Your guide to summer's hottest local music fests
So, you couldn't snag tickets to Lollapalooza this year. Let's face it ... you're not alone in that. But to think that means your summer will be music-free is a gross misrepresentation of reality, my friends. One of the selling points of Chicago and the suburbs is the concert scene and the music bred here. Worry not: Here's where you should be going to see some great local (not to mention national) talents!
Don't forget: While prices are set in advance, many ticket purchases will have additional fees and taxes tacked on. And lineups are subject to change.
June 12-14 at Soldier Field, 1410 Museum Campus Drive, Chicago, springawakeningfestival.com
While Chicago is starting to celebrate its role in the birth of house and electronic music with festivals popping up all over, Spring Awakening remains the major player on the scene, drawing artists from around the world to play on the lakefront.
Top billing: Dutch DJ TiŽsto is returning for this year's show, along with fellow countryman Hardwell, and Russian-German producer and DJ Zedd is coming back after a year off. But a lot of attention seems to be focused on the Midwest debut of Jack U, a collaboration between L.A. producer and rapper Diplo and fellow California artist Skrillex.
Local draws: Spring Awakening seems to be expanding this year, giving more local talent a chance to shine, including Chicago-based Flosstradamus, DJ GoodSex, EDM musician Dani Deahl, Porn and Chicken, influential electronic artist RJ Pickens and Barrington native Ryan B. Be sure to check them out.
Tickets: $200 for three-day general admission passes; three-day VIP passes start at $325.
World's Largest Block Party
June 27 at the UIC Festival Lot, 1145 S. Morgan St., between Taylor Street and Roosevelt Road, Chicago, worldslargestblockparty.com
Chicago's Old St. Pat's Church is hosting a night of rock to raise money for some great local causes. Don't forget to get your raffle tickets for a chance to win huge prizes.
Top billing: California-based Young the Giant brings its radio-friendly (and store soundtrack-friendly) hits such as "My Body" or "It's About Time" to the stage, along with opener Neon Trees, a band that is also no slouch in the radio hit department.
Local draws: The whole shindig will kick off with a performance by 7th Heaven, one of the hardest-working (and longest-running) independent rock bands out of Chicago.
Tickets: $40 for general admission; $85 for VIP passes.
Blues on the Fox
June 19-20 at RiverEdge Park, 360 N. Broadway, Aurora, riveredgeaurora.com
If you like your music with a smoky growl and a beefy soul sensibility, get to RiverEdge Park to catch some of the legendary names in the blues.
Top billing: New Orleans native Trombone Shorty puts a modern, funky spin on the fest, incorporating elements of hip-hop and jazz into his performances with Orleans Avenue, the band he fronts. Don't forget to give some love to Chicago native Otis Taylor Band, playing earlier in the day.
Local draws: Mavis Staples is nowhere near new to the scene, but recent activity has her breaking out to more mainstream audiences. And that's to the benefit of ears everywhere. Catch her set at 7 p.m. Saturday.
Tickets: $20 per day.
Naperville Exchange Club's Ribfest
July 2-5 at Knoch Park on S. West St., Naperville, ribfest.net
If the music's hot, the weather's hot and the barbecue's hot, you're at Naperville's Ribfest. In addition to its namesake food, Ribfest consistently draws a large pool of musical talent to its multiday festival.
Top billing: The Ribfest lineup has a tendency to skew toward Southern rock and country, and this year is no exception, with main stage performers like Kelly Pickler and family act The Band Perry. But Sammy Hagar is also on hand with some hard-rock action; local band Tres Moustache will be mixing it up with covers of all kinds of favorites. And One More Time brings its Daft Punk tribute act for those who want to dance.
Local draws: The local talent for Ribfest is as diverse as the main stage acts. Chicago's Daniel Wade brings his foot-stomping guitar rock to the stage; the local guys in Hot Hot Robot pack an eclectic set of influences into their punk-tinged pop rock set; Next Position Pleaz hauls a load of power rock down from Lake in the Hills; and Naperville represents itself with its own eclectic rockers, Within Four Days.
Tickets: Gate entry is $15; free for children 11 and younger. Show tickets are extra; see the website for special pricing.
Mamby on the Beach
July 11-12 at Oakwood Beach, 4100 S. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, mambybeach.com
Channeling the spirit of beach parties from the mid-2000s, Mamby on the Beach popped up as a new player in this summer's festival lineup, keeping Chicago at the forefront of the dance music scene.
Top billing: When you first see the lineup for Mamby, you think "Passion Pit, Cut Copy, that guy from LCD Soundsystem (James Murphy, in case you're asking) … this can't be anything but awesome!"
Local draws: Then you dive deeper into the lineup and find a ton of local talent, from the fun beats of Autograf, synth-popsters Kinky Love and electronica artists My Gold Mask and Glass Lux to mainstays of the Chicago scene like Steve Gerard, Farley "Jackmaster" Funk, and DJ and producer Greg Corner.
