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The best fall arena shows in Chicago

Hello, Chicago! This fall, you'll find Madonna, The Weeknd and more gigantic acts in arenas around the city

Photograph: Josh Darr
Madonna at United Center

As the air grows crisp and the gutters get clogged with tree debris, summer music festival season comes to an end and the biggest names in music head indoors. And by indoors, we mean “into cavernous arenas.” Over the next few months, thousands of us will cram into branded sports complexes (when the Blackhawks aren't playing) to see today’s pop stars and yesteryear’s rockers gyrate on stage, backed by giant video screens and retina-scorching pyrotechnic displays. Snag floor tickets or squint from the nosebleeds at these must-see arena gigs—regardless, it’s gonna be a blast.

AC/DC

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Though technically not an arena show, it would be remiss of us not to mention this opportunity to see Angus Young hobble around the Friendly Confines in a pair of shorts. AC/DC probably sells more cheap T-shirts than records these days, but the band’s high-voltage blues riffs and juvenile wordplay still leave audiences thunderstruck.

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Until Wed Feb 17

Madonna

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Nuns straddling stripper poles? Dancers toting giant crosses? Madonna’s Rebel Heart Tour may be trying a little too hard, but Madge is likely to breathe some life into the Diplo, Avicii and Kanye West–produced tunes from her so-so 2015 release. If not, at least you have the promise of solid renditions of her ’80s chart-toppers (not to mention a sea of gorgeous back-up dancers).

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Until Mon Sep 28

Ariana Grande

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Kids, eh! At an age when most of us just graduate from college, 22-year-old actor turned pop star (and notorious doughnut-licker) Ariana Grande is already wrapping up her second headlining arena tour. The “Break Free” singer’s Honeymoon Tour boasts the requisite back-up dancers, backing vocal tracks and hordes of elated teenage fans.

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Until Tue Mar 14
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Darius Rucker

Hootie and the Blowfish frontman Darius Rucker rolls into town to play behind his latest disc, Southern Style, his fourth country album. The music itself is pleasantly ploddy and doesn't stray far from the modern country formula—perfect for anyone who eats at Toby Keith's I Love This Bar & Grill unironically.

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Until Thu Oct 8

Ricky Martin

Fourteen years after “Livin’ La Vida Loca,” the Puerto Rican pop hunk is still shaking his bon-bon on the international One World Tour. While the show’s set list includes cuts from Martin’s latest Spanish-language album A Quien Quiera Escuchar (To Those Who Want to Listen), it doesn’t skimp on his most well-known tracks. Consider yourself invited to this giant Latin dance party.

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Until Sun Oct 11

Stevie Wonder

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Legendary R&B singer-songwriter Stevie Wonder is currently revisiting his ambitious double album Songs in the Key of Life on the road, playing the album in its entirety with the assistance of a killer band. Dealing with love, spirituality and social issues, Wonder's magnum opus is just as impressive (and impactful) now as it was 40 years ago—it's the kind of music that demands an arena-sized stage.

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Until Fri Oct 16
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Zedd

What do you need for a great rave? Thousands of people (check!) and a really dark, massive room (check, check). German EDM superstar Zedd is toting his laser array and LED screens to UIC, with support from fellow bass-droppers Dillon Francis and Alex Metric. It's the perfect lead-in to React Presents' weekend-long, Halloween-themed Freaky Deaky festival at Toyota Park.

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Until Thu Oct 29

The Weeknd

At Lollapalooza this summer Abel Tesfaye (a.k.a. The Weeknd) was stuck with a headlining slot opposite of Paul McCartney, but he won't have to share the spotlight during his stop at the United Center. Touring behind his latest full-length Beauty Behind the Madness, the young Canadian crooner turns in another batch of hazy R&B tracks that recall a world-weary King of Pop.

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Until Tue May 23

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