The Summer Concert Guide


It’s summer, and while there are still serious symphonies and operas on cultural calendars everywhere, we like to spend the hotter months focused on the straight-up fun stuff, like festivals, one-off concerts, and full-on throwback tours.


July 31-August 2 | Grant Park

Even though purists complain that it's become too rowdy (and that attendees are getting younger and younger every year), Lollapalooza is still the place where you'll see all of the summer's biggest tours in one weekend. This year's lineup, which includes Paul McCartney, Florence & the Machine, Alabama Shakes, and even FKA Twigs, definitely justifies braving the crowds.

Raekwon and Ghostface Killah at House of Blues

July 14 | 329 N. Dearborn St. | 312.923.2000

The former Wu-Tang Clan members are heading out on a huge tour this summer to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Raekwon’s legendary album Only Built 4 Cuban Linx (Ghost is on almost all of the tracks), and let's just say they've definitely still got it. Things can get explicit so leave youngsters at home.

Pitchfork Music Festival

July 17-19 | Union Park

Pitchfork is like Lollapalooza's hipster little sister—more emerging bands and manageable crowds at a reasonable price. And for those who are overwhelmed by how big the Windy City's most raucous music event has become, the more intimate vibe of Pitchfork is a great alternative. The 3-day festival's highlights include Wilco, Chance the Rapper, and Mac DeMarco.

Idina Menzel at Millenium Park

August 16 | 201 E. Randolph St. | 312.742.1168

Though it's likely you've spent the last year trying to get "Let It Go" out of your head, Frozen-obsessed kids are going to freak out over seeing Elsa herself, Idina Menzel, live. Plus, the set list shows off Menzel's phenomenal voice with some Broadway favorites (Rent and Wicked) that you haven't heard as recently. Don't forget to bring a well-stocked picnic basket—Eataly is a fantastic resource—to set up on the lawn.

Garbage at Riviera Theatre

October 17 | 4746 N. Racine St. | 773.275.6800 ‎

It's crazy to think two decades have passed since Garbage released their genre-defying electronica/pop/rock debut album, which, if you're a child of the '90s, is probably permanently committed to memory. To celebrate, Shirley Manson, Butch Vig, Steve Marker, and Duke Erikson organized the "20 Years Queer Tour," during which they'll perform the record in its entirety—"Only Happy When It Rains," "Stupid Girl," and "Queer" being highlights. If you can't make a live show, they're issuing a special edition LP later this summer.