Tickets: General admission single-day wristbands are $59.50; VIP single-day admission is $150. GA two-day wristbands start at $99; VIP two-day wristbands start at $199. Get your tickets now, because prices will increase as the date nears.
Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival
July 12 at First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre, 19100 S. Ridgeland Ave., Tinley Park, rockstarmayhemfest.com
The Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival brings a more hard-core metal vibe than most music festivals this summer.
Top billing: Code Orange puts a punk spin on the metal genre, and Feed Her to the Sharks proves you can pull off metalcore but still keep haunting melodies. But let's face it: You're here to see Slayer.
Local draws: The Grayslake fivesome Sworn In snagged a spot on most dates of the summer touring show. Catch their hard-core set on the Victory Records Stage, along with Kenosha, Wisconsin, rockers Jungle Rot.
Tickets: Lawn and pavilion seating starts at $30.
Pitchfork Music Festival
July 17-19 at Union Park, 1501 W. Randolph St., Chicago, pitchforkmusicfestival.com
Smaller than some of its local brethren, Pitchfork maintains the notion that bigger isn't always better. And the quality of the lineup proves that.
Top billing: Love it or hate it, you can't deny the band Wilco's staying power. The alternative rockers have been touring for a little more than 20 years, and supporters of the band are some of the most die-hard you'll find at a Chicago fest. Wilco's headlining slot ensures a fun but mellow end to Pitchfork's opening day. On the flip side, the fest closes out the weekend with another local legend, albeit one whose tenure on the scene has been much shorter. Chance the Rapper brings loads of energy to his show, so expect the weekend to go out with a bang.
Local draws: Rapper (and oft-Chance the Rapper collaborator) Vic Mensa will deliver some local electronic flavor to the stage, while singer-songwriter Tom Krell brings his lo-fi experimental alternative to play with his act How to Dress Well. Folk rocker Ryley Walker offers a more mellow groove to the weekend.
Tickets: $65 for single-day passes; three-day passes sold out.
Vans Warped Tour
July 25 at First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre, 19100 S. Ridgeland Ave., Tinley Park, vanswarpedtour.com
'90-something rock, punk, metalcore and alternative bands are heading to your town. So what do you do? Round up the kids and head to the First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre, of course. And while the kids are rocking out all day, you can catch the show from a distance; each paid minor can be accompanied by a parent for free, including access to the Reverse Daycare tent where concertgoers of a certain age can chill in air-conditioned splendor while enjoying a cool beverage or two.
Top billing: Alternative rockers We Came As Romans and A Simple Plan are definite crowd-draws, and Metro Station is a highlight for the synth-pop set. Hard-core bands like Senses Fail and the recently released Pierce the Veil embrace the edgier direction Warped Tour is leaning this year.
Local draws: South suburban punk rockers Knuckle Puck are climbing onto the scene in a big way, and sets at Warped Tour and later this summer at Riot Fest are proving that the guys are on their way up.
Tickets: Start at $39.50 for general admission.
North Coast Music Festival
Sept. 4-6 at Union Park, 1501 W. Randolph St., Chicago, northcoastfestival.com
North Coast is finding its groove as a mashup of genres, all specializing in getting you on your feet. Want some electronica? Some hip-hop? Maybe some indie and jam? It's all here.
Top billing: As if to prove my point, the not-to-miss headliners are neo-soul innovators D'Angelo and the Vanguard, electronic and house artists The Chemical Brothers and the hard-rocking Widespread Panic. Don't forget to throw a little love toward hip-hop group Atmosphere, electro-funk duo Chromeo, indie rockers Portugal. The Man and electro house legend Steve Aoki.
Local draws: Want an even more eclectic mix? How about the local talent North Coast has in store, like hard rockers The O'My's, electronic rockers Future Rock, house artist Green Velvet, DJ Zebo, funksters Ne-Hi, The Heard and The Main Squeeze and jazz-soul crooner Lili K.
Tickets: $159 for three-day passes; $259 for three-day VIP.
Sept. 11-13 at Douglas Park, 1401 S. Sacramento Drive, Chicago, riotfest.org/chicago
Summer is coming to a close, and Riot Fest means to send it out with a bang. The mix of artists should appeal to anybody and everybody, from indie to pop to rap to hip-hop to punk to metal.
Top billing: No Doubt, Modest Mouse and Iggy Pop lead the charge into one of the last summer weekends of music for 2015. But other names like Ice Cube, Tenacious D, Billy Idol and Rancid -- in addition to local acts like OK Go and McHenry's Alkaline Trio -- all have the ability to draw huge crowds.
Local draws: The sheer magnitude of the lineup means statistically there have to be at least a few local bands. The Lawrence Arms likes harmonies, and you will, too, as they return to Riot Fest from a set two years ago. Celtic rockers Flatfoot 56 also make a return appearance. South suburban bands are represented by two pop punk bands, Real Friends and Knuckle Puck. Counterpunch brings melodic skatepunk rock, and punky Meat Wave delivers the frantic guitar energy. Keep an eye out for even more local acts on the lineup.
Tickets: $189.98 for three-day general admission passes; $299.98 for three-day VIP passes.