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Concerts in Chicago in May 2016

As the season heats up, so does the lineup of concerts in Chicago in May, including Carrie Underwood, Gary Numan and more

Photograph: Courtesy Schure Media

Summer is not technically here, but who cares about technicalities? Whether we're visiting Chicago parks or relaxing on a beach need to go outside as much as possible, considering the entire month of January was spent next to the heater. Good thing May marks the start of the summer music festival season, not to mention the outdoor concert season. Explore our picks of the best concerts in Chicago in May.

RECOMMENDED: Our complete calendar for concerts in Chicago

Concerts in Chicago in May

Wild Nothing + Whitney + Charlie Hilton

In a recent interview, Jack Tatum stated that his latest album under his Wild Nothing moniker is influenced by the soft string and horn arrangement of Philadelphia soul music. While the album's pulsing synth pads may draw inspiration from the ’80s sub-genre, the songs on Life of Pause seem more indebted to shoegazers like Slowdive than anything by the O'Jays. Local folk rockers Whitney and singer-songwriter Charlie Hilton open the show.

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Until Tue May 3

Bob Mould + J. Robbins

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For anyone who pegged Bob Mould a hardcore and loud-and-fast-rules adherent, his post-Hüsker Dü and Sugar career has been nothing but surprising. There have been arty solo albums, electronic excursions, a bear idol status, DJ sets, autobiography writing and a recent return to power-pop on the great albums Silver Age and Beauty & Ruin. Mould's latest, Patch the Sky, is another medlodic slab of crunchy power chords and cathartic lyricism. Former Jawbox frontman and fellow hardcore scene veteran J. Robbins opens the show.

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Until Fri May 6

Ellie Goulding + Years & Years

English singer Ellie Goulding might be one of the biggest stars who you wouldn't recognize in a crowd, though she's performed for royalty and briefly dated Skrillex (of all people). There's a fragile, personal side to her music that sets her apart from other chart-topping performers, even on tracks as ubiquitous as "Anything Could Happen." See Goulding do her disco-meets-electronica thing, breathily singing tracks from her latest release, Delirium.

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Until Fri May 6

Floating Points

London producer Sam Shepherd isn't the first person to blend the tenets of jazz and electronic music. Recording under the moniker of Floating Points, his largely analog grooves follow the tradition of synth-laden ’70s prog bands such as Yes and Camel and builds on the work of genre-bending contemporaries like Flying Lotus and Tortoise. On his full-length debut, Elaenia, Shepard uses the looping beats and motifs of electronic music as a source of inspiration for winding compositions that are performed rather than programmed.

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Until Sat May 7

King Gizzard and the Wizard Lizard

Aussie psych rock outfit King Gizzard and the Wizard Lizard is as prolific as they come, releasing seven quirky albums over the past four years. Their latest project? A batch of ’70s metal-inspired tracks that will make up an "endlessly" looping record, aptly entitled Nonagon Infinity. Sounds trippy.

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Until Sun May 8

Unknown Mortal Orchestra + Whitney

Unknown Mortal Orchestra has always been an R&B act in psych-rock clothing, weaving woozy melodies around taut drum and bass arrangements. The band's third album, Multi-Love, solidifies its soulful chops through quintessential post-modern love ballads like "Can't Keep Checking My Phone." Chicago folk rockers Whitney (featuring former members of Unknown Mortal Orchestra and Smith Westerns) supports.

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Until Tue May 10

Tortoise

Bouncing between jazz-fusion, krautrock and dub, long-running instrumental rockers Tortoise have become more unpredictable with age. Though members of the Chicago-based group have recently moved away from the city, the band reconvened to complete The Catastrophist, its first album in nearly six years. For longtime fans, the twisting guitar riffs, complex rhythms and crisscrossing synth melodies won't come as a surprise—for those unfamiliar with the band, it has a tendency to sound groundbreaking.

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Lincoln Hall , Sheffield & DePaul Wednesday January 11 2017

Graham Nash

On the rare occasion that Graham Nash (of Crosby, Stills, Nash and sometimes Young fame) has decided to go solo, the resulting albums have been eclectic pop rock affairs. His latest, This Path Tonight, find the two-time Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee in a reflective mood, exploring sounds from his past with the benefit of hindsight and decades of experience.

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Until Thu May 12

Black Mountain

It's been nearly six years since the release of Black Mountain's last record and, from the sound of its latest, the Vancouver group has spent the ensuing years time-traveling back to the ’70s to acquire vintage synthesizers and prog-rock chops. On IV, the psych-rockers pile heavy riffs on top of analog soundscapes, building otherworldly dirges that betray influences like King Crimson and Kraftwerk.

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Until Thu May 12

Nada Surf

Part of a wave of alternative acts that surfaced in the mid-’90s (perhaps you recall the hit song "Popular"), Nada Surf has gracefully settled into indie band middle age. On its new record, You Know Who You Are, the group traffics in breezy power pop, aided by former Guided by Voices guitarist Doug Gillard.

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Until Thu May 12

Twin Peaks + White Reaper + The Funs

No longer saddled with reputation of being a band of teenagers from Chicago, Twin Peaks have steadily become one of the city's most reliable rock acts. The group's latest, Down in Heaven, draws heavily upon the classic rock textbook, channeling the ramshackle swagger of the Rolling Stones and a bit of the Band's Americana twang. Kentucky garage rockers White Reaper and local guitar and drums duo the Funs support.

