Take it outside

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The chill isn't totally gone from the air, but last week's announcement of the Lollapalooza lineup and this week's release of Ravinia tickets (online sales begin Thursday) has us ready to move our concert-going to sunnier settings. Here are some of the best acts to catch outdoors this summer, whether you're looking to get rowdy or just sit back and relax.

For tireless rockers
If summer breezes fire you up instead of cool you down, head to Northerly Island's Charter One Pavilion June 10 and 11 for mega-popular Chicago rockers Fall Out Boy. Keep the adrenaline flowing July 28 when Coheed and Cambria, Hawthorne Heights and Bad Religion headline the Vans Warped Tour at First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre. If you need a rest after that all-day music marathon, well, we'll understand.

For laid-back cats
Two words: stress relief. For summer relaxation, you can't beat a spot on the lawn for Nickel Creek's Aug. 10 show at Ravinia. With their bluegrass rhythms, the folk trio provides tunes to get your mind off the 9-to-5. If you need to be soothed sooner, John Mayer appears at Charter One Pavilion June 28 and 29. His latest, Grammy-winning "Continuum" is like a massage for your ears.

For couch potatoes
You resisted at first. But after about 3 billion listens to the TV-friendly "How to Save a Life" (featured on "Grey's Anatomy," "Scrubs" and "One Tree Hill" and also used in HBO ads) you've accepted that pop-rockers The Fray are here to stay. Pull yourself away from the tube and see the band June 12-14 at Northerly Island's Charter One Pavilion. $35.50. Looking for a "Sweet Escape" a week earlier? Head to First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre June 8 to see pop star and recent "American Idol" guest Gwen Stefani.

For global thinkers
So you like quintessential American artists (Bruce Springsteen, yes; John Mellencamp, not anymore) but enjoy expanding your palate once in awhile? Ravinia's got you covered. Don't miss Brazilian singer-guitarist Seu Jorge--still best known in the U.S. for his role in "The Life Aquatic"--June 17. Return two months later (Aug. 17 and 18) for France's Gipsy Kings, still making hips move after more than two decades.

For advance planners
There's no place for procrastination when it comes to hot tickets. Hopefully, you already snagged seats for The Police's sold-out shows at Wrigley Field (July 5 and 6) and the Crossroads Guitar Festival (July 28) at Toyota Park, featuring Eric Clapton (above), B.B. King and Sheryl Crow. Tickets weren't available long for the guitar extravaganza, and both Police shows sold out faster than you can say, "Hey, Sting looks pretty good for 55."

The bigger, the better
The summer's mega-events let you pack your yearly quota of shows into a few days.

Pitchfork
Top picks: Mash-ups go wild with Girl Talk, rap gets grimy with Clipse, and pop sounds perfect with New Pornographers.

Lollapalooza
Top picks: Dance to Daft Punk, swing to Amy Winehouse, nod your head to Lupe Fiasco and--of course--rock to Pearl Jam.

Hideout Block Party celebrates Metro's 25th Anniversary.
Top picks: No lineup yet, but if it's as big as 2006's celebration of Touch and Go Records' 25th Anniversary (featuring !!!, Shellac and others) you won't want to miss it.

Matt Pais is the metromix music and movies producer.mpais@tribune.com

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