The Handsome Family Credit: Facebook


The Handsome Family
September 18

Brett and Rennie Sparks, the dynamic couple known as the Handsome Family, return to Chicago for the first time in four years to support of another dazzling new album, Unseen, the first released on their own Virtual Label imprint. It’s also the first time they’ve been back since Andrew Bird made an entire album of their songs called Things Are Really Great Here, Sort Of . . . in 2014, and since the hit HBO show True Detective used their stunning 2003 tune “Far From Any Road” as a theme song. In addition to the two concerts, the Aron Packer Gallery will present a one-night exhibition of Rennie’s paintings called “Underwater Vines” on September 20. —Peter Margasak a 7 PM, Old Town School of Folk Music, 4544 N. Lincoln, sold out.

Meat Beat Manifesto
Meat Beat ManifestoCredit: John Corrigan


Cold Waves V
September 23-24

When Wax Trax! ruled in the 80s, Chicago cultivated a special bond with industrial music, one strong enough to have since provided plenty of reason to occasionally get some of the gang back together. The Cold Waves festival began in July 2012 in memoriam of Acumen Nation guitarist Jamie Duffy, who was also a beloved stage manager and sound engineer. Performers have included Front 242, Fear Factory, Youth Code, Godflesh, and Front Line Assembly. This year the fest takes over the entire Metro compound, spilling over into Smart Bar for afterparties. Big names include Meat Beat Manifesto, Clock DVA, and the Cocks, a reunion of ex-members of the Revolting Cocks. —Kevin Warwick a 6:30 PM, Metro, 3730 N. Clark, $46, $81 two-day pass. 18+

Chance the Rapper
Chance the RapperCredit: BOBBY TALAMINE


Chance the Rapper’s Magnificent Coloring Day
September 24

Chicago is all over Chance the Rapper’s third mixtape, May’s gospel-inflected Coloring Book. Magnificent Coloring Day is the latest manifestation of Chance’s affection for his hometown, a one-day festival at the home of his beloved White Sox, the soon-to-be Guaranteed Rate Field. Alicia Keys, John Legend, Lil Wayne, Skrillex, and Young Thug are some of the stars on the bill, which puts many of the fests clogging this past summer’s concert calendar to shame. —Leor Galil a 1-8 PM, U.S. Cellular Field, 333 W. 35th, sold out.

A moment from the 2015 Hyde Park Jazz Festival
A moment from the 2015 Hyde Park Jazz FestivalCredit: Marc Monaghan


Hyde Park Jazz Festival
September 24-25

From its start a decade ago, the Hyde Park Jazz Festival has offered a superb portrait of the Chicago jazz scene. But in recent years, under the direction of Kate Dumbleton, the weekend affair has become a magnet for global talent. This year’s installment is the best yet, with a world-premiere collaboration between Puerto Rican reedist Miguel Zenon and Spektral Quartet and performances from Amir ElSaffar’s Two Rivers Ensemble, Matana Roberts, Randy Weston, and Trip with Tom Harrell and Mark Turner, along with the usual bounty of the city’s best working outfits as well as some new projects, including a tantalizing quartet with Joshua Abrams, Ari Brown, Jeff Parker, and Gerald Cleaver. —Peter Margasak a Various times and venues. Suggested donation $5; festival pass $125. For the full lineup, go to



Das Rheingold
October 1-22

Lyric Opera opens its season with a new production of Das Rheingold, the first work in Richard Wagner’s mighty four-opera Ring cycle. It will be followed over the next three seasons by new productions of each of the others, culminating, in the spring of 2020, in an orgiastic undertaking: the presentation of the full cycle three times in three weeks. —Deanna Isaacs a 10/1, 6 PM; 10/5, 10/13, and 10/22, 7:30 PM; 10/9 and 10/16, 2 PM, Civic Opera House, 20 N. Wacker, $34-$299.

Credit: Courtesy Ear Taxi Festival


Ear Taxi Festival
October 5-10

The six-day fest presents the most comprehensive portrait of Chicago’s deep contemporary classical music community. It features the work of 88 composers that live or have lived here, including 54 world premieres that will be performed by 25 ensembles at the Harris Theater, the Chicago Cultural Center, the University of Chicago, PianoForte, Curtiss Hall, and Constellation. (Full disclosure: I served as a volunteer on the festival’s curatorial board.) —Peter Margasak a Various times, venues, and prices. Festival passes $36-$200. For the full lineup, go to

MeshuggahCredit: Anthony Dubois


Meshuggah, High on Fire
October 28

Refined over decades, Meshuggah’s slate-gray alien locomotion and High on Fire’s grandiose barbarian thunder are two of the most distinctive sounds in metal—often imitated, never equaled. And as if this tour weren’t enough of an event already, Meshuggah has a new album: Violent Sleep of Reason (Nuclear Blast), released October 7, is their first since Koloss in 2012. —Philip Montoro a 8 PM, House of Blues, 329 N. Dearborn, $35, 17+

Credit: John Parra


Freaky Deaky
October 28-30

Music festival season isn’t over until React Presents says so. Last year the EDM-focused promotion company turned its Halloween gathering into a multiday outdoor spectacle at Toyota Park. This year’s festivities include LA rap wonder Schoolboy Q, hip-hop phenom DJ Khaled, and French electronic whiz DJ Snake. Say what you will about EDM, but the nadir of this bill is “comedic” rapper Lil Dicky, an adult whose stage name hints at his juvenile affectations. —Leor Galil a Toyota Park, 7000 S. Harlem, Bridgeview, $76-$204.

Seu Jorge


Seu Jorge Presents—The Life Aquatic: A Tribute to David Bowie
November 17

Jorge’s acoustic David Bowie covers, sung in Portuguese, provided a touch of earnest realism to Wes Anderson’s phantasmic 2004 film The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou. Jorge’s samba-inflected versions of “Changes” and “Rebel Rebel” likely won the Starman some new fans, and when Jorge released last year’s The Life Aquatic Studio Sessions, Bowie provided some loving words in the liner notes. His tour is as much in support of that album as it is a tribute to the deceased hero who inspired it. —Leor Galil a 6 PM and 9 PM, Thalia Hall, 1227 W. 18th, $35-$50. 17+

Text of Light
Text of LightCredit: Teho


Text of Light
December 1

The experimental ensemble formed in 2001 to create live accompaniment for the work of filmmaker Stan Brakhage—one of his films provided the group with its name—but over the years it’s expanded its reach. The current lineup of guitarists Alan Licht and Lee Ranaldo (ex-Sonic Youth) and drummer Tim Barnes gives a rare local performance to the daring films of Bauhaus school heavy László Moholy-Nagy—the brilliant artist, designer, and cofounder of the Institute of Design (now IIT)—whose work is the subject of “Future Present,” an exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago that opens October 2. —Peter Margasak a 6 PM, Rubloff Auditorium, Art Institute of Chicago, 230 S. Columbus, free with museum admission, registration required.   v