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Summer is right around the corner, and festival season is almost officially upon us. One thing we love about the city is that there's never a shortage of things to do, and with Chicago boasting a street festival nearly every weekend of the summer, our plans for the next few months are set. Check out the eclectic assortment of street and music festivals below – we'll be getting ready for the artists to stop by and stock up gear. We are always thrilled to welcome new celebrity guests to CME each festival season!
Kicking off street festival season is Do Division. The festival hosts a wide variety of musicians – both touring and local – as well as a sidewalk sale, Do Fashion Fest, and Family Fun Fest. If you're in the area, head to West Town and enjoy the first of many Chicago street festivals. Performing artists we're looking forward to include Basic Cable, JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound, Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin, and J Mascis.
Cementing Chicago's status as "Blues Capital of the World" is the largest blues festival in the world – the Chicago Blues Fest. Performances include Billy Boy Arnold, Bettye LaVette, and Dr. John. In anticipation of the weekend, a number of preview events are scheduled through May and June, so blues enthusiasts are encouraged to keep their eyes peeled.
And the price is right, too. Enjoy five stages of blues for the low, low price of free.
This weekend, Milwaukee Avenue will be converted from bustling city street to the heart of Logan Square culture. The festival advertises two stages of music, good food, and promises of great times. Who are we to argue?
We anticipate great performances by garage-rock outfit North by North, folk rockers The Damn Choir, and party punk trio, ¡Vamos!.
Three days of music PLUS finger lickin' ribs. Need we say more?
There's nothing better than dining on the city's diverse selection of food, and the Taste of Chicago brings it all to Grant Park with some savory tunes to top it off.
This year, the Taste of Chicago features music by Chicago Music Exchange friends, The Autumn Defense, on Wednesday evening, along with other local talent such as Gemini Club on Saturday and Todd Kessler & The New Folk on Sunday. The Taste of Chicago has a full line-up of music every day of the festival. Good eats, good tunes, good weather. Highly recommended.
One of the best things about street festival season in Chicago is the affordability of them all, and West Fest is no exception. For a $5 donation, West Town's bustling Chicago Avenue encourages local involvement and fills the festival with local businesses and musicians exclusively.
Chicago's hippest festival returns to Union Park for its 9th year, hosting over 40 of the best new and emerging artists. Chicago Music Exchange alumni Annie Clark of St. Vincent and Cloud Nothings out of Cleveland will be returning to the festival's stages along with fellow Pitchfork-alumni and locals, Twin Peaks.
With 50 individual vendors, as well as specialty fairs, the fest supports local businesses and economy, and promotes the Chicago arts community as a whole.
Located in the heart of Wicker Park is the aptly named Wicker Park Fest. Scheduled on three stages are 30+ bands, including a handful of local talent such as Owls, Santah, and Mutts. With a talented roster of musicians, local food, and rows of vendors, Wicker Park Fest is shaping up to be the most fun you'll have on Milwaukee Avenue this summer.
Returning to Grant Park is Lollapalooza, one of Chicago's longest-running music festivals. With a little something for everyone, Lolla is a Chicago music staple that the larger music community gets excited for year after year.
CME customers, Warpaint and Cage the Elephant, are performing as well as locals Chance the Rapper and Gemini Club. Last year, Lollapalooza brought the Lumineers through our doors, and we're excited to see who visits this time around.
Your favorite Labor Day Weekend tradition returns for its 36th year. Chicago Jazz Fest will feature the some of the most talented jazz musicians in the city alongside national and international artists. Held in Millennium Park, it's just about as "Chicago" as a festival can get.
The cherry on top of an awesome Chicago concert season is the much-anticipated 10th anniversary of Riot Fest. Unsurprisingly, their line-up this year is as good as one could hope for, with The Cure, Mastodon, Thurston Moore, ???????, and ??????? scheduled to perform (seriously, it's on the poster). Riot Fest intentionally leaves an artist or two off of their announcements each year, so although we don't know who exactly they're in talks with, we know it's going to be mind-blowingly great.
AND Riot Fest is a carnival, too! Whoa.
So, clear your calendars, and make room for the quantity (and quality) of festivals to enjoy in the city this summer. After you get your recommended dose of inspiration, CME will be here to help you find the gear that'll make you a rockstar, too.––
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