Concerts in Chicago in December 2018

The winter concert season heats up with Travis Scott, Thom Yorke, Kurt Vile and more great December concerts.
Radiohead
Photograph: Rozette Rago Radiohead
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Winter has arrived, the temperatures are dropping and some of the coziest places you'll find are Chicago's best music venues. The end of the year means that another crop of exciting New Year's Eve concerts is just around the corner—not to mention a grab bag of fun holiday shows. Plus, December brings anticipated appearances from the likes of rapper Travis Scott, rocker Kurt Vile and a special solo set from Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke. Take a look at all of the shows we're looking forward to with our guide to the best concerts in Chicago in December.

RECOMMENDED: Our complete calendar of concerts in Chicago

Concerts in Chicago in December

Thom Yorke
Photograph: Courtesy Nasty Little Man
Music, Dance and electronic

Thom Yorke + Oliver Coates

icon-location-pin Chicago Theatre | Chicago, IL, Loop
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After bringing Radiohead to the United Center for a pair of shows earlier this year, Thom Yorke will return to Chicago in December for a special concert in support of his 2014 solo album, Tomorrow's Modern Boxes. Joined by longtime Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich and backed by live visuals created by Tarik Barri, Yorke will dig into the glitchy, electronic sounds he's created as a solo artists, as well as with Atoms For Peace. Don't expect to hear any Radiohead songs—Yorke's recent performances have served as deep dives into his own catalog, complete with renditions that expand upon his work in interesting ways. Experimental cellist Oliver Coates supports.

lollapalooza 2018, travis scott
Photograph: Neal O'Bryan
Music, Rap, hip-hop and R&B

Travis Scott + Sheck Wes + Trippie Redd + Gunna

icon-location-pin United Center | Chicago, IL, United Center
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After celebrating the release of his latest album, ASTROWORLD, at Lollapalooza this summer, Travis Scott returns to Chicago on his WISH YOU WERE HERE tour. The Houston rapper and Kayne West protege presides over a cavalcade of famous friends on his recent record, trading verses with Drake, harnessing the psychedelic production of Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker and making way for guitar riffs provided by John Mayer. While you probably won’t see an of ASTROWORLD’s most prominent guests at the United Center, Scott is bringing New York emcee Sheck Wes, SoundCloud rapper Trippie Redd and “Phase” rapper Gunna along for the ride.

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Music, Classical and opera

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets in Concert

icon-location-pin Symphony Center, Orchestra Hall, Loop
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Accio conductor’s baton! Members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra conjure a live performance of John Williams’ score to the second Harry Potter film, accompanying a screening of the magical movie.

Greta Van Fleet - 2017
Photographer: Michael Lavine
Music, Rock and indie

Greta Van Fleet

icon-location-pin Aragon, Uptown
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If you're holding out for a Led Zeppelin reunion, you might have to settle for the classic rock-inspired stylings of this Michigan quartet. In case the Jimmy Paige-indebted blues riffs and Robert Plant-inspired yelps didn't give it away, the members of Greta Van Fleet are devoted students of the legendary British rockers. Touring behind its full-length debut, Anthem of the Peaceful Army, the group will headline three nights at the Aragon Ballroom.

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Kurt Vile
Photograph: Courtesy Matador Records
Music, Rock, Pop & Hip-hop

Kurt Vile and the Violators + Jessica Pratt

icon-location-pin Riviera Theatre, Uptown
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Philadelphia troubador Kurt Vile can seemingly take any mundane element of his day-to-day life and turn in into a rousing psychedelic rock ballad. On “Loading Zones,” the lead single from his latest solo album Bottle It In, Vile confronts Philly's complicated parking restrictions with his signature blend of six-string riffs and wry lyrical observations. San Francisco folk singer Jessica Pratt opens the show.

Greensky Bluegrass
Photograph: Jamie Van Buhler
Music, Folk, country and blues

Greensky Bluegrass

icon-location-pin Riviera Theatre, Uptown
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This Kalamazoo, Michigan quintet puts a progressive spin on traditional bluegrass music, augmenting mandolin and banjo arrangements with trippy light shows. While its music is a far cry from that of the Grateful Dead or Phish, Greensky Bluegrass has found a following among jam band fans thanks to its constantly-changing setlists and extended improvisations during performances. The group takes over the Riviera Theatre for hour nights at the end of the year, joined by the Jeff Austin Band on December 28 and 29, and Horseshoes and Hand Grenades on December 30. On New Year's Eve, it's three straight sets of Greensky Bluegrass with mandolin solos galore.

