The Lumineers

The Lumineers (Photo courtesy of Big Hassle Media.)

Summer is here and with it a solid lineup of outdoor concerts featuring some legendary artists. Here are our picks for the best shows in June from the big names and the up-and-comers you won’t want to miss. 

Large Arena Shows

twenty one pilots

Allstate Arena, June 5 

This genre-defying duo has an immense stage presence and the musicianship to match. From reggae to rap (in one song), these two go from zero to 100 in seconds.

Cage the Elephant, with Portugal. The Man (*Valslist favorites)

UIC Pavilion, June 7 

Indie-rockers Cage the Elephant are fresh off a recent record. The Kentucky band’s live shows almost always include a stage dive from frontman Matt Schultz, so if that’s not for you, avoid general admission seating.

Tame Impala

UIC Pavilion, June 9 

Aussie psych-rockers Tame Impala are a treat for your ears and eyes. The combination of Kevin Parker’s echoed vocals over layers of instrumentation and colorful visuals result in a full-package performance.

Steely Dan and Steve Winwood

FirstMerit Bank Pavilion at Northerly Island, June 11

Two familiar favorites will play this gorgeous venue on the lake. Their feel-good songs will have you dancing all night.

Florence and the Machine and Of Monsters and Men

Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre at Tinley Park, June 12

Florence Welch is a force to be reckoned with. Her powerful vocals supported with heavy instrumentation will send a shiver up your spine in the best way possible.

Bob Dylan and Mavis Staples

Ravinia, June 24

Bob Dylan and Mavis Staples go way back, and now they’re bringing their shared history to present day. This is a must-see show that will have you reminiscing and relaxing on Ravinia’s expansive lawn.

James Taylor and Jackson Browne

Wrigley Field, June 30

These two larger-than-life performers will share the stage at one epic venue. Tickets are still available, but will go fast.

Smaller, More Intimate Venues 

The Dustbowl Revival

SPACE Evanston, June 2

This eight-piece traditional folk band delivers velvety vocals over a sea of quick-picking strings.

Brett Dennen and firekid

Thalia Hall, June 8

Singer-songwriter Brett Dennen just released his sixth studio album, “Por Favor,” on May 20, while emerging talent firekid is touring in support of his debut record.

Swim Deep

Lincoln Hall, June 10

This British indie-rock band brings ambient psychedelic vibes to its audience, making their show a fun and laid-back option for date night.

Gregory Alan Isakov

Thalia Hall, June 13-14

Guaranteed to be a relaxing show where all you have to do is show up and listen, and maybe be lulled into a daze by Isakov’s soothing voice. His latest record revamps old recordings with the help of the Colorado Symphony. It will be released June 10.

The Marcus King Band

SPACE Evanston, June 16

This southern bluesy-rock band is perfectly suited to fill the intimate room at SPACE, where Marcus King’s rasp will be well heard among the impressive lineup of instruments.

The Lumineers

Chicago Theatre, June 19

These folk-rockers recently released their second studio album. Each song’s lyrics tell stories you’ll want to hear again and again (the catchy choruses help too).

JD McPherson

Old St. Patrick’s Church, June 25

JD McPherson is undeniably talented. He fuses a retro rockabilly vibe from the ’50s with modern-sounding rock, resulting in a sound that’s all his own.

Boy & Bear (*Valslist favorite)

Lincoln Hall, June 29

This Australian band of indie-rockers has been met with growing acclaim over the past few years. Tell your kids — and/or friends — about this one; they’ll thank you later.

June Playlist

Remember when it was called “summer vacation” because it was nothing more than a season filled with sunshine, relaxation and a break from the stress of school? Now it means sweating to and from the office and shuttling the kids to camp, swim team and other commitments. Even though you probably can’t spend the entire season in the sun, at the beach or poolside like you did as a kid, summer should still be a time to slow down. Let this playlist of new music from this month’s featured artists and more take you on a sonic vacation back to a time when “school’s out for summer” meant the end of one thing was followed by the start of nothing. Imagine that.


Lyndsey Havens is a music writer covering Valslist for Make It Better. She is also a staff writer for WXRT and Consequence of Sound and her work has appeared in the Chicago Tribune.

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