Chicago’s summer street fests are best enjoyed early in the season, before they become inescapable, and festival fatigue sets in. This German celebration toasts the arrival of summer with cold beer, dancing, and more lederhosen-clad septuagenarians than you can imagine.
Details:Lincoln and Leland. Free. mayfestchicago.com
Near South Side
When will Charli XCX get the respect she deserves? This British pop phenom is a deft songwriter with a keen ear for melody and an experimental bent that’s more common among up-and-coming rappers. She should be the biggest pop star in the world. On her latest mixtape, 2017’s Pop 2, the musician proves her skills are more than just a fluke with a collection of songs (featuring collaborations with fellow underrated pop stars Carly Rae Jepsen, Caroline Polachek, and Dorian Electra) equal parts weird and beautiful.
Details:Soldier Field. 7 p.m. $46–$595. ticketmaster.com
Chicago Ale Fest
Sample from 200 craft beers, including casked brews and other rarities. The main draw might be the “Impossible to Get” beer tent, featuring celebrated breweries whose products aren’t available in Chicago.
Details:Grant Park. $20–$79. chicagoalefest.com
Do Division Street Fest
In most corners of the world, five bucks doesn’t go as far as it used to—but no one seems to have told the organizers of one of the city’s best street fests. The requested donation is an all-access pass to a bill that straddles the rock spectrum: Expect surf sounds (La Luz), punkish indie (Ted Leo and the Pharmacists), noise pop (Deerhoof), and funky Afrobeat (Antibalas), with a pinch of rock shredding (Bear vs. Shark, Wooden Shjips) thrown in for good measure.
Details:Division from Damen to Leavitt. $5 donation. do-divisionstreetfest.com
Pivot Arts Festival
Now in its sixth year, this robust multidisciplinary celebration of the avant-garde is quickly becoming a not-to-be-missed event. It features highlights from this year’s Pivot Arts Incubator, including work by Ginger Krebs, Chicago Fringe Opera, Anna Martine Whitehead, and Corey Smith.
Details:Various venues. Free–$30. pivotarts.org
Burnham’s Dream: The White City
Elizabeth Doyle and June Finfer’s new musical follows famed architect Daniel Burnham as he plans the Chicago’s 1893 world’s fair—designing buildings and rubbing shoulders with trailblazing reporter Ida B. Wells, master architect Louis Sullivan, and civic-minded socialite Bertha Palmer along the way.
Details:Lost and Found Productions at Theater Wit. $25–$42. theaterwit.org
There’s plenty of Shakespeare out there this summer, but none that’s as in-your-face intimate as Gift’s Hamlet. Nobody in the audience will be more than 10 feet from the action, which is some of Shakespeare’s best. Rising director Monty Cole oversees the carnage and the profundity.
Details:Gift Theatre. $25–$45. thegifttheatre.org
This Brooklyn-based sculptor won a MacArthur “genius” grant for his spellbinding installations of handblown glass, which appeared in the Art Institute’s medieval art galleries 20 years ago. His newer work riffs on the history of designer goods, from space-age chandeliers to customized modernist architecture, as a commentary on the slick but sometimes false promises of consumerism.
Details:Corbett vs. Dempsey. Free. corbettvsdempsey.com
Judge John Hodgman
For this live iteration of his popular podcast, the writer-comedian and esteemed “judge” presides over a kangaroo court in which the “plaintiffs” (real-life friends and couples) hash out their pettiest disagreements. Hodgman makes up for his lack of legal bona fides with expert comedic timing and a keen sense of poetic irony.
Details:Thalia Hall. 9 p.m. $31. thaliahallchicago.com
Ensemble Dal Niente’s periodically produced showcase presents a new staging of Arnold Schoenberg’s groundbreaking Pierrot Lunaire, an atonal chamber music masterpiece in which a soprano partly speaks and partly sings through the in-between technique called sprechstimme. Other musical parts range from newish to as new as you can get, in the case of a world premiere by composer Sky Macklay.
