Concerts in Chicago in August
When he's not on tour, Tycho mastermind Scott Hansen works as a graphic designer—no surprise considering that the down-tempo compositions he favors sound like the product of a mind that obsesses over details. Each snare hit and vintage synthesizer tone on the group's 2016 album, Epoch, seems seems deliberately and painstakingly arranged to evoke a very specific mood (sometimes, to a fault). In concert, the trio blends instrumental post-rock structures with the atmosphere of trance and house music—you can dance if you want to.
If you want to attend the biggest music festival in Chicago, get your tickets to Lollapalooza. Attendees gather in Grant Park from August 2–5 for four whole days of bands, heat and huge crowds near some of Chicago's best attractions. This year, the Weeknd, Jack White, Bruno Mars and Arctic Monkeys headline the main stages, while acts like St. Vincent, Tyler, the Creator and Chvrches take over the rest of the park (and probably a few aftershows at local rock music venues).
Armed with a surplus of achingly melancholy songs, two pairs of brothers and the haunting baritone of singer Matt Berninger, Brooklyn-via-Ohio rockers the National are somehow one of the biggest rock bands in the world. Before headlining an evening at Lollapalooza, the group brings the larger-than-life arrangements of its recent Sleep Well Beast LP to Metro for an intimate performance that is sure to sell out quickly—hopefully you've got a friend who managed to snag some tickets.
Formed through a Kanye West fan message board, the members of hip-hop collective Brockhampton moved into a house together, started making music and insisted on being called a "boy band." Led by rapper Kevin Abstract and harnessing an intensely collaborative approach that echoes the work of Odd Future, the 15-member group released no less than three records in 2017, each filled with tracks that bristle with DIY enthusiasm and unfettered charisma. It's no surprise that Brockhampton has quickly found a young and vocal fanbase—the group produces the kind of music that inspires other to go out and make their own.
No matter how you feel about mainstream pop music, Carly Rae Jepsen's “Call Me Maybe” is one of those undeinable tracks that gets stuck in your head, whether you want it to or not . Her follow-up, E-MO-TION, never yielded a ubiquitous single (if only she'd included her post-album track “Cut to the Feeling”), but it demonstrated the Canadian singer's ability to craft versatile pop songs, ranging from modern electro-pop bangers to ’80s-inflected synth anthems. Perahps you'll hear her latest earworm at this special Lollapalooza aftershow.
She isn't headlining arenas yet, but spend just a few minute watching Lizzo perform and you'll know that she'd be up to the task. The Minneapolis singer is unrelentingly self-assured and armed with a scathing sense of humor—whether she's celebrating her body or calling out her exes, Lizzo pulls no punches. After signing to a major label and contributing a breakout track ("Good As Hell") to the latest Barbershop movie soundtrack, we're looking forward to the day when Lizzo is headlining Lollapalooza. Here, she tops the bill at a festival aftershow, joined by Los Angeles R&B singer Davie.
It's been four years since Jack White last passed through Chicago, playing a pair of theater shows (at the Chicago and Auditorium) and attending a Cubs game in Wrigley Field where a broadcast of the game captured the musician looking incredibly miserable. Before he hits the stage on the final night of Lollapalooza, White will headline a special Lollapalooza aftershow at Metro—a venue he hasn't performed at since 2002, when the White Stripes visited Chicago on the duo's White Blood Cells tour.
“It wasn't long ago that I wasn't offered a show of any kind,” Afie Jurvanen sings on his ode to supporting bands, “Opening Acts”, summing up the blessing and curse of working in an industry that commodifies creativity. On Earthtones, the latest album released under his Bahamas moniker, Jurvanen shows off his warm baritone throughout a collection of easy-going, R&B-inflected songs. Minnesota indie-rockers Bad Bad Hat open this Millennium Park Summer Music Series concert.
The past few years have been tumultuous (to say the least) for musical power-couple Jay-Z and Beyoncé, but the pair has weathered the rough times and is getting ready to celebrate with—what else?—a co-headlining tour. Dubbed OTR II (a nod to their 2014 On the Run tour), the stadium show will mash up Jay's increasingly conscientious hip-hop with Bey's immaculately choreographed anthems. Plus, we wouldn't be surprised if Blue Ivy makes a cameo.
When Logan Square roommates Max Kakacek and Julian Ehrlich (former members of the Smith Westerns and Unknown Mortal Orchestra, respectively) began making music together, they found inspiration in the lovelorn, soulful folk-rock of the Band and Neil Young. Whitney's 2016 debut, Light Upon the Lake, wears its heart on its tattered plaid sleeve, wistfully reflecting on failed relationships and youthful trysts atop easy-going horn arrangements. Fellow local indie rockers NE-HI get the evening started at this sure-to-be-packed Millennium Park Summer Music Series concert.
