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The best things to do in Chicago this week

Find the very best things to do in Chicago this week including cultural events, concerts, festivals and more

Photograph: Jaclyn Rivas

Soak up the last week of April by finding something amazing things to do in Chicago this week. If you want to spot a famous face in the city, check out Trevor Noah's latest stand-up show at the United Center or head to the Chicago Humanities Festival to see talks from Melinda Gates and Stacey Abrams. If you can't get enough of Hamilton in Chicago, head to Northerly Island to see the debut of “Hamilton: The Exhibition,” an immersive experience built around the life of the founding father. It's also your last chance to enjoy some great concerts in April, including sets from Neko Case, Diane Coffee, Foals and Billy Bragg. And don't forget about the grand opening of Jeni's new West Loop ice cream parlor and an exhibit devoted to photographer Laurie Simmons at one of Chicago's best museums. Finish out the month on a high note with some of the best things to do in Chicago this week.

Best things to do in Chicago this week

Photograph: Jake Chessum
Comedy, Stand-up

Trevor Noah

icon-location-pin United Center | Chicago, IL, United Center

Daily Show host Noah steps out from behind his desk and sets out on his first arena tour, mixing biting political commentary with personal tales of his childhood in South Africa during apartheid.

Hamilton: The Exhibition
Illustration: David Korins
Museums, History

“Hamilton: The Exhibition”

icon-location-pin 1535 S Linn White Dr, Museum Campus

Experience the life of Alexander Hamilton at this stand-alone exhibition, created by the team behind the hit musical Hamilton. Debuting in Chicago, "Hamilton: The Exhibition" takes visitors on a journey from a trading post in St. Croix to the New Jersey hilltop where the Founding Father was shot in duel, using imaginative environments (created by the Broadway production's set designer David Korins) to immerse guests in the historical tale. Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda serves as the exhibition's narrator (via a high-tech headset), fleshing out details as you make your way through the display and listen to rearranged music from the Broadway show.

Photograph: Liz Lauren

Cambodian Rock Band

icon-location-pin Victory Gardens Biograph Theater, Sheffield & DePaul

Shame is a hell of a thing, as likely to be felt by victims as it is to be ignored by the guilty. This is the notion that Lauren Yee addresses head-on in the exhilarating Cambodian Rock Band. Yee’s play is a nimble, spectacle-heavy whirligig: a detective story, a historical drama, a family comedy and a rock show with songs by the L.A. outfit Dengue Fever. 

Time Out says
Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams
Photograph: Courtesy Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams
Things to do

Jeni's West Loop Grand Opening Party

icon-location-pin Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams (West Loop), West Loop

Welcome the sixth Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams location in Chicago at this grand opening celebration, where the brand's founder and namesake (Jeni Britton Bauer) will be in attendance. The first 50 people in line will receive a swag bag, and everyone who visits will get some free ice cream.

Stacey Abrams
Photograph: CC/Wikimedia Commons/Kerri Battles
Things to do, Festivals

Chicago Humanities Festival Spring Fest

icon-location-pin Various locations throughout Chicago,

Coinciding with a celebration of the Chicago Humanities Festival's 30th birthday, the organization's Spring Fest welcomes a lineup of artists, activists and thinkers to the city for conversations based around the theme of "power." This season's lecture series features Georgia House of Representatives Minority Leader Stacey Abrams, philanthropist Melinda Gates, Atlantic staff writer George Packer and author of The Friend Sigrid Nunez. The lineup also includes a production of the play Please, Continue Hamlet presented at the Museum of Contemporary Art, with guest performers like Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx and federal judge Joan Lefkow.

The Obama Paintings Rob Pruitt
Photograph: Courtesy Stony Island Arts Bank
Art, Painting

“The Obama Paintings”

icon-location-pin Stony Island Arts Bank, South Shore

The Obama Presidential Library in Jackson Park is years away from completion, but a new exhibition near the facility's future home pays tribute to the former Illinois Senator in a fascinating way. "The Obama Paintings" is an exhibition made up of nearly 3,000 red- and blue-tinged paintings depicting scenes that correspond to each day of Obama's presidency. Artist Rob Pruitt renders everything from a walk with the Obama family dog, Bo, to State of the Union addresses and meetings with heads of state.

