North Coast Music Festival
North Coast returns for its third year, closing off the summer festival season with a diverse, packed lineup with big names from hip-hop, indie, electro and other scenes. Headliners include Pretty Lights, Atmosphere, Steve Aoki, Big Boi and The Rapture, among dozens more.
August 31-September 2 at Union Park
Jerry Gonzalez & El Comando de la Clave
One of the biggest names in Latin jazz, trumpeter and conguero Jerry Gonzalez has collaborated with greats like Tito Puente, Paco de Lucía and Dizzy Gillespie, picking up and reinventing a multitude of sounds and styles in his global musical peregrinations. Gonzalez’s newest group, El Comando de la Clave, keeps the fusion magic and energy going.
September 2 at Mayne Stage
David Grisman Sextet
Over the last several decades, mandolin giant David Grisman has made his mark on jazz, bluegrass and Dawg music, the special jam-heavy eclectic style he and Jerry Garcia forged together. Grisman’s latest ensemble promises a varied and fun show that should appeal to both the hippies and the more straight-laced among us.
September 6-7 at City Winery
Slam poet, alternative hip-hop artist, writer and actor Saul Williams straddles genres and categories with explosive, provocative energy. Williams’ latest album, 2011’s “Volcanic Sunlight,” brought a new dance vibe to his ever-eccentric and heady tracks, but this fall’s tour is a spoken-word one. Expect something exciting.
September 12 at Schubas
A.V. Fest/Hideout Block Party
The Onion’s A.V. Club and the Hideout are teaming up to put on a family-friendly festival with a great range of indie, soul, psych-rock and Americana acts. This year’s lineup features Wilco, Iron & Wine, Glen Hansard, Lee Fields & The Expressions and Kelly Hogan, among others.
September 14-15 at the Hideout
Purity Ring & Evian Christ
After an impressive set at Pitchfork this summer, Canadian electro-pop duo Purity Ring hits Chicago again. Their simultaneously ethereal and choppy-beat sound is seductive; producer Evian Christ rounds out the show with a similarly dreamy sound.
September 16 at Lincoln Hall
Riot Fest expands and moves to Humboldt Park this year, bringing in some less riot-inspiring acts: Elvis Costello appears on the lineup along with Iggy and the Stooges, Rise Against, the Descendents, the Offspring and the Jesus and Mary Chain.
September 14-16 at the Congress Theater and Humboldt Park
David Byrne & St. Vincent
David Byrne’s newest collaborative effort with veteran of Sufjan Stevens’ band St. Vincent has been stirring up a lot of press. It’s weird and it’s awesome.
September 18 at the Chicago Theatre
After playing Millennium Park this summer, M.A.K.U. Soundsystem brings their infectious fusion of traditional Colombian music, punk, jazz and danceable rock to a smaller space this fall.
September 21 at the Hideout
Independent label Bloodshot Records celebrates its coming-of-age/eighteenth birthday with a night of solid indie rock. The lineup includes Lydia Loveless, Jon Langford & Skull Orchard, Dex Romweber Duo, Deadstring Brothers and Shake’em On Down.
September 22 at Mayne Stage
Brilliant Corners of Popular Amusements
This eclectic collection of acts “hopes to reinvent the traditions of Vaudeville for a twenty-first century audience,” bringing quite an array of acts to its second showcase this fall: John Cale, Bobby Womack, Conor Oberst, Zola Jesus and others.
September 21-23 at Riverfront Theater
World Music Festival
The annual week-long, multi-venue, multi-genre festival returns to Chicago with a lineup heavier in local world-music acts than in years past—but with no cover charges. Highlights include Cape Verdean singer Maria de Barros, Spanish ensemble Canteca de Macao, Malian singer Fatoumata Diawara, Malian “desert rock” band Terakaft, and many others, totaling fifty-four acts around the city.
September 21-27 at various venues
Just because everyone else is saying it doesn’t mean it’s not true: everything this guy does is gold. The experimental producer/DJ never fails to impress, crafting pieces that get under your skin and make you move. FlyLo just released a single from his upcoming album “Until the Quiet Comes;” if it’s any clue, the fall tour is going to be great.
October 16 at Metro
Yonder Mountain String Band & Brown Bird
The jam lives on in the Yonder Mountain String Band, whose death-defying progressive jamgrass style must be seen live. While an outdoor space would have been a better choice for these guys, they’re still sure to delight. Just keep your bad behavior to before the show, by which we mean: don’t bring your own jamgrass.
October 19-20 at House of Blues
Known as “El Rey de la canción ranchera,” the seventy-two-year-old Mexican singer, producer and actor with over fifty albums to his name is, incredibly, still performing. Fernández’s mellifluous renderings of classic Mexican regional music will be a lovely throwback to a more romantic time.
October 21 at Allstate Arena
Young Canadian artist Grimes has been riding waves of indie fame with her moody, industrial, hip-hop-influenced electronic music. Her looped and layered sound will stay with you.
