Near North Side
Witches, ghosts, daggers that float in midair, blood that just will not wash off—the supernatural elements of Shakespeare’s Scottish play are uniquely suited to the talents of Teller of Penn and Teller and cohort Aaron Posner. If their track record at Chicago Shakes is any indication (2015’s mind-blowing Tempest), murder in medieval Scotland should be enchanting.
Details:Chicago Shakespeare Theater. $48–$88. chicagoshakes.com
Smith may be best known for her appearances on Drake songs and the Black Panther soundtrack, but the British R&B singer is formidable enough to stand on her own. Her 2016 EP, Project 11, is a beautiful, sensual release that channels Amy Winehouse’s full-throated singing and Rihanna’s charisma.
Details:Thalia Hall. 7 p.m. Sold out; see resellers.
“I will be that person that I was afraid to be,” Kiyoko told BuzzFeed earlier this year. Nicknamed “Lesbian Jesus” by her fervent and devoted fans, the 27-year-old recently released Expectations, her debut album, which largely explores what it means to be a queer young woman. After years of false starts, misguided girl groups, and childhood acting on such channels as Nickelodeon, Kiyoko has finally come into her own as a loud, proud, and one-of-a-kind artist unafraid to challenge our ideas of what a pop star should look and sound like.
Details:House of Blues. 5:30 p.m. $42–$62. livenation.com
Unknown Mortal Orchestra
In the early days of Unknown Mortal Orchestra, the “unknown” part of the name was fitting: It began as the bedroom recording project of New Zealand guitarist Ruban Nielson, who anonymously released funky, psychedelic songs online in 2010. Since then, Nielson has established himself as one of the most distinct guitarists of his generation, crafting kaleidoscopic riffs that move nimbly across genres—something like what Frank Zappa might have produced in a hypothetical R&B phase. Expect danceable jams that don’t skimp on technique.
Details:Vic Theatre. 8 p.m. $28. ticketfly.com
Winifred Haun & Dancers
In 2017, choreographer Haun and Australian circus artist Emma Serjeant developed Trashed, which combined modern dance and circus arts in a piece that used trash as a metaphor for a cluttered and chaotic world. The work was previously performed at Aloft Circus Arts, and Haun now revives it for the cozy Hamlin Park Theater and shares the bill with the New York–based company BodyStories, led by critically acclaimed choreographer Teresa Fellion.
Details:Hamlin Park Theater. $25. brownpapertickets.com
The Yard, a local youth theater project that grew out of a program at Senn High School in Edgewater, makes the leap to Steppenwolf’s stage for a production of Columbinus, the United States Theatre Project’s play that mixes original writing with reported material from people who experienced the Columbine High School shooting firsthand. See “The Yard Tackles High School Shootings on Stage.”
Details:Steppenwolf Theatre. $15–$25. steppenwolf.org
The season’s premier fashion show features up-and-coming designers from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. But here the clothes are more like conceptual art statements about the times we live in. If you can’t score an invite to the exclusive evening runway show, featuring senior-year student work, select couture garments in the sophomore- and junior-year programs will be exhibited beforehand.
Details:Venue Six10. 9 a.m. Free. saic.edu
A world-class teacher, Stein continues her investigation of ballet imagery, traditions, and technique, remixed for the modern-day dancer. In the fifth installment of her concert series, Secret Experiments in Ballet #5: The Godmothers, she draws specifically from the Fairy Godmother character in the 1890 ballet Sleeping Beauty and radically retools the original choreography.
Details:Dovetail Studios. 7:30 p.m. $15–$20. emilysteindance.com
Chicago Critics Film Festival
Entering its sixth year, Chicago’s most underrated film festival has brought tomorrow’s indie darlings to the hallowed halls of the Music Box. The flicks in this fest have yet to see wide release, but most eventually will. The meta–heist thriller American Animals and true-crime docudrama Forever ‘B’ look especially promising.
