Grant Park Orchestra at the Pritzker Pavilion Credit: Christopher Neseman

Whether you’re feeling patriotic (or just relieved compared to recent years), or just looking for a break over the holiday weekend and beyond, here are some events to help you ease into July. 


  • Fri 7/2 and Sat 7/3, 9 PM: Composer, clarinetist, improviser, and Participatory Music Coalition cofounder Angel Bat Dawid settles in for an inspiring weekend residency, “Tha Playground,” at the Empty Bottle with collaborators. On Friday, she’s joined in a “swing set” by gospel and jazz singer Phillip Armstrong. Saturday, Oui Ennui (aka Jonn Wallen), who released 17 new recordings during COVID,  “slidez” in to join Dawid.
  • Fri 7/2 and Sat 7/3, 6:30 PM: If you’re hungry for the big traditional blast-off to the Fourth, Grant Park Orchestra’s free all-ages “Salute to Independence Day” at the Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park fills the bill with work by John Williams, Florence Price, Leonard Bernstein, and John Philip Sousa. See grantparkmusicfestival.com for details.
  • Fri 7/2 and Sat 7/3, on demand anytime: Evanston’s Fleetwood-Jourdain Theatre, which turns 42 this year, streams a digital production of Jeff Stetson’s 1987 play about a fictional meeting between Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. in a Harlem hotel room in 1965, where the two civil rights leaders debate their seemingly different approaches to the struggle. Tim Rhoze directs. Tickets are $24.99 through Broadway on Demand.
  • Sat 7/3 and Sun 7/4, 2-11:30 PM Sat, 1-9 PM Sun: For the second year in a row, Navy Pier is skipping the annual holiday fireworks display. But there is a two-day lineup of free performances and events, including Meadows Dance Collective in “Wave Wall Moves” (Sat 7/3, 3:15 PM); “Wave Wall Wax,” a free dance party featuring DJ Duane Powell (Sat 7/3, 5 PM); and several “Live on the Lake!” concerts featuring (among others) Fernando Jones and My Band (Sat 7/3, 2 PM), 80s pop homage show Sixteen Candles (Sat 7/3, 9 PM), and solo artist OSTON (Sun 7/4, 1 PM). Full schedule at navypier.org.
  • Sun 7/4, 2:30 PM: Chicago Mahogany Tours by TikTok star Shermann Thomas (aka Dilla) view “Chicago’s rich and illustrious history from the perspective of the Urban Historian.” Suitably, this one unpacks the tangled idea of “independence” and its price in this nation by visiting south side armories and a confederate mass grave. The group meets at the DuSable Museum, and tickets ($45) are required. More details at Eventbrite.
  • Mon 7/5, 2 PM: The Promontory presents a show (21+) featuring Yoruba Records founder Osunlade, DJ Julius the Mad Thinker, and Torin Edmond. The house “Day Party” closes out with “Ronda’s Ridiculous Stuffed Waffles” from promoter Ronda Flowers. Tickets through Eventbrite.
  • Tue 7/6, 7 PM: Chicago writer Michael Zapata celebrates the paperback edition of his novel The Lost Book of Adana Moreau, which Reader contributor Adam Morgan included in his top ten Chicago books of 2020. Zapata will discuss his book with author Idra Novey at the newly opened Exile in Bookville in the Fine Arts Building (in the old Dial Bookshop space).
  • Wed 7/7, 9 PM: Just because you (maybe) had Monday off doesn’t mean you don’t need a Hump Day dance break. Punch House presents a free “Neo-Soul Nite” featuring Loona Dae, Why? Footclan, and more.
  • Thu July 8: Where can metalheads, trivia fans, and motorcycle/motorbike enthusiasts come together? Reggies presents “Rock & Ride” 7 PM-close, with free bike parking out front and free billiards. They’re also hosting “Metal Trivia Night” at 8 PM with no cover and prizes available. Both events 21+.  v