The 4th Annual 26th Annual Comedy Festival
Every spring, The Onion hosts this comedy jubilee in its native Chicago. Patton Oswalt headlines this year’s stellar lineup, which includes everything from screenings by Nathan Fielder (Nathan for You) and Mike Judge (Idiocracy) to live tapings of the podcasts Bitch Sesh and Guys We Fucked.
Details:Various venues. $10–$325. 26comedy.com
Human_3.0 Reading List
Fresh off her appearance in the Whitney Biennial, Cauleen Smith debuts a series of watercolor drawings of books in her library, probing whether or not people are reading the right literature. Though Smith is best known as a filmmaker—see her recent series reanimating Chicago’s 1940s Afrofuturist jazz scene—her quieter, more personal drawings are no less potent.
Details:Art Institute of Chicago. $14–$25. artic.edu
Pivot Arts Festival
This annual fest boasts a plethora of performance genres, including spoken word, hip-hop, puppetry, improv, performance art, and children’s theater. There’s even a parade slated for June 3. Among this year’s participants: Barrel of Monkeys, the Neo-Futurists, Storytown, and Ayako Kato with Synapse Arts.
Details:Various venues. Free–$25. pivotarts.org
At this up-and-coming fringe space, longtime Chicago painter Darrell Roberts debuts a series of sculptures made by drawing lacy patterns with a hot-glue gun. Roberts says he makes art “as a meditation to work out issues of being a gay man, ranging from feelings like being invisible and flashbacks.”
Details:Ignition Project Space. Free. ignitionprojects.org
Playwright Antoinette Nwandu’s take on Waiting for Godot fixates on two black men unable to escape a dead-end neighborhood. Waukegan native Jon Michael Hill (Elementary) stars in a show where biblical allusions (Moses, the search for the Promised Land) bump up against current events (stop and frisk, police brutality).
Details:Steppenwolf. $20–$89. steppenwolf.org
Chicago Human Rhythm Project
This year’s Stomping Grounds series culminates in a grand finale at the newly rehabbed Studebaker Theater in the Fine Arts Building. The event brings together a range of percussive dance forms from various cultures, with performances by the Trinity Irish Dancers, Ensemble Español, Muntu Dance Theatre of Chicago, and more.
Details:Studebaker Theater. 7:30 p.m. Free. chicagotap.org
Riding the success of their debut full-length album, Before the World Was Big, this Los Angeles duo resurfaced in May with a sophomore effort, Powerplant. The first single, “123,” finds Harmony Divided and Cleo Tucker expanding their hyperminimalist sound with layered guitars and, for the first time, drums. Despite their bigger sound, expect this show to be as intimate as ever.
Details:Empty Bottle. 9 p.m. $12. ticketweb.com
Thanks to bookings by local clubs Empty Bottle and Subterranean, this street fest always sports an impressive lineup. On June 3, the Ponys share the stage with younger indie acts Girlpool (see above) and Hoops. Bona fide punks Boss Hog close out June 4.
Details:Division between Ashland and Leavitt. $5 donation. do-divisionstreetfest.com
The season of Karen Zacarías (Destiny of Desire at Goodman, The Book Club Play and Into the Beautiful North at 16th Street Theater) continues with the story of new neighbors and a clash over a few square inches of lawn that comes to represent deep disagreements about race, politics, and gentrification. Director Marti Lyons digs into a fraught spat over landscape design.
Details:Victory Gardens. $15–$60. victorygardens.org
Playwright Claire Kiechel strands two characters on a spaceship, gives them an old robot for company, and lets the carnage ensue. This world premiere is part sci-fi, part relationship drama, and wholly out of this galaxy.
Details:Gift Theatre. $30–$40. thegifttheatre.org
It took three years for this English DJ to record his eighth studio effort (Death Peak, released in April), but he’s been anything but idle. In 2016, he released a soundtrack for the French-British crime drama The Last Panthers, extending his progressive techno purview further into the mainstream. On Death Peak, the producer applies those same cinematic tricks to his personal material, crafting a heady, propulsive sound unlike that of any of his peers.
Details:Concord Music Hall. 8 p.m. $20. ticketfly.com
An annual shindig thrown by new-music whiz kids Ensemble Dal Niente, the Party offers noshing, sipping, and mingling in an arty atmosphere with contemporary music. This year’s bash centers on a world premiere by Joshua Fineberg called Take My Hand, where audience members may participate in the work and its promise of “collective transcendence.”