Details:Music Box Theatre. $12–$150. chicagocriticsfilmfestival.com
Near North Side
For his Tableaux series, the Italian photographer focuses his lens on the worktables of craftsmen, from a watchmaker to a dollmaker to a framer. Each composition reflects on each profession’s creative labor, a meditation on the textures of hard work.
Details:Catherine Edelman Gallery. Free. edelmangallery.com
For “Flesh: Ivan Albright at the Art Institute of Chicago,” the museum unearths its collection of artworks by the Chicago painter, who died in 1983 and was famous for his dark and grotesque portraits. See “Ivan Albright’s ‘Seductive and Repellent’ Art Draws Viewers In.”
Details:Art Institute of Chicago. $25; $20 for Chicago residents. artic.edu
The company’s exceptional preprofessional dancers take on an ambitious mainstage program with three pieces spanning three generations: George Balanchine’s one-act Swan Lake (1951), a condensed revival of founder Daniel Duell’s Hansel and Gretel (1994), and a new work by resident choreographer Ted Seymour.
Details:Harris Theater. 2 and 7:30 p.m. $35–$50. harristheaterchicago.org
Polish Constitution Day Parade
On May 3, 1791, Poland became the first European country to forge a constitutional democracy. And naturally, Chicago puts on an annual parade to honor this. Expect more Polish pride—not to mention floats and festivities—than you can shake a kielbasa at.
Details:Columbus from Balbo to Monroe. 11:30 a.m. Free. cityofchicago.org
William Ferris Chorale
Continuing its legacy as a champion of mellifluous yet utterly modern new choral music, this chamber choir presents a program called A Stiller Day: Songs of War and Peace under guest conductor Carling FitzSimmons (longtime director Paul French left at the end of 2016). Selections include work by local compositional butterfly Stacy Garrop and a new commission by the Minnesota composer Victoria Malawey.
Details:Our Lady of Mount Carmel. 7 p.m. $25–$30. williamferrischorale.org
Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters’ First 100 Years
When Sarah Louise Delany (1889–1999) and Annie Elizabeth Delany (1891–1995) died, they left behind a glorious and richly detailed oral history. Having Our Say pulls from their life stories, following the sisters’ remarkable, century-spanning lives. Chuck Smith directs.
Details:Goodman Theatre. $35–$65. goodmantheatre.org
Little known outside his home country of Thailand, Chang, who died in 1990, was one of his nation’s first modern painters, ditching traditional brushes and easels for explosive abstract compositions, often made directly with his hands. This solo exhibition of his work, the first outside Thailand, brings together many rare objects, including his experimental poems, now translated.
Details:Smart Museum of Art. Free. smartmuseum.uchicago.edu
This hard-hitting Chicago group’s critically acclaimed debut album, Nothing Valley, is filled with frantic yelps and frenetic percussion. Catch them now, before their appearance at this summer’s Pitchfork Music Festival, after which tickets for their shows will be harder to come by.
Details:Vic Theatre. 8 p.m. $35–$45. ticketfly.com
Near West Side
“People who put themselves out there, no matter the genre, inspire me,” said Glass, the former lead singer of the synth-rock group Crystal Castles, in a recent story in Interview magazine. In 2017, the musician opened up to fans about her traumatic experiences with her ex-partner and bandmate in response to the growing #MeToo movement. For Glass, her vulnerability and personal growth power the music on her self-titled EP, released last year.
Details:Bottom Lounge. 9 p.m. $20. ticketweb.com
Chicago Moving Company
CMC’s annual Dance Shelter highlights new and reimagined works by this year’s artists in residence, Rachel Bunting and Ayako Kato, and guest choreographer Emma Draves. In Draves’s Transpennie, company members dance in the nooks and crannies of the Hamlin Park field house in a delightful demonstration of the choreographer’s winding, lyrical style.
