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50 Things to Do in Chicago in August

The Chicago Duck Derby, Beyoncé and Jay-Z, the Fly Honey Show, and more

Chicago Duck Derby
Chicago Duck Derby Photo: Anthony Souffle/Chicago Tribune
Aug. 1
Pop

Terror Jr

This trio (David “Campa” Benjamin Singer-Vine, Lisa Vitale, and Felix Snow) first drew attention in late 2016 when online conspiracy theorists speculated that reality TV star Kylie Jenner was secretly a member. It didn’t help that the band, which had just formed that year, was slow to correct this false assumption. Eventually, the music prevailed—minimalist, haunting pop for the Gen-Z set.

Details:Lake View. Schubas. 8 p.m. $18. lh-st.com

Aug. 2–5
Festival

Lollapalooza

More than a quarter-century into its domination of Chicago’s music-fest circuit, the juggernaut shows few signs of slowing down. Yes, it turns downtown into an impassable wasteland of teenage debauchery, and four days is too long for a reasonable festival—but it’s hard to resist the pull of its megawatt marquee, which this year features the Weeknd, Bruno Mars, and Arctic Monkeys.

Details:Loop. Grant Park. $120–$335. lollapalooza.com

Aug. 3
Hip-Hop

GoldLink

Whether he’s appearing on the new singles of pop stars of old (Christina Aguilera) or dropping fresh music of his own, D’Anthony Carlos, a.k.a. GoldLink, isn’t afraid to experiment. On his last mixtape, At What Cost, the rapper used producers such as Montreal’s Kaytranada to craft gorgeous, intelligent rap music for an audience whose Spotify listening habits cover hip-hop, jazz, and electronic music.

Details:Lincoln Park. Lincoln Hall. 11 p.m. $25. lh-st.com

Aug. 3
Pop

Carly Rae Jepsen

Now that she’s broken through to indie-pop die-hards and music obsessives, all eyes are on Jepsen and what she’ll release next. Her award-winning third album, Emotion, was a tribute to the sugary pop of the 1980s. But unlike her peers, who lazily mimic the sounds of the past, this master songwriter can take retro styles and transform them for the ears of contemporary listeners.

Details:Lincoln Park. Park West. 11 p.m. Sold out; see resellers

Aug. 3–5
Convention

Wakandacon

Black comic culture gets its due at the debut of this three-day event, featuring panels, poetry readings, and cosplay all inspired by the blockbuster superhero film Black Panther.

Details:South Loop. Hilton Chicago. $39 for a three-day pass. wakandacon2018.com

Aug. 3–Sept. 30
Art

Lions: Founding Years of UIMA in Chicago

The Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art boasts the world’s largest collection of abstract and minimalist artwork by Ukrainian Americans from the 1950s through the 1970s. How Chicago attracted the Ukrainian avant-garde is a story told by this exhibition and the new documentary film The First Lions. Fleeing Ukraine during World War II, many refugees found new freedom in Chicago and used abstract art to communicate their struggles as well as their hope for a better future.

Details:Ukrainian Village. Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art. Free. uima-chicago.org

Aug. 4–26
Art

Touch Too Much

This two-person exhibition brings together emerging Chicago artists Marie Baldwin and Luis Mejico, who have a lot to say about our pop-culture-obsessed age. Mejico hilariously re-creates music videos by Drake and Hot Chip to critique their celebrity personas, and Baldwin uses satin and other fabrics to fashion colorful representations of the human body.

Details:Logan Square. Comfort Station. Free. comfortstationlogansquare.org

Aug. 5–26
Theater

Holding the Man

Timothy Conigrave’s acclaimed posthumous memoir won the United Nations Human Rights Award for Nonfiction in 1995 for its rich, intricate portrayal of his 15-year love affair with his husband, John Caleo. Tommy Murphy’s stage adaptation follows the couple from meeting to mourning, providing an often harrowing look at how far gay rights have (and haven’t) come over the past two decades.