Details:Constellation. 6 p.m. $20–$65. dalniente.com
The baroque opera enthusiasts of Haymarket Opera Company produce the only staged opera of the summer, one of the 17th century’s blockbusters. It tells the story of the Egyptian queen Orontea, who, heedless of operatic logic, guarantees that she will fall in love by declaring herself impervious to it. The cast for the large-scale, three-hour piece includes several of Haymarket’s mainstays and also Emily Fons, a cusp-of-stardom mezzo-soprano, as Orontea.
Details:Studebaker Theater. $30–$85. haymarketopera.org
Collin van der Sluijs
Back in 2016 this Dutch artist wowed audiences with his debut Chicago solo exhibit, selling out his gallery show. Van der Sluijs returns with new paintings of birds, bunnies, and faces made with a street-art edge.
Details:Vertical Gallery. Free. verticalgallery.com
Alexis Rockman: The Great Lakes Cycle
Containing more than 20 percent of the earth’s surface fresh water, the Great Lakes are the subject of Rockman’s mural-scaled paintings. Don’t expect serene lake scenes: From invasive species and aggressively blooming algae to sunken ships and airplanes, the lakes are filled with hidden stories, expertly detailed by Rockman after conducting years of research.
Details:Chicago Cultural Center. Free. cityofchicago.org
Near West Side
Citing the death of his longtime guitarist, Vincent Nguini, as well as time away from family, legendary singer-songwriter Simon will leave the performance life, but not before completing a farewell career-spanning tour, which will thankfully touch ground in Chicago.
Details:United Center. 8 p.m. $175. ticketmaster.com
Lyon & Healy Summer Concert Series
Near West Side
As Steinway is to pianos, so Lyon & Healy is to harps. The West Side headquarters of the harp giant strings together factory tours, master classes, and concerts by top harpists for this minifest. The program on June 6, by the Korean-Dutch harpist Lavinia Meijer, consists entirely of contemporary music by the likes of Philip Glass and young guns Nico Muhly and Bryce Dessner.
Details:Lyon & Healy Hall. $30–$50 per concert; $75–$325 series pass. lyonhealy.com
Chicago Underground Film Festival
There are “indie films” and then there is radically alternative cinema, far more experimental than what one can expect to see at the local art house. The Chicago Underground Film Festival specializes in the latter, offering cinephiles admission not just to a carefully curated program of films but to a subculture (to paraphrase the late Roger Ebert).
Details:Logan Theatre. $10–$250. cuff.org
Disco never died, at least according to ’70s style-embracing singer Gavin Turek. The Los Angeles native distills the best elements of the genre—from the slinky rhythms and thick, gooey bass to Donna Summer’s soft coos—and adds a clean, contemporary touch. Her live shows are guaranteed to get you moving by the end of the first song.
Details:Sleeping Village. 8 p.m. $13–$15. ticketfly.com
Hubbard Street Dance Chicago
The local dance gem caps its 40th anniversary season with a special program by Israeli superstar Ohad Naharin. The evening includes the highly anticipated return of Naharin’s iconic Minus 16, introduced to American audiences by Hubbard Street in 2000.
Details:Harris Theater. $25–$110. hubbardstreetdance.com
A Home for Surrealism: Fantastic Painting in Midcentury Chicago
Near North Side
Did you know that Chicago was a hotbed for surrealist painting in the 1940s and ’50s? Influenced by masters like Dalí and Magritte, local artists gave the whimsical European movement a dark Midwestern twist, such as Gertrude Abercrombie’s Self-Portrait, the Striped Blouse (1940), a haunting scene of a woman alone in a house. This rare exhibit brings together nearly 50 paintings by Abercrombie, Dorothea Tanning, John Wilde, and others.