Neko Case
Photograph: Courtesy Anti-Records
Music, Folk, country and blues

Neko Case + Shannon Shaw

icon-location-pin Vic Theatre, Lake View

In the decades since she recorded her first solo EP in the kitchen of her Chicago apartment, Neko Case has established herself as a formidable country and rock troubadour (and an integral part of Canadian indie-rock supergroup the New Pornographers). Co-produced with Björn Yttling of Peter Bjorn and John, Case's latest album, Hell-On, plays to all of her strengths, filled with folk-rock ballads that showcase Case's powerful voice and her reliably dark sense of humor. During Case's two-night stand at the Vic, Shannon Shaw of Shannon and the Clams supports.

Show of Hands Chicago
Photograph: Courtesy Show of Hands Chicago
Shopping, Markets and fairs

Show of Hands Chicago

icon-location-pin Artifact Events, Lake View

Presented by local design house Orange Beautiful, this three-day event curates wares from more than 100 local vendors with unique points of view. Geometric printed pillows, quirky wooden birdhouses and stunning ceramics are among the many distinct offerings. Admission is free throughout the weekend, but a ticketed preview event on Friday night allows guests to see all of the market's offerings (and they'll get a complimentary beer from Begyle or a cocktail from Jo Snow Syrups and Union Horse Distilling Co.).

Photograph: Pixabay
Things to do, Festivals

Chicago Wine Fest

icon-location-pin Lincoln Park Zoo | Chicago, IL, Lincoln Park

Spring is here, so it's time to stop whining about how brutal this winter was and toast the arrival of warmer weather with a glass of vino. Guest will enjoy live music and selections from more than 15 different wineries and vineyards, set amidst the scenery of the Lincoln Park Zoo. Wine lovers can choose between three different sessions throughout the day and can upgrade their experience with a VIP ticket, which includes an additional hour of time to sample.

Laurie Simmons, Big Camera, Little Camera, 1976.
Photograph: Courtesy the artist and Salon 94
Art, Photography

“Laurie Simmons: Big Camera/Little Camera”

icon-location-pin Museum of Contemporary Art, Streeterville

Best known for her photos of dolls and miniature objects (as well as for being the mother of Girls creator and star Lena Dunham), New York artist Lauris Simmons has been creating work that views reality through a surreal lens for nearly five decades. The MCA's career retrospective, entitled "Big Camera/Little Camera," includes work that explore scale, female gender roles and the artificiality of social media. In addition to photographs, guests can view a collection of miniature props that Simmons used in her imagery, sculptures that comment on society's obsession with the female body and a trio of short films, including one in which actress Meryl Streep interacts with vintage puppets.

Music, Rock and indie

Foals + Preoccupations + Omni

icon-location-pin Riviera Theatre, Uptown

In a just world, UK rockers Foals would be as big as contemporaries like Alt-J and Mumford and Sons, headlining an arena tour through the states. As it stands, the Oxford act has become one of Britain's most prominent alt-rock acts, with a major label record deal and the clout to release its sprawling new album in two parts. For the most part, Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost Part 1 sticks to what the band does best, melding tricky rhythms with driving synths and proggy guitar riffs across a series of larger-than-life anthems. While the execution doesn't always live up to Foals ambitions (or justify its scale), seeing the band work out the material's kinks onstage should make for an invigorating evening. Make sure to get to the Riviera Theatre early to catch sets from Atlanta power-trio Omni and post-punk act Preoccupations.

Miguel Cervantes and the Chicago cast of Hamilton
Theater, Musicals


icon-location-pin CIBC Theatre, Loop

Let’s not mince words, since we’ve already spilled so many of them: Hamilton, writer-composer-lyricist Lin-Manuel Miranda’s biography of Alexander Hamilton as refracted through a hip-hop, pop and R&B lens, is a sprawling, stunning, singular achievement. By filtering the story of the American Experiment’s beginning into modern, meticulously rhymed vernacular and populating the stage with performers of color to play the likes of Hamilton, Washington, Jefferson and Madison, Miranda and his regular collaborators (director Thomas Kail, music supervisor Alex Lacamoire and choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler) make the founding fathers feel fresh and, miraculously, human.

Photograph: Jordan Avery
Things to do, Festivals

Chicago Rum Festival

icon-location-pin Logan Square Auditorium, Logan Square

Presented by the experts at the Rum Lab, the Chicago Rum Festival (formerly the Midwest Run Festival) brings together producers from across the world for an afternoon of tastings and mingling. Guests can choose from one of three different tickets and work their way through more than 50 different rum expressions, accompanied by complimentary snacks and live music. All attendees will receive a two-ounce souvenir snifter cup.

