Judah Friedlander: Future President
On his current standup tour, the former 30 Rock actor and trucker hat aficionado campaigns, in his signature deadpan, to be the next president of the United States. The premise is a follow-up to Friedlander’s 2017 Netflix special, America Is the Greatest Country in the United States, in which he took on the political machinations that subjugate its citizens under the guise of freedom.
Details:West Town. Hideout. $20. eventbrite.com
For more than three decades, this storied oddball has rapped from the perspective of a deranged gynecologist, a supervillain who proceeds to kill said gynecologist, and an intergalactic black Elvis. And then there’s the rumor that he blew the advance for his first solo album, 1997’s Sex Style, on porn. In other words, he’s one of hip-hop’s original eccentrics. He will likely perform cuts off his new album, simply titled Keith.
Details:Hyde Park. Promontory. 9 p.m. $15–$24. eventbrite.com
The chef behind Michelin-starred Elizabeth will read from her new memoir. Burn the Place traces with raw honesty Regan’s struggles with alcoholism, being a woman in a male-dominated industry, and her single-minded obsessiveness in perfecting, say, a doughnut.
Details:Andersonville. Women & Children First. 7 p.m. Free. womenandchildrenfirst.com
CSO: Beethoven & Brahms
The Venezuelan conductor Rafael Payare leads the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in fraternal-twin programs, each pairing a Beethoven symphony and a Brahms piano concerto. In the first, it’s Beethoven’s Fifth (with its all-too-familiar four-note motto) and Brahms’s No. 1, played by Yefim Bronfman. The second: Beethoven’s Romantic-era-launching Third (a.k.a. “Eroica”) and Brahms’s No. 2, with the sprightly Emanuel Ax.
Details:Highland Park. Ravinia. $8–$115. ravinia.org
Most Chicagoans know to stay far away from downtown during this megafestival. But this year’s lineup might encourage you to buckle up and buy a ticket. Each day brings a new highlight, whether it’s a headliner for people nostalgic for the early 2000s (the Strokes on Thursday), an of-the-moment rapper (21 Savage on Friday), a global pop superstar (J Balvin on Saturday), or a country-to-pop crossover sensation (Kacey Musgraves on Sunday).
Details:Loop. Grant Park. $130–$2,000 single-day pass; $340–$4,200 weekend pass. lollapalooza.com
The Emoji Art Show
Deploy your “face with tears of joy”: This party is dedicated to today’s most popular hieroglyphic language, with emoji-inspired art for sale by local creative professionals, such as emoji tarot cards by Facebook creative strategist Pablo Jimenez.
Details:Jefferson Park. Copernicus Center. 8 p.m. $10–$12. theemojiartshow.com
There’s no one who’s done more to make gospel cool than this 14-time Grammy winner, who founded a 17-person choir by the time he was 22 and established himself throughout the ’90s as one of contemporary gospel’s definitive voices. But these days, you probably know him as the guy Chicago’s biggest rappers call when they need an extra dose of spirituality. Chance the Rapper has said that his 2016 Coloring Book tape was directly inspired by Franklin’s music, and Kanye West’s “Ultralight Beam” wouldn’t be nearly as powerful without Franklin’s rapped-prayer coda.
Details:Loop. Chicago Theatre. 7:30 p.m. $20–$209. ticketmaster.com
This exhibition culminates a two-year initiative examining the criminal justice system in Illinois. As part of the project, seven artists spent seven months in an assigned Chicago neighborhood studying the effects of mass incarceration on those communities; then, they created artworks in response. The results include a quilt by Dorothy Burge depicting victims of police violence and audio recordings that Nicole Marroquin produced of alternatively sentenced youth, amplified through ceramic sculptures for maximum effect.
Details:Loop. Sullivan Galleries, School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Free. envisioningjustice.org
In Progress: Lykanthea
After releasing Migration, her critically acclaimed 2014 debut EP of electro-ambient pop songs, Lakshmi Ramgopal embraced the warm acoustics of the shruti box, a traditional Indian reed organ. At this performance, part of the MCA’s In Progress series, expect to hear material from Some Viscera, Ramgopal’s new album — born out of research into bird songs and memories of Indian womanhood.