Details:Arts Club of Chicago. Free. artsclubchicago.org
Chicago Blues Festival
To those versed in Chicago’s musical history, Mavis Staples needs no introduction—and a recent string of critically acclaimed albums (including three produced by Jeff Tweedy) have introduced her unmistakable voice to a new generation. Staples is sure to close out this year’s fest on Sunday with a bang, but she’s not the only local legend on the bill: Billy Branch, a journeyman of blues harmonica, pays tribute to Little Walter, the mouth harp pioneer, on Saturday.
Details:Millennium Park. Free. cityofchicago.org
Charles White: A Retrospective
Raised on the South Side, White became a fixture of the city’s Black Renaissance with his stirring paintings, prints, and murals depicting African American struggles and successes. He died in 1979, but his bold portraits have influenced contemporary masters (Kerry James Marshall described visiting White’s studio as a “life-altering experience”).
Details:Art Institute of Chicago. $10–$25. artic.edu
Giordano Dance Chicago
Chicago’s premier jazz-dance company closes its 55th season with a must-see performance. Cesar G. Salinas comes out of retirement to carry out Gus Giordano’s iconic solo Wings, complete with live musical accompaniment by multidisciplinary family, the Bournés. Frank Chaves’s Grusin Suite and Joshua Blake Carter’s Take a Gambol epitomize Chicago jazz dance, while the closer, Pyrokinesis, will knock your socks off.
Details:Auditorium Theatre. 7:30 p.m. $29–$68. auditoriumtheatre.org
World Naked Bike Ride
Near West Side
This group ride through the heart of town has a somewhat misleading name—the guideline is actually “bare as you dare.” Yet hundreds of cyclists do choose, each year, to pedal in the buff. For those who aren’t as bold, plenty of body paint is available preride, and elaborate risqué costumes are nearly as popular as birthday suits. The precise starting place is kept secret until the eve of the event to throw off rubberneckers, so would-be streakers should keep an eye on the group’s website.
Details:Near West Side. 6 p.m. Free. chicagonakedride.com
Old Town Art Fair
Near North Side
One of the city’s oldest of its kind, the street fest boasts 250 artists hawking their wares, from sculpture to jewelry, with the requisite summertime food, drink, live music, and kids’ activities.
Details:Lincoln and Wisconsin. $10 donation. oldtownartfair.org
Pilsen Food Truck Social
Each year, this congregation of Chicago’s finest food trucks turns 18th Street into a face-stuffing, rug-cutting carnival, scored by a Latino-leaning bevy of DJs and bands. The real deal is the $20 sampler ticket, which entitles its hungry holder to six sample-size portions from the assembled trucks.
Details:18th from Racine to Throop. $5–$20. pilsenfoodtrucksocial.com
A gallery known for spotting emerging artists exhibits a solo show by Sonhouse, a New Yorker who rose to fame with the nationally touring exhibit 30 Americans. His colorful portraits recall the late, great Ed Paschke, blending cartoonish psychedelia with contemporary themes of race and identity.
Details:Monique Meloche Gallery. Free. moniquemeloche.com
Baker’s last jaunt across the country was nearly a decade ago: Who knows if the 60-year-old honey-voiced icon will return to the stage again after this latest handful of stops? Better to catch her now, while lounging on the verdant grounds of Ravinia, a perfect setting for the poignant “quiet storm” that defines Baker’s sound.
Details:Ravinia. 7:30 p.m. $38–$95. ravinia.org
The Cher Show
This Broadway-bound musical comes with a pedigree worthy of its subject. It’s produced by the same guy who produced Hamilton (Jeffrey Seller) and written by the same guy who wrote Jersey Boys (Rick Elice). With a score featuring songs made famous by the pop icon, the story of Cher’s life unfolds over five decades, from teenage phenom to Oscar-winning actress and beyond.
Details:Broadway in Chicago at the Oriental Theatre. $30–$157. broadwayinchicago.com
North Shore Chamber Music Festival
Violinist Vadim Gluzman and pianist Angela Yoffe generally take their artistry from their north-suburban home to the international touring circuit, but every June they bring top-flight chamber music to a smallish nearby church. Here they’ve booked the ambitious Ariel String Quartet, and the festival’s ensemble gives the American premiere of Peteris Vasks’s Musica Serena.
