Concerts in Chicago in September 2018
Chicago may be best known for its blues musicians, but these days it's more of a jazz city. The annual Chicago Jazz Festival celebrates contemporary improvisers and legendary players with free concerts at the Chicago Cultural Center and Millennium Park. This year, the festivities expand to local music venues, where performers will play free shows from August 24 through 29. Headliners include composer, pianist and radio personality Ramsey Lewis; noted jazz vocalists Kurt Elling and Dianne Reeves; and funk legend Maceo Parker.
Celebrate Labor Day weekend in Union Park at North Coast Music Festival, where EDM once again dominates the lineup. Headlining acts include Swedish DJ duo Axwell Λ Ingrosso, French producer DJ Snake, electro-funk act Jamiroquai and sultry R&B singer-songwriter Miguel. You'll also be treated to DJ sets from local musicians (such as the Cool Kids and Sen Morimoto) and get to take in all of the attendees wearing rave-ready costumes.
Bro-country poster boy Luke Bryan may object to the label being applied to his music, but there's really no easier way to describe twangy songs with titles like "She's a Hot One" and "Drinking Again." On the heels of his new gig as an American Idol judge, Bryan brings his What Makes You Country Tour to Wrigley Field, with fellow Nashville singers Sam Hunt, Jon Pardi and Carly Pearce in tow.
Can we start calling this an annual residency yet? For the fifth summer in a row, the "Piano Man" returns to Wrigley Field. The 68-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. As long as there are people who want to sing along to "Uptown Girl," we expect Joel will continue packing the ballpark every summer.
Expand your musical tastes at the annual World Music Festival, a series of free concerts at venues throughout the city that feature artists from all corners of the globe, including France, China, Gambia and more. The festival kicks off with the annual Ragamala concert, an overnight concert at the Chicago Cultural Center which features more than 12 hours of classical Indian music. Other highlights of this year's lineup include an El Grito celebration in Millennium Park featuring mariachi bands, an appearance by Morrocan experimental audio-visual artist H.A.T. and a concert held in tandem with World Dumpling Fest in Polk Bros Park.
While there’s always been a theatrical flair to Fall Out Boy’s music, the band’s latest record, MANIA, takes those overwrought inclinations to their logical conclusion. There’s nothing subtle about the bells and choir that grace a track called “Church” or highlight-reel worthy lyricism of “Champion.” A hometown show in Wrigley Field seems like the perfect opportunity for Patrick Stump and company to dig into their catalog, in front of a crowd of older fans that should know all the words to “Dead on Arrival.”
There was a time when Donald Glover was just a sitcom star who released clever, embarrassingly confessional rap tracks under a moniker devised by a Wu-Tang Clan name generator. These days, he's the creator of genre-defying FX show Atlanta, a part of the Star Wars universe (as young Lando Calrissian) and the creative voice behind the striking music video for his latest track, “This is America.” On tour behind his not-yet-titled “final” album, Glover will be joined by Mississippi hip-hop duo Rae Sremmurd.
Logan Square community arts center Comfort Station holds its annual summer benefit, which helps fund its year-round slate of exhibitions, film screenings, lectures, concerts and workshops. Setting up a stage at the foot of the Centennial Monument, the free event will feature sets from psychedelic jazz outfit Dos Santos, local hip-hop producer Phoelix, twangy indie rockers Campdogzz and quai-industrial act Dim. Donations are welcome, and if you want to have a few beverages at the event, you can purchase a $25 wristband for access to beer, cider and more.
While the first edition of the hip-hop-focused The Breaks Music Festival took place near Soldier Field, this year's iteration is moving to Toyota Park. Legendary New York rap collective the Wu-Tang Clan headlines the fest, celebrating the 25th anniversary of its debut album Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers). Yasiin Bey (formerly known as Mos Def), Curren$y, Freddie Gibbs and Talib Kweli are also on the lineup, in addition to hometown hip-hop heroes and Twista and Vic Mensa.
While much of Jon Hopkins' early career was spent collaborating with Brian Eno and Coldplay, in recent year's the English producer has come into his own as an electronic musician with a distinctive sound. Hopkins' latest album, Signularity, is a suite of expansive compositions, littered with ambient synths and glitchy beats that coalese into some of his most epic, room-eveloping tracks to date. There's a transcendent power to Hopkins' arrangements, lending a decidedly intimate feel to his larger-than-life production. Ambient musician Daniel Avery opens the show.