Details:Streeterville. Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. 6 p.m.$15. mcachicago.org
If you weren’t there for electroclash’s brief popularity around the turn of the millennium, don’t feel too bad — it was a weird time, filled with bored android vocals, industrial beats, and Zoolander-esque glamour. The genre hasn’t aged well, but the Faint’s 2001 album, Danse Macabre, is an exception — probably because the Omaha dance-rock band was on the margins of the scene anyway, thanks to its goth leanings and punk energy. The group’s latest, Egowerk (released in March), is a dark synth-pop ode to how much social media sucks, a message we can probably all get behind.
Details:Near North Side. House of Blues. 8 p.m. $28. ticketmaster.com
A Mass of Life: A Celebration of the Human Spirit
The Grant Park Music Festival and its longtime music director, Carlos Kalmar, excel in finding large-scale choral-orchestral showpieces, rather than the usual procession of requiems. Frederick Delius’s rarely performed A Mass of Life, sort of an anti-requiem, celebrates existence with exuberant mysticism courtesy of words from Friedrich Nietzsche’s Also Sprach Zarathustra.
Details:Loop. Jay Pritzker Pavilion. Free–$78. gpmf.com
Chicago Hot Dog Fest
Chicago could rest on its laurels as one of the country’s most iconic hot dog purveyors, but the city’s best sausage slingers always find ways to make this processed delicacy seem new. The Chicago History Museum–hosted food fest will feature live music, talks from historians on the history of the frankfurter, and dogs — both classic and reimagined — from restaurants like Chicago’s Dog House, Byron’s Hot Dogs, and Luella’s Southern Kitchen.
Details:Lincoln Park. Stockton and La Salle. $5 donation. chicagohistory.org
Ginza Holiday Festival
At 64, Chicago’s premier Japanese cultural event is nearly old enough to collect Social Security. The three-day celebration features crafts from the Waza, a group of artisans in Japan who continue the traditions of the Edo period (1615–1868), including bamboo weaving and hand-painted towel art. Enjoy bonsai displays, ikebana, folk dancing, taiko drumming, and a marketplace for artwork, jewelry, and kimonos. Don’t miss Ginza’s chicken teriyaki dinner, made from a family recipe dating back to the fest’s first year.
Details:Old Town. Midwest Buddhist Temple. $5 donation. ginzaholiday.com
Herbie Hancock, Kamasi Washington
They might be separated by a couple of generations, but it’s hardly a stretch to call these virtuosos two of the biggest crossover forces in jazz history. Hancock, a native Chicagoan, had performed with the CSO by the time he was 11 and went on to land jazz albums on the pop charts and play in stadiums. Washington is a Los Angeles–based saxophonist who’s collaborated with Kendrick Lamar and released expansive spiritual jazz that appeals to mainstream audiences.
Details:Near South Side. Huntington Bank Pavilion at Northerly Island. 6:30 p.m. $35–$331. livenation.com
His Majesty’s Men
Once a year, this clique of five singers assembles in a resonant space to sing straight-toned, unaccompanied music of either the earliest or the latest sort, era-wise — and you can’t get any later than the group’s first commissioned premiere, Usquequo, Domine?, by the Ohio-based composer Mark Nowakowski.
Details:Goose Island. St. John Cantius Church. 7:30 p.m. $10–$30. hismajestysmen.com
The Sacramento rapper built a buzz in his hometown before breaking through in 2015 with his sharp, personal street narratives. (“Bladadah” is the banger, if you’re looking for an entry point.) More recently, his name’s popped up everywhere from the Black Panther soundtrack to the Grammys — in 2018, Kendrick Lamar gave Mozzy a shout-out in his acceptance speech for rap album of the year.
