A lot of people ask me about the music scene in Chicago and I’m hoping that this post can be used as a guide that people can return to in order to learn more about the unique music venues in Chicago. I feel like I’ve been to so many of them (I’ve been to all of the ones I’ve listed below except one), and it’s awesome that the city is so massive that I probably won’t ever actually get to every single venue.
I have been working on this blog post for awhile, but I had so many ideas for it that I needed time to really draw out how I wanted it to go. Thank you to those who voted on my Twitter and Instagram polls on what you wanted to see: it helped so much!
The results were as follows:
- 35 out of 59 (59%) of votes went to a post about my favorite venues and neighboring bars.
- 24 out of 59 (41%) of votes went to a post about a general guide to Chicago’s music venues.
Since this was actually a pretty close race between the two options, I decided to combine both ideas and do a mixture of both posts. I’m only going to be going in depth with six of my favorite venues, but I will also link to venues in those areas as well so you can research a bit on your own. I realize that I have a decent amount of viewership in other parts of the world, so hopefully I can provide some helpful information!
I tried my best to pick my favorite venues that are located in different parts of the city: it wouldn’t have been a super interesting post to read if I only wrote about venues in one part of the city (at least I wouldn’t think it’d be as intriguing).
If you scroll all the way to the end of this post (which I hope you would do after first reading it all) there is a map that shows each venue location as well as its neighboring bars.
Uptown: The Riviera Theater
I have been to The Riv a handful of times and its beauty always amazes me. The venue has been standing for 100 years and the inside is so uniquely beautiful: I feel like I’ve had such great experiences seeing bands here and it’s one of my favorite venues. I also always love hearing the artists rave about its history and how it’s such a famous venue in America. It’s obviously a fairly large venue (2500 people) but the shape and setup of the standing room vs. the seating upstairs (all general admission) makes it feel super intimate.
Musicians I’ve seen here: Ed Sheeran, Bleachers, CHVRCHES, Local Natives, HAIM – I’ll be seeing Bleachers here again this weekend and seeing First Aid Kit here in February.
Saturday, 11/11 – Bleachers, Bishop Briggs, Amy Shark
Tuesday, 11/21 – Liam Gallagher, Warbly Jets
Saturday, 11/25 – Morrissey
Fat Cat Restaurant & Bar – 0.1 mile away
The Green Mill – 0.1 mile away
Nick’s on Wilson- 0.4 miles away
Uptown Arcade – 0.1 mile away
Uptown Lounge – 0.1 mile away
Other Venues in Uptown:
- Aragon Ballroom – 1106 West Lawrence Avenue Chicago, 5,000 person capacity
Address: 3730 N. Clark Street, Chicago
Phone: (773) 549-4140
Owner: Joe Shanahan
I’ll admit it, I wasn’t initially planning on having this venue in my list of favorites because I had a bad experience here before. However, I have been here multiple times and every other experience has been great – and I love the location, so I decided that it should be an included venue in my list. The Metro is just steps away from Wrigley Field and has featured classic rock artists throughout its history – I once got a backstage tour when I was a freshman in college and got to learn about all of the huge musicians who have performed here, which made me fascinated with it even more. The Metro also gets huge artists to perform – like the Foo Fighters and Blink 182.
Musicians I’ve seen here: Alessia Cara, Bad Suns, LANY, BØRNs, Muna
Tuesday, 11/14 – White Reaper with Post Animal
Saturday, 11/18 – Red Bull Sound Select Presents 30 Days in Chicago: Aminé, Pell, A2
Thursday, 11/30 – 93XRT presents a Metro 35th Anniversary Event: Jake Bugg
Casey Moran’s – 0.1 miles away
Cubby Bear – 0.2 miles away
Dark Horse Tap & Grille – 0.5 miles away
Guthrie’s Tavern – 0.5 miles away
Roadhouse 66 – 0.3 miles away
Other Venues in Lakeview:
- Beat Kitchen – 2100 W Belmont Ave, Chicago – 300 person capacity
- The Vic Theater – 3145 N Sheffield Ave, Chicago – 1,000 person capacity.
Lincoln Park: Lincoln Hall
Address: 2424 N Lincoln Ave, Chicago
Phone: (773) 525-2501
Owner: Mike and Chris Schuba
Lincoln Hall is undoubtedly my favorite venue in Chicago – it’s super small, there’s a restaurant attached, and they ALWAYS get upcoming artists right before they explode in popularity and fame. I first went to a show at LH way back when I was in high school and saw All Time Low when they were touring small venues. I’ve always admired LH’s ability to snatch up and coming artists (hello, Dua Lipa JUST played there in February and now she’s a complete superstar) and I think that the venue has an amazing team booking artists and continuously selling out shows.
Musicians I’ve seen here: Bastille, All Time Low, Läpsley, Dua Lipa, Vérité, Joseph, Middle Kids, The Staves (I could go on for awhile)…I will be seeing Overcoats here next week and recently grabbed tickets to see Rostam perform in February.