Details:Ruth Page Center for the Arts. 7:30 p.m. $15–$30. dalniente.com
This “live magazine” returns to Chicago for a night of multimedia storytelling, featuring illustrations, animations, sound, and a live score performed by Magik*Magik Orchestra. Among the presenters: Chicago Reader deputy editor Robin Amer, artist Carlos Javier Ortiz, and actor Yassir Lester.
Details:Harris Theater. 7:30 p.m. $25. popupmagazine.com
Known for theatrical, atmospheric live shows, the otherworldly Icelandic band comes to Chicago for a performance at the regal Auditorium Theatre. Expect deep cuts as well as new material from their anticipated eighth album.
Details:Auditorium Theatre at Roosevelt University. $80–$100. auditoriumtheatre.org
57th Street Art Fair
Regarded as one of the city’s best art fairs, this seven-decades staple boasts pop-up artist talks and live jazz and blues curated by Buddy Guy’s nightclub, Legends. The event is also alcohol-free (not your typical raucous street fest).
Details:57th and Kimbark. Free. 57thstreetartfair.org
Near South Side
U2 tours tirelessly, but these Soldier Field shows should be a treat for even casual fans. The band returns to Chicago on its Joshua Tree tour, 30 years after the release of the now-iconic album. Expect a set steeped in nostalgia.
Details:Soldier Field. $280–$375. ticketmaster.com
Cross 20th-century composer Leonard Bernstein with 18th-century satirist Voltaire and you get Candide, a biting satire of the rich set to an even richer score. With a 23-piece orchestra, expect this marquee spectacle to be well worth the ticket price.
Details:Music Theater Works at Cahn Auditorium. $34–$96. musictheaterworks.com
With each new release, these French indie rockers straddle the line between cheesy and cheeky more deftly—and the wonky clips of new music they’ve recently shared on social media prove they haven’t lost their charm. It’s been four years since the band’s last LP; you may just hear some new material.
Details:Aragon Ballroom. 7:30 p.m. $35. ticketmaster.com
Details:Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. $8–$15. mcachicago.org
North Shore Chamber Music Festival
It may be a mom-and-pop concert series out of a Northbrook church, but when the mom and pop trot the globe as world-class soloists, they draw some big names. Pianist Angela Yoffe and violinist Vadim Gluzman this year recruit several CSO principals, the Escher String Quartet, and the conductor David Danzmayr with his ProMusica Chamber Orchestra. Performances include Stravinsky’s The Soldier’s Tale, profuse Brahms and Mozart, and the festival’s first commission.
Details:Village Presbyterian Church. $15–$120. nscmf.org
Near North Side
Captain Ahab sails again in David Catlin’s adaptation of Herman Melville’s seafaring classic. Unlike the book (where you plod through 300 pages before the whale shows up), Catlin’s version is action-packed from start to finish.
Details:Lookingglass. From $35. lookingglasstheatre.org
Chicago Film Archives Media Mixer
The Chicago Film Archives possesses an extensive collection of locally made, independent avant-garde art films. Each year the organization invites artists to remix their holdings into new audiovisual collages. Alison Cuddy hosts the screening event, followed by a DJ’ed after-party.
Details:Hideout. 8 p.m. $15. chicagofilmarchives.org
Hubbard Street Dance Chicago
Hubbard Street’s summer series kicks off its 40th anniversary season. Founder Lou Conte’s The 40s and Twyla Tharp’s The Golden Section find their way back into circulation, along with a section of Alejandro Cerrudo’s exquisite One Thousand Pieces and favorites from the past two seasons.
Details:Harris Theater. $30–$102. hubbardstreetdance.com
In the fall of 2016, this Minneapolis MC released her major label debut, Coconut Oil, a short, eclectic collection of catchy tunes that reflected a confident and capable new rapper. If 2016 was Lizzo’s breakout year, 2017 will test her all-but-inevitable staying power. Catch the rising star before she graduates to larger stages.
Details:Metro. 9 p.m. $17. etix.com
Chicago Blues Festival
Details:Millennium Park. Free. cityofchicago.org
Midsommarfest boasts neither the hippest bands nor the trendiest food, but for 52 years it has served as the gold standard of Chicago street festivals. Call it Andersonville’s Old Faithful: laid-back, family friendly, and one of the last neighborhood-oriented celebrations.
Details:Clark between Foster and Catalpa. $10 donation. andersonville.org
When the heroine’s name is Lady Gay Spanker, the show bears further investigation. City Lit tackles Dion Boucicault’s 19th-century tale of tangled romances in merry old England. Cameron Feagin stars as Lady Spanker in a story of arranged marriages, assignations, and carnal tomfoolery.
