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May 2019 events calendar for Chicago

The arrival of May 2019 events in Chicago means summer's just around the corner. Find things to do, festivals and more.
Buckingham Fountain
Photograph: Neal O'Bryan
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You've probably spent the better part of the past six months indoors, so the arrival of May (and warm spring weather) is a cause for celebration. It's the time of the year when Chicago rooftop bars open for business and the best outdoor restaurants in Chicago are usually packed with folks soaking up the sun. The rise in temperature is accompanied by lots of May events, including the beginning of summer festival season, with events like Mayfest, Mayfestiversary and the Belmont-Sheffield Music Festival taking over streets throughout the city. The May concert calendar is also packed with great options, including sets from R&B legend Al Green, singer-songwriter Weyes Blood and classic rock heroes the Who. And don't forget about May events like Memorial Day weekend, an exhibition devoted to Hamilton and the arrival of Chicago Craft Beer Week. Fill your spring itinerary with the help of our May events calendar.

RECOMMENDED: Our complete events calendar for Chicago in 2019

Featured events in May 2019

Hamilton: The Exhibition
Illustration: David Korins
Museums, History

“Hamilton: The Exhibition”

icon-location-pin 1535 S Linn White Dr, Museum Campus
icon-calendar

Experience the life of Alexander Hamilton at this stand-alone exhibition, created by the team behind the hit musical Hamilton. Debuting in Chicago, "Hamilton: The Exhibition" takes visitors on a journey from a trading post in St. Croix to the New Jersey hilltop where the Founding Father was shot in a duel, using imaginative environments (created by the Broadway production's set designer David Korins) to immerse guests in the historical tale. Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda serves as the exhibition's narrator (via a high-tech headset), fleshing out details as you make your way through the display and listen to rearranged music from the Broadway show. Highlights of the 20,000-square-foot experience include a moving sculpture representing the hurricane that brought Hamilton to America and a 70-foot parchment map of Manhattan circa 1772 outfitted with scale models of key locations, like Fraunces Tavern and King’s College.

Wine
Photograph: Pixabay
Things to do, Exhibitions

Wine Spectator's Grand Tour

icon-location-pin Navy Pier | Chicago, IL, Streeterville
icon-calendar

Enjoy more than 240 wines (all rated 90 or higher by Wine Spectator magazine) at this Navy Pier tasting, where you'll be able to sample vino from all over the world, meet the winemakers and enjoy snacks. Every attendee will take home a souvenir Riedel wine glass, which you can use for an extra hour if you spring for the pricey VIP ticket.

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star wars celebration, jaclyn rivas, star wars
Photograph: Jaclyn Rivas
Nightlife, Pop-ups and food events

Go's Eisley Cantina Pop-Up

icon-location-pin Go Tavern and Liquors, Logan Square
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In celebration of May the Fourth, Logan Square's Go Tavern & Liquors gets an intergalactic makeover, transforming into the seedy Go's Eisley Cantina Pop-up Bar. You'll find Jedi serving Star Wars-inspired drinks behind the bar and a patio that resembles the swamps of Dagobah. Guests are encouraged to put on Jedi robes, smuggler vest and Stormtrooper armor before entering this dive bar from a galaxy far, far away.

CHIRPRecordSale16
Photograph: Erica Gannett
Things to do, Markets and fairs

CHIRP Record Fair

icon-location-pin Plumbers Hall,
icon-calendar

This year's edition of the CHIRP Record Fair avoids the Record Store Day fray by moving to the first weekend of May. Attendees will find more than 100 tables hawking vinyl at the fair, in addition to DVDs, CDs and posters. Don't feel like shopping? Show up to catch live sets from acts like Ovef Ow, The Jellies and Baby Money or stick around to Van Paugam, Miss Alex White and Metro founder Joe Shannahan spin some of their favorite records. Plus, you can sip beer, cider and cocktails while enjoying food from Taco in a Bag and Conscious Plates. The first 500 guests score a free tote bag, and a $25 ticket will get you into the fair two hours before it opens to the general public (at 10am).

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Cinco de Miler
Photograph: Courtesy Cinco de Miler
Sports and fitness, Running

Cinco de Miler

icon-location-pin Montrose Harbor, Uptown
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The day before we commemorate Mexico’s victory at the Battle of Puebla, runners speed through a five-mile course before arriving at a finish-line fiesta, complete with breakfast tacos and mariachi bands.

