Concerts in Chicago in April 2018

Weird Al Yankovic, Waxahatchee and Jeff Tweedy are among the concerts we're looking forward to in April
Photograph: Courtesy the artist
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Winter is over! It's time to celebrate the arrival of spring by eating at an outdoor restaurant, taking a walk in one of Chicago's best parks and seeing some of the best concerts around the city. April brings big shows from Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy, parody-master Weird Al Yankovic and New Jersey areana rocker Bon Jovi. Of course, there are also some smaller shows worth your time, including rising singer-songwriter Lucy Dacus and the return of instrumental metal outfit Russian Circles. Start charting out your month of music with our guide to the best shows to see in Chicago in April.

RECOMMENDED: Our complete calendar for concerts in Chicago

Concerts in Chicago in April

Dan Auerbach
Photograph: Alysse Gafkjen
Music, Rock and indie

Dan Auerbach + Robert Finley + Shannon and the Clams

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With the Black Keys on hiatus, Dan Auerbach hits the road behind his latest solo album, Waiting on a Song, which finds the frontman indulging in his love of vintage soul and pop through a selection of lavishly produced arrangements. To add some authenticity to his retro sound, he's backed by a house band made up of session musicians who played with the likes of Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash. Bluesman Robert Finley and surf-punks Shannon and the Clams support.

Cut Copy
Photograph: Courtesy the artist
Music, Dance and electronic

Cut Copy + Kauf

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Aussie dance-pop act Cut Copy masterfully blends plaintive British rock lyricism with bouncy house beats and infectious synth melodies. The group's recent album, Haiku From Zero, embraces the dance floor rhythms and production of the ‘80s and ‘90s, grounding itself in same casually rebellious rave culture mined by acts like LCD Soundsystem and Hot Chip. It's the kind of breezy pop that seems to coax some humanity from the machines used to make it. Los Angeles electro-pop act Kauf opens the show.

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Lucy Dacus
Photograph: Courtesy Matador Records
Music, Rock and indie

Lucy Dacus + And the Kids + Adult Mom

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Virginia singer-songwriter Lucy Dacus is the latest in a long line of young artists who sound wise beyond their years. On her latest album, Histories, Dacus grapples with heartbreak and despair throughout a collection of earnest indie rock ballads that maintain a certain amount of optimism, even in the face of darkness and troubling times. Indie rockers And The Kids and Adult Moms open the show.

Mind Over Mirrors
Photograph: Saverio Truglia
Music, Rock and indie

Mind Over Mirrors

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Experimental Chicago musician Jaime Fennelly debuts his expansive new Mind Over Mirrors album with a series of concerts at the Museum of Contemporary Art. Inspired by the work of naturalist writer Henry Beston, Bellowing Sun blends Fennelly's otherworldly synthesizer arrangements with otherworldly chants, rhythms and fiddle melodies provided by musicians Jim Becker, Janet Beveridge Bean and Jon Mueller. Surrounded by the audience, the entire performance takes place beneath a rotating illuminated sculpture that lends a shifting aura to the proceedings.

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“Weird Al” Yankovic
Photograph: Courtesy the artist
Music, Rock and indie

Weird Al Yankovic + Emo Philips

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After years of costume changes, video montages and general tomfoolery, parody-master Weird Al Yankovic is hanging up the fat suit for his latest, stripped-down tour. Self-consciously dubbed the Ill-Advised Vanity Tour, the setlists will focus on Yankovic's early songs and original material, dating back to the days of the Dr. Demento Show. Here's hoping that Yankovic treats the shows like an episode of VH1 Storytellers, so that we can finally learn what inspired him to write the 11-minute epic "Albuquerque."

Jordanna
Photograph: Lucas Black
Music, Rock and indie

Frontwoman Fest

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Each year, the Burlington hosts a showcase of exciting female and female-identifying musicians during the daylong Frontwoman Fest. The lineup includes sets from electropop act Superknova, R&B singer Jordanna and experimental rockers Little Church. Decima, Ovef Ow, Glad Rags, Glitter Moneyy, Fauvely, Black Sandwich, Erzulie, Alysha McElroy-Hodges and Freddie Old Soul are also confirmed to perform.

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Ty Segall
Photograph: Courtesy Denée Segall
Music, Rock and indie

Ty Segall

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It's become a cliché to say that Ty Segall is prolific, but even as his release schedule has slowed down ever-so-slightly, he's still churning out enough songs that you'll probably need a checklist to keep up. On Freedom’s Goblin, Segall’s 10th full-length album in as many years (countless side-projects notwithstanding), the West Coast garage-rocker once again proves that he’s one of the most capable purveyors of pop melodies drenched in buckets of psychedelic fuzz.

The Decemberists
Photograph: Autumn de Wilde
Music, Rock and indie

The Decemberists + Tennis

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After crafting sprawling prog-rock based on a Japanese folktale and paying tribute to musical heroes R.E.M., the Decemberists take another unexpected turn on the group's latest album, I'll Be Your Girl. The record's first three songs recast Colin Meloy and company has a buoyant synth-pop act, revealing a jaunty, fun-loving side of the band that often gets lost amid its earnest refrains and ambitious conceptual undertakings. Nautical indie-pop outfit Tennis support.