Details:Hamlin Park Theater. $12-$15. chicagomovingcompany.org
Can a lesbian law clerk working for an ultraconservative Supreme Court justice manage to keep her job without muting her outspoken beliefs? That’s the setup for John Strand’s judicious dramedy, which pits an ambitious young woman against the staunchly right-leaning Antonin Scalia.
Details:Court Theatre. $41–$71. courttheatre.org
Bing & Ruth
New York composer David Moore’s ambient modern classical ensemble makes music that could fit as comfortably in symphony halls as in art galleries or small venues. Though Bing & Ruth’s material is often described as “droning,” the work is more delicate and approachable than that label implies.
Details:Constellation. 7:30 p.m. $13–$15. eventbrite.com
Columbia College students head out into the streets for live music, dance performances, and DJs. Plus, campus buildings open their doors, with gallery exhibitions highlighting the innovative work of next-generation artists working in film, visual art, fashion, gaming, and more.
Details:Various venues. Free. manifest.colum.edu
Saint-Saëns’s “Organ” Symphony
The Chicago Symphony Orchestra fires up its rarely switched-on resident organ for Saint-Saëns’s Symphony No. 3 (“Organ”), a piece last heard here four years ago with the same soloist, the impressive Paul Jacobs. Making it a two-soloist concert, Isabelle Faust plays Schumann’s Violin Concerto.
Details:Symphony Center. $34–$221. cso.org
Near North Side
For decades, art lovers have made a pilgrimage to northern Georgia to visit Finster’s Paradise Garden, a sprawling compound of imaginatively repurposed junk. The folk artist died in 2001, but his work ensures his eccentric spirit perseveres—in this instance, with Man of Visions, a gallery show featuring portraits of people he admired.
Details:Carl Hammer Gallery. Free. carlhammergallery.com
Anderson & Roe Piano Duo
Pianists Greg Anderson and Elizabeth Joy Roe aren’t averse to tackling nonclassical music, but don’t call them lowbrow. On this program, for example, they play John Adams’s minimalist Hallelujah Junction but cheekily pair it with their own arrangement of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.”
Details:Galvin Recital Hall, Northwestern University. 7:30 p.m. $10–$30. events.music.northwestern.edu
This Colombian musician is one of the most emotionally powerful singers in reggaeton. His heartfelt songs about romantic love are especially prevalent on the recently released F.A.M.E., his third and most accessible album yet.
Details:Allstate Arena. 8 p.m. $39–$525. ticketmaster.com
This famously diverse orchestra puts on a concert called Praise + Punk: The Ending of All Endings, costarring the sanctuary choir from the Apostolic Church of God and the marching band Mucca Pazza.
Details:May 12: Wentz Concert Hall, North Central College. May 14: Symphony Center. $10–$99. chicagosinfonietta.org
For two weeks, Vertical Gallery hosts Galleri Ramfjord, one of the preeminent venues in Oslo, Norway, for showcasing emerging Scandinavian artists. Twenty of them were tasked with sending a 20-square-inch painting, thus the exhibit title. The show ends up being a sampling of Nordic styles and themes—consider it a cultural excursion minus the jet lag.
Details:Vertical Gallery. Free. verticalgallery.com
One of the few pianists these days who can sell out a recital on name recognition, Kissin presents a flashy collection of core repertoire. He begins with Beethoven’s “Hammerklavier” Sonata, often cited as the composer’s most difficult, and follows up with selections from Rachmaninoff’s Preludes, which most mortals are unable to play.
Details:Symphony Center. 3 p.m. $55–$199. cso.org
Paddle to the Sea
Third Coast Percussion composed a new score for the short film Paddle to the Sea (nominated for an Oscar in 1968), based on the children’s book about a wooden doll that an indigenous Canadian boy sends via canoe on the seaway from the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean. The quartet of virtuoso performers fills the bill with other aquatic music, such as a piece by Philip Glass and music from the Shona culture of Zimbabwe.
