Rock On

Kelly Rizzo, lifestyle expert and creator of award-winning entertainment series Eat Travel Rock TV, gets us amped over summer’s hottest concert tickets.

By Kelly Rizzo

Portrait by Erik Marthaler

March 27, 2019 10:00 AM

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Spring is finally here! Which means it’s time to start stacking your calendar with as much live music as possible. Whether it’s at a cool club, outdoor amphitheater or glitzy theater, summer in Chicago is the best time to take in a show—be it your favorite band or a new artist you’ve been dying to check out. So what are the hottest tickets in town? Here’s my list of the most rock-worthy concerts coming to Chicago.  


Citizen Cope

April 12 at House of Blues Chicago

American songwriter, producer and performer Clarence Greenwood (a.k.a. Citizen Cope) is a one-of-a-kind artist with a one-of-a-kind sound. His distinct smokey voice and his bluesy funk/rock vibe will make you an instant fan. And the House of Blues is the perfect venue to showcase his soulful sound. (I saw him perform a small, private set in his hometown of Memphis, Tenn., and was completely blown away.) In March, he released his first album in six years, Heroin and Helicopters, and Billboard magazine called it both “personal and poignant.” TICKETS


Van Morrison 

April 23-25 at The Chicago Theatre

Van the Man! Legendary singer-songwriter, instrumentalist and record producer Van Morrison needs no introduction—and seeing him perform live at the iconic Chicago Theatre is a must. From “Gloria” and “Brown Eyed Girl” to “Domino” and “Moondance,” much of Morrison’s music is structured around the conventions of soul music and R&B, but an equal part of his catalogue consists of lengthy, loosely connected, spiritually inspired musical journeys that show the influence of Celtic tradition, jazz and stream-of-consciousness narrative. Whatever the impetus, his songs are the soundtrack of our lives. TICKETS


The Who

May 21 at Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre Chicago

There are few words to describe how massive this show will be. Seeing Roger Daltry belt out The Who’s classics (“Won’t Get Fooled Again,” “Who Are You” and “Love, Reign O’er Me,” just to name a few) while Pete Townsend, arguably one of the greatest guitarists of all times, shreds his solos is what music dreams are made of. And the Moving On! Tour won’t disappoint diehard fans. On stage, the line-up will be rounded out by familiar Who players featuring guitarist/backup singer Simon Townshend, keyboardist Loren Gold, bassist Jon Button and drummer Zak Starkey, and complemented by some of the best orchestras in the U.S. and Canada. In addition, $1 from each ticket sold for the Moving On! Tour will benefit Teen Cancer America. TICKETS


John Mayer

Aug. 14 at United Center

American singer-songwriter, musician, record producer and heartthrob John Mayer is often touted as one of the greatest living guitarists—and for good reason. Anyone who has seen him live knows he can go toe to toe with the greats. OK, so I might be a little biased since Mayer played at my wedding, and gave me his acoustic guitar. But don’t take my word for it. Mayer has collaborated with legendary blues artists such as B. B. King, Buddy Guy and Eric Clapton, not to mention toured with the remaining members of the Grateful Dead. For his Summer Tour 2019, expect old favorites, cool covers and plenty of buttery, bluesy guitar playing that’ll make you weak in the knees. TICKETS

John Mayer / Photo by Daniel Prakopcyk


George Clinton with P-Funk and Special Guests

May 31 at Aragon Ballroom

“Oww, we need the funk! We gotta have that funk!” That’s right, the Prime Minister of Funk, the Funkmaster General, Dr. Funkenstein himself, George Clinton is grounding the mothership after one final tour—the One Nation Under a Groove Tour, natch—and I can’t think of a more fitting venue than the Aragon Ballroom to wish him farewell. If you haven’t seen George Clinton and his Parliament-Funkadelic collective live, don’t miss your last chance. I saw them in 1999 and it was hands down one of the greatest and grooviest shows I can recall. Various feature openers include Galactic, Dumpstaphunk, Fishbone and Miss Velvet and the Blue Wolf. Bonus: The Aragon is always a gritty-good time. TICKETS


The Rolling Stones

June 21 & 25 at Soldier Field

Mick, Keith, Charlie and Ron… You really can’t call yourself a rock fan unless you’ve seen The Rolling Stones perform live. And because their ‘No Filter’ U.S. Stadium Tour is wrapping up at Soldier Field, it’s bound to be a wicked good performance. The Stones always bring the big hits like “Satisfaction,” “Gimme Shelter” and “Sympathy For The Devil,” but they’ve recently been playing deep cuts like “Play With Fire,” “Out of Control,” “Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker)” and “Neighbours,” too. So whether you’ve been a hardcore fan since Beggars Banquet, or just love a killer stadium show, seeing The Stones is a right of passage. TICKETS


Brandi Carlile

June 29 at Huntington Bank Pavillion on Northerly Island

If you watched her performance at the 61st Grammy Awards, then you know that Brandi Carlile stole the show. She also took home three Grammys that night: Americana album and both best American roots song and best American roots performance (for “The Joke”). Awards aside, the best thing about Brandi is that you can’t put her in a box. Her songs are a tapestry of pop, rock, alternative country and folk. And her songwriting is stellar, so good in fact that Adele, Pearl Jam and Dolly Parton have covered her tracks. Plus, nothing beats having Lake Michigan as your backdrop for a soulful summer concert. TICKETS


Zac Brown Band

June 29 at Hollywood Casino Amphitheater 

Zac Brown Band has been my favorite country band since the release of their quintessential debut album, The Foundation, in 2008. But you don’t have to love country music to love this multi-platinum, Grammy Award-winning group. Their sound has all the hallmarks of classic country, but with an edgy, rock-like vibe that’s layered with reggae sounds and melodies. In 2018 alone, Zac Brown Band performed for more than half a million fans live. And they’re upholding their road warrior status with The Owl Tour—Zac Brown Band’s third consecutive touring run within the span of one year. And, according to Brown, concertgoers can expect “some new and unexpected sounds woven into the signature Zac Brown Band live music experience.” TICKETS


Sublime With Rome

July 5 at Huntington Bank Pavillion on Northerly Island

If you’re a ’90s music fan, then “Santeria,” “What I Got” and “Wrong Way” are probably on a few of your throwback playlists. The SoCal ska punk band helped paved the way for groups like Blink-182 and No Doubt, until original frontman Bradley Nowell passed away in 1996. The band regrouped as the Long Beach Dub All-Stars for five years, but it wasn’t until Rome Ramirez came on board as frontman in 2009 that Sublime found the commercial spotlight again. Ramirez evokes a massive amount of Nowell’s vocal vibe, as well as his guitar prowess. And because about 50 percent of their Blessings Tour setlist is comprised of Sublime covers, you can slam dance to “Wrong Way” ’til your heart’s content. TICKETS


Peter Frampton

July 28 at Huntington Bank Pavillion on Northerly Island

Peter Frampton’s musical career is the stuff of legends. From The Herd and Humble Pie to a solo career that includes collaborations with George Harrison, David Bowie, Jerry Lee Lewis, Ringo Starr, John Entwistle and Mike McCready (Pearl Jam), Frampton is one of the most celebrated artists in rock history. Although he’s at the top of his game, Frampton’s diagnosis of the autoimmune disease Inclusion Body Myositis (IBM) has prompted the Peter Frampton Finale, The Farewell Tour. Bittersweet for sure, but you can feel good that $1 of every ticket sold will benefit The Peter Frampton Myositis Research Fund at Johns Hopkins, a newly established fund by Frampton and Johns Hopkins, where he’s being treated. TICKETS


Peter Frampton