Details:City Lit Theater. $12–$32. citylit.org
Michael Che is the rare standup comic who can get into the nitty-gritty on labyrinthine issues of politics and policies (chalk it up to years of pulling from the headlines for The Daily Show and Saturday Night Live’s “Weekend Update”). Watch him poke fun at those issues on the Michael Che Still Matters tour, an extension of his 2016 Netflix special, Michael Che Matters.
Details:Thalia Hall. 7 p.m. $20–$25. thaliahallchicago.com
Giordano Dance Chicago
This jazz company premieres its 160th work, created by company dancers during an in-house choreography project in the spring. The event also marks the final curtain call for dancer Joshua Blake Carter, which he’ll toast with the world premiere.
Details:Auditorium Theatre at Roosevelt University. 7:30 p.m. $29–$68. auditoriumtheatre.org
Between earning production credits on films (La La Land) and becoming a new father, this R&B crooner released a critically acclaimed album late last year. Darkness and Light, a collection of soulful piano tunes, harks back to Legend’s early-aughts debut. Catch the charismatic showman at this double bill.
Details:Ravinia. 5 and 8 p.m. $52–$173. ravinia.org
World Naked Bike Ride Chicago
Strip down and saddle up: This clothing-optional (and technically illegal) ride comes but once a year. Last year’s event drew more than 2,000 bicyclists in the buff, riding to promote body positivity and green transportation. Don’t let the name keep you away; participants are invited to wear as little or as much clothing as they like.
Details:West Loop. Sundown (official starting location and time posted online June 10). Free. chicagonakedride.com
Pilsen Food Truck Social
This South Side shindig, in partnership with Chicago’s Revolution Brewing, reliably draws some of the city’s best mobile eats, not to mention musicians and local artisans. In years past, acts like CumbiaSazo!, the Hood Internet, and the Chicago Mariachi Project have turned this block of 18th Street into one big dance floor.
Details:18th and Allport. $5 donation. pilsenfoodtrucksocial.com
For his fifth show at Monique Meloche Gallery, But I Made These for You: True Stories and Other Objects, Ross presents humorous signs that mimic garage sale and lost pet notices. One, for example, reads: “Everything You Ever Believed in Is on Fire Right Over Here.” Beyond Ross’s jokey style, his work bears exacting attention to design that evokes a previous era.
Details:Monique Meloche Gallery. Free. moniquemeloche.com
In a divisive political climate, this folksinger’s protest songs from the 1960s and ’70s continue to resonate with new generations. Here, she appears with Four Voices, a supergroup composed of Mary Chapin Carpenter and the Indigo Girls. Expect a mix of solo cuts and collaborations in comfy, elegant surroundings.
Details:Chicago Theatre. 8 p.m. $245–$375. ticketmaster.com
Symphony Center’s piano series this season booked a murderers’ row of keyboardists, from just-launched stars like Benjamin Grosvenor and Daniil Trifonov to legends like Maurizio Pollini. Gerstein is the last performer in the series. The Russian-born virtuoso zens his way through Liszt’s Transcendental Études, 12 of the most difficult pieces in the keyboard repertoire.
Details:Symphony Center. 3 p.m. $21–$82. cso.org
Near North Side
He may not be the flashiest showman these days, but Simon continues to craft triumphant live sets of career-defining tunes. An upside to this Northerly Island set: more affordable lawn tickets than you’d find at Simon’s average stadium show.
Details:Huntington Bank Pavilion at Northerly Island. 8 p.m. $35–$505. livenation.com
The King and I
Don’t miss director Bartlett Sher’s Broadway revival of the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic, in which he attempts to flip the cringe-worthy script into a bona fide social critique. Unchanged: the lush original score.
Details:Broadway in Chicago at the Oriental Theatre. $24–$90. broadwayinchicago.com
Equal parts jazz and Caribbean styles, the young Cuban singer’s music is as sophisticated as it is fun. With three albums under her belt before the age of 30, the energetic Arocena is the perfect match for a breezy summer night in Millennium Park.
Details:Pritzker Pavilion. 6:30 p.m. Free. cityofchicago.org
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Finnish conductor Susanna Mälkki, a fixture on shortlists for top orchestral jobs worldwide, brings her contemporary bent to a program that French-twists Gallic greats (Bizet, Fauré, Debussy) with modern-day Americans (film composer John Williams, a premiere by Pulitzer winner Melinda Wagner).
