In summer, music in Chicago means one thing: festivals. It’s almost as though, after a typical brutal winter, we collectively can’t bear the idea of hearing one more note played in a crowded nightclub, dimly lit concert hall, or claustrophobic tavern. We want our music under the bright, blue sky and in the open air, with all the randomness, confusion, sense of community and acoustic challenges that represents. And boy howdy, do we ever get it.
Chicago Blues Festival
June 12-14, Grant Park
Still the largest free blues festival in the world, and one of the cultural events most associated with the city by out-of-towners. This year’s fest—the thirty-second—features local legend Buddy Guy as the headliner, and celebrates the centennials of both Muddy Waters and Willie Dixon. Other acts include Billy Branch, Toronzo Cannon, Clarence Carter, Eddy Clearwater, Syl Johnson, Zora Young, Taj Mahal Trio, Eddie Shaw & The Wolfgang, Charlie Love and Chick Rogers, among many others. Over half a million people are expected to pour into Grant Park for the chance to bliss out to every kind of blues imaginable, including acid, electric, Delta, New Orleans, Kansas City, West Coast, St. Louis and (of course) Chicago. Free.
Pitchfork Music Festival
July 17-19, Union Park
After ten years, this laid-back, all-ages fest can probably be called a Chicago institution. This summer, hometown favorites Wilco, Chance the Rapper and Vic Mensa welcome rock royalty Sleater-Kinney and The New Pornographers. Also appearing: Future Islands, Sophie, Ought, Churches, Run the Jewels, Iceage, A$AP Ferg, Panda Bear, Caribou, A.G. Cook, Jamie XX, Mac DeMarco, Todd Terje & The Olsens, Ex Hex, Tobias Jesso Jr., Jimmy Whispers, Bully, Ariel Pink, Bitchin Bajas, How to Dress Well, Mourn, Protomartyr, Single Mothers, Natalie Prass, Parquet Courts, Ryley Walker, Future Brown, Mr Twin Sister, The Julie Ruin, Waxahatchee and more. There’s also a wide range of local vendors, and a popular record fair run by CHIRP Radio. $65-$180. Read the rest of this entry »