Don’t-miss picks for August 9 through August 15, 2018
1 Chicago Duck Derby
Recreation: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.
FREE 8/9 at 10 a.m. Wabash Avenue at the Chicago River. duckrace.com
2 Set Free
Dance: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.
8/9–12. $12–$25. Links Hall. linkshall.org
3 The Fly Honey Show
Burlesque: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.
8/9–9/8. $25–$80. Den Theatre. theflyhoneyshow.com
4 Beyoncé and Jay-Z
Hip-Hop: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.
8/10–11. $49–$350. Soldier Field. ticketmaster.com
5 Bud Billiken Parade
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).
FREE 8/11 at 10 a.m. King from Oakwood to 51st. budbillikenparade.org
6 CSO: Italian Opera Favorites
Opera: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.
8/11 at 7:30 p.m. $10–$75. Ravinia. ravinia.org
7 Mead Fest
Food: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 in 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.
FREE 8/11–12. DMen Tap. dmentap.com
8 Steve Martin and Martin Short
Comedy/Music: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.
8/12 at 7:30 p.m. $49–$140. Ravinia. ravinia.org
9 Smashing Pumpkins
Rock: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.
8/13–14. $47–$653. United Center. ticketmaster.com
Theater: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.
8/15–9/23. $50–$70. Writers Theatre. writerstheatre.org