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, light(er) jackets, melting snow. But don’t get your hopes up; you probably won't experience outdoor bar weather quite 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 2018 events calendar for Chicago.
RECOMMENDED: Events calendar for Chicago in 2018
Featured events in March 2018
St. Patrick’s Day: When all Chicagoans are Irish. Of course, we have a huge Irish-American population here in Chicago, but you don’t need to be from the isles to have a good time on March 17. Check out our complete guide of ways to celebrate the holiday and maybe you'll get lucky.
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.
Local chefs and industry experts come together at the annual local and sustainable food conference. In 2018, Fat Rice's Abe Conlon and Adrienne Lo will give a master class on the uses of vinegar; Sarah Grueneberg will do a cooking demo; and local chefs inlcuding Rick Bayless, Jason Vincent and Ina Pinkey will make appearances, too. Plus there's more than 150 exhibitors, including farmers, food company execs, and beer and wine purveyors, who will conduct lectures, presentations and workshops over the course of three days. Some events are ticketed—check out the event's website for details.
Concerts in March 2018
Guitarist Yonatan Gat is one of the most visceral performers out there, and it's not just because of his versatile six-string chops—which lend themselves to everything from psychedelic rock to avant-garde jazz. At the head of his three-piece band, Gat typically eschews the stage in favor of playing in the middle of the audience, allowing his winding compositions to feed off the energy of tightly-packed bodies.
Tyler, the Creator owes much of his current success to the controversy that he generated as the sophomoric figurehead of Odd Future, the California hip-hop collective that includes Earl Sweatshirt and Frank Ocean. On Flower Boy, Tyler moves beyond the shocking (and often problematic) rhymes that populated his early records, taking a more confessional tone about the nature of race and sexuality. But no matter how insightful Tyler gets, his live shows probably aren't going to be any less anarchic.
Merrill Garbus once again embraces funky Afrobeat rhythms and hair-raising vocals on her latest album, I Can Feel You Creep Into My Private Life, but the record itself is wracked with a sense of guilt. Confronting her own white privilege and cultural appropriation, the latest iteration of Tune-Yards seems at odds with its past, stripping away the neon face paint and carefree word-association in favor of music that makes a calculated attempt to empathize.
While songs like "Kids" and "Time to Pretend" have become cultural touchstones for millennials, MGMT has always seemed insistent on defying expectations on its ensuing albums. After writing much of their debut while they were college students, Andrew VanWyngarden and Ben Goldwasser opted to explore psych-rock and trippy studio trickery. A five-year hiatus hasn't softened MGMT's stubborn tendencies—Little Dark Age is another psychedelic opus with a few nods to the group's synth-pop prowess.
Following in the footsteps of Prince, R&B crooner Miguel makes smooth, sexy music that doesn't shy away from allusions to the current political climate (not to mention the heat he's packing beneath those tight leather trousers). On War & Leisure, he juxtaposes carnal pleasures with global unrest—his sultry anthems invite listeners to unwind and enjoy themselves, but the specter of conflict and unease is always present. He may not be topping the charts, but Miguel's music stays unflinchingly true to his seductive vision.
Balaclava-clad Russian punk rockers Pussy Riot made headlines in 2012, when the group staged a guerrilla performance in a Moscow church that resulted in the arrest of several members. Now the feminist art collective is hitting the road for its first U.S. tour, bringing its “live music performance art” to Subterranean and Beat Kitchen. The band's current lineup includes Nadya Tolokonnikova, who previously appeared on a panel discussion of the group's legacy at Riot Fest in 2014.
The music industry is a sleazy business filled with shady characters, but nobody embraces its seediness quite like Alex Cameron. The Australian singer-songwriter (who formerly played with Sydney electronic act Seekae) performs in character, writing self-aware songs from the perspective of internet porn addicts and wanna-be alpha males. Accompanied by saxophonist and business partner Roy Malloy, Cameron takes his musical satire seriously, building ‘80-inflected synth-pop arrangements that are as compelling as the narratives he weaves.
Even if you’ve never actually listened to one of his records, you’ve heard Ty Dolla $ign’s silky R&B vocals on tracks by the likes of Kanye West, Vince Staples and Lupe Fiasco. In the increasingly competitive world of computer-pitched hook singers for hire, he's one of the most prolific. The L.A. crooner shows off his versatility on his latest album, Beach House 3, which includes sultry takes on reggae and trap music.
What do you get when you pair one of the most reliable modern pop divas with a ridiculously-connected music mogul who loves shouting his own name? You might think the answer is “a hit single,” but it's actually a co-headlining arena tour that finds Demi Lovato and DJ Khaled sharing the stage. To be honest, we're looking forward to earworm anthem “Sorry Not Sorry” far more than any song that features Khaled shouting “We the best music!”