Details:Thalia Hall. 7:30 p.m. $23–$40. thaliahallchicago.com
Three’s a Crowd
Music of the Baroque performs a three-themed program of works by the prodigious J.S. Bach and G.P. Telemann. The trinity of Bach pieces includes his Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 and Concerto in B-Flat Major for Flute, Violin, and Harpsichord. The Telemann section schedules the soloist-dense Concerto for Three Violins, Three Oboes, and Continuo.
Details:May 13: North Shore Center for the Performing Arts. May 14: Harris Theater. $10–$78. baroque.org
A New Attitude: In Tribute to Patti LaBelle
Rueben D. Echoles writes and directs the musical biography of the incomparable LaBelle, the woman who brought the world such hits as “On My Own,” “Love Has Finally Come at Last,” and the gotta-dance title tune. Odds are you’ll be on your feet by the finale.
Details:Black Ensemble Theater. $50-$65. blackensembletheater.org
Takada’s 1983 album Through the Looking Glass, reissued last year by Palto Flats and WRWTFWW Records, made a splash with hip record collectors. The Japanese percussionist and composer makes a rare stateside appearance here, where she’ll be performing her distinct brand of ambient music, combining traditional styles from Africa and Asia with modern minimalism.
Details:Art Institute of Chicago. 7:30 p.m. $20; $10 for members. artic.edu
Electronic music doesn’t have to be solely for the club. Just ask FitzGerald: The popular producer and DJ is famous for his 2013 house single “I Can Tell (By the Way You Move)” but reversed course a few years later with his first two proper solo albums, which feature slower, more sonically challenging songs better suited for a quiet Sunday night alone than a 3 a.m. rave.
Details:Subterranean. 8 p.m. $15–$20. ticketfly.com
Blais, an experimental classical composer, broke through to nonclassical audiences thanks in no small part to his accessible collaboration with the electronic music producer CFCF. For his first-ever Chicago tour stop, Blais will likely return to more traditional classical music, but his willingness to push boundaries suggests that his new live show will be filled with quirks and surprises.
Details:Constellation. 8:30 p.m. $12–$15. ticketfly.com
Chicago Antiques + Art + Design Show
Near North Side
The Merchandise Mart turns 50,000 square feet over to 100 booths of high-end new and vintage design objects, from rare handbags to furniture and bronze sculpture.
Details:Merchandise Mart, seventh floor. $20–$200. chicagoantiquesartdesign.com
One of the world’s most sought-after conductors, especially of late-Romantic and later music, Salonen graces the spring with a two-week Chicago Symphony Orchestra residency. In his first program, he leads the CSO in one evening-length work, Mahler’s Symphony No. 9. In the second, the concert centers on Bartók’s Piano Concerto No. 3, with the sublime Mitsuko Uchida soloing. On what would otherwise be his night off, May 21, Salonen leads the CSO’s new-music series, MusicNow, with premieres from both the CSO’s composers in residence.
Details:Symphony Center. $15–$250. cso.org
Beer Under Glass
With a new brewery opening every week nationwide, it makes sense that Chicago Craft Beer Week expands its boundaries to include the whole Land of Lincoln and beyond. This kickoff event, which features more than 100 breweries from Illinois and the rest of the country, is a perfect opportunity to get a preview of the week ahead.
Details:Garfield Park Conservatory. 6 p.m.; 5 p.m. for VIP ticket holders. $60; $80 for VIP tickets. garfieldconservatory.org
Chicago Zine Fest
West Loop, Uptown
This annual convention celebrates independent writers, illustrators, printers, and publishers of zines—books of comics, criticism, and poetry. For those itching to try their hand at zine craft, panels and readings will provide ample guidance and inspiration.
Details:May 18: Institute of Cultural Affairs. 6 p.m. May 19: Plumbers Union Hall. 11 a.m. Free. chicagozinefest.org
Ballet Nacional de Cuba
Cuba’s national ballet company returns after a 15-year absence with director Alicia Alonso’s passionate version of Don Quixote. Alonso brings new life to a timeworn work by better developing the love story between Don and Dulcinea, largely ignored in other versions of the ballet.
