Kicking off with Lollapalooza, August offers up the last full month of summer concerts and outdoor shows before autumn arrives. Even if you're not a fan od summer music festival, you can still see big names like Lady Gaga, Bruno Mars and Billy Joel perform at stadiums and areas around the city. If you prefer picnic baskets and free music, make sure to check out Millennium Park's summer concert series before it concludes. Explore our picks of the best concerts in Chicago in August.
RECOMMENDED: Our complete calendar for concerts in Chicago
Concerts in Chicago in August
It's back! The 13th edition of Lollapalooza returns to Grant Park from August 3–6, 2017 with four whole days (yes, they're sticking with the prolonged format) of bands, heat and huge crowds near some of Chicago's best attractions. Chance the Rapper, Lorde, the Killers and Arcade Fire are among the headliners at this year's fest—yes, they've all played the festival before but the latest crop of tank-topped revelers won't bat an eye.
If you've seen The Dark Knight trilogy, Inception or The Lion King, you've heard the music of Han Zimmer, a German composer who is known for his brassy fanfares and versatility (he recently penned the score to Boss Baby). During this special performance, Zimmer brings his cinematic soundtracks to life onstage with the help of a band and a small orchestra. If you missed out on tickets to Lollapalooza, this might be the next best thing.
Guatemalan singer-songwriter and guitarist Gaby Moreno is a versatile talent, shifting between blues, jazz and soul (sung in Spanish and English). She's also responsible for the theme to NBC's Parks and Recreation, which she composed with Canadian musician Vincent Jones. Before she performs at Pritzker Pavilion, Mexico City electronic producer Centavrvs will warm up the crowd. This free concert is part of the 2017 Millennium Park Summer Music Series.
In his native Senegal (not to mention the rest of Africa), Youssou N'Dour is one of the biggest names in pop music, selling out gigs across the continent and releasing a string of hit albums. On these shores, N'Dour might be best-known for a duet he performed with Peter Gabriel in 1989, but his globally-informed pop deserves your attention, even if you've never heard of him. Before he performs at Pritzker Pavilion, local funk outfit Bassel & the Supernaturals will kick off the night with songs that the humanitarian struggle in Syria. This free concert is part of the 2017 Millennium Park Summer Music Series.
Can we start calling this an annual residency yet? For the fourth summer in a row, the piano man returns to Wrigley Field. The 67-year-old singer-songwriter hasn't released a new album in more than a decade, but he's still playing the hits on a monthly basis at his always sold out Madison Square Garden residency. You may even run into some famous faces at this gig—in 2015, Amy Schumer and Jennifer Lawrence danced atop Joel’s piano in the Friendly Confines.
Awash in boy-girl harmonies and wry, sentimental lyricism, Scottish act Belle and Sebastian have been the reigning champions of twee-pop ever since the release of its sophomore album, If You're Feeling Sinister. But frontman Stuart Murdoch changed the formula with 2015's Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance, a buoyant comeback record with synth-driven beats and dance floor aspirations. With a new record in the works, expect Belle and Sebastian to show off its latest musical direction (whatever than might be) during a headlining set at the Chicago Theatre. Memphis singer-songwriter Julien Baker opens the show.
The man who is at least partially responsible for "Uptown Funk" comes to United Center for a sprawling three-night stand at the arena. The fact that Bruno Mars can easily fill an arena three times over is a testament to the enduring popularity of the Motown, soul and doo-wop music—three genres that he borrows from liberally. Mars' latest, 24K Magic, continues the singers winning streak, packed with tracks like "That's What I Like," which provide the perfect backdrop for a glitzy, tightly-choreographed dance number.
Marrying Hebrew lyrics and with toe-tapping, hand-clapping arrangements, Joshua Nelson is at the forefront of a genre of his own creation, called "kosher gospel." Joining Nelson is Chicago-native Tone Ross, who creates gospel music with a message through as the founder of the Inspired Music Group. This free concert is part of the 2017 Millennium Park Summer Music Series.
After snarling their way through the Bush administration, everyone's favorite snot-nosed pop-punks are setting their sights on Trump. Green Day's latest album, Revolution Radio, was recorded before the election, but its economical power chord anthems are riddled with lyrics about homegrown terrorism and the search for truth. A hostile administration might not make the band's music any better, but at least it gives Billie Joe Armstrong and company a target to focus their rage on. UK alt-rockers Catfish and the Bottlemen open the show.
Back when she was engaged to Chicago Fire heartthrob Taylor Kinney, Lady Gaga almost seemed like an honorary Chicagoan. But ever since she ended her relationship with Kinney, Gaga hasn't paid too much attention to the city that once served as her second home. Thankfully, she's coming back to town in August, playing behind her 2016 release Joanne at the North Side ballpark. She'll be the first woman to headline the Friendly Confines in its short history as a concert venue. Perhaps she'll jump into the ballpark suspended from wires and surrounded by flashing drones?
Georgian country-rock superstar Zac Brown brings his amiable good ol' boy boogie to the Friendly Confines. After experimenting with EDM and pop on its last record, Brown and his band gets back to basics on Welcome Home—expect plenty of twangy ballads and Southern rock anthems.