Details:Kilbourn Park. Avondale Music Hall. 6:30 p.m. $20–$50. etix.com
Thirsty Ears Festival
Chicago’s only classical music street festival, which displays all the civility you’d expect from the genre, springs from the many-armed Access Contemporary Music. Marcatos from this year’s version include a participation-friendly, laptop-based (and therefore un-screw-upabble) version of Terry Riley’s minimalist groundbreaker In C and the latest installment of ACM’s most famous series, Sound of Silent, in which ACM-affiliated composers create new scores for modern silent films.
Details:Ravenswood. Wilson from Ravenswood to Hermitage. $10 donation. acmusic.org
Broadway in Chicago Summer Concert
This annual prelude to the fall theater season features musical previews of many touring productions soon to visit. You’ll hear numbers from 2018 Tony winner The Band’s Visit, along with Once on This Island, Mean Girls, and Summer: The Donna Summer Musical. You’ll also get an early look at the new Britney Spears jukebox musical Once Upon a One More Time.
Details:Loop. Jay Pritzker Pavilion. 6:15 p.m. Free. broadwayinchicago.com
Season Finale: Rush Hour Concerts at 20
The weekly series of short concerts, scheduled early enough in the evening that die-hards can make a second concert, concludes with a choral program of choir-nerd favorites. Benjamin Britten’s Rejoice in the Lamb, the program’s longest work, reverently sets to music the devotional words of an 18th-century mental patient. Also listen for exoseasonal works from Christmastime lessons-and-carols services.
Details:Near North Side. St. James Cathedral. 5:45 p.m. Free. imfchicago.org
Into the Woods
By sharpening and illuminating Stephen Sondheim’s recurring themes of legacy and regret, Gary Griffin’s stagings of his musicals, including Pacific Overtures, Follies, and Sunday in the Park With George, have been among Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s most exhilarating productions in recent years. Griffin moves north to Writers Theatre to mount Sondheim’s clever fairy tale mash-up, with its emphasis on parent-child relationships.
Details:Glencoe. Writers Theatre. $35–$80. writerstheatre.org
When Jimmy Edgar and Machinedrum first linked up as J-E-T-S back in 2012, it was as if a discerning dance nerd had gotten first pick in a fantasy duo draft. The two producers represent the cutting edge of American electronic music (though they both now live in Berlin, as one does these days), crafting futuristic blends of techno, electro, and global bass music on pioneering labels like Warp and Ninja Tune. The duo finally released its debut full-length, Zoospa, in May. Slick and eminently danceable, it unites guests as varied as R&B visionary Dawn Richard and sharp-tongued party rapper Mykki Blanco.
Details:Lincoln Park. Lincoln Hall. 9 p.m. $20–$22. lh-st.com
Suicideboys, Shoreline Mafia, Trash Talk
You are forgiven for raising an eyebrow at the name Suicideboys, the s’s often stylized with dollar signs like it’s 2011 again, but the New Orleans duo’s music is a transcendent update of ’90s Memphis goth-rap for the SoundCloud era. The openers are the draw here: Shoreline Mafia, L.A.’s hottest new party-rap group, and Trash Talk, hip-hop’s favorite punk band and probably the only artists to have collaborated with both Odd Future and Steve Albini.
Details:Uptown. Aragon Ballroom. 6 p.m. $60. ticketmaster.com
Ali Wong: The Milk & Money Tour
Since Baby Cobra, Wong’s 2016 Netflix special — in which she handily, and raunchily, tore apart stereotypes and platitudes about pregnancy, motherhood, and race — this Asian American comic has been busy. On top of giving birth, Wong provided one of the featured voices on the animated series Tuca & Bertie; cowrote and costarred in the Netflix rom-com Always Be My Maybe; released a second special, Hard Knock Wife; and authored a memoir coming out this fall, in the format of letters addressed to her two daughters.
Details:Loop. Chicago Theatre. $50–$259. ticketmaster.com
Mahler Symphony No. 2
The Grant Park Music Festival closes its season with a promise to rise again, with Mahler’s concert-length “Resurrection.” Nicknamed for the rebirth-themed text sung by the choir in the blockbuster fifth and final movement, it climaxes with some high and loud singing with multiple-forte orchestra playing to match.