Music, Punk and metal

The Original Misfits

icon-location-pin Allstate Arena, Suburbs

Glenn Danzig, Jerry Only and Doyle Wolfgang von Frankenstein reunited onstage for the first time in 33 years at Riot Fest in 2016, but the Original Misfits are coming back to Chicagoland for another evening of classic punk rock. Expect to see plenty of smiling skull T-shirts in the crowd as you listen to renditions of classic horror-tinged tracks like "Night of the Living Dead" and "Skulls."

Photograph: Liz Lauren

Lottery Day

icon-location-pin Goodman Theatre | Chicago, IL, Loop

The final play in Ike Holter’s seven-show Rightlynd Saga, Lottery Day is the rare team-up event that hits the jackpot. Pulling in characters from the previous plays, Lottery Day builds on its predecessors with an eye toward tearing the whole complex to the ground. Holter’s characters have gathered for a backyard barbecue hosted by local matriarch Mallory (J. Nicole Brooks, in a titanic performance). And while Mallory throws the best damn parties in town, this get-together is more than that: It’s a chance for her to set things right—or so she thinks. 

The Second City's 107th MainStage Revue Cast
Photograph: Todd Rosenberg Photography

Algorithm Nation or The Static Quo

icon-location-pin The Second City, Lincoln Park

Second City’s 107th mainstage revue takes on the horrifying, exhilarating, entirely overwhelming experience of being alive in 2019. Featuring Second City cast members Ryan Asher, Tyler Davis, Jeffrey Murdoch, Emma Pope, Nate Varrone and Kimberly Michelle Vaughn, laughs are algorithmically guaranteed to ensue.

Billy Bragg
Photograph: Anthony Saint James
Music, Folk, country and blues

Billy Bragg

icon-location-pin Lincoln Hall, Sheffield & DePaul

English folk singer Billy Bragg is best known for his collaborating with Wilco on the Woody Guthrie-penned Mermaid Avenue records, but he'll be focusing on some of his earliest songs when he brings his One Step Forward, Two Steps Backward tour to Lincoln Hall. During the three-night stand, Bragg will deliver a career-spanning set (April 25) before digging into his first three albums, which marked his transition from a pub-rock frontman to a folk musician with a message (April 26). During this final show, Bragg will perform tracks from Workers Playtime, The Internationale and Don't Try This At Home, which are rife with overtly political lyrics.

Photograph: Courtesy Soccer Club Club
Art, Contemporary art

“Activity Apparatus”

icon-location-pin Soccer Club Club, Belmont Cragin

Local singer-songwriter Haley Fohr (best known as the voice of Circuit des Yeux) is responsible for the eight-hour composition that accompanies this imaginative group show at the Soccer Club Club gallery. Visitors are encouraged to take their time while exploring the exhibition, which features paintings and visual works by Judith Lindbloom, Bill Nace, Meghan Remy and Emily Winter; videos by Nick Ciontea and Kim Alpert; and an interactive Light Geode constructed by Carlson Garcia.

Grelley Duvall
Photograph: Courtesy Hideout
Comedy, Character

The Grelley Duvall Show

icon-location-pin Hideout, River West/West Town

Originating as a two-night run as part of Steppenwolf Theatre Company’s LookOut series, actor Alex Grelle’s trippy tribute to Shelley Duvall and other underrated screen stealers hits the Hideout for its third year. Incorporating music (courtesy of local composer John Cicora), dancing, sketch comedy and acting, this surreal take on a variety show pays homage to its forbearers by celebrating overlooked and unexpected performers.

Art on theMART
Photograph: Joshua Brott
Art, Film and video

Art on theMART

icon-location-pin Merchandise Mart,

Five nights a week, a 25-story-tall video installation takes over the side of the Merchandise Mart, filling the building's historic facade with vibrant colors and moving images. Harnessing 34 digital projectors, the show features work by a rotating lineup of artists and is best viewed from Wacker Drive or the Riverwalk, between Wells and Orleans Streets. Art on theMART lights up the night Wednesday through Sunday, with projections beginning approximately 15 minutes after sunset.

Photograph: Evan Hanover

Remember the Alamo

icon-location-pin Neo-Futurarium, Uptown

Soft-rock icon Phil Collins plays a surprisingly central role in Remember the Alamo, Nick Hart’s moving if messy meditation on Mexican-American identity. Played with an amusingly atrocious accent by the droll Hal Baum, the Genesis singer-drummer and all-odds defier is one of the play’s central figures. This being a Neo-Futurists production, the show is an effervescently self-aware combination of elements: sketches, musical numbers, pop-culture references, shadow puppetry and personal stories from the performers, to name a few.

Time Out says

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