Details:Village Presbyterian Church. $15–$50 per concert; $20–$120 festival pass. nscmf.org
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Music director Riccardo Muti leads two programs in the orchestra’s last downtown classical performances of the season. In the first, Muti tackles two Soviets, Prokofiev and Shostakovich, calling in Yo-Yo Ma for Shostakovich’s Cello Concerto No. 2. In the second, the Symphony Chorus and an impressive roster of soloists belt out Mozart, Muti’s beloved Cherubini, and Rossini’s keening Stabat Mater.
Details:Symphony Center. $36–$250. cso.org
Craft Brews at the Zoo
Toast the polar bear Talini with your choice of more than 120 craft beers for a grown-up night at the zoo. VIP ticket holders ($79) get to soak up their IPAs with snacks in a private lounge to accompany a DJ dance party and lawn games.
Details:Lincoln Park Zoo. 6 p.m. $20–$79. lpzoo.org
David Blaine Live
With his masterful illusions and dizzying feats of endurance, Blaine has created a category of performance art that he shares with few contemporaries. And there are few things more captivating than his unnerving sleights and stunts.
Details:Chicago Theatre. 8 p.m. $40–$126. ticketmaster.com
Graham Lambkin and Joe McPhee
Near North Side
Lambkin is a sound artist who savors atmospheric audio samples like electronic crackles; McPhee is a noted jazz saxophonist in his late 70s. They join forces for a collaboration, presented by the experimental music series Lampo, that revels in their unlikely musical friendship and promises to be surprising.
Details:Graham Foundation. 8 p.m. Free. lampo.org
Near West Side
The world’s first realistic portrait drawing was made by tracing a person’s shadowed silhouette cast by firelight on a wall—or so the ancient Roman legend goes. This survey of new portraits by some of the best practitioners in the genre, such as Inka Essenhigh and Basil Kincaid, exemplifies the enduring magic of a centuries-old art form.
Details:Kavi Gupta Gallery. Free. kavigupta.com
Renegade Craft Fair
Renegade has long been a destination for charming handmade gifts, yet the arts-and-crafts market is also an under-the-radar boon to last-minute Father’s Day shoppers. Better yet, bring Dad along to pick his own present—it’s not every day you get to shop for tchotchkes in the shadow of one of America’s most historic ballparks.
Details:Gallagher Way. 11 a.m. Free. renegadecraft.com
That’s Weird, Grandma: Brand New Stories
If you’ve never seen the delightfully unhinged creativity of Barrel of Monkeys, you’re missing out. Its compendium of skits, based on short stories written by Chicago schoolchildren, is a sublime combination of silliness and profundity.
Details:Barrel of Monkeys at the Neo-Futurist Theater. $5–$15. barrelofmonkeys.org
Grant Park Music Festival
The long-running annual event puts on the most adventurous orchestral programming in town, peppering the whirlwind season with a world premiere or two. Here, after choral openers by Brahms and the otherworldly 20th-century composer Olivier Messiaen, the festival fetes Leonard Bernstein’s centenary with his Chichester Psalms and debuts a new work by contemporary Latvian composer Ēriks Ešenvalds, renowned for his lush choral waves.
Details:Jay Pritzker Pavilion. Free. gpmf.com
Make Music Chicago
The summer solstice means maximum daylight to fill with music, and the goal of the local branch of the French Fête de la Musique is total solstitial saturation. All over town, hundreds of performances, many of them encouraging participation, pop up from early morning until late at night, with only the requirement that all events are free.
Details:Various venues. 11:30 a.m.. Free. makemusicchicago.org
This film festival presents more than 50 offerings from across the horror genre. Highlights include the world premiere of the housewarming-gift-from-hell film Malicious and the return of a “secret screening.” Last year’s was the giant-ant feature It Came from the Desert.
