Chicago’s Best Live Music in August (Plus Spotify Playlist)

Pearl Jam

End your summer on a high note — literally — with Chicago’s must-see live music in August. Don’t miss the hot summer playlist too. 

Tall Heights

Jay Pritzker Pavilion, Aug. 1

The Boston-based progressive folk duo of singer/guitarist Tim Harrington and singer/cellist Paul Wright deliver understated yet harmoniously emotive music. Their upcoming album “Neptune” arrives Aug. 19, so there will be plenty of new material on display. Catching these two in an outdoor venue as enjoyable as Millennium Park is an opportunity well worth taking.

Justin Townes Earle

SPACE, Aug. 2

The son of legendary rock/folk/country musician Steve Earle, Justin Townes Earle has big shoes to fill — which he effortlessly does time and time again with each new release. The singer-songwriter delivers point-blank lyrics over a canvas of smooth rock rhythms.

Wye Oak

Thalia Hall, Aug. 3

Indie rock duo Andy Stack and Jenn Wasner fuse their vocal and instrumental abilities to deliver a fluid sound that teeters between folk and high-energy dream pop. The two are fresh off a new release, “Tween.” Meanwhile, Wasner is stepping out on her own as Flock of Dimes and will release a solo album in September.

Ray LaMontagne

FirstMerit Bank Pavilion at Northerly Island, Aug. 6

This singer-songwriter rose to fame following his 2004 debut, which showcased the raw and enticing grit of his voice, not to mention his guitar chops and affecting lyrics. While his latest, “Ouroboros,” showcases LaMontagne’s more experimental and synth-driven side, the stylistic elements he’s known for still remain.

Hiatus Kaiyote

Park West, Aug. 10

This Australian quartet have a unique sound, one that has been defined as “future-soul.” Frontwoman Naomi “Nai Palm” Saalfield’s voice, which often dips into her lower register, is charismatic and filled with soulful sass, and the electronic and intricate arrangements heard on each song help her words hit even harder.

Joe Hertler & the Rainbow Seekers (*Valslist indie concert series at Chicago Botanic Garden) 

Chicago Botanic Garden, Aug. 10

The band’s website boasts a strong claim — that they “will make a spritely young groove doctor out of anyone.” The funk-driven soul septet offers undeniable drive that pulsates through each track, and surely kicks their live shows into high gear. With seven members contributing in various ways, their music is rich in texture and includes lush layers of catchy, feel-good energy — perfect for an early evening at the garden, not to mention the event is paired with a renowned mixologist.


Pearl Jam

Wrigley Field, Aug. 20

Seeing alt-rock icons Pearl Jam perform in a venue as historic as Wrigley Field is sure to result in nothing short of an epic night. The Seattle-bred band, fronted by Evanston-born and diehard Cubs fan Eddie Vedder, will bring its catalogue of decades-spanning hits to Wrigley for a night of reminiscing and (undoubtedly) some singing along to fan favorites.


Jay Pritzker Pavilion, Aug. 21

Twangy rockers Wilco are a Chicago staple — the city is their hometown, after all — and there’s nothing better than a homecoming show, especially one in an outdoor venue on a hot summer night. Hear them draw from their impressive catalogue, and no doubt play their newest single, “Locator,” which they surprise-released in mid-July.

Bruce Springsteen

United Center, Aug. 28

The Boss needs little introduction, and his faithful fan base needs little convincing when it comes to attending a show. The rocker will return to Chicago for the second time during his River Tour — so for those who missed out the first time around, now is your chance.

LIVE FROM THE GARDEN: Indie Concert Series

LIVE FROM THE GARDEN: Indie Concert Series at Chicago Botanic Garden
Photo courtesy of Chicago Botanic Garden.

Recently, Valslist has partnered with Chicago Botanic Garden to launch a new music series — LIVE FROM THE GARDEN: Indie Concert Series. The first two concerts sold out, but there are more to come with one this month (details above) and another in October. These hip concerts are offered in a unique, relaxing setting where you can catch some great live music while sipping an after-work cocktail in the early evening. It’s also a great way to hold on to summer a little while longer. More information and tickets can be found here.

August Playlist


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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