Details:Loop. Jay Pritzker Pavilion. Free–$99. gpmf.com
Seunggu Kim: Better Days
If you think Millennium Park gets packed in the summer, you’ll be stunned by these surreal photographs of tourist destinations in South Korea. Kim captured the throngs that flock to swimming pools, campgrounds, and other leisure sites just outside Seoul. The series addresses a broader theme: overpopulation in a country that has undergone rapid development in just a few decades.
Details:West Town. Filter Photo. Free. filterphoto.org
Dance for Life
Since its inaugural edition in 1992 to raise funds for dancers coping with AIDS, this gala has widened its mission to help dance professionals with chronic disease. One beneficiary, Claire Bataille, died of cancer last year and will be honored at this year’s benefit performance. Appearances by Chicago Human Rhythm Project and Ensemble Español fill out an evening with usual participants Joffrey Ballet, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, and Giordano Dance Chicago.
Details:Loop. Auditorium Theatre. 6 p.m. $15–$650. chicagodancersunited.org
Chicago Air and Water Show
Over two days, approximately 2 million people will congregate along Lake Michigan to witness ground-rattling jets tear through the sky. The U.S. Navy Blue Angels and the Royal Air Force Red Arrows are this year’s headliners, boasting flyovers, dazzling dives, and parachute jumps.
Details:Lincoln Park. North Avenue Beach. Free. chicago.gov
The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Years before Disney started retooling its animated classics for uncanny-valley CGI “live action,” the lesser-known Disney Theatricals arm was reworking the same properties for the live action of the stage. This version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame uses many of the Alan Menken–Stephen Schwartz songs from the 1996 cartoon (they’ll be lushly interpreted by Music Theater Works’ customary full orchestra), but with a more adult rendering of the events in Victor Hugo’s novel; it’s not recommended for kids younger than 10.
Details:Evanston. Cahn Auditorium, Northwestern University. $34–$96. musictheaterworks.com
Salomé Chasnoff and Meredith Zielke: Present Absence
A gallery transforms into a cozy living room, filled with lamps and houseplants , where visitors are invited to sink into an armchair and watch these local filmmakers’ five-channel video installation. Each screen features interviews with family members and friends of five Chicagoans who lost their lives to police brutality, an opportunity to see each victim as an individual rather than as a statistic.
Details:Rogers Park. Roman Susan. Free. romansusan.org
Logan Square Stir-Up
Walk up Milwaukee Avenue between California and Diversey on a Saturday night and you might as well be on Bourbon Street. Now see all the watering holes in Chicago’s most bar-heavy neighborhood face off in a cocktail competition benefitting local nonprofits Pilot Light and Chicago Period Project. Billy Sunday hosts, and facing off is a who’s who of Logan heavy hitters, including Longman and Eagle, Scofflaw, Best Intentions, and Young American.
Details:Logan Square. Logan Square Auditorium. 3 p.m. $55. eventbrite.com
Lucerne Symphony Orchestra
This Swiss contingent and its sharp chief conductor, James Gaffigan, show their versatility with two 20th-century programs organized by nationality. In the first, it’s all American pieces, touching on Ravinia’s season-long lodestar, Leonard Bernstein, and Samuel Barber’s Violin Concerto, played by Anne Akiko Meyers. In the second, Prokofiev pieces bookend Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, whose solo will fall to the fingers of wunderkind pianist George Li.
Details:Highland Park. Ravinia. $10–$95. ravinia.org
Bernstein’s Trouble in Tahiti
Marin Alsop, curator of Ravinia’s two-summer-long celebration of Leonard Bernstein’s 100th and 101st birthdays, leads two performances of the composer’s one-act opera about a rocky marriage. Soprano Patricia Racette and baritone Paulo Szot, a powerful one-two, portray the couple.
