13 concerts poised to heat up Chicago’s summer — from Bebe Rexha to Brandi Carlile

There’s a whole lotta music happening in Chicago this summer outside of the big arena and stadium tours. Here are our picks for shows in more cozy confines.

SHARE 13 concerts poised to heat up Chicago’s summer — from Bebe Rexha to Brandi Carlile
Bebe Rexha performs onstage during iHeartRadio 102.7 KIIS FM’s Jingle Ball 2022 in Inglewood, California. The singer headlines the Riv on June 13. 

Bebe Rexha performs onstage during iHeartRadio 102.7 KIIS FM’s Jingle Ball 2022 in Inglewood, California. The singer headlines the Riv on June 13.

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This summer may go down as one of the busiest concert seasons in the city, with megastars like Taylor Swift, Beyonce, Pink, Madonna, Sam Smith, Bruce Springsteen and more taking over arenas, stadiums and ballparks.

But also in the mix are a ton of more intimate club dates with talented artists that bring as much star power in a more intimate setting.

Here are some you won’t want to miss:

May 27: Seal

Singer Seal (shown in performance in 2020 in Los Angeles) headlines the Chicago Theatre on May 27. 

Singer Seal (shown in performance in 2020 in Los Angeles) headlines the Chicago Theatre on May 27.

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The British smooth crooner, known for his standards “Kiss From A Rose” and “Crazy” that combine pop panache, R&B orchestration and trip-hop chill, has packed a bag of hits for his latest world tour. The evening celebrates the 30th anniversary of his landmark albums “Seal I” and “Seal II” and reunites the singer with his original music director Trevor Horn, who helped engineer Seal’s early ’90s sound. Horn is also a member of The Buggles (“Video Killed the Radio Star”) who will open the show. 8 p.m. Chicago Theatre, 175 N. State St.; $49.50+, ticketmaster.com

June 10: Material Reissue

Material Reissue — drummer Mike Zelenko (left) and bassist Ted Ansani — are photographed in Chicago in 2011. The band headlines Schubas on June 20. 

Material Reissue — drummer Mike Zelenko (left) and bassist Ted Ansani — are photographed in Chicago in 2011. The band headlines Schubas on June 20.

Keith Hale/Sun-Times File

The story of Chicago’s power pop trio Material Issue is its own kind of Shakespearean tragedy. At the height of its fame behind radio and MTV gems like “Valerie Loves Me” and “Diane,” singer Jim Ellison took his life in 1996, abruptly halting the band and pivoting it into the realms of fan folklore. The story is detailed in a documentary “Out of Time” that premiered in late 2021, and in more recent years, members Ted Ansani and Mike Zelenko have soldiered on as Material Reissue, giving the project new life. 8 p.m. Schubas, 3159 N. Southport Ave.; $30, lh-st.com

June 13: Bebe Rexha

Turning to disco flair and ’70s glam overtones, not to mention Snoop Dogg, on her latest material, Bebe Rexha is poised to be the sound of the summer with her just-released self-titled album. The songwriter has the Midas touch, starting her career writing behemoths like “The Monster” for Eminem and Rihanna, but since finding her own voice, she’s been the queen of club hits with tracks like “I’m Good (Blue)” that keep her breaking all kinds of records. 7:30 p.m., Riviera Theatre, 4746 N. Racine Ave.; $35, jamusa.com

June 14: Sampa The Great

Sampa the Great performs on day one of Lollapalooza in Grant Park in 2022. She headlines Thalia Hall on June 14.

Sampa the Great performs on day one of Lollapalooza in Grant Park in 2022. She headlines Thalia Hall on June 14.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

This Zambia-born artist has been making waves with her unique blend of rootsy hip-hop and R&B, layered with poetic missives, slick samples, catchy beats, a choir of voices and instruments and even sometimes guest stars like Angélique Kidjo, who appears on the latest track, “Let Me Be Great.” Sampa’s music also soundtracked a recent “Wakanda Forever” trailer, showing how cinematic it can be, too. 8:30 p.m., Thalia Hall, 1807 S. Allport St.; $20+, ticketweb.com

June 23: The Struts & Mac Saturn

Combine one part Freddie Mercury, one part Mick Jagger and one part Steven Tyler, and you’ll get close to the makeup of Luke Spiller, frontman of the Struts. The British glam-rock revivalists take cues from their rock elders but spin fresh bangers for a new generation. Detroit rockers Mac Saturn get the throwback vibes started early in this amplified double bill. 8 p.m., Riviera Theatre, 4746 N. Racine Ave.; $35, jamusa.com

June 28: Jesus Jones

It’s been about two decades since the British alt rock stars did a proper tour of the United States, and they’re opting to grace small listening rooms on their 2023 run, stopping at Evanston’s Space for a real face-to-face concert experience. Best known for their commercial hit “Right Here Right Now,” their other early singles “Real Real Real” and “International Bright Young Thing” were catalysts for the alterna dance scene of the ’90s, incorporating electronica and breathy vocals into the rock space. On their website, the band members say they’re working on new material too so expect some surprises. 8 p.m. SPACE, 1245 Chicago Ave., Evanston; $25, ticketweb.com

July 16: Cheap Trick

Venerable North Side club Metro has been celebrating its 40th birthday the last year with a slew of incredible bookings featuring Patti Smith, the Smashing Pumpkins, Green Day and more, all feting the landmark and its influence on the music scene. All good things must come to an end, however, and Metro may have saved the best for last by lining up Rockford’s own Cheap Trick for the final anniversary event. From “Dream Police” to “Surrender” and “I Want You To Want Me,” the power pop meets rock ‘n’ roll icons have been mainstays for the last six decades and still bring all the same pomp and pizazz to every show. 7 p.m. Metro, 3730 N. Clark St.; $65 in advance, metrochicago.com

July 20: Louise Post

Louise Post.