Monday, 11/13 – Knox Fortune, Lido, Peter Cottontale, Grapetooth
Friday, 11/17 – Overcoats
Tuesday, 11/21 – Joywave, The Aces, Maybird
aliveOne – 0.5 miles away
Broken English Taco Pub – 0.3 miles away
Halligan – 0.3 miles away
Lincoln Station – next door
Lion Head Pub – 0.3 miles away
Other Venues in Lincoln Park:
- Park West – 322 W Armitage Ave, Chicago – 900 person capacity
- Schuba’s – 3159 N Southport Ave, Chicago – 165 person capacity
Wicker Park: Subterranean
Address: 2011 W North Ave, Chicago
Phone: (773) 278 6600
Owner: Robert Gomez
I’ve only seen a handful of shows at the Sub, but I really love the venue and its location. I first attended a show way back when I was maybe 13-years-old before Cash Cash became DJs (yes, they used to sing and play live instruments). It was this long ago because I specifically remember taking pictures on a digital camera. Anyway, fast forward to my college years and I’ve been back to see my FAVORITE band ever (here’s a plug: it’s From Indian Lakes) here – and I also saw MUNA perform here earlier this year. The setup for standing room is a bit unusual (if you can tell from the photo) and small, but I feel like I get a very intimate, raw and honest experience seeing live music here.
Musicians I’ve seen here: Cash Cash, From Indian Lakes, MUNA
Friday, 11/10 – Poppy, Charlotte the Mannequin
Tuesday, 11/14 – Red Bull Sound Select Presents 30 Days in Chicago – Jorja Smith, Dizzy Fae, Snoh Aalegra
Thursday, 11/17 – Red Bull Sound Select Presents 30 Days in Chicago – Alice Glass, Nolife, Nadia Tehran
Big Star – 0.1 mile away
Cabana Club at The Robey – 0.1 mile away
Emporium Arcade – 0.4 miles away
Links Taproom – 0.1 miles away
The Violet Hour – 0.1 miles away
Other Venues in Wicker Park:
- Empty Bottle – 1035 N Western Ave, Chicago – 300 person capacity
Downtown: Chicago Theater
Address: 175 N State St, Chicago
Phone: (312) 462 6300
Owner: The Madison Square Garden Company
If you ever have the opportunity to see a show at the Chicago Theater, take it! I’ve had such wonderful experiences seeing shows here and it’s probably the most beautiful place to see music. It’s cool to see shows here because there truly is no BAD seat in the place. They also host comedy shows (I saw Nick Offerman here before and Aziz Ansari). The acoustics are fabulous and I think the booking agent does a really great job curating specific styles of music. I’m really hoping to see another show here soon! PSA: Pod Save America just had their stop here and I’m still super bummed I didn’t go.
Musicians I’ve seen here: Mumford & Sons, Ed Sheeran, Harry Styles, Fleet Foxes
Friday, 11/10 – The Avett Brothers
Saturday, 11/18 – Mariah Carey
Sunday, 12/10 – Spoon, Real Estate
Cindy’s Rooftop – 0.4 miles away
LondonHouse Chicago – 0.3 miles away
Miller’s Pub – 0.5 miles away
Monk’s Pub – 0.4 miles away
Raised – 0.1 miles away
Other Venues Downtown:
- House of Blues – 329 N Dearborn St, Chicago – 1,000 person capacity
- Bottom Lounge – 1375 W Lake St, Chicago – 700 person capacity
Pilsen: Thalia Hall
Phone: (312) 526 3851
Owner: Bruce Finkelman
I had been hearing about how beautiful this venue is for YEARS – literally years – and I never actually got to go until I saw Joseph in September. I INSTANTLY fell in love with this venue. It’s dark, homey, and has so much exposed brick! Not to mention the venue has a couple bars attached to it – giving it that convenience factor, of course. I was so obsessed with the inside of the hall – the acoustics were amazing, the floor was huge and gave plenty of room for people to stand without feeling crowded, and the balcony level’s horseshoe shape was something I haven’t really seen at a venue before. I REALLY hope to see another show here soon.
Saturday, 11/11 – Red Bull Sound Select Presents 30 Days in Chicago: 6LACK, Tobi Lou, Emi
Sunday, 11/19 – Red Bull Sound Select Presents 30 Days in Chicago: Lizzo, Bia, Junglepussy
Sunday, 11/26 – Pinegrove, Saintseneca, Adult Mom
The Green Room Tap – 0.1 mile away
Harbee – 0.2 miles away
La Vaca Margarita Bar – 0.1 mile away
Punch House – 0.1 mile away
Simone’s – 0.3 miles away
Other Venues in Pilsen:
- Reggies Rock Club – 2109 S State St, Chicago – 100 person capacity
I hope you enjoyed reading! Keep an eye out for a LOT of content coming your way for the end of 2017…be sure to subscribe my submitting your email – there’s a form on the right of my blog. You will get emails every time I post something new!