Musician John Mayer plays the United Center stage for two nights of his most-loved hits and deep cuts. - Associated Press

Sound check: John Mayer ditches the Company for solo Chicago shows

John Mayer and more at the United Center

When John Mayer first hit commercial acclaim in the early 2000s with “Room for Squares,” the acoustic singer-songwriter offered a breath of fresh air to radio waves growing stale with boy bands and nu metal acts that had been riding the top as we crossed into the new millennium. His folksy delivery and light touch on topics from memories to journeys to awkward moments were at once endearingly earnest and refreshingly nostalgic. As he’s matured, Mayer has given more focus to the blues, which have always informed his music, and he now tours regularly with Dead & Company — an ensemble of Grateful Dead survivors — but he’s stepping back to his singer-songwriter act when he comes to Chicago for two nights. Rumor has it he and his backing musicians play a retrospective of sorts, sometimes diving deep into Mayer’s older cuts as well as covers of influential favorites. John Mayer performs at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, Aug. 14-15, at the United Center, 1901 W. Madison St., Chicago; tickets start at $59.50 for Wednesday and $39.50 for Thursday at (312) 455-4500 or unitedcenter.com.

Also at the United Center:

• Queen + Adam Lambert’s “The Rhapsody Tour”: 8 p.m. Friday, Aug. 9; sold out at unitedcenter.com, but tickets are available through third-party resellers.

• Backstreet Boys’ “DNA World Tour” with Baylee Littrell: 8 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 10; tickets start at $90 at unitedcenter.com.

Chicago leads Ravinia’s lineup

Chicago has been gracing stages and airwaves with its classic rock and pop-rock hits for more than five decades, and the iconic rock band is not slowing down. When band members hit the Ravinia Festival stage for two nights this weekend, fans can expect to hear a mix of old favorites and more modern hits. Bela Nanni, who has joined the band for many Chicago-area shows, returns to open and perform with them. 7:30 p.m. (gates at 5) Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 10-11, at Ravinia Festival, 418 Sheridan Road, Highland Park. $43-$125. (847) 266-5100 or ravinia.org.

Also at Ravinia:

• An Evening with Sarah McLachlan and the Ravinia Festival Orchestra: 7:30 p.m. (gates at 5) Monday, Aug. 12; $43-$105 at ravinia.org.

• Nickelback’s “Feed The Machine Tour” with Buckcherry: 6:30 p.m. (gates at 4) Tuesday, Aug. 13; $54-$160 at ravinia.org.

• Pentatonix “The World Tour” with special guest Rachel Platten: 7 p.m. (gates at 5) Thursday, Aug. 15; $43-$120 at ravinia.org.

The Million Reasons play at Chicago’s Cubby Bear Friday, Aug. 9. – Courtesy of Brian Shamie

Million Reasons

When The Million Reasons recently dropped the new single “Secrets,” it was a promise that there’s more bubbling beneath the surface of both the song and the band. A string of shows, including a gig at House of Blues earlier this year, and two new singles on the way out in a few months are foreshadowing what promises to be a big year for the alt-rock fivesome. Catch the band, in all its dark and twisty glory, when Reasons headlines the Cubby Bear this weekend, along with guests Bent Dimes, Honey & the 45s and Neon Creek. 7:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 9, at Cubby Bear, 1059 W. Addison St., Chicago. $7-$10. (773) 327-1662 or cubbybear.com.

‘What Happened’ by Sammy Cannillo

Singer-songwriter Sammy Cannillo has a new song, and it’s one that’ll make you think. “What Happened,” which was released last Thursday, peers into our brains and explores our grasp on memories in the aftermath of big events in our lives. Cannillo said the song, which is available for sale and on streaming platforms, was inspired by the dissolution of a few relationships. “It’s wondering about how that person feels or wondering what they think about the past,” she said. “Moments of our lives can have such a strong impact they can affect everything after … alter our perceptions.” Cannillo likens it to going to a concert. “You might not remember the first song the band played, but if the last song was so great, you’ll remember that. You might leave thinking the concert was great, even if the first song was crappy.” After reading psych entries, she dove even deeper into it. “As much as you want to think of the past as true, it’s actually not. There’s no concrete evidence in your brain to support it.” Cannillo, who transplanted to Chicago from the East Coast for grad school, has been until recently a solo dream-pop artist; but Saturday she’ll be playing the new song and others along with recent collaborator Joseph Marcus at Shuga Records. The duo will also be joined by Chicago artist Kacie Swierk. 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 10, at Shuga Records, 1272 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago. Free. (773) 278-4085 or facebook.com.

Trickshooter’s night of art

Coming hot off its recent release, “American Experiment,” Chicago’s Trickshooter Social Club is taking on a new experiment: a night celebrating the arts with Steppenwolf Theatre’s LookOut Series. The offbeat performance will feature Trickshooter playing selections from the new album along with spoken word interludes and short films, dance and visual artistry integrated into the set. See it all on the big stage at Steppenwolf Theatre. 8 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 15, at Steppenwolf Theatre, 1650 N. Halsted St., Chicago. $15; (312) 335-1650 or steppenwolf.org.

• Brian Shamie is a Daily Herald multiplatform editor and local music junkie. Find him on Facebook or follow him on Twitter at @thatshamieguy. Brian also keeps tabs on the Chicago-area music scene at chicagosoundcheck.com.