Hitting up Chicago music venues may not top the list of every Chicago itinerary. But trust me, Chicago is home to some seriously great music venues that are worth checking out.
I’m a Chicago, Illinois local and in this guide, I share some of Chicago’s most popular music venues as well as my favorite venues and what they have to offer.
Just about every genre and music venue can be found in the Windy City—whether you like indie or rock, outdoor or indoor spaces, classical or modern music.
Let’s jump in!
Table of Contents
- 23 Music Venues in Chicago
- Jay Pritzker Pavilion
- Chicago Theatre
- Thalia Hall
- Buddy Guy’s Legends
- The Hideout
- Byline Bank Aragon Ballroom
- Empty Bottle
- Schubas Tavern
- United Center
- Chicago Cultural Center
- Park West
- Vic Theatre
- Andy’s Jazz Club
- Riviera Theatre
- Concord Music Hall
- House of Blues
- Lincoln Hall
- Green Mill Cocktail Lounge
- Cobra Lounge
- FAQs About Music Venues in Chicago
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23 Music Venues in Chicago
Jay Pritzker Pavilion
An outdoor venue for amazing live performances in the heart of Chicago.
The Jay Pritzker Pavilion is arguably the most popular music venue for outdoor concerts in Chicago. Locals and tourists alike can enjoy various concerts here, including indie, jazz, and classical music. It is located in Millennium Park in the Chicago Loop.
You can see the Grant Park Music Festival if you come in the summer. This is a free series of classical music performances that take place all summer long. There is also a massive LED screen that displays movies. This is one of the best Chicago music venues for live entertainment!
I never thought an outdoor performance venue could boast such awesome acoustics. But architect Frank Gehry designed this venue magnificently. I’m not sure which is more impressive, the sound quality or the incredible sight of the Chicago skyline in the background.
An iconic Chicago theater that brings in big-name performers, located in the Loop.
The iconic sign outside of the Chicago Theatre on State St. is known all over the world. The Chicago Theatre was originally a movie theater with a French Baroque exterior. Today, the Chicago Theatre’s sign helps preserve a piece of Chicago history.
The interior of the Chicago Theatre is picturesque. It consists of Neo-Baroque-style wall sculptures, marble floors, and swirling staircases. The elaborate chandeliers are a great finishing touch. When you are here, it feels like you’re experiencing a different era of Chicago.
The Chicago Theatre has hosted performances by stars ranging from Nicki Minaj to The Monkees. The beautiful venue is known for its appearance and ambiance, but also its stunning acoustics. The Chicago Theatre seats about 3,600 people.
A landmark opera house that has become a multi-purpose entertainment facility in Pilsen.
Thalia Hall was originally built as an opera house in 1892. Today, it hosts concerts across all genres and maintains its unique, old-school atmosphere. Thalia Hall is extremely popular, but it doesn’t get too crowded. This allows you to appreciate the spacious surroundings even more.
Thalia Hall is home to Dusek’s Board & Beer (an award-winning casual dining eatery), the Tack Room (a great piano bar), and the Punch House (a choice area for cocktail lovers). Famous performers, including Dave Chappelle, have entertained here.
Buddy Guy’s Legends
A legendary music destination for any fan of Chicago blues.
Buddy Guy’s Legends is an iconic nightclub right in the heart of Chicago. This is the ultimate destination for blues enthusiasts and visiting is one of the best things to do in Chicago. You can see local performers, as well as nationally and internationally famous artists. Every January, Buddy Guy himself plays for a packed house.
This is the place to be if you want to see up-and-coming artists or those who have already made a name for themselves. You can see an incredible performance any night of the week here. While enjoying the live music, you can sample tasty Chicago foods as well.
The atmosphere at Buddy Guy’s Legends is an homage to the history of the blues genre. The place features cool memorabilia like the guitars of legends B.B. King, Carlos Santana, and others. It’s an inviting environment for any lover of blues music.
A cozy, local dive bar to enjoy modern and vintage music in Chicago.