Details:Uptown. Pride Arts Center. $16–$30. pridefilmsandplays.com

Aug. 6
World

Angélique Kidjo

The infectious songs by this Grammy winner fuse rhythms from her native Benin with American R&B and jazz. Joined on her national tour by the Nigerian big band Femi Kuti and the Positive Force, Kidjo performs selections from her new album, Remain in Light. With any luck, we’ll hear her amazing cover of Talking Heads’ “Once in a Lifetime.”

Details:Highland Park. Ravinia Festival. 7:30 p.m. $15–$55. ravinia.org

Aug. 8
Comedy

Toots and the Maytals

They didn’t invent reggae, but this Jamaican band deserves a great deal of credit for introducing the music to audiences beyond the island. Originally formed in the 1960s and recently reunited, the group is responsible for some of the best-known ska, rock steady, and, yes, reggae tracks, including the heavy-rotation cuts “Pressure Drop”(from the soundtrack to the landmark 1972 film The Harder They Come) and the smash 1968 single “Do the Reggay.” In this rare tour stop, Toots and the Maytals will play a selection of hits for fans old and new.

Details:Pilsen. Thalia Hall. 7 p.m. $28–$70. eventbrite.com

Aug. 9
Recreation

Chicago Duck Derby

Each year, for one whimsical summer morning, the Chicago River runs yellow: More than 50,000 rubber ducks flow downstream from the Wabash Avenue Bridge, each one purchased to raise funds for Special Olympics Illinois. “Adopt” your own rubber racer for $5 or, if you’re the bet-hedging type, 240 of them for $1,000. The first duck across the finish line wins its sponsor a new car, with cash prizes and all-expenses-paid vacations for runners-up.

Details:River North. Wabash Avenue at the Chicago River. 10 a.m. Free. duckrace.com

Aug. 9–12
Dance

Set Free

Producer Jessica Marasa has booked a rock-star cast of choreographers and improvisers for this series, which offers audiences a peek inside the choreographic process. On the bill: Tara Aisha Willis, the newly appointed associate curator of performance at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago.

Details:Roscoe Village. Links Hall. $12–$25. linkshall.org

Aug. 9–Sept. 8
Burlesque

The Fly Honey Show

This late-night nonbinary cabaret moved to the Den last year and this year expands to five weekends of glorious debauchery. Emcee and curator Molly Brennan is now joined by Bindu Poroori, formerly of Salonathon, and Joseph Varisco of Queer, Ill + Okay. Also new: a bazaar of sex-positive organizations and vendors.

Details:Wicker Park. Den Theatre. $22–$80. theflyhoneyshow.com

Beyoncé and Jay-Z
Beyoncé and Jay-Z Photo: Lawrence K. Ho/Los Angeles Times
Aug. 10–11
Hip-Hop

Beyoncé and Jay-Z

Music’s royal couple are fiercely private, yet they surprised even loyal fans by airing the dirty laundry of their marriage on Beyoncé’s 2016 masterpiece, Lemonade, and Jay-Z’s critically acclaimed 4:44 from last year. Unlike their 2014 On the Run tour, which generated curiosity with a trove of then-unverified gossipy reports of marital discord, this summer’s trek (which also celebrates the release of their joint record, Everything Is Love) appears to cap off an artistic exploration of matrimony.

Details:Near South Side. Soldier Field. $49–$350. ticketmaster.com

Aug. 10–12
Food

Chicago Hot Dog Fest

This fest is (ahem) frankly, one of the best of the summer, fun for frankfurter haters and Coney dog connoisseurs alike. The diverse vendors have a penchant for reinterpreting the humble red hot through the lenses of different international cuisines.

Details:Lincoln Park. Chicago History Museum. 8 p.m. $25–$100. chicagohotdogfest.com

Aug. 10–12
Festival

Ginza Holiday Festival

For more than 60 years, the Midwest Buddhist Temple has hosted this summertime fest, meant to evoke Tokyo’s Ginza district, a place that has for hundreds of years been a hub of traditional crafts like pottery and weaving. Don’t leave without tasting the festival’s famous chicken teriyaki—it’s a family recipe from one of the temple’s earliest members.