Details:Symphony Center. $36–$261. cso.org
Jacques Brel’s Lonesome Losers of the Night
The intimate confines of No Exit Café are perfect for a performance steeped in minor-key heartache. Theo Ubique’s 2008 revue of Brel’s music was a haunting mix of sadness, sweetness, and pitch-perfect vocals. With director Fred Anzevino back at the tiller, expect this one to be just as beguiling.
Details:Theo Ubique at No Exit Café. $20–$34. theo-u.com
Dubbed Flamenco Passion, this ambitious program is nestled among a multitude of events in the American Spanish Dance and Music Festival. Classic flamenco works by founder Dame Libby Komaiko and current director Irma Suarez Ruiz contrast with contemporary pieces and three world premieres.
Details:North Shore Center for the Performing Arts. $30–$50. northshorecenter.org
Chicago Pride Fest
A week before the Pride Parade, Halsted Street turns out to celebrate East Lake View’s LGBTQ history. No small-potatoes prologue, this bustling block party has drawn some big-name musical acts in recent years, including St. Lucia, Big Freedia, and Jennifer Hudson.
Details:Halsted between Grace and Addison. $10 donation. northalsted.com
Dael Orlandersmith tackles race and class in this story of a lifelong friendship between a light-skinned black man and a dark-skinned black woman. From the islands off South Carolina to the heart of New York City, the intertwined lives of Eugene and Alma make for a powerful, provocative drama.
Details:Noyes Cultural Arts Center. $15–$20. cityofevanston.org
East Garfield Park
The new Goldfinch Gallery is gaining repute for showcasing some of the city’s best emerging artists. Case in point: this exhibition about the diminishing role of nature in our everyday lives, which includes Ellie Irons’s watercolors of urban weeds and a camera obscura by Jaclyn Jacunski that turns the gallery into a virtual green space. Also featured: Jenny Kendler and Stella Brown.
Details:Goldfinch Gallery. Free. goldfinchgallery.org
Until now, the Goodman’s productions of Eugene O’Neill works have been more about the tragic (The Iceman Cometh, Desire Under the Elms, Long Day’s Journey into Night) than the comedic. Director Steve Scott changes that with this rom-com set on July 4, 1906. Laughs (and romance) ensue as two teens defy their parents by falling in love on a sweltering summer day.
Details:Goodman. $25–$75. goodmantheatre.org
It’s not every day that Thalia Hall hosts a band “in the round,” on a small circular stage at the center of the floor, surrounded by the audience. These performances skew cozy, and Mount Kimbie is perfectly suited to close quarters: The English electronic duo’s polished brand of down-tempo dance tunes draws texture and intimacy from field recordings and found sounds.
Details:Thalia Hall. 8:30 p.m. $20. thaliahallchicago.com
Eight years have passed since Scott Kannberg, who once played guitar in indie-rock behemoth Pavement, released his first solo album as Spiral Stairs. In that time, Kannberg toured with his old band, moved to Australia, and had a child, all of which gave him plenty to write about on his March follow-up, Doris and the Daggers. Catch indie-rock royalty at this small-stage club show.
Details:Schubas Tavern. 8 p.m. $13–$15. lh–st.com
Juilliard String Quartet
The 70-year-old string quartet plays two pieces as enduring as itself. Bartók’s gorgeous String Quartet No. 1 precedes Beethoven’s late String Quartet No. 13, which the musicians color with its original ending, the Grosse Fuge.
Details:Ravinia. 7:30 p.m. $10–$60. ravinia.org
Grant Park Music Festival
A week after the free festival’s season opener, the sunny soprano Susanna Phillips (a Mozart soloist for Music of the Baroque in January and Juliet at Lyric before that) lights up one of the shortest nights of the year soloing on Aaron Copland’s Eight Poems of Emily Dickinson. Beethoven’s lesser-played Symphony No. 4 partners the Copland.
Details:Jay Pritzker Pavilion. 6:30 p.m. Free. gpmf.org
Make Music Chicago
The local maximum of the Northern Hemisphere’s tilt toward the sun coincides (more or less) with that of worldwide music density in the global Fête de la Musique (Make Music Day), always celebrated on June 21. Make Music Chicago, the local Fête bureau, fills the day with opportunities for participation: encouraged play-ins, open-air concerts, and recitals, centering on a session with the Grant Park Apprentice Chorale at the Chicago Cultural Center at 12:15 p.m.
Details:Various venues. All day. Free. makemusicchicago.org
Sculpture Around Town
The year 2017 is being recognized as the year of public art. Accordingly, Chicago Sculpture International has organized trolley tours to nearly 50 works that have popped up in the city’s parks, with a special focus on a carved-tree series transforming dead trunks into surreal wonders. Pick one of three two-hour tours: north (June 21, 6 p.m.), lakefront (June 24, 10 a.m.), or south (June 25, noon).
