The North Coast Music Festival is a three-day hat doff to the waning days of summer. Send off halcyon hours in style and gird your gooseflesh for the inevitable onslaught of winter with a lineup that includes electronic, hip-hop, jam-band, and indie-rock artists both famous and obscure. On Friday, the electronic poppiness of The Chemical Brothers will waft from the stage until it enters the noses and eventually implants itself in the brains of concertgoers. Saturday's lineup features the progressive improvisation of Umphrey's McGee and a DJ set by Moby, or Richard Melville Hall on his birth certificate, who has provided hot, ambient beats to films such as Any Given Sunday, The Beach, and Citizen Kane. The festival's final day presents Chicago product Lupe Fiasco and crowd-moving collaborators Nasty Nas and Damian "Jr. Gong" Marley.
A glass of cold sangria in one hand, a plate of food balanced in the other. The only reason to disrupt such a perfect combination might be to dance to the live band performing just a few feet away. That's the basic Midsommarfest formula, and every summer, nearly 50,000 people flock to Andersonville for this celebration of all things local. Going strong for the past half century, the fest takes over Clark Street from Foster to Catalpa with booths for food and crafts as well as five different stages. These showcase eclectic entertainments that truly reflect the neighborhood's charm: not just cover bands (though there are those, too), but a pet parade, Swedish music, dance troupes, and sets from blues, roots, and funk bands. All the fun also helps the neighborhood, and not just because stoplights are powered by laughter; proceeds go to benefit community causes.
Generation gaps call an evening-long truce to absorb the electric harmonies and magnetic energy of legendary rock bands Def Leppard and Heart. Def Leppard began its ascent to British hard-rock royalty in 1977, solidifying its reign with the 1987 multiplatinum album Hysteria and its iconic anthems "Love Bites" and "Armageddon It." Its latest tour stokes nostalgia and then pours sugar on it, with library classics giving way to singles such as "Undefeated" from the forthcoming Mirror Ball – Live & More album. Heart frontwomen Ann and Nancy Wilson add to the aural carnival with sisterly harmonics and guitar-wrangling routines developed over more than 30 years onstage. Revelry-inducing '70s hits "Barracuda" and "Crazy on You," along with soul-clutching '80s power ballads "Alone" and "What About Love," embody the decades whence they came while continuing to forcefully knock the socks and toenail polish off rapt concertgoers.
A celebration of all things ink, Tattoo Arts & Horror Festival brings together celebrities, sideshow entertainers, tattoo artists, and connoisseurs of the horror movie genre for a weekend of macabre camaraderie. The roster of celebrities hews toward the horror film genre?on hand will be George Wilbur of the Halloween films, Ari Lehman from Friday the 13th, and John Carl Buechler, the writer, director, and actor known for his work on Nightmare on Elm Street 4 and Halloween. The rest of the guest list includes tattoo supermodel Heather Moss and enough tattoo artists to honor every MOM in North America.
But there's plenty more to ogle at than just celebrities. Human suspension performers, for instance, challenge viewers' concepts of pain and endurance by piercing their flesh with large hooks and suspending themselves from above. Further impossibilities are on display during the Captain's Sideshow, a performance with beds of nails, mouse traps, and just about anything else that can make you cover your eyes and then peek between your fingers. But at Tattoo Arts & Horror Festival, the show easily crosses the threshold of the stage and into the crowd. Expect to see everybody in their brightest inks, their sharpest piercings, and their most gothic duds, especially during the costume contest and the Ms. Tattoo Pageant.
Voted "Best Pumpkin Fest" by viewers of Fox News Chicago, Bengtson's Pumpkin Farm captivates visitors with the autumn-themed fun of four new attractions, pig races, a 3-acre corn maze fit for all ages, and the Kids Village complete with a jail and a fire station. Swine speed toward the finish line 10 times daily, spurred on by the cheers of bleacher-seated audiences, and human competitors race playmates or sentient scarecrows through the giant Crazy Corn Maizey's swaying stalks. The Pumpkin Chucker launches gourds skyward, and pint-size patrons mirror mid-air trajectories on kiddy rides such as the new 90-foot Mega Fun Slide and Flying Frogs (free through October 30, excluding pony rides). Ghoulish chefs and mad scientists cook up screams in the Haunted Barn before sending the spooked off to enjoy the soothing effects and bleated lullabies of goats, zebras, kangaroos, and other critters at the petting zoo.
The 31st annual Chicago Music Awards honors the city's best entertainers from all genres during a night of performances from established melody makers and up-and-coming acts. The three teen brothers of rock group Rebelmann energize the audience before switching stage space with Sugar Blue, a Grammy Award–winning harmonica virtuoso who honed his skills while playing along to Bob Dylan records and crafting an enormous collection of blown-glass figurines. The evening will also include songs from the six top finalists in this year's highly competitive Chicago Emerging Star Contest as a group that boasts a 13-year-old rapper, a 10-year-old musical prodigy, and a male R & B group competes for a cash prize and a solid-chocolate microphone.