Dip your toes in some cultural happenings. Credit: Jonathan J. Castellon/Unsplash

You made it past Bastille Day, so it’s time to bust out for some fun and social stimulation. Whether you’re hankering for roots rock, hungry to explore the history of hip-hop, or ready to sit back and laugh with other people at live theater and comedy again, here are some things to explore this week.


  • Fri 7/16, 7 PM: Jason Ringenberg made his name in the early 80s with the cowpunk band Jason and the Scorchers, and has kept the torch of alt-country going ever since. He performs at Montrose Saloon, both solo and backed by the band Decoy Prayer Meeting. Kent Rose & the Remedies open at 5:30 PM. $15 door ($12 in advance), 21+.
  • Friday 7/16, 8 PM (continues through 8/1): Henchpeople, Theatre Above the Law’s return to live performance at Rogers Park’s Jarvis Square Theatre, provides a goofy and endearing point of reentry with Ross Compton’s comedy about a pair of, well, henchpeople who begin questioning their loyalty to the supervillain boss. Read Kerry Reid’s review here. It’s also available in a digital livestream 7/23-8/1. 1439 W. Jarvis, $23 (industry, student, and senior $20), streaming version $20.
  • Fri-Sat, 7/16-7/17, 8 PM: The Annoyance is back in business, with founder Mick Napier directing and curating System of a Clown, a solo sketch review featuring a rotating lineup of comedians that also promises a scosh of improv here and there. It previews 7/16-7/23, then opens 7/30 for a run through September. $10 for previews, $20 for regular run.
  • Sat 7/17, 11 AM-7 PM: An exhibit of hip-hop artifacts like vintage publications and ephemera from local hip-hop musicians is hosted at a Bronzeville house through the month of July, in celebration of Chicago Hip-Hop Heritage Month. You can read more about it in this week’s Gossip Wolf column.
  • Sat 7/17, noon-4 PM: An opening celebration for “Toward Common Cause: Art, Social Change, and the MacArthur Fellows Program at 40,” a group show featuring art by Mark Bradford, Mel Chin, Nicole Eisenman, LaToya Ruby Frazier, and more. The show at Smart Museum is part of a wide-ranging series of exhibitions and events throughout the city this year under the “Toward Common Cause” banner. Admission is free, but reservations required (limited to groups of five).
  • Sun 7/18, 10 AM-5 PM: Vintage Garage outdoor market visits the Self Park Garage at 1800 Maple in Evanston. Vendors sell vintage fashion, jewelry, furniture, collectibles, and more. $6 admission fee (can be paid in advance here).
  • Sun 7/18, 5 PM: Cerqua Rivera Dance Theatre continues its ongoing Inside/Out series of works-in-progress and discussions with a live presentation of Identity City, a collaboration between choreographer Shannon Alvis and composer/company cofounder Joe Cerqua, which explores the evolving definition of gender, with a focus on queer and trans lives. It’s available for limited audiences at Evanston’s Studio5 ($20-$30), and also as a livestream ($10).
  • Mon 7/19, 8:45 PM (and more showtimes Tue 7/20, Wed 7/21, and Thu 7/22): The Music Box screens the unusually ridiculous 1974 cult film Phantom of the Paradise, a collaboration between director Brian De Palma and composer/actor Paul Williams. It’s a horror/comedy/musical set in the competitive music industry with drug dealers, record producers, and actor Gerrit Graham as a character named “Beef.” Shown outside as part of the theater’s Garden Movies series. Tickets $9.
  • Thu 7/22, 6:30 PM: The Chicago Reader Book Club presents a discussion between K. Ancrum, author of Darling (a YA thriller retelling of Peter Pan) and Karen Hawkins, Reader co-publisher and co-editor in chief.  v