Details:Chicago Cultural Center. $20. chicagosculpture.org
The DePaul Art Museum, one of Lincoln Park’s hidden gems, showcases a common thread in Chicago art: artists who pursue the wonderfully strange shapes of their imaginations. See paintings and sculpture by some of the city’s top experimenters, including Alex Chitty, Jim Lutes, Chris Garofalo, and Richard Rezac.
Details:DePaul Art Museum. Free. museums.depaul.edu
The Bridges of Madison County
On a torrid summer day, a tall, handsome stranger walks into farm wife Francesca Johnson’s uneventful life, sparking a romance amid the fresh vegetables and rustic architecture of rural Iowa. If you like your musicals drenched in sentimentality, you’ll love this tale of forbidden love in Midwestern cornfields.
Details:Marriott Lincolnshire. $50–$60. marriotttheatre.com
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
The CSO season isn’t over until the fat lady sings. Music director Riccardo Muti, who logged 19 years as the primo at La Scala, conducts the last subscription concert of the season, an all-Italian-opera program of Puccini, Mascagni, Boito, and Verdi (choruses from Nabucco and Il Trovatore).
Details:Symphony Center. $39–$272. cso.org
The Gin Game
Real-life husband and wife Paula Scrofano and John Reeger play a pair of seniors who hate each other at first sight but grudgingly agree to play cards together. Several hands of gin rummy later, a prickly romance is blooming, proving that love in the AARP years can be as enthralling as teen romance.
Details:Drury Lane Theater. $43–$59. drurylanetheatre.com
Mamby on the Beach
The third annual music fest features the likes of MGMT, Local Natives, Flying Lotus, Saba, BJ the Chicago Kid, and Ravyn Lenae (see “How to Balance High School and Touring? Ask Ravyn Lenae” for more).
Details:Oakwood Beach. $37–$170. ticketfly.com
Chicago Folks Operetta
This thorough company makes its mission the omissions of seasons past—operettas stranded in time by moldy translations, odd politics, or failure to catch fire. True to form, this summer CFO stages the Chicago premiere of Johnny Johnson, an antiwar satire by Kurt Weill (The Threepenny Opera). Written in English during Weill’s years in New York, the musical has the pitch-dark antic vibe of Weill’s former home in Weimar Germany.
Details:Stage 773. $30–$40. stage773.com
Going to a Place Where You Already Are
A lifelong atheist has a change of heart after a near-death experience, which throws her happily godless marriage into existential crisis. Playwright Bekah Brunstetter dives into the murky great beyond.
Details:Redtwist Theater. $15–$35. redtwist.org
48th Annual Pride Parade
Veterans of this perennial parade know to show up early—either to claim a choice slice of sidewalk or to snag a patio seat at a brunch spot along the route. Expect flashy floats accompanied by colorful characters in equally colorful costumes.
Details:Montrose and Broadway. Noon. Free. chicagopride.gopride.com
Gauguin: Artist as Alchemist
The Art Institute possesses some of the world’s best holdings of postimpressionist Paul Gauguin, mostly known today as Van Gogh’s friend who painted in Tahiti. This summer blockbuster augments Gauguin’s famous scenes with his lesser-known works in sculpture and furniture, giving a fuller picture of the artist who pushed the limits of 19th-century art.
Details:Art Institute of Chicago. $14–$29. artic.edu
The Grant Park Music Festival has a resident chorus and a penchant for American music, meaning a big choral-orchestral piece such as composer Roberto Sierra’s Missa Latina fits the fest like old clothes. Although critics of previous performances reported that Missa missed the high-art bar, its rhythmic excitement and friendly harmonies sound like perfect picnic listening.
Details:Jay Pritzker Pavilion. Free. gpmf.org
Then They Came for Me
Following the bombing of Pearl Harbor, more than 100,000 Americans of Japanese descent were put in internment camps. Photographers Ansel Adams and Dorothea Lange documented the process of the evacuation of Japanese Americans from their homes to their oppressive new quarters.
Details:Alphawood Gallery. Free. alphawoodfoundation.org
Chicago Tap Theatre
This year the tap company’s annual story-driven show is a reboot of 2016’s Changes, dedicated to the music of David Bowie. Catch a sci-fi narrative that’s as charming as past audience favorites Time Steps and Love Taps.
Details:Stage 773. $23–$37. chicagotaptheatre.com