Summer in the City: Music Festivals for Days

Wednesday, June 1, 2016 - 14:15

The air warms up, the humidity rises, and everyone in Chicago can feel it: yep, music festival season. We all know that Chicago’s greatest music festival is the one that happens on the UChicago campus in Hutch Courtyard, Summer Breeze, where this year Jeremih, Joey Bada$$, and Sophie killed it. Jeremih of course rocked “Oui,” but it was bringing up beloved South Side rapper Lil Durk that really pushed it over the top. Never fear though, there’s still plenty of live music to check out over the rest of the summer too. Here are some of the music festivals gracing our Chicagoland parks over the next couple months.

Lollapalooza (July 28-31)

Aww yeah, this is the big one. One of the names that invented the modern “music festival” in the 90’s, Lollla is the unmissable music event of the summer. This year Grant Park welcomes a host of A-list artists and scores of “hey I think I’ve heard of that name.” Don’t miss Future on Friday or LCD Soundsystem to close the fest (who knows, they may decide to break up again right after this). On the smaller stages, Haim and Kurt Vile should soothe your cravings for indie rock, while Third Eye Blind will satisfy your recommended daily allowance of 90’s nostalgia.

Riot Fest (September 16-18)

Originally a punk festival, Riot Fest (in Douglas Park) has found a way to diversify its sound while still staying true to its anti-establishment roots. Influential Ska band The Specials doing a set, along with experimental hip hop team Death Grips, and more metal acts than all other festivals combined. But, with Death Cab for Cutie and Morissey high on the bill, Riot Fest is probably best suited to feeling really really sad.

Chicago Jazz Festival (September 1-4)

Okay I’ll be the first to admit I don’t know a lot about Jazz (despite playing bass in a Jazz band for two years), but you really can’t go wrong with a free festival in the birthplace of the genre. According to my research, this year will feature avant garde ensemble Liberation Music Orchestra and modern combo The Bad Plus. Sounds hep.

North Coast (September 4-6)

Like EDM? North Coast Festival is known for that, and this year will host EDM giants like Bassnecter and Zedd, but there should be a little something for everyone. Check out twee indie rockers Matt & Kim, rapper/food enthusiast Action Bronson, and something called the Claypool Lennon Delirium, the band made up of Primus bassist Les Claypool and John Lennon’s son. Also The Polish Amabassador, whoever that is.

Pitchfork Fest (July 15-17)

Good old Pitchfork. The ur-hipster music review site was born in Chicago, and gives back to the city by hosting one of the most finely crafted and diverse indie music festivals in Union Park every July. It’s hard to pick just a couple acts to highlight (honestly my eyes glaze over after I see that Broken Social Scene is reuniting), but any festival that features Sufjan Stevens, pop legend Brian Wilson (performing pop legend Pet Sounds), Carly Rae Jepsen, and Kendrick Lamar collaborator and sax player Kamasi Washington can’t be bad.