Pink (or P!nk) has long been a pop-star in consciously-edgy clothes, armed with up-tempo tracks and heartwrenching ballads that show off her formidable vocal range. Touring behind her latest LP, Beautiful Trauma, Pink is cooking up another thrilling arena show that—if her building-scaling AMA stunt is any indication—will be filled with propulsive beats and hunky acrobats stunt-dancing from bungee cords.
Art in March 2018
Chicago-based painter Anna Kunz explores the properties of color and light through this installation at the Hyde Park Art Center. Combining screens, paintings, fabrics and sound, the work immerses viewers in a vibrant spectrum of hues that can be experienced from various perspectives in the gallery.
Chicago-native artist Barbara Jones-Hogu was a leader of the Black Arts Movement and a founding member of the African Commune of Bad Relevant Artists (AfriCOBRA) who was a contributor to the infamous South Side mural, the Wall of Respect. "Resist, Relate, Unite 1968-1975" is her first museum exhibition, showcasing prints, lithographs and woodcuts that celebrate African American culture.
Using unconventional materials like glitter, talcum powder, and perfume, abstract artist Pindell creates canvases filled with intricate details. This survey of the New York artist’s work includes photos, videos and drawings that were produced after she developed short-term amnesia.
Artist Beverly Fishman explores the complex visual language of the medical industry through her work, which useurethane paint to create vibrant eye-catching colors. "Chemical Sublime" displays works resembling the shapes of pills, named for the maladies that the pharmaceuticals that inspired them claim to treat.
When Egyptians were mummified centuries ago, some were wrapped with paintings of themselves. The Block Museum’s new exhibit displays portraits recovered from the ancient city of Tebtunis, exploring how archaeologists and art historians have collaborated to understand the creative custom.
Three individuals examine their family histories in this exhibition of photos which draws upon the turmoil of conflicts such as World War II and the Croatian War of Independence. Throughout the exhibit, photographers Adam Golfer, Diana Matar and Hrvoje Slovenc examine the close relationship between their personal experiences and the environments that informed them.
Hyde Park Art Center pays tribute to Bill Walker, the man behind the seminal South Side public art project "The Wall of Respect," with an exhibition of painting and drawings that he completed between 1979 and 1984. The work was borrowed from the Chicago State University’s collection and focuses on the issues that still plague black urban communities.
The latest exhibition in the Museum of Contemporary Art's Chicago Works series highlights the work of local artist Paul Heyer, who presents a selection of paintings and sculptures inspired by LGBTQ club culture. Pastel hues and surreal imagery accompanied by a soundtrack inspired by YouTube ASMR videos create a psychedelic, dream-like space that emulates the hallucinogenic quality of a drug-addled evening on the dance floor.
Outsider artist Stephen Warde Anderson taught himself how to paint after finishing a stint in the United States Navy, creating works that depict historical figures, films stars, Biblical scenes and aliens. "Attention to Detail" focuses on some of his earliest works, including paintings that utilize pointillist techniques achieved by creating tools from sewing needles and whipped cream containers.
In the late ‘60s, Sam Gilliam was part of a group of painters that began experimenting with color, making it the primary focus of their canvases. Gilliam developed "drape" paintings, featuring an unstretched canvas that was covered with paint and presented as a hanging sculpture. To celebrate the recent gift of Gilliam's painting "One," the Block Museum will present an exhibit devoted to his work, accompanied by pieces by contemporaries Alan Shields and Frank Stella.
Theater in March 2018
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 make the founding fathers feel fresh and, miraculously, human.
Click to read our complete review.
Chicago gets the first look at the new Broadway-bound musical based on the 1990 film that made Julia Roberts an instant star, a Pygmalion-via-prostitution romcom about an escort and a rich cad who fall in love on the job. The cast includes Samantha Barks (the film adaptation of Les Misèrables) and Tony Award winner Steve Kazee (Once) in the Roberts and Richard Gere roles, along with Jason Danieley and Orfeh; the score is by Canadian soft-rocker Bryan Adams.
This new work from Chicago playwright Philip Dawkins (Charm, Le Switch) presents a fictionalized version of the relationship between Tennessee Williams (played by Rudy Galvan) and William Inge (played by Curtis Edward Jackson) in the 1940s, before either of the future pillars of 20th-century American drama had found success in the theater. Raven artistic director Cody Estle stages the premiere.
Alan Zweibel, an early member of the Saturday Night Live writing staff, adapted this 1997 play from his own memoir about his long friendship with the late Gilda Radner. Warner Crocker directs the Mercury Theater’s production, featuring Dana Tretta as Radner and Jackson Peter Evans as Zweibel.
The Jesus Christ Superstar team of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice first collaborated on this somewhat sunnier biblical parable. Drury Lane’s new production features Christina Bianco as the Narrator and Evan Alexander Smith in the title role.
