Don’t-miss picks for September 19 through September 25, 2019
1 Expo Chicago
Art:You’ll want to wear comfortable shoes to fall’s biggest (and most taxing!) art event. The eighth edition of the city’s contemporary art fair is a maze of booths presented by some 135 galleries representing 24 countries; this year, local participants include veterans Carrie Secrist, Rhona Hoffman, and Monique Meloche.
9/19–22. $30–$50. Navy Pier. expochicago.com
2 Riccardo Muti
Classical:The baton falls for the downbeat of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s season, and that baton belongs to esteemed music director Muti, on a two-week residency. The highlight of his first week is the Gothic grandeur of Grieg’s Piano Concerto, under the fingers of Leif Ove Andsnes. The second begins a season-long circuit of all nine Beethoven symphonies, in honor of the composer’s 250th birthday.
9/12–28. $37–$259. Symphony Center. cso.org
3 Reeling Film Fest
Festival:For 37 years, this LGBTQ film festival has been shining a light on queer cinema, from arthouse dramas to animated shorts. This year’s highlights include Making Sweet Tea, a documentary feature about gay Southern black men inspired by the work of Northwestern professor E. Patrick Johnson, and a panel on the emergence of queer web series in Chicago.
9/19–29. $10–$130. Various locations. reelingfilmfestival.org
Theater:The third edition of this annual Latino theater festival features nearly a dozen productions staged by local, national, and international companies (including Chicago’s Teatro Vista, Aguijón Theater, and Repertorio Latino). Among the most intriguing productions: Feos, a North American premiere from Chilean puppet artist Aline Küppenheim and playwright Guillermo Calderón; Los Angeles–based solo performer Marissa Chibas’s autobiographical Daughter of a Cuban Revolutionary; and the premiere of Back in the Day: An ’80s House Music Dancesical, from Chicago’s UrbanTheater Company.
9/19–10/27. $15–$35. Various locations. clata.org
5 Chicago Architecture Biennial
Expo:The largest architecture expo on this side of the globe returns for its third edition with the theme “… And Other Such Stories,” which will examine the architectural effects of migration, ecology, and politics. Yesomi Umolu, curator at the University of Chicago’s Logan Center, will serve as artistic director this year, with featured contributions by architects, artists, and scholars from around the world. Local highlights include work by artists Theaster Gates and Maria Gaspar, as well as projects from the investigative journalism group Invisible Institute and the design firm Borderless Studio.
FREE 9/19–1/5/2020. Chicago Cultural Center. chicagoarchitecturebiennial.org
Rock:The most metal band in the world right now is fronted by a trio of Japanese pop stars in schoolgirl skirts, and don’t let any bro rocking a Pantera T-shirt and a mullet tell you differently. Since the group’s 2010 formation, members Yuimetal, Su-metal, and Moametal have fused speed-metal instrumentation with super-cute J-pop vocals, which makes a lot more sense on record than it does on paper. Have you ever seen the Japanese horror movie Battle Royale, where rosy-cheeked adolescents fight to the death? It’s kind of like that.
9/20 at 7:30 p.m. $53. Aragon Ballroom. ticketmaster.com
7 Harvest Chicago Contemporary Dance Festival
Festival:When this festival launched a decade ago, it joined an already saturated field of contemporary dance showcases. Now it stands alone, as Chicago’s last remaining place to discover exciting and underrecognized choreographers from across the country on the same stage. New to this year’s lineup is Chicagoan J’Sun Howard, who presents a duet in his signature blend of contemporary and vogue style. And Melinda Jean Myers, a former Lucky Plush dancer known for her witty characters, brings a world premiere from her new home in Iowa City.
9/20–28. $18–$25. Ruth Page Center for the Arts. hccdf.com
8 Vatican Shadow
Electronic:In need of purging your creeping existential dread on the dance floor? Enter Vatican Shadow, one of the many aliases of Dominick Fernow (who also makes music as Prurient). A veteran of the noise scene, Fernow channels sociopolitical angst into shadowy industrial techno, crafting danceable tracks with names like “Chopper Crash Marines’ Names Released” and “Wherever There Is Money There Is Unforgiveness.” He’s performing as part of the industrial music festival Cold Waves, which will take over Metro and Smartbar for the weekend.
9/21 at 11 p.m. $15. Smartbar. etix.com
9 Chicago Gourmet
Festival:Hosted by Bon Appétit and the Illinois Restaurant Association, this food fest is a who’s who of the city’s top chefs, sommeliers, and mixologists. This year’s kicks off with a VIP viewing of Hamilton with Rick Bayless; later events include a comedy night hosted by Pork & Mindy’s Jeff Mauro, morning yoga with brunch from Lula Cafe’s Jason Hammel, and a gourmet chili cook-off involving chefs like Fat Rice’s Abe Conlon and Mi Tocaya Antojería’s Diana Dávila.
9/24–29. $40–$2,015. Various locations. chicagogourmet.org
10 A Doll’s House
Theater:Henrik Ibsen’s protofeminist drama gets a new look on the North Shore. Playwright Sandra Delgado (La Havana Madrid) and Writers Theatre artistic director Michael Halberstam streamline their adaptation to a single act; director Lavina Jadhwani’s cast is led by Cher Álvarez as Nora.
9/25–12/15. $50–$80. Writers Theatre. writerstheatre.org