015.td.KidsAndKitesFestival40.jpg
Photograph: Tessa Marshall
Things to do, Festivals

Kids and Kites Festival

icon-location-pin Lincoln Park Cricket Hill, Uptown
icon-calendar

Celebrate the arrival of spring at this free, outdoor family-friendly festival at Cricket Hill in Lincoln Park, where kids can fly a kite or watch professional demonstrations. Free paper kites will be provided, but families will also be able to purchase more intricate flying creations from a variety of vendors.

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Beer Under Glass, held at the Garfield Park Conservatory, kicked off 2015 Chicago Craft Beer Week.
Photograph: Max Herman
Things to do, Festivals

Beer Under Glass

icon-location-pin Garfield Park Conservatory | Chicago, IL, East Garfield Park
icon-calendar

Illinois Craft Beer Week kicks off with this annual event at Garfield Park Conservatory, where you can sample some of the finest ales and lagers from local and national breweries amid a sea of foliage. If you're trying to narrow down your list of Craft Beer Week events, this is a good place to separate the worthwhile breweries from the ones you'll save for your next trip to Binny's. Tickets include samples from each of the brewers in attendance and access to grub from local food trucks.

Things to do, Festivals

Food Truck Social at Lincoln Park Zoo

icon-location-pin Lincoln Park Zoo | Chicago, IL, Lincoln Park
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Dig into tacos, grilled cheese, doughnuts, pierogi and more at this annual feast hosted by the Lincoln Park Zoo. A $10 ticket gives you access to dozens of local food trucks, including Aztec Dave's, Cheesie's, Pierogi Wagon, Harold's Chicken and the Roaming Hog.

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Holiday shoppers browsed a selection of handmade goods at the Renegade Craft Fair, December 5, 2015.
Photograph: Jaclyn Rivas
Shopping, Markets and fairs

Renegade Craft Fair

icon-location-pin Halsted St and 18th St, Lower West Side
icon-calendar

Renegade Craft Fair's first visit of the year (the market will be back in September and December) heads outdoors in Pilsen, where makers from across the nation will be selling their handmade art and wares, including jewelry, pottery, prints, T-shirts and more. When you're not browsing the offerings of more than 180 vendors, you'll enjoy food from local restaurants, cool drinks and hot tunes being spun by Chicago DJs.

Gallagher Way
Photograph: Courtesy Gallagher Way
Movies

Movie Night at Gallagher Way

icon-location-pin Gallagher Way, Wrigleyville
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Wrigley Field-adjacent greenspace Gallagher Way teams up with the Music Box Theatre to program free outdoor movie screenings on Wednesday evenings when the Cubs are on the road. Nearly all of the films being shown are family-friendly (with the exception of the R-rated High Fidelity) so feel free to bring along the kids. Gates open for each screening at 6pm and the movies begin at 7:30pm, giving you some time to claim a spot on the lawn and grab food from Big Star, West Town Bakery or the Smoke Daddy food truck. In May, you can catch Wayne's World (May 15) and The Breakfast Club (May 29).

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Photograph: Jaclyn Rivas
Things to do, Festivals

Lincoln Park Wine Fest

icon-location-pin Jonquil Park, Sheffield & DePaul
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With four sessions to choose from, the annual Lincoln Park Wine Fest offers a chance to unwind and enjoy the warm spring weather with a glass of vino in your hand. Attendees receive 12 tasting tickets to use throughout their session, choosing from a selection of sparkling wines, whites, reds and rosés. There's also a lineup of mellow live music (no ‘80s rock cover bands here) and food to pair with your favorite glass of wine.

Chicago Zine Fest
Photograph: Courtesy Chicago Zine Fest
Things to do, Literary events

Chicago Zine Fest

icon-location-pin Multiple venues
icon-calendar

If you don't see the magazines and comics you want to read in the world, why not create ‘em yourself? At Chicago Zine Fest, makers of DIY publications gather for three days of sharing knowledge, stories and enthusiasm for handmade art. On Thursday and Friday, attendees can gather at DePaul University, Quimby's Bookstore and the Cards Against Humanity Theater to attend readings, panels and a zine quiz show. On Saturday, the festivities move to the Plumbers Union Hall, where creators from across the country will be selling homemade books, comics, magaziners, posters and more.