Identical twin brothers Jonathan and Jared Mattson have been making rock music infused with the improvisational flair of jazz for years, most recenting collaborating with Toro y Moi's Chaz Bundick on a collaborative LP. The duo's latest EP is a reinterpretation of John Coltrane's A Love Supreme, which presents a new take on the classic jazz album. Inspired by Coltrane's four-part suite, the Mattson brothers render Coltrane's memorable saxophone melodies with guitars and synthesizers, building upon the original in new and unexpected ways. Dreamy pop crooner Astronauts, Etc. opens the show.
Local record label Trouble in Mind teams up with Chapel Hill, North Carolina-based Paradise of Bachelors to present the three-day Trouble in Paradise festival at the Empty Bottle, featuring acts pulled from the ranks of each label's diverse roster. The party starts on Thursday night with a showcase of local acts, including post-punk noisemakers FACS and Negative Scanner. On Friday, the mood gets folk-y, with sets from the Weather Station, Olden Yolk and Gun Outfit. Finally, Saturday brings angular rockers Omni and Nova Scotian guitar pop outfit Nap Eyes to the stage. If you're not embracing nostalgia at Riot Fest, you'll find plenty of fresh faces at this expertly-curated mini-fest.
It's the social event of the season for anyone with a denim jacket covered in patches hanging in their closet. Riot Fest brings acts like Beck, Blink-182, Alkaline Trio, Blondie, Elvis Costello and rock 'n' roll legend Jerry Lee Lewis to Douglas Park for a three-day carnival of music (there's even a Ferris wheel). You'll find punks, metalheads, indie fans and hip-hop aficionados eating corn dogs and crowding the fields at this eclectic end-of-the-summer fest.
It's been a tumultuos couple of years for fans of Chicago rapper Lupe Fiasco, who threatened to retire from music at the end of 2016, before ultimately releasing his sixth album, Drogas Light, in 2017. Now, Fiasco is hard at work on a new concept record (tentatively titled Drogas Wave) that will tackle the history of slavery through a suite of hip-hop tracks. While it's possible you might get to hear some of his latest material at this House of Blues show, it's worth showing up to witness some classic tunes from Food & Liquor.
Stepping away from the lush, string-dappled ballads of her debut album, singer-songwriter Natalie Prass lends her crystalline pipes to retro R&B- and funk-inspired tracks on her new album, The Future and the Past. Written in the wake of the 2016 elections, Prass scrapped the sophomore album she has previously planned in favor of a collection of confident anthems that confront the inherent heartbreak of living in a politically charged era. Australian singer-songwriter Stella Donnelly opens the show.
Didn't get the invite to your neighborhood block party this summer? No worries—Goose Island is inviting everyone to its annual 312 Block Party, which takes place right in front of its Fulton Street brewery. A $10 donation to a local charity at the gate gets you access to live music, food truck fare and more than 20 different beers, which are only $3 each. On Friday, September 21 experimental rockers TV on the Radio headline the music stage, joined by psych outfit Sunflower Bean and local rapper Mick Jenkins. Americana act the Drive-By Truckers top the bill on Saturday, September 22, with support from indie-rockers the Hold Steady and country singer Lillie Mae. With so much great music and cheap beer on tap, the 312 Block Party usually fills up quickly, so your best option is to arrive early (the fest's entrance is at Fulton St and Wolcott Ave) and have a few drinks while you wait for your favorite act to play.
Young artists from throughout Chicago take the spotlight at YAS! Fest, a one-day event in Millennium Park that showcases local performers and creators. Throughout the day, you'll be able to see youth orchestras and choirs, artworks creates by Chicago youth, local dance troupes and winners of the Chicago Park District’s Teens In the Park contest. The evening will conclude with a concert in Pritzker Pavilion, headlined by rapper Desiigner (best know for his hit, "Panda") and local R&B singer Ravyn Lenae, who graduated from the Chicago High School for the Arts. It's all free and open to the public—yas!
Revolution Brewing's annual Oktoberfest celebration returns to the streets of Logan Square, welcoming attendees to quaff a few beers while enjoying German cuisine (from the likes of Dönermen and the Radler) and a stacked music lineup. Local folk rock act Whitney and Mary Timony's noisy trio Ex Hex headline the stage on Friday, while garage rock vets King Khan and the Shrines and Japanese psych rocker Kikagaku Moyo top Saturday's bill. A $5 donation gets you into this fall street fest, located just off the California Blue Line stop in front of the Revolution brewpub, with proceeds benefitting the Friends of Goethe School.
Venues throughout Hyde Park host a weekend of jazz at this annual fall festival, which brings together local acts like Ben LaMar Gay, Dee Alexander and Junius Paul, as well as headlining sets from pianist Jason Moran and saxophonist Ravi Coltrane. During the afternoon, many of the concerts take place on two outdoor stages at Midway Plaisance, while the evening moves the music to places like the Logan Center and Rockefeller Chapel.