Summer is still a few weeks away, but when it gets warm in Chicago we immediately take advantage of it. But when you're not enjoying Chicago parks or relaxing on a beach, you should be seeing some of the amazing artists who start pouring into the city. Just before summer music festival season begins in earnest, you can catch arena shows from U2, Shania Twain and Hall & Oates. Plus, Courtney Barnett plays a show in the Chicago Cultural Center and the Haim sisters headline the Aragon. Explore our picks of the best concerts in Chicago in May.
RECOMMENDED: Our complete calendar for concerts in Chicago
Concerts in Chicago in May
Four years after the release of their debut album, Days Are Gone, the Haim sisters are still the same leather jacket-wearing, ‘80s-worshipping, stage-quipping badasses that we've come to adore. So what if their latest album, Something to Tell You, is essentially more of the same? The bass faces, hereditary harmonies and hopelessly romantic pop songs that landed the trio on tour with Taylor Swift are still intact, and if you're lucky, you'll get to hear them turn a Shania Twain song into a soft-rock jam.
It may be difficult to imagine Daryl Hall and John Oates as ubiquitous pop stars and MTV regulars, but hey, that was the ‘80s. Since then, the duo's music has come to rest somewhere between kitsch and reverence, while songs like "I Can't Go for That (No Can Do)" and "Maneater" have joined the Great American Karaoke Songbook. Hall and Oates haven't released much new music in the past decade outside of a Christmas album, but you'll dance (and sing) along to their deep catalog of hits.
Swedish electronic artist Karin Dreijer (of the defunct experimental duo The Knife) revives her synth-pop side project Fever Ray with the new album, Plunge. The record harnesses raw dance-floor beats and pitch-shifted vocals throughout a collection of subversive songs that deal with topics like sex and empowerment. If you're looking for some visceral tunes to stimulate your heart rate (and your brain), make sure you book your ticket for this rare stateside appearance.
After collaborating with kindred musical spirit Kurt Vile on a collaborative album last year, Aussie singer-songwriter Courtney Barnett has already cooked up a new batch of songs. Her latest album, Tell Me How You Really Feel, confronts the hardships of being a woman in the music industry, clapping back at critics and anonymous internet trolls through a collection of empowered, indie-rock anthems. She'll be performing beneath the Tiffany Dome in the Chicago Cultural Center—a particularly picturesque setting for a rock show. Local punks Lala Lala open the show.
U2 still hasn't found what it's looking for on its latest album, Songs of Experience—a collection of tracks that shamelessly borrows from some of the group's previous output, without recapturing any of its grandeur. Thankfully, Bono and company still excel in the arena, combining cutting-edge stagecraft and setlists that don't shy away from the band's extensive catalog of larger-than-life anthems. Gaze into the giant LED screens long enough and you'll surely be rewarded with a rendition of "Sunday Bloody Sunday."
His contemporaries may be harnessing trap beats and EDM-influenced production, but Brooklyn rapper Joey Bada$$ kicks it old school. You'll hear vinyl scratches, jazz samples and densely syllabic rhymes throughout his music, which hews closely to the style favored by the ’90s lineage of East Coast hip-hop artists, including his idol Nas. At Concord Music Hall, he's joined by rising Compton rappers Boogie and Buddy.