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March Madness 2020: Every Show in Chicago Worth Checking Out Next Month

I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: I am entirely convinced that March is the busiest month for live music in Chicago, every year. Every year for as long as I’ve been going to shows, there’s been a RIDICULOUS amount of talent making their way through during the third month of the year, to the point where it’s physically possible for me to get to every single show. It’s no basketball tournament, but it’s definitely madness.

I’ve compiled a list of shows that I think are worth checking out in Chicago next month. They vary in price, location, and genre, and a few of them are already sold out. I’ve linked ways to purchase resale tickets. Enjoy!

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March 4 – Sudan Archives, Cartel Madras

Genre: Alternative, contemporary R&B
Where: Sleeping Village / 3734 W. Belmont Ave.
Tickets: Sold out, resale here.

Brittany Parks has played violin since she was in the 4th grade, and is a self-taught musician. At 17, she was kicked out of her home, prompting her to move to Los Angeles. Sudan’s debut EP was released in 2017, following a full-length release in 2019, titled Athena. She’s been covered in Vogue, the New York Times, Pitchfork, and more. Need I say more as to why you should check out her music?

Sleeping Village’s capacity sits at 350 people, tucked nicely in between Schubas (165) and Lincoln Hall (507). I think she could have played a sold-out show at Lincoln Hall, but I think this is a pretty good get for her first headline show here. She last played Chicago at Pitchfork’s Midwinter Festival just about a year ago.

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March 10 – Chelsea Cutler, Alexander 23

Genre: Pop
Where: Riviera Theater / 4746 N. Racine Ave.
Tickets: here

If you’ve ever thought about seeing a Spotify success live, now is your chance. Chelsea Cutler may very well define what it means to be an online success story, but the talent definitely translates into her live performance. After a crazy few years of successful EPs, collaborations, and vocal features on a handful of dance hits, Chelsea’s debut album, How To Be Human, was released this year. She’s toured the country, played festivals, and sold out The Metro during her last headlining performance in Chicago. The Riviera is 40% bigger than the Metro—so we’ll see if she can 1) sell it out and 2) perform in a bigger space. I saw her at Lolla this past year, and though I’m bad at math, I would venture to assume her crowd was larger than 2,500 people.

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March 11 – Best Coast, Mannequin Pussy

Genre: Folk Pop/Rock
Where: Thalia Hall / 1807 S Allport St.
Tickets: here

Best Coast’s next album is set to release on Feb. 21, which also happens to be their first release in five years. I’m going to be honest when I say that I was never really a fan of Best Coast’s music after the first couple songs of theirs were released way back in 2012, though I find the new singles released in 2020’s sound to be completely different. That totally makes sense though, considering it’s been a whole eight years since I last heard an entire album from Best Coast.

Every song that’s been released of the new record gets better than the last, and I think that this is the most refined they’ve sounded in their career so far. Thalia Hall is also one of my favorite venues in the city, so it’s bound to be great.

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March 11 – Transviolet, Armors

Genre: Indie Pop
Where: Beat Kitchen / 2100 W. Belmont Ave.
Tickets: here

A band that formed online? Give me their origin story! Transviolet started making music together in 2015 after meeting through a musicians’ networking website, which eventually led them to meeting in person soon after. The band sent out anonymous packages containing a cassette tape to a Fueled by Ramen. The EP Girls Your Age was released that same year and eventually gathered over 20 million streams on the top three tracks. We love guerilla marketing!

Since their origin story, Transviolet has continued touring and performing at numerous festivals across North America. They’ve played Chicago a few times but I think after an album release this year, it’s going to be their best!

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March 13 – Blood Orange, Tei Shei

Genre: Indie Pop/R&B
Where: The Vic / 3145 N Sheffield Ave.
Tickets: Tickets are sold out, check out resale options here.

I’m lowkey bummed that I didn’t get tickets to this show in time! I had known a handful of Blood Orange’s work before I saw him perform at Pitchfork in 2018, but that performance truly made me become a massive fan. He was easily the best performer I had seen that day, and the live arrangement of his work was one of the coolest performances I’ve ever seen. With that being said, I can only imagine that his live set at his own show is even more powerful compared to what he was given to work within a festival setting – and he was able to implement a full band, backup singers, and a video screen there!

Since his Pitchfork set, he’s released two more albums, so I’m not surprised this show sold out. If I can manage it, I’ll definitely be covering it for Chicago Haze.

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March 14 – Allen Stone, Samm Henshaw

Genre: R&B Soul
Where: The Vic / 3145 N Sheffield Ave.
Tickets: here

I feel like a broken record when I talk about Allen Stone because I just want to constantly reiterate how incredibly talented he is and he easily has one of the best voices I have ever heard. Allen was just recently in the area when he had a karaoke night in Evanston, which allowed fans to perform with him onstage, as well as previewing songs from his then non-released album, Building Balance. 

Stone’s show at The Vic is apart of his biggest headlining tour to date, to promote Building Balance, his fourth full-length release. His support, Samm Henshaw, has also toured with the likes of James Bay and Chance the Rapper, so this show is inevitably one not to miss.

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March 21 – Vundabar, Boyscott, The Ophelias

Genre: Sludgy Jangly Pop (taken from their Facebook page)
Where: Lincoln Hall / 2424 N Lincoln Ave.
Tickets: here

I’ve been loving every release I’ve heard from Vundarbar thus far and I really want to check out this show. If you’re a fan of artists like Hippocampus and Wallows, Vundbar is right up your alley.

The band’s third album, Either Light, comes out on March 13, so you have plenty of time to hear it before their show at Lincoln Hall. They last played Chicago at Wicker Park Fest in 2019, so this is really their time to shine with a headlining set!

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March 26 – Vérité

Genre: Pop
Where: Lincoln Hall / 2424 N Lincoln Ave.
Tickets: here

How could I not include Vérité when she released one of my favorite albums of 2019? She recently toured with X Ambassadors and unfortunately didn’t stop in Chicago, so I’m really looking forward to this show. I last saw her at Lincoln Hall in summer 2017 and I’m curious to see how she’s grown and developed as a performer compared to 2.5 years ago. I think her recent album is her best so far, and I hope that translates well live. I’m also curious to see if she’s on the Lollapalooza lineup this year, the last time she was was in 2015 (!!!)

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March 31 – Allie X

Genre: Pop
Where: Subterranean / 2011 W North Ave.
Tickets: here

Allie X has performed in Chicago a handful of times over the past couple years and I have YET to see a performance! She was on the Lolla lineup last year but sadly I couldn’t make it in time to see her. It’s also funny that her show is so close in time to Vérité’s, since they’ve collaborated before. Allie has also worked on songs with Troye Sivan.

Another fun fact! The X in her name represents the unknown variable in algebra. “In mathematics, X is any possible variable. It’s an unknown quantity. Once it’s solved, it’s no longer X. With that in mind, X is the identity that I take on as I go through my journey of self-discovery.”

Thanks for reading!

  • Kristin

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