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Buckingham Fountain
Photograph: Neal O'Bryan
Things to do, Quirky events

Switch on Summer

icon-location-pin Grant Park | Chicago, IL, Millennium Park
icon-calendar

Celebrate the arrival of summer a few weeks early at ComEd's annual season-changing ritual, which culminates with Buckingham Fountain being turned on at 2pm. Meteorologist Tom Skilling hosts the party, with live music from local cover band Sixteen Candles.

Night Nation Run
Photograph: Courtesy Night Nation Run
Sports and fitness, Running

Night Nation Run Chicago

icon-location-pin Soldier Field | Chicago, IL, Museum Campus
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An EDM concert meets a 5K road race during the Night Nation Run, which begins and ends with live DJ performances (complete with lights, fog and confetti guns). Once they take off from the starting line, runners will encounter multiple DJ stages, selfie stations, laser light shows and something called "bubble world." Don't expect to set a personal record at this race, but do expect to get a complimentary glow necklace. 

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Mayfest
Photograph: Courtesy Star Events
Things to do, Festivals

Mayfest

icon-location-pin 3100 N Ashland Ave, Lake View
icon-calendar

Head to Lakeview to kick off street festival season beneath a gigantic big-top tent, stocked with food and plenty of beverages. The music lineup at this year's Mayfest features all the cover acts you'll be seeing at fests throughout the summer, including Sixteen Candles, Too White Crew and Rod Tuffcurls and the Bench Press.

Anime Central
Photograph: Courtesy Anime Central
Things to do, Conventions

Anime Central

icon-location-pin Donald E. Stephens Convention Center,
icon-calendar

For fans of Japanese pop-culture (namely anime, video games, musicians and strange snack foods), there's no larger Midwest celebration of the Land of the Rising Sun than Anime Central. The annual convention allows like-minded otaku to mingle, admire the gravity-defying hairstyles sported by cosplayers and meet English and Japanese voice actors who bring imported cartoons to life. When the convention floor closes, the party continues at the popular Soap Bubble dance and late-night anime screenings.

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Movies

Chicago Critics Film Festival

icon-location-pin Music Box Theatre, Wrigleyville
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The Chicago Critics Film Association throws an annual film fest, giving the public a chance to see buzzed-about unreleased films and overlooked movies that deserve to be seen on the big screen. This year's lineup includes a 40th anniversary 35mm screening of Ridley Scott's sci-fi classic Alien, director Lulu Wang's Sundance hit The Farewell (starring Crazy Rich Asians' Awkwafina) and The Nightingale from The Babadook director Jennifer Kent.

Photograph: Jaclyn Rivas
Music, Dance and electronic

Chicago House Music Festival

icon-location-pin Multiple venues
icon-calendar

Chicago is the birthplace of house music, so it stands to reason that the city hosts a festival celebrating the homegrown genre. The Chicago House Music Festival brings DJs and musicians to Millennium Park for a daylong dance party, showcasing the various genre styles that have developed since house was popularized in local nightclubs in the early ’80s. This year, London R&B, soul and house band Reel People makes its Chicago debut with a headlining set, joined by New York DJ Tony Humphries and local acts like Gene Hunt, Mark Grusane and First Lady. The festival will also host a conference at the Chicago Cultural Center on Thursday, May 23 and a performance in Millennium Park on Friday, May 24.

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Things to do

Memorial Day Parade

icon-location-pin Daley Plaza, Loop
icon-calendar

After the pigeons are shooed away and a wreath is laid at the eternal flame in Daley Plaza in remembrance of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country, Chicago's annual Memorial Day Parade marches down State Street, from Lake to Van Buren. Crowds line the street, waving flags and paying their respects to members of our armed services as part of this Chicago tradition, which dates all the way back to 1870.

Photograph: Courtesy Soldier Field 10-Mile
Sports and fitness, Running

Soldier Field 10 Mile

icon-location-pin Soldier Field | Chicago, IL, Museum Campus
icon-calendar

You may never get to take enter the gridiron with the Chicago Bears, but you can take off on a 10-mile run from the team's home turf. The Soldier Field 10-Mile begins and ends at the stadium, sending participants on a scenic jaunt down the Lakefront Trail. Everyone who registers receives a tech shirt with the race's logo and finishers get a medal memorializing their achievement.