October 23 at Metro
This Malian Tuareg-Berber band formed in refugee camps in Libya around 1979, but didn’t get international attention until the early 2000s. More compelling than their story is their unique blend of North African and Western styles, a blend that won them a Grammy for their 2011 album “Tassili.”
October 28 at Old Town School of Folk Music
Neil Young & Crazy Horse, Los Lobos
Old-timers Neil Young and East L.A. Chicano band Los Lobos are still kicking, and with as much force as ever. The classic Young-Crazy Horse partnership is reviving and recording again; Los Lobos is also touring off their well-received 2010 album “Tin Can Trust.”
October 11 at United Center
Chicago Chamber Musicians’ Debussy Chamber Music Festival
In honor of Debussy’s 150th birthday, the Chicago Chamber Musicians are holding a festival celebrating the works of the great French Impressionist composer and a few of his contemporaries. The festival features the unique chance to hear Debussy’s complete chamber works over the course of three concerts.
October 12-14 at Gottlieb Concert Hall, Pick-Staiger Concert Hall (Evanston), Fullerton Hall (Art Institute)
Vijay Iyer Trio
Pianist and composer Vijay Iyer has been heaped with critical acclaim and awards in jazz critic circles of late. His compositions are dynamic and referential—this live show promises plenty of unpredictable, vibrant moments.
October 18 at Mayne Stage
Haitink Conducts Brahms
Young brothers Renaud (violin) and Gautier (cello) Capuçon return to the CSO to play Brahms’ passionate Double Concerto. Bernard Haitink conducts the Symphony in Brahms’ Symphony No. 1, an engrossing, triumphant masterpiece of German Romantic music.
October 18-20 at the CSO
Brazilian singer, songwriter, guitarist and percussionist Vinícius Cantuária combines bossa nova, Brazilian jazz and rock; he’s collaborated with the likes of Bill Frisell, David Byrne, Laurie Anderson and Brian Eno.
October 21 at Mayne Stage
Beethoven Missa Solemnis
Bernard Haitink conducts the CSO in one of Beethoven’s greatest works, a piece the composer said was meant to “awaken and permanently instill religious feelings not only into the singers but also into the listeners.” Go, and be awakened.
October 25-26 at the CSO
Cincinnati-based garage punk band-cum-sophisticated post-punk band broke up in 2001 only to reunite earlier this year, lining up a tour of shows that are selling out fast—this one’s no exception.
October 26-27 at Metro
Brothers Chris and Oliver Wood formed their own blues/folk/roots music duo in 2005 after being part of separate ensembles for years (Chris in Medeski Martin & Wood, Oliver playing with Tinsley Ellis). Their new album, “Smoke Ring Halo,” features high-energy licks and down-home harmonies.
November 1 at Lincoln Hall
Georgia-born guitarist and composer Kaki King stands out in a long list of virtuosic guitar players not only for being young and a woman, but also for her percussive, genre-bending technique. King’s varied influences and experimental tendencies keep audiences guessing—in a good way.
November 2 at City Winery
English electronic artist Squarepusher combines drum ‘n’ bass, acid and other electronic styles with various influences to create an innovative, dense sound. His pattern-generating video equipment gives his shows a complementary visual element.
November 3 at Metro
This CSO performance brings together Britten’s “The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra” (a piece recently hipsterized by Wes Anderson’s “Moonrise Kingdom”), Walton’s Violin Concerto (performed by Gil Shaham), and Beethoven’s ebullient Symphony No. 7. Charles Dutoit conducts.
November 8-11 at the CSO
Sharon Van Etten & Damien Jurado
Feeling too happy? Go see one of singer-songwriter Damien Jurado’s aching, emotional performances, the musical complement to the inescapable drizzle of his native Seattle. Sharon Van Etten likely won’t cheer you up, either, but her songs are beautiful.
November 7 at Metro
Neo-soul singer-songwriter, rapper and bassist Meshell Ndegeocello brings together funk, soul, hip-hop, reggae, R&B, rock and jazz with her meltingly gorgeous vocals.
November 23 at Old Town School of Folk Music
The endlessly talented R&B and gospel giant headlined the Chicago Blues Festival, but her short set left us wanting much, much more. It’s our pleasure to say that she’s bringing her soulful sound back.
November 23-24 at City Winery
Ninety Miles & Gonzalo Rubalcaba
Jazz: the new international relations? Cuban pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba starts this evening off with a solo set, followed by a Cuba-Yankee collaboration between vibraphonist Stefon Harris, saxophonist David Sánchez and trumpeter Nicholas Payton.
November 30 at the CSO
This excellently titled Chicago Chamber Musicians performance features chamber pieces by Prokofiev, Glazunov, Shostakovich and Borodin. Expect drama, despair, darkness. Come with angst.
December 2-3 at Nichols Concert Hall (Evanston) and Gottlieb Concert Hall