previously collaborated with local acts such as Joe Pug and Sima Cunningham.

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Until Sun Mar 5

Devendra Banhart

Once the kind of "freak folk," singer-songwriter Devendra Banhart has taken a turn for the (mostly) conventional over his past few albums. His latest, Ape in Pink Marble, splits the difference between the quirky folk-pop of his distant past and the subdued, whispery crooning of his more recent output.

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Until Mon Mar 6

Tennis

Recommended

Husband-and-wife duo Tennis wrote their first record after an eight-month sailing trip, so its no surprise that its latest work is also inspired by a nautical voyage. Featuring warm organs, crisp guitars and Alaina Moore's glistening vocals, Yours Conditionally is another slice of sunny, ’60s-influenced pop that grapples with what it means to belong in the modern world.

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Until Thu Mar 9
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Phantogram + The Veldt

Recommended

Phantogram is one of those bands that your grandmother has probably heard, based solely on the number of times its songs have been placed in advertisements for cars and razors. Melding taut hip-hop beats with shoegazing synths and Sarah Barthel's crisp pop vocals, the duo has worked its way from indie label obscurity to collaborations with Big Boi (under the name Big Grams). ‘90s shoegaze duo the Veldt opens the evening.

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Until Sat Mar 11

Jenny Lewis + Springtime Carnivore

Goose Island Beer Company celebrates 312 Day with the help of Rilo Kiley singer Jenny Lewis, who headlines a concert that honors the local brewer's made-up holiday. After celebrating the 10th anniversary of her country-tinged indie rock classic Rabbit Fur Coat last year, Lewis has flirted with post punk (as part of her new project, Nice as Fuck), sang with throwback New York rock trio EZTV and shown off her collection of airbrushed suit jackets. Psych-pop singer-songwriter Greta Morgan, better known as Springtime Carnivore, opens the show.

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Until Sun Mar 12

Ariana Grande + Little Mix + Victoria Monét

Recommended

There's nothing very menacing about Ariana Grande's latest album, Dangerous Woman, unless you find powerful vocal performances frightening. The pop superstar goes full-diva with a collection of soaring Mariah Carey-style ballads, set alongside crossover tracks featuring Lil Wayne and Future. British pop group Little Mix and R&B singer-songwriter Victoria Monét support.

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Until Tue Mar 14
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Steve Aoki + Krewella + Cash Cash + Grandtheft

Local radio station B96 throws an all-ages St. Patrick's Day EDM rager, dubbed Lectric Leprechaun. Cake-throwing, Hollywood party mascot Steve Aoki headlines the show, bringing plenty of champagne and glossy club jams from the latest volume of his ongoing Neon Future album series. Local EDM duo Krewella, electro-pop trio Cash Cash and Canadian DJ Grandtheft support.

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Until Wed Mar 15
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Art in March 2017

"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

"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

"Design Episodes: Form, Style, Language"

Ahead of the Fall 2017 opening of the Art Institute's permanent display of architecture and design works, the museum exhibits examples of postmodern design in the 1970s and ’80s, including colorful pieces by Italian group Memphis and architectural firm Coop Himmelblau.

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Art Institute of Chicago , Grant Park Until Sunday June 25 2017
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"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, including intricate mobiles by Alexander Calder and lightbox sculptures by Alfredo Jaar.

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Museum of Contemporary Art , Streeterville Until Sunday June 18 2017

"Classicism"

Art historians have long debated the exact meaning of the term "classicism," which typically denotes a reverence for Ancient Greek and Roman art. The latest Smart Museum exhibition explores how interpretations of classicism have evolved, assembling more than 70 paintings, sculptures and replicas that draw inspiration from ancient art forms.

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Smart Museum of Art , Hyde Park Until Sunday June 11 2017
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"Kader Attia"

Growing up between the Algeria and the suburbs of Paris, Kader Attia always felt culturally out of place. His collages, sculptures and installation confront his search for identity, exploring the differences between Western and non-Western approaches to history and tradition. His latest exhibition at the Block Museum is centered around newly commissioned work informed by Attia's research in the collections of Northwestern University’s Herskovits Library of Africana Studies.