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pitchfork 2018, noname
Photograph: Jaclyn Rivas
Music, Rap, hip-hop and R&B

Noname

icon-location-pin Thalia Hall | Chicago, IL, Lower West Side
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On her latest album, Room 25, Fatimah Warner (better known as Noname) establishes herself as one of contemporary's hip-hop's most skilled lyricists, deftly exploring a transitional period in her life through a stream of poetic stanzas. The Bronzeville native mixes bavado with deeply personal reflection, often packing both sentiments into the span of a few seconds of her jazz-inflected arrangements. After spending much of the year on the road, Noname returns to Chicago for a trio of year-end shows at Thalia Hall, including a New Year's Eve performance.

Galantis
Photograph: Teddy Wolff
Music, Dance and electronic

Galantis

icon-location-pin Aragon, Uptown
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Even if you don't know them by name, you're probably familiar with the some of the music that Swedish DJ duo Christian Karlsson and Linus Eklöw have been responsible for. As producers, Karlsson helped pen "Toxic" for Britney Spears, while Eklöw had a hand in Charli XCX's hit single "I Love It." Working together as Galantis, the pair has produced some inescapable EDM tracks, including "Runaway (U & I)," "Peanut Butter Jelly" and "No Money." You won't be able to order bottle service, but the Aragon will probably resemble a packed club when Galantis touches down in Chicago for two year-end performances.

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Bully
Photograph: Alysse Gafkjen
Music, Rock and indie

Bully

icon-location-pin Empty Bottle, Ukrainian Village
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Distilling the ‘90s grunge sound to its emotionally-charged, dirstortion-drenched core, Alicia Bognanno and her band Bully deliver rock and roll anthems that pack a punch. Tracked live to tape at Steve Albini's famous Electrical Audio studio in Chicago, the band's 2017 record Losing confronts the confusion of uncertain times with screamed refrains and barrages of power chords. If you're looking for a particularly cathartic way to spend the last hours of 2018, this show is just the ticket.

Guided by Voices
Photograph: Sandlin Gaither
Music, Rock and indie

Guided By Voices

icon-location-pin Bottom Lounge, Downtown
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Stage-kicking, beer-swilling power-pop singer-songwriter Robert Pollard continues to churn out snappy, lyrically obtuse rock at a breakneck pace—Guided By Voices already has a new album (Zeppelin Over China) and pair of EPs planned for release in the first few months of 2019. After celebrating New Year's Eve at the Empty Bottle last year, the Dayton rockers return to Chicago to ring in 2019 at Bottom Lounge. Take a swig to Jose Cuervo and settle in for a sprawling three-hour set that splits the difference between the band's energetic contemporary output and tracks from classic records like Bee Thousand and Do the Collapse.

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Mucca Pazza
Photograph: Jason Creps
Music, Rock and indie

Mucca Pazza + Absolutely Not

icon-location-pin Lincoln Hall, Sheffield & DePaul
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Local thirty-some piece marching band Mucca Pazza sends off 2018 with a jovial celebration at Lincoln Hall which should please band geeks and the musically inept, alike. Armed with mismatched uniforms, horns, cellists, guitarists, drummers and enthusiastic cheerleaders, the collective explores everything from Balkan music to big band arrangements while marching in unconventional formations. On New Year's Eve, they'll be joined by local punk rockers Absolutely Not and the Fuzzbox DJs.

RJD2
Photograph: Nick Fancher
Music, Dance and electronic

RJD2

icon-location-pin Sleeping Village, Avondale
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Ramble Jon Krohn, better known by his stage name RJD2, is a master manipulator of beats and melodies, mixing samples, synths and live instrumentation. His track “A Beautiful Mine” serve as the theme for Mad Men, showcasing his ability to take a few old samples and turn them into something at once familiar and vital. RJD2 headlines Sleeping Village's first New Year's Eve bash, digging into his collection of records and showing off his turntablist chops both before and after the clock strikes midnight.

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