See violin virtuosa Rachel Barton Pine this month for free

Ranked from highest profile to biggest surprise

HENRI CARTIER-BRESSON: THE MODERN CENTURY 7/24-10/3 Your inspiration for first-rate summer snapshots: some 300 decisive moments captured by the master of serendipity.

PASSION PIT 7/4 Wait—were we sleeping? When did Taste of Chicago get hip? Buried amid a concert lineup of has-beens and ho-hums is this—free!—dance party by the indie-electronic experts du jour.

RACHEL BARTON PINE 7/11 Who knew the violin virtuosa could shred a sick metal solo? The newly named Great Performer of Illinois plays a free show featuring her thrash-doom band. Seriously.

KID SISTER 7/19 Between Pine and this free gig from Chicago’s favorite gal rapper, you could practically skip Pitchfork (7/16-18) and the return of Lilith Fair (7/17)—but shouldn’t.

A PARALLELOGRAM 7/1-8/29 With personnel like this, who cares about plot? Step-penwolf debuts the latest by the Tony winner Bruce Norris, directed by the Tony winner Anna D. Shapiro and starring the Jeff winner Tom Irwin.

LATE: A COWBOY SONG7/24-8/29 One more trifecta, this time of Piven Theatre alums done good: Jessica Thebus directs Polly Noonan in a Chicago premiere by the Pulitzer finalist Sarah Ruhl.

CHICAGO DANCING FESTIVAL MID-JULY CDF doesn’t pirouette into town until August, but free tickets to the fest’s world-class performances get doled out in July. Why the heads-up? Last year seats went in a scant two hours. Details:

TORTOISE 7/29 The city’s seminal postrock instrumentalists recruit an equally glowing lineup of local jazz players, and the result is this free one-of-a-kind gig.

BACKYARD FILM & MUSIC FESTIVAL 7/24 Summer’s coolest house party, minus the house: An amateur filmmaker moves his homegrown fest to Pullman and welcomes the public.

ORCHESTRE POLY-RYTHMO DE COTONOU 7/15 This recently rediscovered Benin band, one-time superstars of West Africa, plays Chicago free as one of its two first and only U.S. shows. You can say you knew them when (or when again).


Photograph: (Violin) Chris Hutchison/