With Lollapalooza and Pitchfork in the rearview mirror, August is a great time to go see a show that doesn't involve walking between stages. Prepare yourself for the remainder of the summer music festival season by see a show at an outdoor venue or stadium. This month, Pearl Jam comes to Wrigely Field, Wilco takes over Pritzker Pavilion and Millennium Park's summer concert series 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
Earlier this year José González turned in a set of haunting and hushed pop at the beautiful Rockefeller Memorial Chapel in Hyde Park—now the Swedish folk artist is coming back to Chicago for a performance at the equally picturesque Pritzker Pavilion. Boston duo Tall Heights kicks off the evening with a set of lush folk rock. This free concert is part of the 2016 Millennium Park Summer Music Series.
Child actor-turned singer Lovato is still cool for the summer. To prove it, she’s teaming up with fellow Disney Channel alumni Nick Jonas on the Future Now Tour, promising an evening packed with slick pop songs from their respective solo releases. Detroit singer-songwriter Mike Posner opens the show.
Out of all the Baltimore-based bands that trade in dreamy, synth-dappled indie rock, Wye Oak is perhaps the most interesting. Both members of the duo multitask, both in the studio and on stage, layering keyboards, guitars and drums to create songs that are intimate but without sounding small.
Sudan-born multi-instrumentalist Ahmed Gallad toured with Caribou, Of Montreal, and Yeasayer, before striking out on his own under the name Sinkane. He specializes in hooky riffs, anthemic choruses and Afrobeat flourishes, harnessing a silky smooth falsetto that floats through each track on his 2014 release Mean Love. New Zealand-born producer Mark de Clive-Lowe opens the night with an eclectic blend of jazz, world and progressive electronic music. This free concert is part of the 2016 Millennium Park Summer Music Series.
Two of the Wu-Tang Clan's strongest rappers join forces once again on the RAGU Tour (not a reference to the pasta sauce, it actually stands for "Rae And Ghost United"). Last year Ghostface and Raekwon teamed up to celebrate the the 20th anniversary of the pair's collaborative album Only Built 4 Cuban Linx, so expect plenty of classic tracks and some of each emcee's respective solo material. G-Ball and Freefam open the show.
After more than two decades together, the effervescent and erratic energy of art rockers Deerhoof shows no signs of dissipating. The Magic, the quartet’s latest album, once again melds Satomi Matsuzaki’s chirpy vocals with blistering funk-punk arrangements.
Hailing from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mbongwana Star is a seven-piece band that fuses traditional Congolese rumba with contemporary rock and electronica. The group's 2015, From Kinshasa, features contributions from noted French producer Liam Farrell, who lends an otherworldly flourishes to the group's pulsing rhythms. Chicago's own Dos Santos Antibeat Orchestra opens the show with a set of Latin dance music. This free concert is part of the 2016 Millennium Park Summer Music Series.
After a false start last summer, Addams/Medill Park will be jammin' when the inagural Reggae Festival makes its debut in 2016. Expect plenty of dreadlocks, drum circles and cannabis T-shirts in addition to two stages of bands booked by the folks at Subterranean and Kickstand Productions.
Cellist Yo-Yo Ma and his globe-spanning collective of virtuoso musicians from the East, the West and all points in between, tour behind their latest record, Sing Me Home. The new album features a mixture of traditional and original songs arranged by members of the ensemble, celebrating the varied cultural heritage of the group, from India to Japan.
Presented by Snoop Dogg's weed-centric online publication (called Merry Jane, naturally) this co-headlining gig teams the West Coast rapper with similarly cannabis-obsessed emcee Wiz Khalifa. Expect plenty of hazy rhymes from the duo's respective weed-themed LPs and clouds of smoke that aren't derived from a fog machine.
Avowed Chicago Cubs fan Eddie Vedder can’t pass up a chance to play in Wrigley Field, especially during a season when his beloved team seems to have a shot at the World Series. Keep your fingers crossed that the storms that plagued Pearl Jam's last appearance in the Friendly Confines don't return for these shows. The band is celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2016, so expect a career-spanning set—that includes Vedder’s heartfelt ode to the Cubs, “All the Way.”
Chicago's most beloved active rock act celebrates the arrival of summer with an outdoor concert at Pritzker Pavillion. Last summer, Wilco debuted its ninth studio album, Star Wars, during its headlining performance at the Pitchfork Music Festival. Frontman Jeff Tweedy recently revealed that the band already has another album in the can—could this show mark its (surprise) debut? Regardless, you can expect Pat, Glenn, Nels, John and Mikael to dig into Wilco's extensive catalog and deliver some deep cuts, if only to placate the super fans incessantly yelling out "Magazine Called Sunset."
After taking over the Hawthorne Race Course in Cicero last year, the Mad Decent Block Party returns to Chicago for an EDM-centric concert on Northerly Island. Mad Decent head honcho Diplo, electronic producer Gryffin and pop artist Kesha headline the one-day festival.
Local singer-songwriter Ryley Walker unleashes his latest batch of finger-picked psychedelic folk music at the Empty Bottle, celebrating the release of his new record, Golden Sings That Have Been Sung. Produced by former Wilco instrumentalist Leroy Bach, the album recalls the genre-blending work of Gastr del Sol and Tortoise. Local post-punk trio Luggage and electronic musician TALsounds open the show.
For the third summer in a row, the piano man returns to the Friendly Confines for another evening of classic ballads. Chicago may not boast a monthly Billy Joel residency like the one hosted at Madison Square Garden, but at least we get to see him outdoors every summer. Last year, Amy Schumer and Jennifer Lawrence danced atop Joel’s piano—because even famous people love singing along to “Uptown Girl”—so it's anyone's guess as to which celebs will show up in 2016.
Local label International Anthem kicks off its Summer Release Weekend at the Hideout with a celebration of the recent Alien Sutra Flower LP from avant-garde composer Rob Mazurek and Cairo Gang frontman Emmet Kelly. The pair of Chicago music scene stalwarts collaborate on a selection of "future folk ballads," which pair Kelly's tender vocals with abrasive electronic arrangements. Baltimore quartet Horse Lords open the show, drawing up complex West African rhythms with its jazz-inflected experimental rock.
Local record label International Anthem continues its Summer Release Weekend at the Hideout with a set from Chicago ex-pat Jeff Parker, who will perform from his recent solo album, The New Breed. Much like his work with genre-fluid act Tortoise, Parker's latest album goes in multiple musical directions, guided by his impeccable guitar melodies and assisted by an all-star cast of collaborators. Meridian Trio, which features local musicians Nick Mazzarella, Matt Ulery and Jeremy Cunningham, opens the show.
Released at the dawn of the ’80s, The River could be interpreted as an indicator of the excess that would characterize the decade—an 83-minute double album that yielded Bruce Springsteen's very first top 10 single ("Hungry Heart") and further solidified his signature sound. 35 years after its release, the record's wailing sax solos, honky-tonk piano and garage rock energy have become a sonic template for acts like Arcade Fire, Destroyer and The Killers—but the Boss still outshines his most reverent imitators. Returning to the United Center behind his recent recent commemorative box set of album outtakes, The Tie That Binds: The River Collection, Springsteen and the E Street Band should get your fists pumping in the air once more.