Billy Corgan has been feeling awful nostalgic as of late, reuniting with original Smashing Pumpkins guitarist James Iha and drummer Jimmy Chamberlin (bassist D'arcy Wretzky was left out, for some reason) on a tour that draws liberally from the band's first five albums. The Shiny and Oh So Bright performances aren't for casual fans of the group—prepare yourself for a three-hour tour of the Pumpkins' catalog, with special attention paid to seminal records Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness and Siamese Dream. If you're the kind of person who went out of their way to visit Corgan's Highland Park tea shop, you'll probably enjoy yourself.
Catapulted into the spotlight by some canny guest appearances—including Disclosure's “Latch” and Naughty Boy's “La La La”—singer-songwriter Smith boasts a wonderfully smooth and delicate voice. Despite making his name with a pair of dance-pop hits, Smith's own albums are melancholy affairs, characterized by mopey piano ballads outfitted lyrics that wallow in the downsides of romance and love. Still, it's difficult to not be captivated by the vocal gymnastics of this capable pop crooner.
Touring for the first time in more than three decades, Jeff Lyne revists “Mr. Blue Sky,” “Evi Woman” and “Don't Bring Me Down” at the head of Electric Light Orchestra, his pioneering progressive pop band. Not be confused with the ELO Part II offshoot that toured in the ‘90s, this iteration of the group features a string section, original keyboardist Richard Tandy and a dazzling new light show. Even if you're just a casual fan of ELO, you'll probably find yourself singing along to the group's long list of hits.
Throughout nearly a quarter century together, Chicago indie-rock stalwarts the Sea and Cake have methodically honed a signature sound that mixes jazzy guitar chords with the breathy vocals of frontman Sam Prekop. The group's latest album, Any Day, is the more of a refinement than an evolution, reducing the group to a trio (following the departure of bassist Eric Claridge) and stripping back some of its usual electronic embellishments. It results in some of the Sea and Cake's warmest (and wordiest) songs to-date, reaffirming the band's singular style. Local indie rockers Moonrise Nation open this Millennium Park Summer Music Series concert.
After collaborating on "Walk It Talk It," Canadian R&B superstar Drake joins forces with hip-hop trio Migos on the Aubrey and the Three Migos Tour. While you shouldn't expect Drake to address the “The Story Of Adidon” diss track that Pusha-T released, you'll probably hear plenty of ubiquitous new tracks from his latest album Scorpion. Here's hoping that Drake and Migos play at least part of the show in their Soul Train-themed attire.
The last time that Pearl Jam played Wrigley Field was during the season that ended with the Cubs winning the World Series for the first time in 108 years. We don't want to jinx anything, but we're going to interpret the Seattle rockers' return to the Friendly Confines as a good omen. No matter what happens, you're probably going to be subjected to a rendition of Eddie Vedder's schmaltzy Cubs anthem, "All the Way."
The nostalgic record-slingers at Bric-a-Brac Records host another end of the summer party in the East Room's parking lot, outfitted with a lineup of punk acts from Chicago and beyond. This year's bill includes Detroit punk rocker Nikki Corvette, long-running local DIY outfit the Lemons, Florida punks Gino and the Goons, and Minneapolis noise-makers Royal Brat. Ethers, Color TV, Datenight, Bruised, Nude Model, Skull Cult and Dedpet are also on the lineup, with all donations benefiting the Goethe Elementary School music program.
Chicago hip-hop blog Lyricial Lemonade takes its annual summer concert outdoors this year, setting up in Douglas Park (the same park where Riot Fest is held). Joey Bada$$, Vic Mensa and Trippie Redd headline the Summer Smash, but the rest of the lineup will probably only look familiar to hardcore fans of Soundcloud rappers, including acts like Ski Mask the Slump God, Queen Key, Yung Bans and Lil Skies.
Cake made its mark on the ‘90s alt-rock movement with an earnest cover of the disco anthem "I Will Survive"—a mantra that the California group clearly took to heart. The band co-headlines Ravinia with Ben Folds, a pianist who parlayed his college rock act the Ben Folds Five into a solo career as a singer-songwriter with a knack for goofy yet endearing balladry.
Chicago's neighbors to the north throw an end of the summer blow-out at the Big Evanston Block Party, which take place on the city's main drag. The street festival is a two-day affair, headlined by stalwart indie-rock act Guided By Voices (August 25) and alt-country outfit the Old 97s. Admission is free and the Purple Line will drop you off right by the event's entrance, so why not take a weekend trip?
International Anthem co-founder Scottie McNiece curates a stacked lineup of performers with ties to Chicago, who will perform a seriss of improvised duets with one another as part of a special "round robin" concert. The lineup features a whopping 16 artists, including Tortoise guitarist Jeff Parker, Circuit de Yeux's Haley Fohr, poet Kevin Coval, theramin player Lisa E Harris and drummer Makaya McCraven. Setting up in the middle of Thalia Hall, attendees will be able to surround the performers as they take part in the one-of-a-kind show. We can only hope that it ends with a stage-crowding jam session.