Details:Music Box Theatre. $12–$20 single ticket; $125–$175 festival pass. musicboxtheatre.com
The topical company’s 16th anniversary ushers in Marchland, artistic director Carrie Hanson’s 2010 work created with composer Tim Daisy and visual artist Fraser Taylor. It was Marchland—inspired by Taylor’s animated video Crevice—that marked a shift in Hanson toward the political dance that she’s known for today.
Details:Links Hall. 7 p.m. $15–$30. theseldoms.org
Horror stories of roommates past—we’ve all got them. With Tony winner Phylicia Rashad directing, Jen Silverman’s drama depicts one especially ill-suited duo: longtime leading ladies Ora Jones and Sandra Marquez as apartment dwellers with vastly different sensibilities.
Details:Steppenwolf Theatre. $20–$93. steppenwolf.org
Chicago Tap Theatre
In 2016 this company produced We Will Tap You, a tap-dancing Pride Weekend spectacular featuring the music of Queen. Now it’s putting on another pop-focused show, this time inspired by female ’80s icons such as Madonna, Patti LaBelle, and Whitney Houston. Tapped for the Very First Time celebrates LGBTQ pride in style with appearances by the Chicago Gay Men’s Chorus and live music performed by the JC Brooks Band.
Details:Athenaeum Theatre. $24–$65. athenaeumtheatre.com
Support Group for Men
Set in Wrigleyville, Ellen Fairey’s biting comedy about male psyches in distress just might help people understand how tough it is to be (or be with) a guy.
Details:Goodman Theatre. $25-$80. goodmantheatre.org
I Was Raised on the Internet
Near North Side
The MCA’s summer blockbuster exhibition is a broad survey of how digital technology has changed art-making more than any other tool, giving practitioners access to software and online global communities that have overhauled the way we consume art. Included are interactive, augmented, and virtual reality works.
Details:Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. $8–$15. mcachicago.org
Chicago Pride Parade
In June, Chicago’s calendar bursts with events that celebrate the city’s LGBTQ communities, but this one remains the anchor of Pride Month programming. Expect a crowded route, with marchers in colorful costumes, floats, and spectators.
Details:Montrose and Broadway. Noon. Free. chicagopridecalendar.org
Kathy Griffin: Laugh Your Head Off
This Oak Park–born comedian has always courted controversy—perhaps never so much as when she posed with a blood-smeared rubber replica of Donald Trump’s severed head. The stunt cost Griffin some fans and her New Year’s Eve hosting gig on CNN and even, she claims, landed her on the no-fly list. But if the head-turning title of this tour is any indicator, Griffin is taking her scandal in stride: Expect her at her irreverent, acerbic best.
Details:Chicago Theatre. 8 p.m. $45–$55. ticketmaster.com
The city’s largest outdoor social dance series returns for its 22nd year. Thursdays through Sundays in the enchanting Spirit of Music Garden, you can get a free lesson with professional instructors and test your skills with live music and dancing under the stars.
Details:Grant Park. Free. chicagosummerdance.org
A Johnson Publishing Story
Greater Grand Crossing
For this exhibit, the Rebuild Foundation showcases objects and ephemera from Johnson Publishing Company’s heyday, including photography, furnishings, and a library that will be repurposed into a reading room and lounge. [[[See page 45.]]]
Details:Stony Island Arts Bank. Free. rebuild-foundation.org
Chicago Calling: Art Against the Flow
Intuit is a gallery dedicated to self-taught artists who reject academic art schools and traditional avenues of creativity. This survey of Chicago’s robust “outsider” art scene, with masters like Henry Darger, Pauline Simon, and Wesley Willis, demonstrates that the city is fertile ground for creative people who have found their own way.
Details:Intuit. $5. art.org
Lake Ellyn Cardboard Regatta
Would-be boatswains can test their miniature creations at this annual one-of-a-kind regatta. All boats must be made completely out of cardboard, and while most of these DIY watercraft end up at the bottom of Lake Ellyn, the few that stay afloat are in for a tight (if slapstick) race.