Details:Old Town. Midwest Buddhist Temple. $5 donation. ginzaholiday.com

Bud Billiken Parade
Bud Billiken Parade Photo: Abel Uribe/Chicago Tribune
Aug. 11
Parade

Bud Billiken Parade

On the second Saturday of August, the Chicago Defender’s charity arm marks back-to-school season with this roving party and oversize talent show, where teams of marching bands, cheerleaders, and dancers throw down in the streets of Bronzeville. The festivities culminate with an after-show carnival at nearby Washington Park, with community services (blood pressure checks, a mini job fair) featured alongside street-fest standards (DJs and fried food).

Details:Bronzeville. King from Oakwood to 51st. 10 a.m. Free. budbillikenparade.org

Aug. 11
Opera

CSO: Italian Opera Favorites

Summer may teem with free and cheap classical music, but for opera lovers it’s a desert. One oasis this year: Former Ravinia Festival music director James Conlon conducts the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the soprano Nadine Sierra and tenor Matthew Polenzani in excerpts from the early-19th-century Italian subgenre of bel canto. Of the three composers in bel canto’s Hall of Fame, Conlon programmed Donizetti and Rossini; if you bring your own Champagne and peach to the lawn, you can get Bellini in there too.

Details:Highland Park. Ravinia. 7:30 p.m. $10–$75. ravinia.org

Aug. 11
Recreation

Lagunitas Beer Circus

In the tradition of beer-blasted adult circuses like New Belgium Brewing’s Tour de Fat, the craft ale maestros at Lagunitas host an afternoon of “freaktacular” entertainment. Expect burlesque and acrobatic performances, face painters, and plenty of sideshow carnies—all scored by a raucous, roving marching band. If you’re still on the fence after hearing the word “freaktacular,” relax: Your first pour is on the house.

Details:Douglas Park. 18th and Farrar. Noon. $40. lagunitas.com

Aug. 11–12
Food

Mead Fest

Thou mightst consider thyself a beer connoisseur, but how familiar art thou with mead? Sample various flavors of the ancient booze, either in full pours or in flights, at this festival, now it its second year. The menu features libations from domestic and international meaderies, including from South Africa and Denmark. Representing Chicago is Wild Blossom Meadery & Winery, whose owner, Greg Fischer, will speak about the history and production of the fermented drink.

Details:Avondale. DMen Tap. Free. dmentap.com

Aug. 11–12
New Music

Thirsty Ears Festival

The only classical music street festival in Chicago (according to its organizers) returns for a third year outside the flagship music school run by Access Contemporary Music. ACM includes its best-known initiative—Sound of Silent Film Festival, where composers create new soundtracks for modern silent films—at 9 p.m. on Saturday. A participatory performance of Terry Riley’s minimalist classic In C takes place Sunday at 2 p.m.

Details:Ravenswood. Wilson from Hermitage to Ravenswood. $10 donation. acmusic.org

Aug. 11–26
Theater

Crowns

Regina Taylor’s glorious musical, an ode to church ladies and their magnificent hats, has a gospel-infused score worthy of a cathedral and a story that will make your heart sing.

Details:Evanston. Noyes Cultural Center. $15. cityofevanston.org

Aug. 12
Classical

His Majesty’s Men

The vocal supergroup formed by countertenor Richard Childress returns for its now-annual appearance, and this year the performance tackles the 1554 wedding of the queen of England and the king of Spain. Repertoire includes Tallis, Byrd, Victoria, and other contemporaneous English and Spanish composers.

Details:West Town. St. John Cantius Church. 7 p.m. $15–$30. hismajestysmen.com

Aug. 12
Comedy/Music

Steve Martin and Martin Short

In 2016, two of the Three Amigos (Chevy Chase apparently couldn’t be bothered) hit the road for a good old-fashioned reunion tour. One live-recorded Netflix special later, Martin and Short bring their two-man variety show, An Evening You Will Forget for the Rest of Your Life, to Chicagoland for a one-night engagement, supported by Steep Canyon Rangers, Martin’s bluegrass group, and Jeff Babko, pianist for the Jimmy Kimmel Live! house band.

