Music » Summer Guide

Summer 2016 Chicago music festivals for every sort of sound

Pitchfork, Lollapalooza, and Riot Fest are just the tip of the iceberg.




Peanut Butter Wolf - ISAAC STERLING
  • Isaac Sterling
  • Peanut Butter Wolf

Do Division Street Fest
This staple street fest showcases rock, punk, pop, experimental music, and more. Acts include Peanut Butter Wolf, A Place to Bury Strangers, Beach Fossils, and Nikki Lane. 6/3-6/5, Division between Damen and Hoyne,, $5 suggested donation.

Chicago Gospel Music Fesival
The headliners of the city's 31st annual gospel fest are Hezekiah, Travis Greene, and Shirley Caesar. 6/3-6/4, Chicago Cultural Center and Grant Park,, free.

Headliners Ivan & Alyosha, Coin, and Jukebox the Ghost will have to compete with the smoked pork if they want to be the main draw of this North Center festival. 6/10-6/12, Lincoln between Irving Park and Berteau,, $5 suggested donation.

Shemekia Copeland plays the Chicago Blues Festival on June 10. - SUZANNE FOSCHINO/SUN-TIMES MEDIA
  • Suzanne Foschino/Sun-Times Media
  • Shemekia Copeland plays the Chicago Blues Festival on June 10.

Chicago Blues Festival
Shemekia Copeland, Fred Wesley, and Diunna Greenleaf are among the headliners at the event that calls itself the largest free blues festival in the world. 6/10-6/12, Grant Park,, free.

Spring Awakening
This massive celebration of electronic music just keeps growing, and this year it's booked Crystal Castles, Deadmau5, Claude Von Stroke, A-Trak, and Flux Pavillon, among many others. 6/10-6/12, Jackson Park,, $199-$250. 18+

Hotmix 5 Festival
This party celebrates the 35th anniversary of the formation of the legendary Hot Mix 5 house-music crew, which includes DJs Farley "Jackmaster" Funk and Mickey "Mixin" Oliver. 6/11, McCormick Place,, $50-$150.

Remix Chicago
This celebration of everything remixed, reused, and recycled is paired with live music. Bands playing include Cults, Moving Units, and Shannon & the Clams. 6/11-6/12, Milwaukee and Fullerton,, donation requested.

WGCI Summer Jam
Chicago's go-to station for hip-hop hosts Fetty Wap, Jeezy, 2 Chainz, T.I., Plies, and Migos at this annual event. 6/17, United Center,, $20-$125.

Windy City LakeShake
This giant lakeside festival features giants of modern country, including Lady Antebellum, Tim McGraw, Jason Aldean, Martina McBride, and Travis Tritt. 6/17-6/19, FirstMerit Bank Pavilion,, $99.50 per day, three-day pass $255.

Taste of Randolph Street
Enjoy food from Randolph Street restaurants to a soundtrack of indie acts such as Ms Mr, Atlas Genius, Devotchka, and Peter Bjorn and John. 6/17-6/19, 900 W. Randolph,, $10 suggested donation.

Green Music Fest
The environmentally friendly festival promotes all things green, right down to its bicycle-­powered stage. Bookings include Black Joe Lewis, King Khan & the Shrines, Waxahatchee, and Langhorne Slim. 6/18-6/19, Damen between North and Schiller,, $5 suggested donation.

Logan Square Arts Festival
Xenia Rubinos, Screaming Females, Blitzen Trapper, and Meat Wave are among this fest's notable musical performers. 6/24-6/26, Illinois Centennial Monument,, $5 suggested donation.

Old St. Pat's World's Largest Block Party
This shindig presented by Old St. Patrick's supports the church's mission—social-justice initiatives and outreach programs both local and international—with headlining acts Passion Pit and JD McPherson. 6/25, UIC Festival Lot,, $40, VIP $90 (on sale 5/16).

FitzGerald's American Music Festival
The 35th installment of this festival features four days of Americana inside and outside its namesake Berwyn club, including Donna the Buffalo, Webb Wilder, Willie Nile, and Dos Lobos. 6/30-7/3, FitzGerald's, 6615 W. Roosevelt, Berwyn,, $25-$50 per day.


International Festival of Life
This four-day festival showcases sounds from all over the African diaspora, including lots of reggae and Caribbean music. The bill includes Lova Boy, Supa G, and Luciano. 7/1-7/4, Washington Park,, $25, four-day pass $100, children under 12 free.

Chosen Few Picnic - MARC MONAGHAN
  • Marc Monaghan
  • Chosen Few Picnic

Chosen Few Picnic
The beloved all-day house-music picnic grows into a two-day festival honoring the legendary DJs who helped build Chicago's famous scene. Roy Ayers and Cheryl Lynn perform, in addition to the Chosen Few DJs themselves. 7/2-7/3, Jackson Park,, $25 single-day tickets.

Mamby on the Beach
The name of the game: feel-good beachfront jams from pop, dance, and hip-hop acts such as Chet Faker, Milky Chance, Atmosphere, and Chromeo. 7/2-7/3, Oakwood Beach,, $65, two-day pass $125. 18+

The Roots play Taste of Chicago on July 6. - ROBB D. COHEN/AP
  • Robb D. Cohen/AP
  • The Roots play Taste of Chicago on July 6.

Taste of Chicago
The Taste is a Chicago institution, combining well-known restaurants, popular bands, and thousands of drunk people. This year the Roots, the Decemberists, Billy Idol, and the Isley Brothers headline the shows at the Petrillo Music Shell. 7/6-7/10, Grant Park,, free (ticket prices for seats at Petrillo vary).