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Thalia Hall , Lower West Side Friday December 16 2016 - Sunday December 18 2016

Ben Folds with yMusic

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Happy-sack piano pop crooner Ben Folds is on a progressive kick as of late, touring with contemporary classical ensemble yMusic. The modern music troupe has previously worked with Dirty Projectors and cut a collaborative record with Folds, So There, last year.

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Until Fri May 13

Jeff Tweedy

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Local rock icon Jeff Tweedy has been busy lately, releasing a surprise Wilco album, touring with his son behind 2014's Sukierae and producing a new Richard Thompson LP. Thankfully, no matter how busy Tweedy gets, we can always count on seeing him at his annual solo benefit concerts at the Vic Theatre. The first 30 people in line for each show determine the evening's setlist, which means that the performances are frequently filled with rarely-heard tunes from Tweedy's entire catalog: Wilco b-sides, Uncle Tupelo tunes, Loose Fur tracks, soundtrack contributions, one-off covers—it's all fair game.

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Until Sat May 14

Punch Brothers

Combining bluegrass instrumentation with adventurous chamber music arrangements, the Punch Brothers make forward-looking folk music that respects traditions, but isn’t beholden to them. Now that frontman Chris Thile is hosting A Prarie Home Companion, his outings with the group will likely become less frequent—join in on the progressive hoedown while you have the chance.

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Until Sat May 14

Dungen + Boogarins

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The recorded output of Dungen could serve as a master’s thesis in the art of achieving a warm, vintage sound in a contemporary studio. But the Swedish psych crew—currently supporting its seventh album, Allas Sak (“Everyone's thing”)—milks melancholy pop exotica so extensively that many of its songs blur together in a delightful fashion. Brazilian psych-rockers Boogarins support while Eye Vybe DJs spin heady tunes between sets.

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Until Sun May 15

Gary Numan

For a brief moment in the late ’70s and early ’80s, Gary Numan was a new wave sensation, topping the charts with his synthesizer-drenched single, “Cars.” Now, he’s revisiting his heyday, performing three seminal albums—Replicas, The Pleasure Principle and Telekon—in their entirety over the course of a three-night residency.

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Until Tue May 17

Carrie Underwood

American Idol may be wrapping up its final season, but fourth season winner Carrie Underwood has parlayed reality show success into bonafide pop stardom. Touring behind her 2015 album Storyteller, the country singer brings a 360-degree stage to Allstate Arena for an evening of twangy tunes and impeccable high notes.

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Until Tue May 17

At the Drive-In

The members of Texas post-hardcore act At the Drive-In can’t seem to resist the allure (and festival paydays) of playing music together, reuniting for the second time since the band’s demise in 2001. This time around, the group is promising new music and a bit more enthusiasm than its 2012 appearance at Lollapalooza. If it doesn't work out, there's always the inevitable Mars Volta reunion to look forward to.

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Until Fri May 20

Chelsea Wolfe

California singer Chelsea Wolfe offers an improbable mix of scrappy outsider folk and black-metal atmosphere that works despite long odds. The video for her latest single, a slow-burning acoustic tune called "Hypnos," features black and white footage of Wolfe with a live snake draped around her neck—it's at once ominous and strangely soothing, much like her metal-inflected 2015 release Abyss. New Zealand duo A Dead Forest Index open the show.

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Until Fri May 20

Old 97's + Heartless Bastards

Rhett Miller's Texan four-piece remains one of the best bar bands in the land, serving up rowdy alt-coutry tunes that have outlasted former contemporaries like Whiskeytown and the Jayhawks. On the Old 97's 2014 release, Most Messed Up, Miller turns in some of the most self-aware songs of his career, contrasting the stability of married life with the sterotypical rock star antics of his past. Twangy Austin rockers the Heartless Bastards kick off the evening, joined by BJ Barham of American Aquarium.

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Until Sat May 21

The Kills + LA Witch

Before Alison Mosshart fronted the Dead Weather with Jack White, she played hard-hitting garage rock with British guitarist Jamie Hince as the Kills. Augmented by pulsing a drum machine, the duo's pads out regimented rhythms with gritty blues riffs and raw vocals on its new LP, Ash & Ice. Mosshart and Hince have more energy than the White Stripes and the Black Keys combined—expect a live show that ably demonstrates the pair's electrifying dynamic.

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Until Mon May 23

Beyoncé

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Beyoncé is up to her old tricks again. Days after the surprise release of her latest track, "Formation," which featured prominently in her Super Bowl halftime performance, the pop star announced her return to Soldier Field. We're expecting breathtaking choreography and a career-spanning set of tunes that cycles through her catalog of definitive pop and R&B tracks. So what if premium seats cost about as much as a ticket to Lollapalooza? There's only one Queen Bee.

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Until Sat May 28

Damien Jurado + Ben Abraham

Ever since he teamed up with producer Richard Swift on 2010's Saint Bartlett, veteran singer-songwriter Damien Jurado has offered up a new take on his folk rock style. His latest, Visions of Us on the Land, is the conclusion of a trilogy of records inspired by science-fiction, religion and a struggle with depression. Swift tricks out Jurado's sparse acoustic composition with growling organs and propulsive rhythms, creating an interstellar backdrop for the singer's outlandish imagery. Australian folk singer Ben Abraham opens the show.

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Until Sat May 28

Comments

1 comments
Jeffrey W
Jeffrey W

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