Details:Highland Park. Ravinia. 7:30 p.m. $44. ravinia.org

Aug. 12
Rock

Whitney

When their 2016 debut, Light upon the Lake, proved an indie success, Whitney (consisting of veterans of the Chicago underground-rock scene) rode the hype with no hesitation, selling out half of the music halls in town. Two years on, the band—which folds elements of soul and outlaw country into its indie-rock template—takes to the Pritzker Pavilion stage for a hometown victory lap, with support from fellow locals and lo-fi wunderkinds Ne-Hi.

Details:Loop. Jay Pritzker Pavilion. 6:30 p.m. Free. cityofchicago.org

Aug. 13
Theater

Broadway in Chicago Summer Concert

Musical theater nerds, rejoice! Broadway in Chicago’s annual show-tune extravaganza will include numbers from productions never before seen in these parts, among them Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Dear Evan Hansen. Pro tip: Arrive early to stake out a prime spot. The yearly concert invariably draws thousands.

Details:Loop. Jay Pritzker Pavilion. 6:15 p.m. Free. broadwayinchicago.com

Aug. 13–14
Rock

Smashing Pumpkins

After 18 years apart, three-fourths of the original lineup (Billy Corgan, James Iha, and Jimmy Chamberlin, minus D’arcy Wretzky) reunited and released a new single, “Solara,” in early June. On record, the song might not sound like the group in peak form, but surely seeing the iconic ’90s band in concert should appeal to even the most fickle fans. This reconciliation was a long time coming and, according to frontman Corgan, required considerable effort, especially to rebuild relationships that seemed irrevocably broken.

Details:Near West Side. United Center. $47–$653. ticketmaster.com

Aug. 15–Sept. 23
Theater

Vietgone

In Qui Nguyen’s highly praised hip-hop-infused play, Asian American actors fill Caucasian roles, which layers the production with a subversive commentary on the sort of yellowface art that’s been going on since, well, forever. It’s one of many intricate aspects of the tale of two Vietnamese refugees who meet in the United States and embark on a journey across decades and continents.

Details:Glencoe. Writers Theatre. $50–$80. writerstheatre.org

Aug. 16
Country

LSD Tour

On this cheekily named triple bill, bona fide country legends (Lucinda Williams, Steve Earle, and Dwight Yoakam) hit the stage for an evening of edgy Americana. Country music skeptics take note: Each of the featured acts has a more storied and nuanced legacy than your average honky-tonk crooner. Williams was long considered an outsider by the Nashville mainstream for uncompromising songcraft and politics; Earle writes protest songs and jams with Rage Against the Machine’s Tom Morello; and L.A.-dwelling Yoakam drops rootsy covers of punk and glam-rock songs into his extensive repertoire.

Details:Loop. Chicago Theatre. 7 p.m. $48–$235. ticketmaster.com

Aug. 17–18
Classical

Grant Park Music Festival

Chicago’s annual cultural gift wraps this weekend with Dvořák’s symphonic poem The Water Goblin and Carl Orff’s profane cantata Carmina Burana, a set of songs for chorus, vocal soloists, and orchestra based on 13th-century monastic scribblings. The movement “O Fortuna” begins and ends Carmina and also echoes through numerous movie trailers and sports intros.

Details:Loop. Jay Pritzker Pavilion. Free. grantparkmusicfestival.com

Aug. 17–Sept. 15
Theater

Nightmares and Nightcaps: The Stories of John Collier

If the six-episode fourth season of Black Mirror left you howling for more, head to Ed Rutherford’s adaptation of sci-fi legend Collier’s dystopian work.

Details:Lake View. Athenaeum Theatre. $17–$32. blackbuttoneyes.com

Through Aug. 18
Art

Jacob Saunders: Per Aspera Ad Astra

For this solo exhibition, the local artist uses drawing to explore the legacy of rocket engineer Jack Parsons. Before his death in 1952 in a mysterious explosion during the height of the Red Scare, the cofounder of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory dabbled in the occult and was known for promoting travel via astral projection, or soul journeys, to other planets and dimensions. It’s perfect fodder for an artist like Saunders, whose work investigates the unconscious impulses that drive human action.