Details:Highland Park. Ravinia. 5 and 8:30 p.m. $10–$35. ravinia.org
The Catskills getaway that lends its name to Harvey Fierstein’s Tony-nominated 2014 play is a place where men can escape the strait-laced 1960s grind, kick up their heels, and show off their fanciest frocks. Unlike Fierstein’s Torch Song, La Cage aux Folles, and Kinky Boots, however, this isn’t a play about drag performers; the real-life resort that inspired Casa Valentina catered to ostensibly straight men who liked to cross-dress in private company.
Details: Lake View. Pride Arts Center. $25–$40. pridefilmsandplays.com
Rennie Harris: Lifted
From the celebrated street-dance choreographer of Lazarus (performed by Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater here just this past March) comes a new work loosely based on Oliver Twist. Harris reframes the story to that of an orphaned teen who joins a church, encounters a group of pickpockets there, and agrees to rob the place. The original score, sung live by choir members from Benedict the African, blends house music and gospel with Harris’s dynamite choreography for this story about morality, spirituality, and community.
Details:Streeterville. Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. $10–$30. mcachicago.org
Lil Pine Nut: The Learning Curve of Pinocchio
Chicago Dance Crash creates its first full-length production since 2017’s terrific Bricklayers of Oz. This hip-hop-informed, narrative-based show, a salute to The Adventures of Pinocchio, is far from a Disney knockoff: Crash’s multitalented dancers have a knack for digging into the moral of a story, and in this case, choreographers Jessica Deahr, KC Bevis, Dionna PridGeon, and Jim Morrow examine the Pygmalion effect and the value of compassion.
Details:Near North Side. Ruth Page Center for the Arts. $15–$25. chicagodancecrash.com
Chicago Jazz Festival
The city’s priceless celebration of jazz celebrates a pair of 50th anniversaries: the Jazz Institute of Chicago on August 29, with a tribute to Nat King Cole performed by his brother Freddy Cole, and the Art Ensemble of Chicago the following day, with sole surviving founding member Roscoe Mitchell recruiting contemporary luminaries (Tomeka Reid, poet Moor Mother) for the occasion. And be sure not to miss bassist Christian McBride on August 31.
Details:Loop. Millennium Park. Free. chicagojazzfestival.us
Hootie & the Blowfish
A quarter century ago, Darius Rucker and company dropped their debut Cracked Rear View, an instant roots-rock classic. Rucker has spent the last decade as a country singer, but for the first time since 2007, Hootie is back on the road for its Group Therapy tour. If you can think of a more idyllic way to spend a late summer than singing “Only Wanna Be With You” on a lawn with an overpriced beer in hand, you might be lying to yourself.
Details:Tinley Park. Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre. 7:30 p.m. $30–$1,023. livenation.com
Lagunitas Beer Circus
This brewfest has all the old-school excitement of a classic Ringling Brothers circus without its more problematic elements and with plenty of delicious ales. Indulge guilt-free in a few Lagunitas beers alongside more than 100 performers, including marching bands, aerialists, acrobats, and burlesque dancers. Clown attire is allowed — encouraged, even, as there will be a costume contest.
Details:Lawndale. Douglas Park. Noon. $40. eventbrite.com
Summer Dance Celebration
From classical to cha-cha, the annual event celebrates dance of all kinds, with demonstrations by local companies all day in Wrigley Square (and plenty of chances to join in the fun and show off your moves). Make your way to Pritzker Pavilion for the main-stage performance, finishing the day with a lineup filled with some of the most esteemed groups in town, including Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, Cerqua Rivera Dance Theatre, and the Joel Hall Dancers.
Details:Loop. Millennium Park. 1 p.m. Free. chicagosummerdance.org
Midnight Circus in the Parks
This do-gooder band of aerial artists and clowns tours Chicago’s parks each summer with a modern take on life under the big top, kicking off at Garfield Park and wrapping up October 20 at Welles Park. Be on the lookout for Back Pocket Circus, a four-acrobat team that includes Devan Henderson, a former Cirque du Soleil performer.
Details:East Garfield Park. Garfield Park. $5–$25. circusintheparks.org
The Oddities Flea Market
Far from the department stores of the world, this traveling marketplace will satisfy your desire for the macabre, mystic, and plain weird. Find relics of natural history, taxidermied and skeletal specimens, and witchy jewelry from both traveling vendors and local favorites like Woolly Mammoth Antiques & Oddities.