Louise Post

Alison Dyer Photo

A star alum of Chicago’s ’90s alt rock class, the Veruca Salt vocalist/guitarist is branching out on her own in 2023. On June 2, Post will release her solo debut album “Sleepwaker” and embark on a tour that brings her back home for the first time in nearly a decade. The first single, “Guilty,” is a familiar sound packed with fuzzy guitar haze and sanguine vocals that fit in the same mold as “Seether” and hint that Post has written a new slate of ready-made hits. 8 p.m. Lincoln Hall, 2424 N. Lincoln Ave.; $20 in advance, lh-st.com

July 27: Gogol Bordello

Gogol Bordello.

Gogol Bordello

Sanjay Suchak

Seeing the New York-bred gypsy punk troupe live is an instant mood booster. Frontman Eugene Hutz imbues much of his Romani heritage into the music, which also touches on klezmer, reggae and unabashed punk rock for a raucous hodgepodge that comes across as a life-affirming first line. Hutz has also been a vocal ally for his home country of Ukraine since the war broke out, even traveling to the country in secret last August to perform a concert for soldiers. It was a life-changing event that informed much of the group’s latest album, “Solidartine.” 7 p.m. Concord Music Hall, 2051 N. Milwaukee Ave.; $35, concordmusichall.com

Aug 18: The Swell Season

Musicians Marketa Irglova and Glen Hansard of The Swell Season perform at Coachella in 2011. The duo headlines The Salt Shed on Aug. 18. 

Musicians Marketa Irglova and Glen Hansard of the Swell Season perform at Coachella in 2011. The duo headlines the Salt Shed Aug. 18.

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Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova are the duo behind The Swell Season, but they may be better known as the duo in the beloved classic movie “Once,” the 2007 indie hit about two struggling musicians in Ireland whose collaborations become the soundtrack for a sweet love story. It went on to win an Oscar for best original song and became a popular staged musical. Though Hansard and Irglova drifted in recent years, they reunited for a sold-out 15th anniversary tour in 2022 and continue with more dates this summer, playing the gripping original music they wrote for the film like “Falling Slowly.” 8 p.m. Salt Shed, 1357 N. Elston Ave.; $136, ticketmaster.com

Aug. 19: Joss Stone

Joss Stone performs at the national Christmas tree lighting ceremony on the Ellipse on November 30, 2022 in Washington, DC. Stone headlines the Des Plaines theatre on Aug. 19. 

Joss Stone performs at the national Christmas tree-lighting ceremony on the Ellipse Nov. 30, 2022, in Washington, DC. Stone headlines the Des Plaines theatre Aug. 19.

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Pop, jazz, reggae, soul, Afro-pop — there’s few things this powerhouse vocalist can’t do. Breaking out of the early 2000s crowded house of pop stars, the British songbird gave a fresh take, tapping into her retro-fueled, old-soul heart a few years before Amy Winehouse and Adele became household names. Her debut, 2003’s “The Soul Sessions,” was released when she was just 16, anchored by “Fell In Love with a Boy,” her take on The White Stripes hit. In the years since, she’s performed with everyone from Stevie Wonder to Mick Jagger, released eight more albums and won countless awards. 8 p.m. Des Plaines Theatre, 1476 Miner St., Des Plaines; $89+, desplainestheatre.com

Aug. 27: The Baseball Project

The Baseball Project. 

The Baseball Project

Marty Perez Photo

It’s been a minute since the Baseball Project has come back up to the mound. Formed in 2007, the supergroup features half of R.E.M. with Mike Mills and Peter Buck, as well as the Dream Syndicate/Gutterball’s Steve Wynn, Filthy Friends drummer Linda Pitmon and the Young Fresh Fellows/the Minus Five guitarist Scott McCaughey. The alt-rock veterans put their well-oiled sound on songs about America’s favorite pastime including their first new album in nine years, “Grand Salami Time,” out June 30. 7 p.m. Space, 1245 Chicago Ave., Evanston; $25, ticketweb.com

Aug. 31: Brandi Carlile

Brandi Carlile.

Brandi Carlile

Mary Ellen Matthews Photo

By now, Brandi Carlile has inked her status as an American treasure and one of the greatest songwriters and singers of our time, who can cross over from pop to folk to country and more with songs like “The Story” and “Right on Time.” She not only swept the most recent Grammy Awards for her album “In These Silent Days,” but also helped bring her idol Joni Mitchell back to the stage and then sent off Elton John in style at his U.S. finale show. Carlile is the true highlight in a busy Ravinia summer. 7 p.m. Ravinia, 201 Ravinia Park Rd., Highland Park; $67+, ravinia.org

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