Details:Loop. Bert Green Fine Art. Free. bgfa.us

Aug. 18
Rock

Beach House

The Baltimore duo’s seventh album, 7, is its shortest, but nonetheless one of its most eloquent, experimental, and progressive. Here, Beach House leans into sounds it has only flirted with in the past. Think rippling guitar textures, maximalist synth construction, and rock ’n’ roll reverb that’s more in line with ’90s rock than the kind of off-kilter folk that was a hallmark of the band’s earlier efforts. And like their recordings, the group’s live shows have improved, with detailed, multicolored light shows timed to each beat and riff.

Details:Loop. Chicago Theatre. 7:30 p.m. $58–$199. ticketmaster.com

Dance for Life
Dance for Life Photo: Cheryl Mann
Aug. 18
Dance

Dance for Life

Since 1992, this annual fundraiser has gathered members of the dance community for a top-of-the-line concert to raise money for HIV/AIDS organizations. This year, see Hubbard Street Dance Chicago perform Lou Conte’s iconic The 40s and Joffrey Ballet take on Myles Thatcher’s Body of Your Dreams.

Details:Loop. Auditorium Theatre. 7:30 p.m. $15–$650. chicagodancersunited.org

Aug. 18–19
Classical

Marin Alsop

The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra conductor leads the final of her six tributes to Leonard Bernstein at Ravinia this summer, on the occasion of what would have been his 100th birthday: Symphony No. 1, which spotlights the mezzo-soprano J’Nai Bridges as soloist.

Details:Highland Park. Ravinia. $10–$90. ravinia.org

Aug. 19
Festival

Kultura Festival

The main attraction at this Filipino culture fest is the food lineup, assembled by Filipino Kitchen. Participants include Kathy Poland, whose food truck, Taste of the Philippines, regularly graces the Daley Plaza Farmers’ Market, and Carlo Lamagna, whose first restaurant, Magna, is slated to open in the fall in Portland, Oregon.

Details:Logan Square. Emporium. 11 a.m. $5–$15. filipino.kitchen

Aug. 21–22
Classical

Jonathan Biss

In the midst of the pianist’s nine-year project of recording all of Beethoven’s piano sonatas, Biss finishes a somewhat similar three-year project of performing all 32 live in seven Ravinia concerts. Beethoven buffs will recognize the longest, No. 29 (“Hammerklavier”), capping the August 21 program, and No. 8 (“Pathétique”) and No. 32 bookending the August 22 finale.

Details:Highland Park. Ravinia. $10. ravinia.org

Aug. 23–25
Theater

The Brink! or Nobody’s Ever Kissed Me Like That…

This trippy mash-up of cabaret, drama, dance, poetry, pop, and jazz is a surreal spectacle set in a postapocalyptic pub frequented by survivors quoting Gertrude Stein and Lesley Gore.

Details:Lincoln Park. Steppenwolf Theatre. $15. steppenwolf.org

Aug. 24–26
Festival

Taste of Greektown

Every year, the Chicago Greektown Chamber of Commerce hosts this culinary jamboree to celebrate Hellenic culture. Enjoy music from Greek bands as you eat your way down this stretch of South Halsted Street, where neighborhood restaurants will be serving everything from moussaka to spanakopita. On the lineup is the festival’s first-ever gyro-eating contest, in which eight hungry participants race to chow down a platter of spit-roasted beef and lamb meat.

Details:Greektown. Halsted and Van Buren. Free. greektownchicago.org

Aug. 24–Sept. 20
Art

CTA Drawings

For Dmitry Samarov’s next solo show, the local painter and writer captures a slice of Chicago life: quick, colorful, and poignant sketches of people he encounters on city trains and buses. “I feel a little bit like a crazy person riding from end to end of the Green or Orange Line with a thrift-store purse full of markers around my neck,” he says.

Details:Bucktown. Firecat Projects. Free. firecatprojects.org

Through Aug. 25
Dance

Chicago SummerDance

No summer is complete without taking in one of the city’s most popular public programs, which offers group instruction, live music, and outdoor dancing. The whole thing culminates with an all-day spectacle on August 25: Start with lunch on the lawn at Wrigley Square, followed by footwork competitions, a celebratory concert at Pritzker Pavilion, and a DJ dance party at Cloud Gate.