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Festivals in May 2019

Chicago Beer Classic
Photograph: Courtesy Chicago Beer Classic
Things to do, Festivals

Chicago Beer Classic

icon-location-pin Soldier Field | Chicago, IL, Museum Campus
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Enjoy the best beer Chicago and the Midwest have to offer while sampling brews from more than 80 participating breweries, including local standbys and national favorites such as Half Acre, Dovetail, Whiner and more. Attendees receive 48 two-ounce samples, as well as access to exclusive beers, activities and interactive learning opportunities to get better educated about the beer-making process. Beer drinkers are also able to cast their votes for the best beer of the day, with the winning beverage receiving the Most Valuable Brew award. Ticket prices for this fest will rise as the event draws closer.

015.td.KidsAndKitesFestival40.jpg
Photograph: Tessa Marshall
Things to do, Festivals

Kids and Kites Festival

icon-location-pin Lincoln Park Cricket Hill, Uptown
icon-calendar

Celebrate the arrival of spring at this free, outdoor family-friendly festival at Cricket Hill in Lincoln Park, where kids can fly a kite or watch professional demonstrations. Free paper kites will be provided, but families will also be able to purchase more intricate flying creations from a variety of vendors.

Advertising
Holiday shoppers browsed a selection of handmade goods at the Renegade Craft Fair, December 5, 2015.
Photograph: Jaclyn Rivas
Shopping, Markets and fairs

Renegade Craft Fair

icon-location-pin Halsted St and 18th St, Lower West Side
icon-calendar

Renegade Craft Fair's first visit of the year (the market will be back in September and December) heads outdoors in Pilsen, where makers from across the nation will be selling their handmade art and wares, including jewelry, pottery, prints, T-shirts and more. When you're not browsing the offerings of more than 180 vendors, you'll enjoy food from local restaurants, cool drinks and hot tunes being spun by Chicago DJs.

Beer Under Glass, held at the Garfield Park Conservatory, kicked off 2015 Chicago Craft Beer Week.
Photograph: Max Herman
Things to do, Festivals

Beer Under Glass

icon-location-pin Garfield Park Conservatory | Chicago, IL, East Garfield Park
icon-calendar

Illinois Craft Beer Week kicks off with this annual event at Garfield Park Conservatory, where you can sample some of the finest ales and lagers from local and national breweries amid a sea of foliage. If you're trying to narrow down your list of Craft Beer Week events, this is a good place to separate the worthwhile breweries from the ones you'll save for your next trip to Binny's. Tickets include samples from each of the brewers in attendance and access to grub from local food trucks.

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Things to do, Festivals

Food Truck Social at Lincoln Park Zoo

icon-location-pin Lincoln Park Zoo | Chicago, IL, Lincoln Park
icon-calendar

Dig into tacos, grilled cheese, doughnuts, pierogis and more at this annual feast hosted by the Lincoln Park Zoo. A $10 ticket gives you access to dozens of local food trucks, including Aztec Dave's, Cheesie's, Piegogi Wagon, Harold's Chicken and the Roaming Hog.

Buckingham Fountain
Photograph: Neal O'Bryan
Things to do, Quirky events

Switch on Summer

icon-location-pin Grant Park | Chicago, IL, Millennium Park
icon-calendar

Celebrate the arrival of summer a few weeks early at ComEd's annual season-changing ritual, which culminates with Buckingham Fountain being turned on at 2pm. Meteorologist Tom Skilling hosts the party, with live music from local cover band Sixteen Candles.

Advertising
Chicago Zine Fest
Photograph: Courtesy Chicago Zine Fest
Things to do, Literary events

Chicago Zine Fest

icon-location-pin Multiple venues
icon-calendar

If you don't see the magazines and comics you want to read in the world, why not create ‘em yourself? At Chicago Zine Fest, makers of DIY publications gather for three days of sharing knowledge, stories and enthusiasm for handmade art. On Thursday and Friday, attendees can gather at DePaul University, Quimby's Bookstore and the Cards Against Humanity Theater to attend readings, panels and a zine quiz show. On Saturday, the festivities move to the Plumbers Union Hall, where creators from across the country will be selling homemade books, comics, magaziners, posters and more.

