For craft beer to be any more popular among Chicago's young, cool types it would have to make you piss Instagram pictures. Proof perfect: three beer fests in one weekend. The Chicago Craft Beer Festival kicks off tonight at St. Michael in Old Town with a VIP tasting and continues through the weekend (Saturday is already sold out; chicagoevents.com). Beginning tomorrow, there's the Two Brothers Summer Festival at the Roundhouse in Aurora (twobrosbrew.com), and the Mash Tun Festival at the Bridgeport Arts Center (featuring the Reader's Philip Montoro as a judge; mashtunfest.org). $35-40
Gospel music is kind of like Christmas—you don't have to believe in the Jesus bug to get bitten by it and kind of enjoy yourself. Some of its biggest names (Vickie Winans, Hezekiah Walker, Kierra Sheard) do lots of praising and a little bit of worshipping at the Chicago Gospel Music Festival. Tonight, choirs—including the GMAC Mass Choir—take the stage at Millennium Park's (Michigan and Randolph).
Of all the Chicago stand-up comics who've emigrated to the coasts in recent years, Michael Palascak has yet to achieve the sort of mainstream success of someone like Hannibal Buress or John Mulaney. It doesn't have anything to do with his material. Palascak has perhaps spent more time on the road (and thus in relative obscurity) than other Chicago ex-pats, honing his act in venues across the country. As such, he's become the ideal club comic: someone who works in admittedly innocuous, PG-13 territory yet retains a strong command of both his craft and persona. With his observational style, Palascak doesn't exactly reinvent the wheel, but onstage he seems genuinely perplexed by the sort of minutiae of everyday life. Jokes about bed-and-breakfasts ("It's like a hotel . . . but in someone's house"), Facebook, Starbucks—generally the kind of stuff that would sound trivial coming from a lesser comic—are bolstered by his inquisitive, Mike Birbiglia-esque manner of delivery. His charisma doesn't hurt; neither does his affability. In a lot of ways, he represents the ideal antidote to the sort of unbridled cynicism that pervades much of contemporary stand-up. Yes, Louis C.K.'s misanthropy is brilliant and compelling, but a guy like Palascak, whose emotional scars run as deep as quarterbacking his high school football team to a winless season ("We even lost some practices that year"), helps us to remember the escapist value of comedy. —Drew Hunt $25 plus two-drink minimum
Billed as Chicago's largest indoor music, art, and culture festival, Artopia includes live art and graffiti, DJs, hands-on activities, and body painting. $6-$10, free for kids under 12
Founded by Lawrence Peters, the country-music party will feature the Cajun Vagabonds, Angela James, Red Meat, and Rivals of the Peacemaker performing on both indoor and outdoor stages. There will also be pie. Homemade pie, in fact. $10
Tito Munoz, conductor (Richter).
Riccardo Muti, conductor; Duain Wolfe, chorus director (Mozart, Vivaldi, Verdi).