There are few cities as plugged in as Chicago when it comes to the summer concert season. From ground zero festivals like Lollapalooza and Spring Awakening to major tour stops for Beyoncé and Coldplay, the Second City is a first-class destination for music in 2016.
The Queen B of pop returns in perfect “Formation” on her new world tour, even amidst all the controversy over her new single and upcoming album. There’s no question Beyoncé has become more complex both sonically and lyrically in recent years, moving on from being crazy in love to redemption songs. Given her new M.O., expect surprises.
Dates: May 27-28
It’s a remix! The three-day EDM festival makes a move to Chicago’s Jackson Park for its fifth birthday and is inviting everyone to the party. More than 100 international artists will converge on eight stages, and though the lineup hasn’t been announced yet, expect the same glowstick caliber of last year’s headliners, Diplo, Zedd, Tiesto and Afrojack.
Dates: June 10-12, 2016
Price: $169 for GA; $299 for VIP
The country capital of the world relocates to Chicago for one weekend
with a festival the size of Texas. Headliners Lady Antebellum, Jason Aldean and Tim McGraw are joined on scenic lakefront stages alongside Martina McBride, Kacey Musgraves, Travis Tritt and Sam Hunt—and, of course, BBQ from vendor Robinson’s Ribs.
Dates: June 17-19, 2016
Price: $225 for GA; $299 for Grandstands; $599 for VIP
The Friendly Confines really puts out the welcome mat this summer with a record number of concerts, beginning with Phish. The jam band will aim to overthrow the playing time of The Grateful Dead’s Fare Thee Well last July with an incredible group of musicians that even has Bernie Sanders’ vote as “one of the greatest bands in America.”
Dates: June 24-25, 2016
It’s a Hall of Fame double header as two venerable folk icons take center field. Taylor and Browne were cohorts in the ‘70s free for all that churned out impactful singer-songwriters with little more than an acoustic guitar. Even with their chill vibe, expect classics like “You’ve Got A Friend” and “Running On Empty” to fill the park.
Dates: June 30, 2016
Long after The Police, the Brit’s solo career is still arresting. Songs like “Desert Rose” and “If I Ever Lose My Faith In You” expertly combine touches of reggae, world beat, new age, jazz and pop in climactic fashion (he is a master of Karma Sutra after all). Peter Gabriel joins for duets as well as a separate opening set.
Date: July 9, 2016
When Adele said “Hello,” we listened, turning her 2015 comeback into one of the best sellers of all time. For those lucky enough to score tickets to this exclusive, multi-night performance, look for the English songbird to ace a setlist of hits from her three albums, “19,” “21” and “25,” which will add up to one of the best shows of the year.
Dates: July 10-13, 2016
Price: Sold Out
For 10 years organizers of this independent festival have proven themselves to be crowd-pleasing tastemakers, with three days of varied genres that mix veteran with novelty and the avant garde. This year is no different with Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson playing all of “Pet Sounds,” FKA twigs, Beach House, Carly Ray Jepsen and Sufjan Stevens.
Dates: July 15-17, 2016
Price: $65 for single days; $165 for a weekend pass
In the ‘60s and ‘70s there was The Beatles, the ‘80s and ‘90s U2. But in the new millennium, the hottest import from the U.K. is Coldplay, a band whose star wattage has produced 10 hit albums and dozens of hooky pop singles including “Paradise,” “Fix You” and “Trouble.” With a new record and fresh from the Superbowl, this one is a win-win.
Dates: July 23-24, 2016
The festival, started by Jane’s Addiction frontman Perry Farrell in 1991, is now a quarter century old and has matured in its curation from a traveling rock show to a multicultural weekend. Expanded to four days this year, the lineup is rumored to feature Lady Gaga, Radiohead, Jack U and even Jane’s, which could make it one of the best yet.
Dates: July 28-31, 2016
Price: $120 for single days; $335 for a four-day pass
It’s no secret that uber Cubs fan Eddie Vedder helped to orchestrate this two-day affair, even after a prolonged rain delay almost derailed their Wrigley show in 2013. Though the late Ernie Banks won’t guest this time, the music will be the real star with early grunge hits “Alive” and “Better Man” matched by rambling rock odes “Sirens” and “The Fixer.”
Dates: August 20 & 22, 2016
Price: Sold Out
The third time is poised to be another charm for the Piano Man, the only artist to play the park on three consecutive occasions. The native New Yorker’s quirky cabaret in “Uptown Girl” and arena ballads like “We Didn’t Start the Fire” are a perfect fit for the environment and perhaps a theme song for an incendiary baseball season.
Date: August 26, 2016
Country’s breakout star embarks on the “Kill the Lights” tour, promoting his fifth record-breaking album that produced hits “Kick the Dust Up” and “Strip It Down.” With old school influences of Merle Haggard and new school swagger, he’s the male counterpart to Gretchen Wilson. Catch him on CMT’s show “Crossroads” before the main event.
Date: August 27, 2016
Price: On Sale Soon