Arts & Entertainment

From Indie to Metal: Chicago’s Hottest Summer Music Festivals of 2022

Zack Miller | The PhoenixChicago's summer music festivals take place over several weekends from mid-June to mid-Sept.

Each year Chicago hosts some of the most popular festivals in the music scene, welcoming artists of different styles and fans of every genre. Here, The Phoenix explains the weekends and highlights different performers at each event.

Summer Smash (June 17-19) 

Chicago’s music festival scene kicks off with the Lyrical Lemonade Summer Smash. The festival, which takes place in Douglass Park, will feature some of the most notable names in rap and hip-hop, including headliners Post Malone and Playboi Carti. 

Courtesy of Summer Smash

Rappers Young Thug and Gunna were scheduled to headline the festival as well, performing a joint set. However, following the arrests of the artists on gang-related charges, rapper Lil Uzi Vert will be taking their place as Friday’s headliner. 

Lil Uzi Vert released his first studio album “Luv Is Rage” in 2015 and has been nominated for several Billboard Music Awards, such as the 2017 Top New Artist and Top Rap Album for his 2017 release “Luv Is Rage 2” in 2018. 

Artists such as Lil Skies, Lil Tecca and Ski Mask the Slump God are set to return to the Summer Smash stage. All three artists appeared on the festival’s 2021 lineup and have proven to be attendee favorites.

Illinois-born rapper Tink is also among this year’s list of performers. Her most recent song “Cater” features rapper 2 Chainz, who will also be appearing on the festival stage. 2 Chainz released his debut album in 2010. So far in 2022, he has released the album “Dope Don’t Sell Itself” and an EP titled “420 Hits: 2 Chainz.”

Singer-songwriter and comedian Oliver Tree will perform his popular scooter tricks, as well as a few of his songs. The modern sound and clever lyricism of the indie hip-hop artist’s Feb. 2022 album “Cowboy Tears” is a guaranteed crowd-pleaser. 

Three-day general admission tickets are on sale now, starting at $275 without taxes and fees.

Pitchfork Music Festival (July 15-17)

Pitchfork Music Festival will kick off July in Union Park with sets ranging from soft indie solo acts to soulful R&B ensembles.

Courtesy of Pitchfork Music Festival

The first day features The National — an indie rock band from Cincinnati, Ohio. Aside from their feature on Taylor Swift’s “evermore,” the band has released eight studio albums, winning the Grammy for Best Alternative Music Album in 2018.

Mitski and Lucy Dacus will set the tone on Saturday with their shared lyrical intimacy. Each of their sets are predicted to be similar to Dacus’ former collaborator and last year’s headliner Phoebe Bridgers.

This festival appearance follows Dacus’ 2021 album “Home Video” and her tour that ended in 2022.

Chicago rapper CupcakKe will be another standout performance from Saturday’s collection of artists. Despite not having an album since 2018, she has been regularly releasing singles over the past year, including her 2019 hit “Squidward Nose.”

Also hailing from the Windy City, Earl Sweatshirt will perform on Sunday. He has made a name for himself outside of his former group Odd Future by releasing four studio albums including “SICK!” earlier this year.

Canadian instrumental group BADBADNOTGOOD will be one of the most intriguing sets on Sunday. Combining genres like jazz and hip-hop, the band has collaborated with artists such as Thundercat and Charlotte Day Wilson. Their dreamy style of music could prove to be a wonderful change of pace on a summer afternoon.

As more than just “The Tonight Show” house band, The Roots will close out Pitchfork on Sunday. Questlove, Black Thought and the rest of The Roots have built one of the most influential hip-hop groups of all time. Their music in the faint chill of the Chicago summer night will be the perfect send-off for the eclectic weekend.

Tickets are on sale now, with three-day passes available for $200, three-day plus for $399 and single day passes for $99 without taxes and fees. 

Lollapalooza (July 28-31)

Lollapalooza has remained one of Chicago’s most highly anticipated music festivals, and this years’ lineup maintains the event’s reputation. The festival takes place in Grant Park and will feature headliners of various music genres. 

Courtesy of Lollapalooza

Heavy metal band Metallica is set to be one of Thursday’s most well-known performers. The group has been releasing music since the 1980s, with their most recent album being “S&M2” in 2020. 

Contrasting Metallica’s hardcore sound on Thursday is R&B singer Jazmine Sullivan and hyperpop group 100 gecs. Packed with a wide variety of bands and artists, the first day of Lollapalooza offers a versatile lineup to attract fans of many genres.

Friday presents a promising bill of performances, with household name headliners such as Dua Lipa and Machine Gun Kelly. 

The embodiment of danceable, feel-good music, Lipa’s ‘80s-inspired album “Future Nostalgia” won the 2021 Grammy Award for Best Vocal Pop Album. As the 2021 Billboard Music Awards Top Rock Artist, Machine Gun Kelly will provide a hard rock contrast to Lipa’s pop.

J. Cole, Big Sean and Wallows are set to take the stage on Saturday. Wallows’ Lollapalooza performance will be their first Chicago appearance since the release of their most recent album “Tell Me That It’s Over,” which highlights the complexities of romantic pursuits.

While pop-rap artist Doja Cat was expected to be one of the festival’s most iconic performers, she recently announced her withdrawal from all concerts and festivals this summer due to needing tonsil surgery.

Green Day, Charli XCX and Dominic Fike are still supporting the festival’s Sunday lineup. This will be Dominic Fike’s second year in a row on the Lollapalooza stage. The recent rise in popularity of the singer’s 2018 release “Don’t Forget About Me, Demos” and his appearance in season two of “Euphoria” are guaranteed to draw a crowd to his set. 

One to four-day Lollapalooza general admission tickets are on sale now, with four-day tickets starting at $350 without taxes and fees. 

Riot Fest (Sept. 16-18)

Chicago major summer music festivals will be capped off by Riot Fest in Douglass Park. The weekend’s headliners include My Chemical Romance, The Original Misfits and Nine Inch Nails.

Courtesy of Riot Fest

My Chemical Romance announced their reunion three years ago after disbanding in 2013. While the COVID-19 pandemic derailed many of their plans, 2022 has seen them release the single “The Foundations of Decay” and return to the stage. 

Despite  their most popular album “The Black Parade” turning 16 years old in October, some fans are just as excited to see Gerard Way and his bandmates perform.

Bleachers can also be seen that Friday with their Grammy-winning frontman Jack Antonoff. This performance follows their tour and the release of their third studio album “Take the Sadness Out of Saturday Night.”

The Original Misfits are the main draw for Saturday, as members Glenn Danzig, Jerry Only and Doyle Wolfgang von Frankenstein will be performing together again. These three have been playing together since 2016 after years of tumultuous band drama. They will be performing their album “Walk Among Us” in its entirety in honor of its 40th anniversary.

2020 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee and Sunday’s headliner Nine Inch Nails is finally making it onto the Riot Fest stage after canceling all shows last year due to COVID-19

PVRIS has evolved over the years to have a more pop-like energy to their hard-rock persona. Certain to perform many songs from their latest 2020 album “Use Me,” the crowds at Riot Fest will be able to see Lynn Gunn in their first Riot Fest since 2019 on Sunday.

Tickets are on sale now, with three-day passes available for $299 and single day passes for $99 without taxes and fees. 

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