Details:Auditorium Theatre. $41–$120. auditoriumtheatre.org
Chicago’s most fun string quartet plays a program in the presence of art, once at a museum and once when audience members can paint during the performance. The group will run through excerpted portions of godfather of atonality Arnold Schoenberg’s String Quartet No. 4, 20th-century-and-then-some composer Elliott Carter’s two Fragments, and a new commission by David Fulmer (though different passages will be included each night).
Details:May 18: Hairpin Arts Center. $50. May 20: Fullerton Hall, Art Institute of Chicago. $5–$15. spektralquartet.com
Food Truck Social
Rarely can one find Chicago’s finest food trucks all in one place, but this evening event allows attendees the chance to sample many vehicle-made dishes in one sitting. Guests can also visit the Lincoln Park Zoo after hours.
Details:Lincoln Park Zoo. 6:30 p.m. $10; $8 for members. lpzoo.org
Near West Side
The most successful female solo performer in country-music history hits town in support of her first studio album in 15 years, Now, which details her tumultuous personal life, the details of which include cheating, a divorce, and a new marriage to a man who experienced a similar situation.
Details:United Center. 7:30 p.m. $54–$199. ticketmaster.com
Wright Plus Housewalk
This tour of Wright’s old stomping grounds offers his fans a rare glimpse into his world, with stops that include his home and studio in Oak Park as well as several of his most notable buildings.
Details:Various venues. $90–$110. flwright.org
Postwar and Contemporary Art Auction
Near West Side
This auction dusts off rarely seen masterpieces and undiscovered treasures for serious collectors and gawkers alike. A trove of classic Chicago Imagist paintings could induce a betting frenzy—like an Ed Paschke oil painting, estimated at $40,000 to $60,000, or a cult classic by Ray Yoshida for considerably less. An exhibition of all the artwork precedes the May 23 sale.
Details:Leslie Hindman Auctioneers. May 23: 10 a.m. Free. lesliehindman.com
Near South Side
What appear to be enormous and intricate paintings are actually hundreds of cut-and-collaged images taken from magazines and pinned onto giant canvases. Hundley incorporates small objects like gold leaf and butterfly wings that often reference his Southern heritage. One can get lost in these details for hours.
Details:Shane Campbell Gallery. Free. shanecampbellgallery.com
Elmhurst Museum Day
The western suburb boasts an always-surprising art museum—partially housed in a building designed by Mies van der Rohe—a charming historical society, and the beautiful, bizarre gem and crystal collection at the Lizzadro Museum of Lapidary Art. All of these places, plus the historic Wilder Park Conservatory, open their doors for free on this annual occasion.
Details:Various venues. 1 p.m. Free. elmhurstartmuseum.org
After the breakout success of her debut solo album, Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit, as well as her collaboration with the popular folk-rock musician Kurt Vile, this Australian artist returns with Tell Me How You Really Feel, her second proper solo album. “Nameless, Faceless” and other early singles suggest Barnett maintains her raw, cheeky approach to rock ’n’ roll, full of lyrics about life’s absurdities.
Details:Preston Bradley Hall, Chicago Cultural Center. 8:30 p.m. Sold out; see resellers.
Dave Longstreth, the auteurist frontman of this long-running Brooklyn band, has always embraced contradiction. The Dirty Projectors’ 2007 LP, Rise Above, for example, reimagined a punk opus (Black Flag’s Damaged) as a series of baroque folk tunes. Last year’s self-titled album doubles down on Longstreth’s double-edged tendencies, with some of the group’s most pop-leaning songs to date (one track, “Cool Your Heart,” was cowritten by Solange) buried under a sea of glitches and distortions.
