Kaina
Local musician Kaina performs at the 2021 Ruido Fest Credit: Miguel Angel García

Ruido Fest stands out as more intentional and visionary than most of Chicago’s destination festivals. When it launched in 2015, it was billed as the country’s only three-day outdoor music event focused entirely on Latin alternative music, though that description only hints at what to expect. Ruido Fest’s eclectic international lineup crosses generations and genres, mixing indie pop, punk, rock en español, hip-hop, cumbia rock, electronic DJs, and more—and this year’s bookings could introduce everyone in Union Park to a new favorite artist or ten. The headliners include 80s and 90s stalwarts such as hip-hop experimenters Cypress Hill, ska and Latin dance greats Los Fabulosos Cadillacs (making their triumphant return to Chicago after the pandemic forced them to pull out of Ruido Fest 2021), rock en español legends Maldita Vencindad, and shoegaze-tinged Argentine “sonic” rockers Babasónicos (who released their latest album, ​​Trinchera, in April). But Ruido Fest doesn’t wear nostalgia like a ball and chain—it’s more like a friendship bracelet. Bedroom-pop star Cuco, who’s just 24 years old, is among the marquee names, as is esteemed indie-pop songwriter Carla Morrison (and both of them put out new albums earlier this year). The bill also features plenty of underground favorites and fresh faces from Chicago and beyond, such as Los Angeles-based Doris Anahí, an activist and music manager turned pop star. To get your dance on, check out local DJs La Colocha and Angelfuk, and for maximum noise (the English translation of “ruido”) feast your ears on a couple of Mexico City bands: overdriven heavy rockers Cardiel and my new favorite fuzzed-out power trio, Mengers.

Ruido Fest day one Fri 8/19. Ruido Stage: Cuco, Él Mató a un Policía Motorizado, Bruses, Los Aptos, Carmen de Leon. Noise Stage: Babasonicos, Ed Maverick, Estereomance, J Güero. Fiesta Stage: Nortec Collective (DJ), C-Kan, Kinginesse, La Colocha. 3:30 PM (gates at 2:45 PM), Union Park, 1501 W. Randolph, single-day passes $105.74-$260.24, three-day passes $208.74-$620.74, all ages

Ruido Fest day two Sat 8/20. Ruido Stage: Los Fabulosos Cadillacs, Siddhartha, Porter, Elis Paprika, Making Movies, Eschicano. Noise Stage: Carla Morrison, Kevin Kaarl, Beach Goons, Mengers, Immasoul. Fiesta Stage: Silverio, Aczino, Doris Anahí, Patrixia, Manú, Mr Bobby. 1:30 PM (gates at 12:45 PM), Union Park, 1501 W. Randolph, single-day passes $105.74-$260.24, three-day passes $208.74-$620.74, all ages

Ruido Fest day three Sun 8/21 Ruido Stage: Cypress Hill, Goyo, Hello Seahorse!, Sgt Papers, Mila La Morena, Código Verde. Noise Stage: Maldita Vecindad, Ely Guerra, Cardiel, Pahua, George Arthur Calendar. Fiesta Stage: Bonnz, El Dusty, Lng/Sht, Gabylonia, A.M. Early Morning, Angelfuk. 1:30 PM (gates at 12:45 PM), Union Park, 1501 W. Randolph, single-day passes $105.74-$260.24, three-day passes $208.74-$620.74, all ages