Live Music in Chicago: Don’t Miss These Upcoming Acts

Graham Nash

In a new monthly column, Make It Better music columnist Lyndsey Havens for Valslist looks ahead at the best live music headed to Chicago. Here are her picks for must-see shows on the horizon.

Courtney Barnett

Riviera Theatre, April 28

This Aussie delivers heavy rock with witty lyrics. She’s a skyrocketing artist who was just nominated for a Grammy for Best New Artist.

Little Green Cars

Metro, May 5

This Irish alternative-indie group offers a great vibe for a laid-back girls’ night out.

Bob Mould

Metro, May 6

See the punk pioneer perform a softer side of indie-rock as a now solo artist.

Graham Nash

City Winery, May 11/12

A legendary member of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young will perform songs off his new solo album, “This Path Tonight.”

Brendan James

Chicago Botanic Garden, May 12

New! A Valslist live concert event featuring the piano-based soul, indie/pop singer-songwriter. A great show for a Mother’s Day gift or visiting graduation guests. 

Allen Stone

House of Blues, May 14

This self-described “hippie with soul” offers a throwback, R&B/soul sound. 


Park West, June 17

At only 19, Birdy has become a well-known, poignant singer/songwriter. Her gorgeous voice and emotive lyrics are perfect for date night.

Alabama Shakes

Civic Opera House, July 19

Aragon Ballroom, July 20

A must-see, this Grammy Award-winning alt-rock group will be in Chicago for two (already sold-out) shows.

Introducing Lyndsey Havens, new Valslist music columnist for Make It Better:

Five years ago I got a call from New Trier High School asking if I could use an intern who wanted to do her senior project in the music industry. My music start-up,, (that I launched at age 50 to help busy adults keep up with new music) was heating up and I jumped at the chance for a young intern. 

Lyndsey came to work with me every day for a month; it was a perfect match. During that time I don’t know who learned more; she about business or me about tech and social media. Our skill sets meshed to make a perfect whole, and even more importantly, our perspectives on music and its industry (artists, concerts, downloading, streaming, iPods, vinyl…) complemented and offered insight to each other; exactly what I wanted to deliver to my readers. 

Lyndsey stayed on long after her senior project was over. She continued to do Valslist work even when she went off to college. She knows my brand (music playlists), she knows my target audience (you) and she knows my mission (to get the best new music to busy people who don’t have time to find it themselves). We’re a 50-something and a 20-something who have shared many music moments together — backstage at Lollapalooza, interviewing bands, writing music blogs, promoting shows, hosting house concerts and much more. 

Lyndsey just graduated a semester early from University of Kansas with a degree in journalism and I’ve invited her to co-write my seven-year music column for Make It Better.

Val Haller, CEO/founder


As I now transition into a new, post-college phase of my life, Valslist is transitioning into its next phase: live concerts. Most recently, Valslist has launched a new indie concert series in partnership with Chicago Botanic Garden. Through Valslist, Val has always aimed to “bridge the gap” between a generation that purchased an album and a generation that streams them. And as Val focuses on live concerts and other ongoing projects, I will focus on the monthly music column in Make It Better. We will work together to deliver playlists that fuse our musical tastes — and appeal to Make It Better’s broad readership.

– 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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