March 2018 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: Neal O'Bryan
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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 Parade 2017
Photograph: Neal O'Bryan
Things to do

The best St. Patrick's Day events in Chicago

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. 

The Magic Penthouse
Photograph courtesy Nick Roy
Theater, Circuses & magic

The Magic Penthouse

icon-location-pin Loop
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Magician Nick Roy started this monthly magic-show-as-cocktail-party in 2016. Enjoy live music, hors d’oeuvres, an open bar and penthouse views, and be entertained throughout the evening by four roaming illusionists.

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Trickery Chicago
Photograph: Peter Serocki
Theater, Circuses & magic

Trickery Chicago

icon-location-pin Boystown
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Owner-illusionist Aaron Rabkin performs six hyperintimate shows each week at this BYOB Boystown storefront theater, where his tricks are visible by passersby on Halsted Street.

Shopping

Randolph Street Market Festival

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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. 

Concerts in March 2018

Yonatan Gat
Photograph: Bryan Parker
Music, Rock and indie

Yonatan Gat + Health&Beauty

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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
Photograph: Mark Peckmezian
Music, Rap, hip-hop and R&B

Tyler, The Creator + Vince Staples

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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.

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Tune-Yards
Photograph: Eliot Lee Hazel
Music, Rock and indie

Tune-Yards + Sudan Archives

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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. 

MGMT
Photograph: Courtesy Columbia Records
Music, Rock and indie

MGMT

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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.

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Miguel
Photograph: Courtesy the artist
Music, Rap, hip-hop and R&B

Miguel + Sir + Nonchalant Savant

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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.

Pussy Riot
Photograph: Courtesy the artist
Music, Punk and metal

Pussy Riot

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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.

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Alex Cameron
Photograph: Chris Rhodes
Music, Rock and indie

Alex Cameron + Molly Burch

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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.

Ty Dolla $ign
Photograph: Courtesy the artist
Music, Rap, hip-hop and R&B

Ty Dolla $ign

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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.

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Demi Lovato
Photograph: Courtesy Island Records
Music, Pop

Demi Lovato + DJ Khaled + Kehlani

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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 at Madison Square Garden
Photograph: Chris La Putt
Music, Pop

Pink

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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.

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Art in March 2018

Otobong Nkanga, The Weight of Scars, 2015.
Photograph: Courtesy Lumen Travo Gallery, Amsterdam and Galerie In Situ – Fabienne Leclerc, Paris.
Art, Contemporary art

“Otobong Nkanga: To Dig a Hole That Collapses Again”

icon-location-pin Streeterville
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In her first U.S. exhibition, Nigerian artist Otobong Nkanga uses drawings and tapestries to explore the mining industry in Africa and the ways in which the harvested raw materials are used throughout the world. Adorned with shimmering embellishments that mimic the qualities of minerals like mica, Nkanga's work unpacks the often violent manner in which resources are obtained from Africa and follows them to the West, where they are repackaged and sold to consumers in the form of beauty products, electronics and more.

Otobong Nkanga, The Weight of Scars, 2015.
Photograph: Courtesy Lumen Travo Gallery, Amsterdam and Galerie In Situ – Fabienne Leclerc, Paris.
Art, Contemporary art

“Otobong Nkanga: To Dig a Hole That Collapses Again”

icon-location-pin Streeterville
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In her first U.S. exhibition, Nigerian artist Otobong Nkanga uses drawings and tapestries to explore the mining industry in Africa and the ways in which the harvested raw materials are used throughout the world. Adorned with shimmering embellishments that mimic the qualities of minerals like mica, Nkanga's work unpacks the often violent manner in which resources are obtained from Africa and follows them to the West, where they are repackaged and sold to consumers in the form of beauty products, electronics and more.

Theater in March 2018

Theater, Musicals

Hamilton

icon-location-pin Loop
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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.

Time Out says

Comedy in March 2018

The Neo-Futurists
Photograph: Ricky Kluge
Theater, Experimental

The Infinite Wrench

icon-location-pin Uptown
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Taking the place of the long-running Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind, the Neo-Futurists’ new flagship show retains the basic structure of original short works penned each week by the performers, with a few new tweaks and twists.

Comedians You Should Know
Photograph: Melissa Mamroth
Comedy, Stand-up

Comedians You Should Know

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This weekly night of comedy, curated by a group of funny folks, puts local stand-ups on your radar. Producers include stand-ups Danny Kallas, Joe Kilgallon, Ricky Gonzalez, Allison Dunne, Jonah Jurkens and Blake Burkhart, but the lineup changes each week.

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GreenMill.venue01.jpg
Photograph: Martha Williams
Comedy

The Paper Machete

icon-location-pin Uptown
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Christopher Piatt hosts this weekly "live magazine," a cavalcade of culture, politics and wit featuring journalists, actors, comedians and musicians offering idiosyncratic reports on the news of the day. Head to Uptown's iconic Green Mill for a Saturday afternoon of drinks, hot takes and laughs. 

iO Theater
Photograph: Anthony Soave
Comedy, Improv

Whirled News Tonight

icon-location-pin River North
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  Now in its 15th year, Whirled News Tonight has become an institution at the iO Theatre, hence its prime time slot. Improvised scenes are based on news articles from that week, which audience members post to the back wall of the stage. The show boasts alumni including Jordan Klepper (The Daily Show, The Opposition with Jordan Klepper), Sarah Haskins (Trophy Wife), Arnie Niekamp (Hello From the Magic Tavern) and more. 

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Theater, Children's

That's Weird, Grandma

icon-location-pin Uptown
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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.

Comedy, Improv

The Improvised Shakespeare Co.

icon-location-pin River North
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Suggestions from the audience inspire the improv team to create an entirely new show with Elizabethan flair. Expect a full hour of Shakespeare references, proper language, and plenty of laughs.

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Photograph Courtesy Bruised Orange Theater Company
Comedy

I Saw You

icon-location-pin Lake View
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Bruised Orange Theater Company’s long-running weekly show mines Chicago personal ads for dramatic (and comic) interpretation. Each week, three actors introduce the audience to real Chicagoans looking for love (or something along those lines). With new lovelorn singles each week, I SAW YOU is never short on fresh material. 

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