Details:Lake Ellyn Park. Noon. Free. glenellyn4thofjuly.com
Near North Side
Before he showed up for 1956’s “Million Dollar Quartet,” Elvis Presley was a rising young star just beginning to make his mark. This musical tracks 18 months in his early career, punctuating the story with hits from the King’s hip-swiveling catalog.
Details:Broadway in Chicago at the Broadway Playhouse. $32–$96. broadwayinchicago.com
There’s no other musician quite like Josiah Wise, a.k.a. Serpentwithfeet, who combines the haunting, soulful vocals of gospel with the spindly synths of minimalist, atmospheric electronic music.
Details:Empty Bottle. 8:30 p.m. $14. eventbrite.com
John Singer Sargent and Chicago’s Gilded Age
At the turn of the 20th century, John Singer Sargent was one of the most visible artists in Chicago, featured in more than 20 exhibits between 1888 and 1925, including at the world’s fair. Although Sargent never lived here, he left a mark on the city’s culture, painting durable portraits of socialite women in their finest dresses. Not merely trophies for the rich, the paintings are masterworks of color, light, and personality, made possible by the newly emergent class of patrons encouraged by the industrial prosperity of Chicago’s Gilded Age.
Details:Art Institute of Chicago. $10–$25. artic.edu
Fourth of July
Near North Side
Every year countless arguments are made about the wastefulness of fireworks displays, and every year said arguments fail to overcome the simple pleasure of watching colorful explosions fill the sky over Lake Michigan. Arrive early—the lakefront becomes a gridlocked village of tents, picnic blankets, and barbecues well before the sun sets.
Details:Navy Pier. 9:30. Free. navypier.org
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
Drury Lane takes a rare foray into nonmusicals with this Tennessee Williams scorcher about a closeted gay man, his unhappy wife, and an extended family of no-neck monsters. Director Marcia Milgrom Dodge—whose 2016 Drury Lane staging of Smokey Joe’s Café was one of the best shows of that year—returns to helm a tale of steamed-up Southerners and one hot Mississippi summer.
Details:Drury Lane. $40–$101. drurylanetheatre.com
Few festivals boast a lineup as deep and varied as this perennial favorite. This year new wave vets the Make-Up perform their first Chicago show in more than 10 years; folk-rock journeyman Kevin Morby returns for a follow-up to his sold-out April show at Thalia Hall; and Joey Purp, a strong contender for the city’s next big rap export, brings hometown cred to the headliner bill.
Details:Chicago from Damen to Wood. $5 donation. westfestchicago.com
Chosen Few Picnic & Festival
House music was born in Chicago, and this fest serves as an annual reminder that it still thrives here. Hosted by the Chosen Few DJs, who’ve been putting on this event since 1990, the self-proclaimed picnic feels less like a music festival than a family reunion. Imagine a neighborhood block party with infinitely better tunes.
Details:Jackson Park. 8 a.m. $40–$400. chosenfewdjs.com
Nike Tournament of Champions
Near South Side
These days, the Bulls seem to be in a constant state of rebuilding, but that doesn’t change the fact that Chicago is a basketball town. So it’s fitting that Nike, the sport’s biggest booster, hosts one of its annual Tournament of Champions events—the top gatherings of high school-age girls’ teams—right here. In addition to 720 other teams duking it out, 32 Nike-sponsored squads in its Elite Youth Basketball League will compete separately for a national championship.
Details:McCormick Place. $20. niketournamentofchampions.com
Brigid Mae Power
Don’t call Power a folk musician: The singer-songwriter’s drone-heavy compositions are abstract, introspective experiments. She has described her sophomore album, The Two Worlds, as “what my environment looks like here at the moment out of my window” in her native Ireland. Catch that specific sobering beauty without having to travel across the Atlantic Ocean.