West Fest
Presented by the Empty Bottle, this street fest has announced only its first wave of bands—including Luna, Cloud Nothings, and the Eternals—but its lineup is reliably good. 7/8-7/10, Chicago between Damen and Wood,, $5 suggested donation.

Ruido Fest
This Pilsen celebration of Latin music includes La Ley, Panteon Rococó, and Carla Morrison. 7/8-7/10, Addams/Medill Park,, $49.98-$59.98, two-day passes $84.98-$94.98, three-day passes $129.98-$149.98.

Square Roots
Five stages of country, folk, and world music (programmed by the Old Town School of Folk Music) vie for festivalgoers' attention with an impressive variety of craft beer on tap. Artists to be announced. 7/8-7/10, Lincoln between Montrose and Wilson,, $10 suggested donation, $5 seniors and kids, $20 families.

Pitchfork Music Festival
The tastemaking indie festival is in its 11th year, and 2016's performers include Sufjan Stevens, Beach House, Broken Social Scene, Brian Wilson, and Savages. 7/15-7/17, Union Park,, $65, three-day passes $165.

Chicago Open Air
This new south-side festival leans a little hard on nu-metal and 90s relics (Korn, Slipknot, Disturbed, Marilyn Manson) but also includes relatively relevant acts such as Meshuggah, Gojira, Carcass, and Babymetal. 7/15-7/17, Toyota Park, Bridgeview,, single-day tickets sold out, $149.50-$289.50 three-day passes.

Metal Threat Fest
Three days, two rooms, and all the extreme metal you can handle—including Inquisition, Absu, the Ruins of Beverast, Exciter, Angelcorpse, and Razor. 7/15-7/17, Reggie's Rock Club and Reggie's Music Joint,, three-day passes sold out, single-day tickets $50.

Windy City Smokeout
This festival dedicated to country music and barbecue pairs smoked meats and smoky tunes. Chase Rice, Billy Currington, and Old Dominion headline. 7/15-7/17, 560 W. Grand,, $30-$45, three-day passes $110.

Laid Back Festival
This tour, curated by headliner Gregg Allman, is heavy on the classic rock—Peter fucking Frampton will be there. 7/16, FirstMerit Bank Pavilion,, $25-$99.75.

Warped Tour
Once again frustrated suburban teens will flock to this mall-punk mecca. Falling in Reverse, Every Time I Die, and New Found Glory are among the bigger bands playing the long-running traveling festival. 7/23, Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre, Tinley Park,, $41.50.

Wicker Park Fest - WICKER PARK FEST
  • Wicker Park Fest
  • Wicker Park Fest

Wicker Park Fest
One of Chicago's most popular street fests brings two days of big-name music to the heart of Wicker Park. Headliners announced so far include the Mountain Goats, Rocket From the Crypt, and Alvvays. 7/23-7/24, North and Milwaukee,, $5 suggested donation.

Lollapalooza expanded to four days for its 25th birthday this year, and festival passes once again sold out before the headliners were announced. They include LCD Soundsystem, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Radiohead, and J. Cole. 7/28-7/31, Grant Park,, sold out.

Fed Up Fest
This three-day DIY festival celebrates queer and transgender voices in the punk community with live music and workshops. 7/29-7/31, venue to be announced,


The Art of Rap
Many stripes of classic hip-hop come together at this party with sets from Public Enemy, Ice-T, Naughty by Nature, and more. 8/5, Hollywood Casino Ampitheatre, Tinley Park,, $25-$125.

Festival Cubano
One of the largest events of its kind in Chicago, this celebration of Cuban culture features live music from Willy Chirino, Isaac Delgado, Albita Rodriguez, Rey Ruiz, and many more. 8/12-8/14, Riis Park,, $20.

Reggae Fest Chicago
"One day, one love!" is this festival's motto. Programmed by Subterranean, its lineup of ska, reggaeton, roots reggae, and world music includes Toots & the Maytals, Lee "Scratch" Perry, and Hepcat. 8/13, Addams/Medill Park,, $37.50.

Mad Decent Block Party
The Mad Decent label's wild dance party returns to Chicago with sets from Diplo, Gryffin, Kesha, and others. 8/21, FirstMerit Bank Pavilion,, $45.


Chicago Jazz Festival
This venerable free fest has been promoting awareness of and appreciation for all forms of jazz since 1979. Headlining sets include Orbert Davis's premiere of Soul Migration, Charlie Haden's Liberation Music Orchestra, the Bad Plus, and a quartet led by John Scofield and Joe Lovano. 9/1-9/4, Chicago Cultural Center and Millennium Park,, free.

Odezsa will play at North Coast Festival. - TONJE THILESEN
  • Tonje Thilesen
  • Odezsa will play at North Coast Festival.

North Coast Music Festival
This three-day party features some of EDM's most recognizable names, including Odesza, Bassnectar, Zedd, and Logic—plus hip-hop, pop, bluegrass, and more. 9/2-9/4, Union Park,, sold out.

Riot Fest
The annual punk-­nostalgia fest keeps growing. This is year two at its new south-side location, and the big names on the bill include the Original Misfits, Morrissey, and Deftones. 9/16-9/18, Douglas Park,, three-day passes $149-$169.

World Music Festival
Now in its 18th year, this sprawling and diverse festival has featured music from more than 80 different countries since it began. 9/9-9/25, various venues across Chicago,, free.

Cold Waves V
Since 2012, this annual benefit has raised money for suicide prevention by booking legendary industrial bands. Meat Beat Manifesto and the Cocks headline this year's installment. 9/23-9/24, Metro,, $46 single-day tickets, $81 three-day passes.   v

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