Details:Logan Square. Stan Mansion. $10–$15. theodditiesfleamarket.com
Higher and Higher: A Feel-Good Rock ’n’ Roll Shindig
Actor Chester Gregory, who grew up in Gary, had his breakout success nearly two decades ago playing the title role in Black Ensemble Theater’s The Jackie Wilson Story. Gregory’s electric performance helped propel that show on a national tour, and Gregory himself to a Broadway career in productions of Hairspray, Cry-Baby, and Motown: The Musical. For the Artists Lounge Live concert series, which features stage actors paying tribute to their favorite music icons, Gregory performs a roster of Wilson’s signature hits.
Details:Lincolnshire. Marriott Theatre. 1 and 5 p.m. $50. artistsloungelive.com
Imagine being a mediocre and maybe hacky Elizabethan playwright working in the shadow of that rock star William Shakespeare. Of course Shakespeare wasn’t so revered in his own lifetime as he is now, but imagine it anyway. If you’re debt-ridden brothers Nick and Nigel Bottom, the lead characters in this speculative play, perhaps you’d be desperate enough to consult a soothsayer for a peek at the future of theater, and that soothsayer would tell you: “Musicals!” The Bottoms’ anachronistic interpretations of their oracle’s visions fuel the gags in this zany comedy, suited for those who know their Bard and their Broadway.
Details:Lincolnshire. Marriott Theatre. $50–$65. marriotttheatre.com
Sons and Lovers
Not as nakedly controversial as Lady Chatterley’s Lover, perhaps, but D.H. Lawrence’s earlier novel can still raise eyebrows more than a century later (especially when you consider that the mother’s too-intimate love for her sons, and its crippling effect on protagonist Paul Morel’s future relationships, were openly drawn from Lawrence’s own life). On the Spot Theatre Company and the Greenhouse team up to stage Mike Brayndick’s adaptation of Lawrence’s oedipal arrangements.
Details:Lincoln Park. Greenhouse Theater Center. $20–$29. greenhousetheater.org
E.M. Forster’s primly soapy 1910 novel about three English families, their entanglements complicated by class differences, has had two major screen adaptations: the 1992 Merchant Ivory feature, for which Emma Thompson won an Oscar, and a 2017 BBC miniseries starring Hayley Atwell. Now Remy Bumppo Theatre Company debuts its own take, a newly commissioned adaptation by local playwright Douglas Post; Eliza Stoughton gets the Thompson/Atwell role of resourceful Margaret Schlegel.
Details:Lake View. Theater Wit. $15–$63. remybumppo.org
African Festival of the Arts
In 1989, Patrick Woodtor, proprietor of an African art and gift shop in Harper Court, founded a fair that hosted fellow dealers of cultural objects from that continent. It has since grown into a weekend-long event featuring food, live music, theatrical productions, and fine art from various African countries.
Details:Washington Park. Northeast corner of Washington Park. $5–$40. aihusa.org
In 1975, Monty Python unveiled its gleefully ridiculous version of the legend of King Arthur. Three decades later, Chicago audiences got the first look at this musical adaptation, spearheaded by Python member Eric Idle, when it had its pre-Broadway tryout before going on to win the 2005 Tony Award for best musical. Now the reinvigorated Mercury Theater, coming off recent successes with Avenue Q and Little Shop of Horrors, is ready to teach a new generation of theatergoers that “strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government.”
Details:Lake View. Mercury Theater Chicago. $40–$80. mercurytheaterchicago.com
This Boston-born DJ and producer moved to Los Angeles to chase his competitive sailing dreams and ended up a dance musician. No wonder his mellow, tropical-tinged beats sound like what you might hear at a beach bonfire. To make the vibe even more obvious, Goldroom’s been embarking on a series of shows hosted on boats, this time gracing the three-story Anita Dee II yacht.
Details:Loop. DuSable Harbor. Noon. $50. seetickets.us