Details:Empty Bottle. 8:30 p.m. $10. eventbrite.com
Dance in the Parks
This professional dance outfit travels the city for free performances in Hermosa, Back of the Yards, Jefferson Park, and everywhere in between. Every show highlights a youth dance group from the neighborhood, plus choreography by Lizzie MacKenzie, Joshua Blake Carter, and Paige Caldarella, among others.
Details:Various venues. Free. danceintheparks.org
Stacy Keach returns to play Ernest Hemingway, teaming again with director Robert Falls and playwright Jim McGrath to take on the life of one of the 20th century’s literary lions.
Details:Goodman Theatre. $25–$85. goodmantheatre.org
A sedulous conductor, Alsop assumes the newly created role of music curator for this season—fitting for a year chock-full of the work of her mentor, Leonard Bernstein. Among the highlights of the six programs she will lead are Bernstein’s Serenade with the violinist Joshua Bell; Tchaikovsky’s “Pathétique” Symphony; Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms; Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9; and Bernstein’s Mass with an army of forces, including the stage director Kevin Newbury.
Details:Ravinia. Free–$100 per concert. ravinia.org
Windy City Smokeout
Few would call Chicago a country music town, but this festival—which boasts lots of beer and some of the best barbecue in the country, including Brooklyn’s Hometown Bar-B-Que and Central Texas’s Louie Mueller Barbecue—can make a convert of the most cynical city slicker. The bill is an accessible split of arena-packing young stars (Brett Young, Midland) and bluesy, rootsy crossover acts (Turnpike Troubadours).
Details:560 W. Grand Ave. $40–$500. windycitysmokeout.com
Anyone can exhibit art at this family-friendly pop-up, provided there’s no money exchanged and no trace is left on the host turf at the end of the event—a sort of one-day Burning Man in a small city park instead of an enormous desert. Artist Stephan Wanger will showcase one of his projects, an attempt to create art out of recycled Mardi Gras beads.
Details:Mozart Park. 1 p.m. Free. chicago.figmentproject.org
Rick Stone: The Blues Man
Black Ensemble Theater regulars already know that local bluesman Stone is electrifying. The rest of the city will have a chance to discover that for themselves in Jackie Taylor’s tribute to the man who famously played a gang member in Cooley High. Stone takes the stage, alongside Theo Huff and Dwight Neal.
Details:Black Ensemble Theater. $45–$65. blackensembletheater.org
Erica Mott: Mycelial
The Arab Spring of 2010–2011 was notable for the way participants enlisted social media sites like Twitter to organize revolutions in real time. Choreographer Erica Mott, inspired by the ways that digital technology connects people, collaborates with dancers from Egypt, whom visitors can interact with in an immersive installation using custom-coded gaming technology.
Details:Hyde Park Art Center. $25 suggested donation. hydeparkart.org
Near North Side
Tickets to the opening of Chicago Human Rhythm Project’s annual showcase tend to sell out, but the other nights offer plenty of opportunities to see world-class tap dance. Catch a jazz-meets-tap improv session with the Eric Hochberg Trio or an outdoor performance at newly renovated Navy Pier.
Details:Various venues. Free–$100. chicagotap.org
Near West Side
While other female pop stars may tease their sexuality to elicit controversy, Kiyoko has been upfront and vocal. No wonder her growing fan base refers to the former child actress as “Lesbian Jesus.” Expectations, her positively received major-label debut, full of dreamy pop music, is a rare achievement for queer artists eager to speak more honestly and authentically about their lives.
Details:United Center. 7 p.m. $40–$716. ticketmaster.com
Shostakovich and the Black Monk: A Russian Fantasy
The Emerson String Quartet, champions of Dmitri Shostakovich, arranged a multimedia drama, with projected visuals and theatrical interpretations of the composer’s life, around the performance of his String Quartet No. 14. The story shows Shostakovich struggling against the counterforce of Joseph Stalin and brainstorming on how to turn the Chekhov story “The Black Monk” into an opera. Actor David Strathairn (Good Night, and Good Luck) plays Shostakovich.
