What better way to spend your warm, relaxing summer nights than under the stars listening to the sounds of Downtown Sound while surrounded by the sights of Chicago.
Downtown Sound, Millennium Park’s popular Monday night music series makes its anticipated return beginning on June 2 at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion. The series will continue on consecutive Monday evenings, June 2-August 11 (no concert July 28). The innovative series offers an eclectic mix of indie rock music and pop. Highlights of the series for 2014 include Omar Souleyman, Richard Thompson, and Robbie Fulks.
This year, the City of Chicago will mark Millennium Park’s 10th Anniversary, May 26 – September 1. Join us for a summer-long celebration, 10 years in the making – featuring Downtown Sound, Loops and Variations and Made in Chicago music series, film series, workouts and so much more.
- June 2, 6:30 p.m.
Robbie Fulks + Funeral Bonsai Wedding
Robbie Fulks, Chicago’s prodigiously talented singer, songwriter, and guitarist, has the soul of a country singer and the mind of a vaudevillian. Lost in the deserved accolades for being a fabulously unique, clever, and heartfelt writer is the fact that he’s also one of the best guitarists around. Steve Dawson, leader of Chicago folk-rock group Dolly Varden, has joined forces with some of the city’s most revered improvising musicians to form a new band called Funeral Bonsai Wedding.
- June 9, 6:30 p.m.
Omar Souleyman + Joshua Abrams’ Natural Information Society
Hailing from Syria, Omar Souleyman not only changed the vibe of weddings throughout the Middle East with his Shaabi street sound, but also brought it to the West through his notorious late night festival slots. His latest release, Wenu Wenu, was produced by Kieran Hebden (Four Tet). Natural Information Society is the genre-defying project of Chicago bassist Joshua Abrams. In performance the music revolves around the sound of the guimbri (a Gnawan lute), integrating composition and improvisation to create hypnotic, highly rhythmic, sustained psychedelic environments.
- June 16, 6:30 p.m.
An evening with Richard Thompson and his Electric Trio
Named by Rolling Stone Magazine as one of the Top 20 Guitarists of All Time, Richard Thompson is also one of the world’s most critically acclaimed and prolific songwriters. Having co-founded the groundbreaking group Fairport Convention as a teenager in the 60’s, Richard Thompson and his mates virtually invented British Folk Rock. By the age of 21 he left the band to pursue his own career, followed by a decade long musical partnership with his then-wife Linda, to over 30 years as a highly successful solo artist. His last album Electric, was produced by studio extraordinaire Buddy Miller, and released by New West records in February of 2013. For his Millennium Park debut Mr. Thompson will play a solo acoustic set followed by a full electric set with his trio.
After the show, stay for a screening of the 1998 film Rushmore as part of Chicago Bike Week presented by the Goose Island Beer Company at 8:30 p.m.
- June 23, 6:30 p.m.
Bob Mould + Split Single
Bob Mould’s journey as singer-songwriter, guitarist, author, DJ, and all-around MVP began in 1979 with the formation of Hüsker Dü. In 1988, Mould began the first part of his solo career with the albums Workbook and Black Sheets of Rain. In 1992, Bob gave the world Sugar, a reimagined power. Now well into his fourth decade as a singer-songwriter, Mould is as relevant, ferocious, and poignant as he has ever. The new album Beauty & Ruin may very well be the most epic emotional roller coaster ever pressed into 36 minutes. Split Single is the new project from Jason Narducy. Narducy recorded the album, “Fragmented World” with Spoon’s Britt Daniel, and Superchunk / Mountain Goats drummer Jon Wurster to craft a plush collection of rock songs. He will be performing these songs with Chicago musicians Tim Remis and Jake Smith.
- June 30, 6:30 p.m.
My Brightest Diamond + White Mystery
Shara Worden’s voice and arresting live performances have left audiences thunderstruck from the Sydney Opera House to Lincoln Center to the House of Blues. A multi-instrumentalist and trained opera singer, she’s performed under the experimental-pop moniker My Brightest Diamond for the last seven years, and has collaborated with The Decemberists’ on their The Hazards of Love, Sufjan Stevens, David Byrne, Brooklyn Rider, Bryce and Aaron Dessner in The Long Count, and appeared recently in the work of Matthew Barney’s opera, River of Fundament. Her new album is released in fall 2014. Chicago brother / sister duo White Mystery, Miss Alex White & Francis Scott Key White, round out the bill with their bombastic rock attack.
- July 7, 6:30 p.m.
Joe Pug + Hurray for the Riff Raff
Joe Pug is a songwriter from Austin, TX, by way of Chicago. With a modern take on the folk tradition and a work ethic that reflects his years as a carpenter, Pug’s ascension to the national spotlight challenged the traditional rulebook of the industry, enlisting fans directly to spread the gospel of his songs which balance sharp narrative, social criticism and passionate delivery. Hurray For The Riff Raff is New Orleans-based songwriter Alynda Lee Segarra, but in many ways it’s much more than that: it’s a young woman leaving her indelible stamp on the American folk tradition.
- July 14, 6:30 p.m.
Noura Mint Seymali + Ted Sirota’s Heavyweight Dub
Noura Mint Seymali is one of Mauritania’s foremost musical emissaries and a nationally beloved star, having begun her career, aged 13, as a supporting vocalist with her legendary step-mother Dimi Mint Abba. Drawing on Mauritania’s unique intersection of Arab and sub-Saharan African culture, Noura Mint Seymali pushes the dialectic of Mauritanian griot music forward into deep space. Heavyweight Dub is the brainchild of Chicago drummer and bandleader Ted Sirota. In 2013 they recorded with Reggae Dub legend Scientist for their debut album.
- July 21, 6:30 p.m.
Aimee Mann & Ted Leo’s new band, The Both headline’s the stage on the 21st and the evening’s opener is Chicago’s Pillars & Tongues, performing cinematic art-rock with lush soundscapes and haunting vocals.
- August 4, 6:30 p.m.
Maps & Atlases + Wooden Shjips
Maps & Atlases are a Chicago rock band who defies easy categorization. Their experimental and traditional song-forms collide with hymnal harmonies, percolating rhythms, and maximalist creativity, resulting in boundary-busting, asymmetrical pop. Wooden Shjips, recording on Chicago’s Thrill Jockey label, transform heavy psychedelic rock into minimalist masterpieces.
- August 11, 6:30 p.m.
Russian Circles + Colin Stetson
Chicago’s Russian Circles bring their soaring, triumphant instrumental metal to the Pritzker Pavilion, showcasing their 2013 release Memorial. Opening is Colin Stetson, who spent the last two years playing saxophone with Bon Iver. Here he performs works from his 2013 solo album, New History Warfare Volume 3: To See More Light, using a stunning circular breathing technique and unprecedented approach to the instrument to create dense cascading layers of sound.