Photograph: Jaclyn Rivas
Things to do, Festivals

Lincoln Park Wine Fest

icon-location-pin Jonquil Park, Sheffield & DePaul
icon-calendar

With four sessions to choose from, the annual Lincoln Park Wine Fest offers a chance to unwind and enjoy the warm spring weather with a glass of vino in your hand. Attendees recieve 12 tasting tickets to use throughout their session, choosing from a selection of sparkling wines, whites, reds and roses. There's also a lineup of mellow live music (no ‘80s rock cover bands here) and food to pair with your favorite glass of wine.

Advertising
Mayfest
Photograph: Courtesy Star Events
Things to do, Festivals

Mayfest

icon-location-pin 3100 N Ashland Ave, Lake View
icon-calendar

Head to Lakeview to kick off street festival season beneath a gigantic big-top tent, stocked with food and plenty of beverages. The music lineup at this year's Mayfest features all the cover acts you'll be seeing at fests throughout the summer, including Sixteen Candles, Too White Crew and Rod Tuffcurls and the Bench Press.

Photograph: Jaclyn Rivas
Music, Dance and electronic

Chicago House Music Festival

icon-location-pin Multiple venues
icon-calendar

Chicago is the birthplace of house music, so it stands to reason that the city hosts a festival celebrating the homegrown genre. The Chicago House Music Festival brings DJs and musicians to Millennium Park for a daylong dance party, showcasing the various genre styles that have developed since house was popularized in local nightclubs in the early ’80s. This year, London R&B, soul and house band Reel People makes its Chicago debut with a headlining set, joined by New York DJ Tony Humphries and local acts like Gene Hunt, Mark Grusane and First Lady. The festival will also host a conference at the Chicago Cultural Center on Thursday, May 23 and a performance in Millennium Park on Friday, May 24.

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Concerts in May 2019

Klaus Johann Grobe
Photograph: Ralph Kuehne
Music, Dance and electronic

Klaus Johann Grobe + Vinyl Williams

icon-location-pin Beat Kitchen, North Center
icon-calendar

Swiss krautrock duo Klaus Johann Grobe may pen German lyrics, but the pair's undulating bass lines, disco beast and cascading electronic melodies speak the univeral language of a late-night dance floor packed with writhing bodies. The pair comes to Beat Kitchen behind its new LP, Du Bist So Symmetrisch, a funky collection of songs that found its way to the U.S. via Chicago-based label Trouble in Mind. Dreamy Los Angeles psych-rock act Vinyl Williams opens the show.

CHVRCHES
Photograph: Courtesy Melt! Booking
Music, Dance and electronic

CHVRCHES + Cherry Glazerr

icon-location-pin Aragon, Uptown
icon-calendar

Scottish trio CHVRCHES have found the middleground between synth-pop and EDM on its latest album, Love is Dead, melding the vulnerable Glaswegian vocals of singer Lauren Mayberry with dense electronic arrangements (complete with anthemic builds and drops). The group's recent collaboration with masked Philadelphia EDM producer Marshmello only solidifies its mainstream aspirations, churning out a radio-friendly dance-pop track that you'll inevitably hear during your next Uber ride. Thankfully, even if the band's latest tracks leave you cold, it's not like they'll be ignoring the more emotional compositions found on The Bones of What You Believe in concert. California pop-rock act Cherry Glazerr opens the show.

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Iceage
Photograph: Steve Gullick
Music, Rock and indie

Iceage + Nadah El Shazly + No Men

icon-location-pin Lincoln Hall, Sheffield & DePaul
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Horn sections, violins and slightly less breakneck tempos prevail on Danish punk act Iceage's latest LP, Beyondless, which finds that band that Iggy Pop once described as "dangerous" vigorously embracing the hooks and melodies of pop music. Reigning in some of the hardcore aggression turns out to be a good move for the band, smoothing away the rough edges of its sound and inviting unexpected collaborations, such as a rollicking duet with Sky Ferreira. Experimental Egyptian rocker Nadah El Shazly and local punk act No Men open the show.