Details:Thalia Hall. 8:30 p.m. $20. eventbrite.com
Waiting for Godot
Near North Side
It’s the end of the world as we know it in Samuel Beckett’s apocalyptic rumination on existence and humanity. The plot? Nothing happens, twice, as Vivian Mercier famously wrote in 1956. The dialogue is profound, funny, and apt to leave you pondering the meaning of life.
Details:Druid Theatre at Chicago Shakespeare Theater. $68–$88. chicagoshakes.com
The graphic novelist Drnaso appears at a celebration for the release of his second book, Sabrina, about people coping with the disappearance of the title character. See “Nick Drnaso’s Sabrina Captures the Anxiety of the Information Age.”
Details:Quimby’s Bookstore. 7 p.m. Free. quimbys.com
Bull in a China Shop
Mary Woolley and Jeannette Marks have largely vanished from most mainstream history books—the president and a professor, respectively, at Mount Holyoke College, they advocated for women to receive the same level of education as the less-fair sex.But their legacy burns bright: The firebrand duo takes center stage in Bryna Turner’s stiletto-sharp dramedy of radical feminists shaking up the patriarchal status quo.
Details:About Face Theatre at Theater Wit. $15–$30. aboutfacetheatre.com
Going Dutch Festival
Three jam-packed days dedicated to female-identified dance, theater, music, and visual arts take place in a burgeoning arts mecca on the Fox River.
Details:Professional Building and Side Street Studio Arts. $8–$25. sidestreetstudioarts.org
Mole de Mayo
Just a few weeks after Cinco de Mayo, Chicago chefs try their best to outdo each other in a much-contested mole cook-off, while local bands and DJs score a day of marathon eating and shopping—and colorful-costumed Mexican wrestling—along 18th Street.
Details:Ashland and 18th. $5 donation. starevents.com
Father Comes Home from the Wars
Suzan-Lori Parks’s three-hour epic follows the fate of a Texas slave promised freedom … so long as he signs up to fight for the Confederate army. Parks moves the action from slave quarters to war zones, drawing on Greek tragedy and low comedy to spin an intricate, provocative story.
Details:Goodman Theatre. $10–$40. goodmantheatre.org
Mordine & Co.
In its 49th year, Mordine & Company Dance Theater continues its Collisions project, exploring cultural differences through a collaborative process that combines modern dance and street dancing.
Details:Links Hall. $15–$20. linkshall.org
A Conversation with The Onion
In honor of its 30th anniversary, The Onion kicks off its annual comedy festival with several introspective—and, in all likelihood, hilarious—conversations between past and present contributors, moderated by journeyman comic Tom Scharpling (of The Best Show fame).
Details:Lincoln Hall. 8 p.m. $20. lh-st.com
I Only Listen to the Mountain Goats
Fans of the Mountain Goats—the longtime music project of writer-troubadour John Darnielle—tend to be fanatical. Look no further than Joseph Fink, creator of the groundbreaking Welcome to Night Vale podcast, who pores over Darnielle’s oeuvre, exclusively, on his latest show, I Only Listen to the Mountain Goats.
Details:Thalia Hall. 7 p.m. $26. eventbrite.com
Marvin Tate and Avery R. Young
Two notable spoken-word poets and vocalists perform live at the Art Institute in response to the museum’s photography exhibit Never a Lovely So Real: Photography and Film in Chicago, 1950–1980, a bittersweet love letter to Chicago featuring vintage prints that address the city’s unique culture as well as its lamentable history of segregation. Expect soulful and heady poems that reawaken the feeling of the recent past.
Details:Art Institute of Chicago. 6 p.m. Free with admission. artic.edu
If you missed any of Links Hall’s resident artists, here’s a chance to catch up with them all, in a festival highlighting J’Sun Howard, Ayako Kato, AJ McClenon, Courtney Mackedanz, Nora Sharp, and Sojourner Zenobia. This is an ideal way to see raw, unpolished work from key members of the local dance and performance community.
Details:Links Hall. $10–$15. linkshall.org