Details:Various neighborhoods and venues. Free. cityofchicago.org

Aug. 25–Apr. 7
Art

A Body Measured Against the Earth

This conceptual exhibit takes up a thought experiment—measuring distance using only the human body as a yardstick—and applies it to contemporary art. Take, for instance, Ana Mendieta, the Cuban American who in the 1970s traced her shadows with soil and partially buried her naked body in order to pose as an earth goddess.

Details:Streeterville. Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. $8–$15. mcachicago.org

Aug. 25–26
Circus

Midnight Circus in the Parks

This reimagining of the big top—the debut event in a series of performances taking place in various neighborhoods—brings together the city’s best acrobats with contemporary clowns, jugglers, and four-legged friends, all while raising money for Chicago parks.

Details:Garfield Park. Garfield Park Field House. $5–$22. midnightcircus.net

Aug. 27
New Music

Gilbert Kalish, Sō Percussion, and Dawn Upshaw

Two long pieces cut from the same unusual cloth share a program: the 30-something composer Caroline Shaw’s Narrow Sea and the 80-something George Crumb’s The Winds of Destiny. Both contemporary works elaborate American folk melodies and showcase rare instrumentation—performed here by the soprano Upshaw, the pianist Kalish, and the quartet Sō Percussion.

Details:Highland Park. Ravinia. 7:30 p.m. $10–$60. ravinia.org

Aug. 28
Classical

Rush Hour Concerts

For its final installment of the 2018 summer season the International Music Foundation presents a hymn to the maestro with his choral-orchestral Chichester Psalms, an angular, rhythmic work setting psalms in Hebrew to tonal, tuneful accompaniment.

Details:River North. St. James Cathedral. 5:45 p.m. Free. imfchicago.org

Aug. 29–Sept. 2
Jazz

Chicago Jazz Festival

This annual festival celebrates its 40th anniversary by hosting some heavy hitters. On Thursday, flutist Nicole Mitchell and her Black Earth Ensemble will play their 2017 album Mandorla Awakening II (see “From Busking in the Loop to World-Renowned Jazz Flutist”); two days later, legendary pianist Ramsey Lewis performs a headlining gig; and the next day, trumpeter Jaimie Branch appears with her Fly or Die outfit, and P-Funk saxophonist Maceo Parker pops in to close out the fest.

Details:Loop. Grant Park. Free. chicagojazzfestival.us

Aug. 30–Sept. 1
Theater

Chicago Fringe Festival

Chicago, one might argue, is a vast, yearlong fringe festival. That said, this official version will bring dozens of theater companies from throughout the country (and Canada!) straight to the heart of off-Loop. Puppets, spoken word, comic sketches, improv—the cross-pollination of genres has something for everyone.

Details:Various locations. $10 per show. chicagofringe.org

Aug. 30–Nov. 4
Theater

A Shayna Maidel

In Barbara Lebow’s drama, a Polish Jewish Holocaust survivor reunites with a sister who escaped before World War II began. Lebow’s exploration of families torn apart by persecution should be required viewing for anyone interested in the state of immigration today.

Details:Lake View. TimeLine Theatre at the Wellington Avenue Church. $25–$54. timelinetheatre.com

Through Aug. 31
Art

Big Print Show

The Chicago Printmakers Collaborative specializes in gigantic prints, some as tall as nine feet, by world-renowned artists like Karen Kunc and Teresa James. Its new show highlights the meticulous skill, physical stamina, and creative engineering that go into large-scale printmaking.

Details:Lincoln Square. Chicago Printmakers Collaborative. Free. chicagoprintmakers.com

Aug. 31–Oct. 13
Art

On Anxiety

On the College of DuPage campus, you’ll find one of the best suburban museums. This summer it premieres an exhibit proposing that anxiety—“that low-grade, ever present anxiety, the kind that you wake up with and have learned to ignore,” curator Gwendolyn Zabicki writes—can generate greater insight into the creative process. The large group show includes paintings by Celeste Rapone and Alex Bradley Cohen.

Details:Cleve Carney Art Gallery. Glen Ellyn. Free. clevecarneygallery.org

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