Music, Rock and indie

Television

icon-location-pin Old Town School of Folk Music, Maurer Hall, Lincoln Square
icon-calendar

One of the best rock bands New York ever produced, Television was the mid-’70s punk scene's most artistically ambitious combo. It eschewed the minimalism of the Ramones in favor of post-psychedelic experimentation, applying the spirit of jazz improvisation to the guitar-band format. More than 40 years after it was founded, the quartet reunites sporadically, now with Jimmy Rip replacing original guitarist Richard Lloyd. While Television released a couple of albums in the wake of its 1977 debut, Marquee Moon, the band usually sticks to the twisting melodies of its most beloved release.

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Tim Hecker
Photograph: Courtesy the artist
Music, Dance and electronic

Tim Hecker and The Konoyo Ensemble + Kara-Lis Cloverdale

icon-location-pin Thalia Hall | Chicago, IL, Lower West Side
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A sound sculptor who has spent years making atmospheric music festooned with ominous synths and cacophonous bursts of noise, Tim Hecker is seemingly able to take any sample and turn it into something surprisingly different. Last year, he released an album called Konoyo, which reinterprets recordings of the Japanese classical music group Tokyo Gakuso, transforming them into droning symphonies formed from unfamiliar instruments. Hecker's new album Anoyo uses recordings from the same sessions, but he uses a lighter touch while processing them, leaving more the of the original music intact. At Thalia Hall, Hecker will be joined by an ensemble to perform his recent music, with support from Canadian electronic musician Kara-Lis Cloverdale.

System of a Down
Photograph: Frank Maddocks
Music, Music festivals

Chicago Open Air

icon-location-pin SeatGeek Stadium, Suburbs
icon-calendar

After taking a year off in 2018, Chicago's only summer music festival devoted to heavy metal and modern rock is returning for another weekend of scorching riffs and furious moshing at at SeatGeek Stadium in Bridgeview, Illinois. For its third edition, Chicago Open Air will feature two days of music, including headlining sets from eclectic rockers System of a Down and prog-metal explorers Tool. Reunited British rockers the Cult, theatrical rock outfit Ghost and French metal act Gojira are among the other groups confirmed to perform at the reinvigorated fest.

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The Hives
Photograph: Travis Schneider
Music, Punk and metal

The Hives + Refused

icon-location-pin Vic Theatre, Lake View
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Monochrome matching suit-clad garage rockers the Hives and hardcore punks Refused team up for a co-headlining tour, bringing the sounds of Swedish rock back to American shores. While neither group has released a new album in recent years, both have deep catalogs of classic tracks and a reputation for unpredictable live performances. Will Howlin' Pelle Almqvist don a black and white Nudie suit, complete with a cowboy hat? Will Dennis Lyxzén scale a precarious stack of stage monitors? You'll have to show up to scream along and find out.

The Who | Allstate Arena | November 29, 2012
Photograph: Sarah Lawhead
Music, Rock and indie

The Who

icon-location-pin Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre, Suburbs
icon-calendar

Keith Moon died in 1978, John Entwhistle in 2002, but that hasn't stopped Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend from singing about their generation. The Who's latest tour arrives alongside new material from a forthcoming album, which contains the band's first batch of new tunes since its 2006 release, Endless Wire. Of course, anyone coming to hear hits like "Pinball Wizard" and "Baba O'Riley" won't be disappointed—after decades on the road, the Who is finely-tuned legacy rock and roll machine that knows which side of its bread is buttered.

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Weyes Blood
Photograph: Brett Stanley
Music, Rock and indie

Weyes Blood

icon-location-pin Lincoln Hall, Sheffield & DePaul
icon-calendar

Throughout much of her new album, Titanic Rising, it's clear that Natalie Mering (a.k.a. Weyes Blood) has the end of the world on her mind. But the looming threat of climate change doesn't stop Mering from writing love songs, even if they're unconventional ones that consider the purpose of and desire for intimacy in an age when people are content to stare at their phones and disconnect from reality. Channeling the lush arrangements of ‘70s folk-singers like Joni Mitchell and Carole King, Mering embraces the melancholy nature of her music and finds comfort in nostalgia—but she doesn't lose sight of the future we're all barreling toward.

