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
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!
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.
Concerts in March 2017
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Art in March 2017
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.
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.
With the Obama Presidential Center scheduled to open in Jackson Park in 2020, the Hyde Park Art Center presents a series of visual works, performances and discussions that speculate about what forthcoming institution might offer visitors. The exhibition is curated by Ross Jordan, the Curatorial Manager at the Jane Addams Hull House Museum.
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.
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?
Theater in March 2017
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.
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.
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.