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The Afghan Whigs
Photograph: Chris Cuffaro
Music, Rock and indie

Afghan Whigs + Built to Spill + Rituals of Mine

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During the early ‘90s, Afghan Whigs and Built to Spill both managed to land major label record deals on the heels of critically-acclaimed independent releases. Decades later, they're hitting the road together on a co-headlining tour that could be pegged as nostalgic if not for the fact that both groups are still producing vital work. While the Afghan Whigs explore melodramatic alt-rock, you can expect Built to Spill to supply the triumphant guitar solos. Electro-pop duo Rituals of Mine open the show.

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

Kool Keith + The Palmer Squares

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Ever since he started rapping in the ‘80s, Bronx MC Kool Keith has been known by many names, including Dr. Octagon and Dr. Dooom. With the exception of a single major-label release (1999's Black Elvis/Lost in Space) Keith has remained independent as a hip-hop artist, harnessing his eccentric flow with the help of producers such as Dan the Automator and DJ Qbert. During his latest appearance in Chicago, Keith teams up with local hip-hop duo the Palmer Squares. 

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Yamantaka // Sonic Titan
Photograph: Courtesy the artist
Music, Punk and metal

Yamantaka // Sonic Titan + Gold Dime

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Sporting makeup inspired by Japanese Noh theater (this isn’t a KISS cover band), Canadian collective Yamantaka // Sonic Titan creates operatic prog-rock that imagines dystopian worlds of the future. Somewhere between metal, punk and droning noise rock, the band's latest release, Dirt, was conceived as a soundtrack for an unreleased Haudenosaunee- and Buddhist-themed anime movie about a flooded world in which people live in floating bubbles and fight for soil.

Khruangbin
Photograph: Courtesy the artist
Music, Funk, soul and disco

Khruangbin + Mattson 2

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Texas trio Khruangbin draws inspiration from ‘60s Thai funk (the band's name translates to "engine fly" in Thai) and a myriad of other genres, channeling taut grooves and psychedelic riffs on its latest album, Con Todo El Mundo. Twin-brother jazz-fusion duo Mattson 2 open the show.

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Music, Punk and metal

Russian Circles

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Named for a winding ice hockey drill, local instrumental metal trio Russian Circles has long been one of the city's most skilled purveyors of heavy, serpentine melodies. The group reemerges for a pair of shows at the Empty Bottle, on the heels of its 2016 album, Guidance—a relatively succinct collection of propulsive post-rock anthems that showcases the band's taut interplay and moody atmosphere. Doom rockers King Woman open on April 22 and Kentucky rocker Jaye Jayle supports on April 24.

Calexico
Photograph: Jairo Zavala Ruiz
Music, Rock and indie

Calexico + Ryley Walker

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Blending indie rock with flourishes of mariachi, country, jazz and Americana, Calexico (as its name implies) makes music that draws on an entire continent of influences. The band's new record, The Thread That Keeps Us, confronts a natural disaster, written in the wake of wildfires that ravaged the band's home state of Arizona. While the subject matter can be tragic at times, the group lends a grand, cinematic scope to its heartbroken melodies. Local guitarist (and hilarious Twitter personality) Ryley Walker opens the show.

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Bon Jovi at Madison Square Garden, February 2011
Photograph: Jon Klemm
Music, Rock and indie

Bon Jovi

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New Jersey native Jon Bon Jovi slips on his leather vest for another tour with his namesake arena rock act, armed with a catalog of beloved hair metal anthems. The jeans may not be as tight (and the hair not quite as coiffed) as they were in the ’80s, but if you've ever witnessed a rendition of "Livin' on a Prayer" at a karaoke bar, you know how much people love singing along to the band's cheesy working-class odes.

Music, Classical and opera

Chicago Symphony Orchestra: John Williams Returns

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Spielberg's go-to man John Williams returns to conduct the Chicago Symphony Orchestra for four nights, performing selections from his iconic scores for films such as E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, Minority Report and Star Wars. At 86-years-old, the composer has more familiar themes under his belt than most of his contemporaries—though he has hinted that Star Wars Episode IX will likely be his last soundtrack for a galaxy far, far away. If you love to listen to film soundtracks, you need to see Williams at the head of an orchestra.

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John Prine
Photograph: Josh Britt
Music, Folk, country and blues

John Prine

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While working as a mailman in Chicago in the ‘60s and regularly performing at open mics, John Prine's simple and impactful folk music caught the ear of Kris Kristofferson, launching his career as a professional singer-songwriter. Several decades later, Prine's eloquent songcraft has garnered prominent fans such as Bob Dylan and Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon. At this special hometown show, Prine will look back on his storied career and debut material from The Tree of Forgiveness—his first album of new songs in nearly 13 years.

Wilco at Pitchfork Music Festival
Photograph: cousindaniel.com
Music, Rock and indie

Jeff Tweedy

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Each year, Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy brings his guitars to the Vic to perform a pair of shows benefiting a (yet-to-be-named) educational institution in Chicago. The first 30 people in line at each show are able to submit suggestions for the all-request setlists, which typically include Wilco rarities, Uncle Tupelo tracks and selections from Tweedy's various side projects. If you've been dying to hear a live rendition of "Bob Dylan's 49th Beard," you should probably snag a ticket.  

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

Questlove (DJ set)

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Roots drummer, Tonight Show bandleader, author and Twitter personality Questlove holds court at the official Chicago Humanities Festival afterparty. The celebration goes down at Virgin Hotels' Cerise rooftop, with a DJ set from Quest (who is a deft selector of killer tracks) and drinks specials from Revolution Brewing and Dark Matter Coffee.

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