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Mary & Leigh Block Museum of Art , Evanston Until Sunday April 16 2017

“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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Theater in March 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. By filtering the story of the American Experiment’s beginning into modern, meticulously rhymed vernacular and populating the stage with performers of color to play the likes of Hamilton, Washington, Jefferson and Madison, Miranda and his regular collaborators (director Thomas Kail, music supervisor Alex Lacamoire and choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler) make the founding fathers feel fresh and, miraculously, human. 

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The PrivateBank Theatre , Loop Until Sunday September 17 2017

Bootycandy

Recommended

Robert O’Hara’s collection of interconnected sketches, loosely organized around a character standing in for the playwright’s experiences growing up black and gay in the South, evokes George C. Wolfe’s similarly structured The Colored Museum from two decades earlier. One of Bootycandy’s individually titled scenes, “The Last Gay Play,” even seems to directly reference Museum’s “The Last Momma-on-the-Couch Play.” When the final scene of the first act is styled as a playwrights’ panel with a white male moderator asking writers of color to explain everything we’ve seen up to that point, it’s clear O’Hara is here to interrogate the relationship between institutional theater and individual identity. But while Bootycandy isn’t a traditional theatrical narrative, it’s also far from academic exercise. In Windy City Playhouse’s Chicago premiere, directed by O’Hara, it’s bitingly funny, provocative, uncomfortable and engrossing. From Osiris Khepera’s fiery sermon about alleged homosexuals in the church choir and Krystel McNeil and Debrah Neal’s jokey, multicharacter telephone sketch, O’Hara quickly establishes we’re in for an evening as uproarious as it is interrogative. Rob Fenton shows off his range with an array of characters often set up in opposition to the indispensable Travis Turner, in the role representing a version of O’Hara himself; Turner’s innate intelligence and charm are necessary leavening for some of O’Hara’s more abrasive moves. With an intersectional, unpredictable vi

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Windy City Playhouse , Irving Park Until Saturday April 15 2017

The Scene

A ditzy-seeming social climber named Clea upends the life of a middle-aged man in Theresa Rebeck's dark comedy about toxic ambition. Kimberly Senior directs the Chicago premiere.

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Writers Theatre , Suburbs Until Sunday April 2 2017
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The Source

Two journalists clash when they're both summoned across the globe to meet a mysterious leaker who promises to divulge U.S. government secrets in this timely new drama by Gabe McKinley. Kristina Valada-Viars and Cody Proctor star in Route 66 Theatre Company's world premiere, directed by Jason Gerace.

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The Den Theatre , Wicker Park Until Sunday April 2 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 April 24 2017 - Monday August 28 2017
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Spamilton

This parody of the musical Hamilton, from Forbidden Broadway mastermind Gerard Allesandrini, follows its source material from New York to Chicago. The satire replaces central character Alexander Hamilton with creator Lin-Manuel Miranda himself, as he grapples with ubiquitous fame and Disney dollars.

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Royal George Theatre , Lincoln Park Until Monday May 29 2017

Gender Breakdown

With a concept by Dani Bryant, direction by Erica Vannon and a 10-person, all-female cast, Collaboraction's new production uses stories culled from women across the Chicago theater community to examine gender inequity in the arts and beyond.

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Collaboraction , Wicker Park Until Saturday April 1 2017

The Great and Terrible Wizard of Oz

The House Theatre of Chicago revisits one of its earliest hits, Phillip Klapperich’s deconstructive 2005 take on Dorothy’s journey over the rainbow. This version's suitable for teens and tweens, but might be too dark for younger kids.

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Chopin Theatre , River West/West Town Until Sunday May 7 2017
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10 Out of 12

Recommended

For those who love theater about theater, Theater Wit takes it to extremes with the Chicago premiere of Anne Washburn’s play, which takes the form of a technical rehearsal for a play—audience members get headsets to listen to all the backstage crosstalk.

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Theater Wit , Lake View Until Sunday April 23 2017
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Comments

3 comments
Joe S
Joe S

How is there no BIG Parades on actual St. Patrick's Day??? Will the river not even be green still???