Playwright Shishir Kurup transplants the themes of Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice to modern-day Venice Boulevard, with Hindu, Muslim and Latino influences pervading the SoCal setting. Rasaka Theatre Company and Vitalist Theatre team for this revival of Kurup’s play, first produced in 2007 by Silk Road Rising, where it was named one of Time Out Chicago’s 10 best productions of the year.
The Mercury inaugurates its new Venus Cabaret Theater (a remodel of the former Cullen’s restaurant and bar adjacent to the Mercury’s main lobby) with Stephen Sondheim’s episodic musical about birthday-boy bachelor Bobby learning about being alive. The immersive production promises to put you in the middle of the birthday party.
Comedy in March 2018
A longtime fixture of the alternative comedy world (who also appeared in the cult film Wet Hot American Summer), stand-up Garofalo takes the stage in Pilsen this spring. Garofalo is never one to shy away from political commentary, as she's historically been an outspoken feminist activist.
Each week, legendary improviser Susan Messing and another Chicago improv veterean segue from scene to scene, creating characters and situations along the way that are weird, wild and wonderful. If you've never seen Messing perform before, this is the perfect place to see her at her best.
Having relocated to Under the Gun Theatre after its run at Subterranean, the country's longest continuously operating home for alt comedy continues to be an excellent place to see emerging stand-ups. The collective boasts alumni including Hannibal Buress, Cameron Esposito and Kumail Nanjiani.
If you've ever yearned for stand-up comedy with a visual element, Slide Show is the show for you. Local stand-ups present comedic slideshows one by one, with topics ranging from movies they hate to third grade science projects. It's part stand-up, part solo sketch, part formal presentation. Slide Show is produced and hosted by Helltrap Nightmare's Luke Taylor, and features a new lineup of comedians each month.
Self-described as "The Lincoln Lodge's demented little sister," this weekly show at Under the Gun Theatre showcases some of Chicago's most delightfully unconventional comedians. The show features no stand-up—it's all sketch, solo sketch, songs, powerpoint presentations, and more creative approaches to presenting comedy. FreakFest is produced by (and regularly features) comics Bobby Condon, Madeline Horwath, Nicky Martin, Richie Owens, Megan Stalter and Grace Thomas, though expect to see new faces every week.
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.
Selling Fast in March 2018
Few contemporary bands have nailed the classic indie-pop sound with as much effortless charm as Alvvays, as Canadian quintet whose members clearly spent their formative years absorbing records from the likes of Pastels, Teenage Fanclub and Belle and Sebastian. The band's most recent release, Antisocialites, is packed with infectious melodies and hopelessly twee lyricism that's sure to be scrawled in the margins of high school textbooks around the world.
German composer and pianist Nils Frahm spent the past two years building a studio in a historic Berlin building to capture the intricate instrumental arrangements that populate his new album, All Melody. Straddling the line between contemporary classical and the avant-garde, Frahm uses a pipe organ, a piano and racks of vintage synthesizers to build layered, hypnotizing compositions. His concerts feature plenty of on-stage multi-tasking, as Frahm flits between instruments, rapidly reconstructing and improvising variations on his cinematic melodies.
Most revolutions fail. And even for the ones that don’t, their victories are limited at best. And that’s because most revolutions picture an outcome that’s far too perfect to ever really exist. Or maybe it’s because a lot of revolutions spring from the minds of macho, masochistic men—drunk on the power of their ideas, their desires or just themselves. These are just a few of the thousand or so ideas that have been put into a blender and splattered against the walls by Neo-Futurist Trevor Dawkins and the artists involved in his new show, A Story Told in Seven Fights. What begins as a look back at the Dada and Surrealist art movements soon rips itself apart like the atoms at the center of a nuclear bomb. What looks like a goofy show mixing art history with stage combat explodes into something far grander, far messier, and far and away more urgent. Directed with equal parts care and chaos by Tony Santiago, Seven Fights begins before the audience even enters the theatre, with Dawkins and ensemble member Kendra Miller staging a playful piece of combat (the first taste of Gaby Labotka’s kickass violence design) that doubles as perhaps the ideal theatrical deployment of a cover of Kanye’s “Runaway.” Once the show properly begins, Dawkins relates his fascination with a little-known historical figure named Arthur Cravan, a wrecking-ball dervish of a man from the early 20th century who inspired Tristan Tzara and André Breton to found the Dada and Surrealist art movements, respective
After more than three decades together, indie-rock elder statesmen (and woman) Yo La Tengo is still a band that is full of surprises. The group's latest album, There's a Riot Going On, features songs stitched together from old demos, rejected films scores and stream-of-conscious jams, resulting in one of the trio's most varied collection of songs to date, ranging from subdued folks songs to droning instrumentals. Expect a visceral live set packed with unexpected reinterpretations of the band's vast catalog.