For three days in July every year, Chicago becomes a magnet for hipsters from across the globe. But while Pitchfork Music Festival is great at occupying the hours between sunup and sundown, there’s still a bunch of time left when the festival gates shut for the night. Sure, there are official after parties, but most of those are either sold out or likely to be packed with the same people you’ve been hanging with all day. If becoming one with Björk leaves you too amped to sleep, consult this guide instead—if nothing else, the shows, parties, and activities found within will be way more stimulating than leaning over an overpriced Coors Light at Chili’s wondering where it all went wrong.
For Festival Early Birds: Threadless Third Annual Pitchfork Kickoff Party
WHERE: Threadless Offices | 1260 W. Madison St.
WHEN: Friday, July 19, from noon to 5 p.m.
HOW: 21+; free admission with RSVP
WHY: Technically this is a pre-party, but it’s still rad enough to warrant inclusion. While festival workers put the finishing touches on the stages in Union Park, early birds can gather at the nearby offices of tastemaking T-shirt company Threadless for a hip take on the summer cookout. Illinois emo stalwarts Braid anchor a lineup of music that also includes a DJ set by local mixmaster Matt Roan and an appearance by Dos Rose Bros as lite-rock kings Hall & Oates. An armada of area food trucks (including Lincoln Square favorites Chubby Wieners) will keep guests well-fed while beers from Finch’s Beer Co. will ensure that everyone’s in high spirits as they inch, en masse, toward the festival gates.
For Anyone Looking for Chicago's Next Big Thing: Glittermouse Record-Release Show
WHERE: Metro | 3730 N. Clark St.
WHEN: Friday, July 19; doors open at 8:30 p.m.
HOW: 18+; $8 advance, $9 day of show; purchase tickets here
WHY: If you’re coming to Pitchfork from out of town, why not bring home a new favorite band as a souvenir? Celebrating the release of their new album It’s Always the End of the World, local pop purists Glittermouse filled the bill of their gig at Metro with a formidable lineup of local artists. Show up early to sample the bratty high-speed freak-outs of Swimsuit Addition, mimic the garage sneers of The Cell Phones, or compare rhymes with South Side rapper Blaise B.
For Anyone Who Still Has the Energy to Dance: Soul Summit
WHERE: Double Door | 1572 N. Milwaukee Ave.
WHEN: Saturday, July 20; 9 p.m.
HOW: 21+; free; limited number of VIP tickets available for $10
WHY: Wicker Park’s most enduring monthly dance night, Soul Summit once again invades Double Door on Saturday night, filling the Six Corners with rump-shaking cuts of vintage soul, R&B, and funk. Shake off residual bittersweetness left over from Belle & Sebastian’s headlining set with the spirited sounds of Philadelphia from guest DJ Skeme Richards, or let founders Dave Mata, Duke Grip, and Sloppy White wow you with their own seamless blends of floor-busting beats.
For Anyone Who Thinks Stages Are for Sexy Dancing: Gorilla Tango Burlesque
WHERE: Gorilla Tango Theatre | 1919 N. Milwaukee Ave.
WHEN: July 19–20; shows begin at 9 p.m.
HOW: 18+; $35; see the full schedule and purchase tickets here
WHY: From the stage of their intimate Bucktown theater, the ladies of Gorilla Tango Burlesque show off their cinematic sides with sexy reinterpretations of famous movie and television franchises. Blending everything from musical numbers to sultry striptease, each night’s one-hour shows pay homage to various geek classics: Friday covers Doctor Who and Indiana Jones, and the Saturday lineup spotlights Batman and not one, but two Star Wars acts. Who among us hasn’t imagined Boba Fett in thigh-high stockings?
For Anyone Aware That Pop Music Existed Before 1960: Late-Night Blues
WHERE: Kingston Mines | 2548 N. Halsted St.
WHEN: Sunday–Friday until 4 a.m.; Saturday until 5 a.m.
HOW: 21+; $15; purchase tickets here
WHY: Even though the hordes of DePaul students are gone for the summer, Kingston Mines remains one of Lincoln Park’s liveliest late-night music joints. Honoring the city’s blues tradition since 1968, the venerable club keeps its two stages packed with hourly sets long after most bars have shut down for the night. On Friday and Saturday, stay out so late that it gets early again to dance, drink, and catch world-class tunes from Indiana blues fusionists The Kinsey Report and vocalist Joanna Connor.
For the Cool Kids: Chuck Inglish of The Cool Kids
WHERE: Reggies' Rock Club | 2109 S. State St.
WHEN: Saturday, July 19; doors open at 10 p.m.
HOW: 18+; $15 advance, $18 day of show
WHY: Although his main act The Cool Kids has been dormant since the release of 2011’s When Fish Ride Bicycles, hip-hop wordsmith Chuck Inglish remains a busy dude. In the past couple of years, he’s done some production work, appeared on some mixtapes, and hit the studio to keep up with the pace of fellow Cool Kid Sir Michael Rocks. At his upcoming appearance at Reggies' Rock Club, he’ll share the fruits of these labors. Convertibles, his debut LP as a solo artist, drops this summer, so expect a preview of that as well as tracks culled from his recent Droptops EP.
For Anyone Inspired to Unleash Their Inner M.I.A.: Lincoln Karaoke
WHERE: Lincoln Karaoke | 5526 N. Lincoln Ave.
WHEN: Sunday–Friday until 2 a.m.; Saturday until 3 a.m
HOW: Room rates begin at $30 an hour; see the full reservation info here
WHY: Tucked in an unassuming office block on a quieter stretch of Lincoln Avenue, Lincoln Karaoke looks less like a must-see party spot and more like a dentist’s office. However, that plain exterior hides an inside that teems with loose, amplified fun. Karaoke here is done Korean-style: guests crowd into private performance rooms, where a sound system, projector screen, and dynamic lighting add to the experience of faux pop stardom. After selecting a song from the sizable book (which contains an extensive Korean catalog and a smaller, but still serviceable, English selection), guests can prep for their debuts with drinks from the bar just outside their rooms.
For Anyone Who Needs a Little More Festival with Their Festival: Cobra Fest
WHERE: Cobra Lounge | 235 N. Ashland Ave.
WHEN: July 19–21; doors open at 9 p.m.
HOW: 21+; free admission with RSVP
WHY: Although Pitchfork grabs most of the headlines (like this one, for instance), it’s not the only festival in town this weekend. The calendar also makes room for Cobra Fest, the combination free concert series/de facto Pitchfork after party held annually at the Near West Side’s Cobra Lounge. Stretching over three nights, the festival welcomes a trio of up-and-coming out-of-town headliners: punk thrashers The Bronx and desert-rock champions The Growlers charge in from the smoggy streets of Los Angeles, while King Dude brings foreboding, countrified dirges crafted in the forests around Seattle.