Photograph: Jaclyn Rivas
Music, Dance and electronic

Chicago House Music Festival

icon-location-pin Multiple venues
icon-calendar

Chicago is the birthplace of house music, so it stands to reason that the city hosts a festival celebrating the homegrown genre. The Chicago House Music Festival brings DJs and musiciains to Millennium Park for a daylong dance party, showcasing the various genre styles that have developed since house was popularized in local nightclubs in the early ‘80s. This year, London R&B, soul and house band Reel People makes its Chicago debut with a headlining set, joined by New York DJ Tony Humphries and local acts like Gene Hunt, Mark Grusane and First Lady. The festival will also host a conference at the Chicago Cultural Center on Thursday, May 23 and a performance in Millennium Park on Friday, May 24.

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Theater and dance in May 2019

Photograph: Sam Doyle Photography
Theater

I’m Gonna Pray for You So Hard

icon-location-pin The Den Theatre, Wicker Park
icon-calendar

Actress Halley Feiffer, daughter of lauded cartoonist Jules Feiffer, penned this play about an actress whose father is a famous playwright. Over the course of a boozy weekend, the two of them have it out, saying things that can’t be unsaid. Amanda Caryl Fink and Tim Kidwell star in this scabrously funny play, directed by Cole von Glahn.

Photograph: Courtesy of Chicago Shakespeare Theater
Theater

Hamlet

icon-location-pin Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Streeterville
icon-calendar

Bad news: Broadway star Raul Esparza, who was originally set to star in this Barbara Gaines production, had to drop out. Good news: New York vet Maurice Jones is stepping into the role of the moody Danish prince alongside a gaggle of Chicago greats like Karen Aldridge, Larry Yando and Mike Nussbaum. Hamlet himself may be a killjoy, but that’s enough to get us excited.

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Photograph: Charles Osgood
Theater

Admissions

icon-location-pin Theater Wit, Lake View
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It’s hard to tell: Is Operation Varsity Blues a blessing or a curse for Joshua Harmon’s satire about college admissions and white liberal hypocrisy? Either way, Harmon’s play is sure to make audiences squirm—just like his script for Bad Jews, which Jeremy Wechsler directed to great acclaim at Theater Wit in 2015.

Time Out says
Photograph: Nico Fernandez: A Little Photo Studio
Theater

Hannah and Martin

icon-location-pin Theater Wit, Lake View
icon-calendar

This play is a blistering drama about the real-life love affair between German-Jewish journalist Hannah Arendt and her mentor, German philosopher Martin Heidegger, whose work supported the Nazi regime. Christina Gorman and Lawrence Grimm star, with Louis Contey directing for Shattered Globe Theatre.

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Photograph: Courtesy The House Theatre of Chicago
Theater

Pinocchio

icon-location-pin Chopin Theatre, River West/West Town
icon-calendar

This original adaptation of Pinocchio from The House Theater of Chicago stars U.K.-born puppeteer Sean Garrett—known around these parts for his riotous work in The Table at Chicago Shakes. The show is recommended for adults and those ages 11 and up. Translation: Stuff’s going to get a wee bit dark.

Photograph: Spenser Davis
Theater

Language Rooms

icon-location-pin The Den Theatre, Wicker Park
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Ahmed loves his country and his job as an interrogator at a shadowy government facility. But when Ahmed’s loyalties get called into question, he finds himself driven to preserve his reputation at all costs. This dark comedy from Yussef El Guindi, directed by Kaiser Zaki Ahmed, should delight fans of The Office and George Orwell alike.

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Photograph: Liz Lauren
Theater

Cambodian Rock Band

icon-location-pin Victory Gardens Biograph Theater, Sheffield & DePaul
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Fans of Lauren Yee (Hookman, King of the Yees) know that the San Francisco-born playwright rocks. Her play Cambodian Rock Band just makes that rocking literal. Weaving together history, drama and songs by L.A. outfit Dengue Fever, the show follows a father and daughter as they reckon with the legacy of the Cambodian genocide.

Photograph: Suzanna Mars
Theater

A Chorus Line

icon-location-pin Ruth Page Center for the Arts, Rush & Division
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Porchlight Music Theatre head honcho Brenda Didier directs this stone-cold Broadway classic about 17 dancers who find themselves at the audition of a lifetime sharing their life stories. With a book by James Kirkwood, Jr. that’s equal to Marvin Hamlisch’s eternal score, A Chorus Line always delivers. The dancing should be pretty great, too.

More to explore

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