John Wozniak and Marcy Playground head to The Piazza in Aurora for The Alt-Rock Rager Saturday, June 4. // Associated Press

Sound check: Marcy Playground, Cracker play Piazza’s Alt-Rock Rager

The Piazza in Aurora and the relaunched Q101 host the Alt-Rock Rager, featuring alternative favorites Cracker and Marcy Playground; Debbie Gibson and Randy Travis at the Des Plaines Theatre; plus Bitter Jester and Side Street Studio’s band battles and Lollapalooza aftershows.

Alt-Rock Rager

Alternative rock rules as The Piazza brings some long-running stalwarts and Chicago-area favorites together in Aurora for the Alt-Rock Rager this weekend. Cracker, Marcy Playground and Libertyville’s Ike Reilly headline the event, hosted by the newly relaunched Q101 radio station, Afterlife and Swizzle Steve. Chicago acts The Vaudettes, Prizefighter, Unlikely Souls, The Queue, EGxBH and The Giving Moon bring contemporary twists on rock to round out the day. 3 p.m. Saturday, June 4, at The Piazza, 85 Executive Drive, Aurora. $35-$40 general admission; VIP and table packages also available.

Bitter Jester Music Festival

Highland Park’s summer concert and competition series dives into week three Friday with sets by regional musical acts Divisor, Fightin’ Bob, Fluctuation, Ian Jake Robleza, Jagger and Opening Day. The Dennies and Sara Pilkati join the lineup as showcased performers; and guest artist Madeline O’Dell rounds out the evening’s entertainment. Food and drinks from Judy’s Pizza and Sweet Home Gelato will be available for purchase. Also, congratulations to Scorched Waves for winning night two last Friday and moving on to the finale concert Monday, July 4. 6:30 p.m. Friday, June 3, at Port Clinton Square, 600 Central Ave., Highland Park. Free.

Rockin’ Reggies

Start the weekend soaking up some hot, grungy Chicago rock! Rotten Mouth conjures up its gritty, jam flavors; FuzzBucket weighs in with its high-energy, power punk; and Space Mafia rolls in with its gleefully fun twist on rock. 8 p.m. Friday, June 3, at Reggies Music Joint, 2105 S. State St., Chicago. $13-$15; (312) 949-0120 or

Side Street Battle

Side Street Studio Arts continues its 2022 Battle of the Bands competition Saturday with Soaking Up Sandcastles and Feed The Monkey taking the spotlight. Support your favorite (or find a new one) as you vote toward the winning act each weekend. And congratulations to Whuzy for taking week one! 7:30 p.m. Saturday, June 4, at Side Street Studio Arts, 15 Ziegler Court, Elgin. $10.

Pop & country in Des Plaines

The Des Plaines Theatre is the place to be this weekend, with two big acts making their way to the Northwest suburban music venue. First Debbie Gibson — the pop princess of the ’80s who busted onto the music scene at 16 with the infectious hits “Out of the Blue,” “Foolish Beat” and “Only in My Dreams,” among others — visits the theater Saturday night with her “The Body Remembers Tour.” On Sunday, “The Music of Randy Travis Tour” presents vocalist James Dupre performing Travis’ biggest hits backed by the country star’s longtime touring band. Randy Travis will make a special guest appearance at the concert as well. Debbie Gibson starts at 7 p.m. Saturday, June 4. Tickets are $29-$79, with VIP meet-and-greet packages available. “The Music of Randy Travis” is at 5 p.m. Sunday, June 5. $39-$99. The Des Plaines Theatre is at 1476 Miner St., Des Plaines. (630) 962-7000 or

Lolla aftershows

Lollapalooza dropped news this week of its preparties and aftershows. Blanketing 18 venues and spanning six days of music (starting Tuesday, July 26, and running through the fest weekend), the shows feature some of the hottest from the Lolla lineup, including a lot of Chicago-area love with sets from John Summit, Beach Bunny and Alexander 23 (and probably others I’m overlooking at the moment). Get the details and tickets at

• Brian Shamie is a Daily Herald multiplatform editor and local music junkie. Email him at, find him on Facebook or follow him on Twitter (@thatshamieguy) or Instagram (@chicagosoundcheck).

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