Details:Ravinia. 7:30 p.m. Free–$60. ravinia.org
Gustavo Dudamel and Yuja Wang
Last season, the young conductor Gustavo Dudamel was scheduled to make his Ravinia debut leading the National Youth Orchestra of Venezuela, but that country’s government canceled the tour after Dudamel criticized the regime. Now he belatedly leads the in-residence Chicago Symphony Orchestra in an all-Beethoven program featuring the Symphony No. 7 and Piano Concerto No. 1.
Details:Ravinia. 8 p.m. Free–$100. ravinia.org
Green City Market Chef’s BBQ
Tickets to this foodapalooza entitle the bearer to all-you-can-consume samples from booths run by more than 100 of Chicago’s top restaurants, many of which send their chefs to cook, serve, and banter here. To whet your appetite, here’s a slice of this year’s participants: Bad Hunter, Band of Bohemia, Elske, Frontera Grill, North Pond, Sepia, Smyth, Swift & Sons, Vie.
Details:South end of Lincoln Park. 4:30 p.m. $125–$275. greencitymarket.org
Lucas Foglia: Human Nature
“The average American spends 93% of their life indoors,” writes Foglia on his website. This exhibition shows the award-winning photographer at his best, shadowing people who have an unusual and often inspiring relationship with the outdoors—like a woman taking an EEG test on a rocky cliff, a prisoner gently holding a baby guinea fowl, or a researcher plumbing the incredible depths of a melting glacier. At the heart of all this adventure is a moral imperative about our planet’s ecological health.
Details:Museum of Contemporary Photography. Free. mocp.org
Pitchfork Music Festival
Near West Side
Pitchfork has sometimes been the black sheep of Chicago’s flock of music festivals, offering a lineup that leans esoteric. This year is no different: Rising stars with Chicago roots (Noname, Ravyn Lenae) share the bill with established indie-rock acts (Tame Impala, Fleet Foxes) and genuine legends (Chaka Khan, Lauryn Hill).
Details:Union Park. $75–$375. pitchforkmusicfestival.com
This duo makes groove-heavy melodic indie synth-pop that’ll keep you dancing throughout the evening. What Now, their sophomore record, finds them cleaning up some of their messier edges and refining their sound.
Details:Riviera Theatre. 7:30 p.m. $35. ticketfly.com
Chicago’s Best Restaurants
To celebrate the magazine’s forthcoming special issue on the 50 best restaurants in Chicago, here’s a once-in-a-lifetime chance to try the finest food the city has to offer, from crave-inducing sandwiches to gourmet cuisine that might otherwise put a dent in your savings account, in a breezy beachside spot.
Details:Shore Club Chicago. 6:30 p.m. $95. chicagomag.com/BRC
Wicker Park Fest
This year’s acts range from rising rock stars Snail Mail (the project of songwriter and current toast of the blogosphere Lindsey Jordan) to indie stalwarts Porches (veteran purveyors of dreamy synth-pop) and hard-to-classify crowd pleasers Turquoise Jeep (a semiserious hip-hop collective).
Details:Milwaukee from Ashland to North. $10 donation. wickerparkfest.com
Chicago Margarita Festival
Near North Side
Welcome to two woozy days of margarita tastings, food truck fare, and a variety of live music by salsa, merengue, and bachata groups, among others.
Details:Navy Pier. $20–$65. chicagomargaritafestival.com
Victims of Duty
Near North Side
When Michael Shannon (The Shape of Water) did Eugène Ionesco’s The Killer off-Broadway in 2014, the results were electrifying. You’ll want to see him in another dark, twisted comedy from the master of ominous absurdity, particularly since this time Shannon is paired with fellow powerhouse Guy Van Swearingen in A Red Orchid’s intimate Old Town space. Expect plenty of sublime existential angst and the odd stabbing.
Details:A Red Orchid Theatre. $50. aredorchidtheatre.org
4 days ago