The Hideout is aptly named, located on Wabansia Ave. and in a seemingly random location. This is considered the home for alt-country music in the Windy City.
The overall vibe at The Hideout is local and friendly. You can grab a drink in the front and listen to a performance in the back. There are also fun informal events that involve audience participation. People love this place for comedy and bingo nights, as well as dance contests.
Whether you’re interested in listening to new music or reliving tunes from the past, it’s here. This music venue is also known for DJ nights where you can listen to an assortment of music from throughout time.
👉 Pro Tip: The Hideout isn’t as easy to reach via train or bus as some Chicago music venues. You can take the 72 bus to the North Ave & Elston stop and walk about eight minutes, or, just take an Uber for convenience.
A true Chicago institution, hosting performances by local and national talent.
Located on Clark St., Metro is a music venue that is known for introducing talent to Chicago. Groups such as Nirvana and The Replacements played here in their early days. Whether you prefer rock, hip hop, techno, or indie pop, Metro is a great part of the Chicago music scene. This famous Windy City location has been around for over 40 years.
Enjoy a drink at the Smart Bar downstairs or dance to the beat. There’s also a separate auditorium for special events. Metro remains an intimate venue even as one of the most famous music spots in Chicago. Today, Metro hosts many up-and-coming artists, as well as big names in the music industry.
Byline Bank Aragon Ballroom
An ornate and unique ballroom with tons of seating in Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood.
The Aragon Ballroom on Lawrence Ave. is worth visiting simply because of the beautiful Spanish architecture. The terracotta ceilings, picturesque archways, and elaborately designed balconies are quite a sight to see. It’s also larger than other theaters in the area, with a capacity of 4,500 people.
Despite the age of the building, the Aragon Ballroom is very well maintained. The customer service is also quite impressive, particularly concerning patrons with special needs.
Though it originally opened as a ballroom, it is now a huge concert venue. Performers that have entertained here include Queens of the Stone Age and Fall Out Boy. This is a popular venue for well-known musical acts that are touring the United States.
A small, intimate venue with performances by diverse artists, disguised as a dive bar.
Empty Bottle is one of Chicago’s best-kept secrets located on Western Ave. On the outside, Empty Bottle looks like an ordinary dive bar. However, this is one of the best places to go for an indie rock performance. You can see punk, jazz, metal, and even country music on select nights.
Shows are typically cheap (free on Monday nights), so it’s a good spot to check out if you’re exploring Chicago on a budget. Empty Bottle is a great place to see little-known talent before they become famous. The interior of the music venue is like a time capsule, with posters and photo strips from past performances covering the walls.
📚 Related Reading: You can get a great slice of pizza and beer from the pizzeria next door, Pizza Friendly Pizza. For more restaurant ideas, check out our guide to the best restaurants in Chicago.
A friendly, affordable music venue in Lakeview with a cozy atmosphere and tasty eats.
Schubas Tavern, on Southport Ave. in Lakeview, was once a Schlitz Brewery. Currently, it is a small, intimate space that is known for good acoustics and intimate performances. You can see diverse genres of music here, including indie rock, country, folk, and much more.
Some big-name artists have performed at Schubas Tavern, but this music venue tends to focus on more local bands and smaller touring acts. Enjoy a performance from the front bar with no cover charge, or you can pay a small charge to experience the music from the back of the building.
If you’re a fan of bar food, you should try the craft beer selection and to-die-for mac and cheese at the Tied House brewpub next door.
A fun Wicker Park music venue with two stages and a laid-back, divey atmosphere.
If you’re a fan of indie music, you should check out the Subterranean. It’s right near the intersection of W North Ave. and Milwaukee Ave. in Wicker Park. Affectionately known by locals as SubT, this music venue has been a fixture of Wicker Park for more than 20 years.
The upper level contains a live stage, where you can see hip-hop and rock performances every night. The downstairs area is a great place to simply get a drink and enjoy a smaller concert. There are also DJ nights every week and a cool, hip-hop open mic series.
This is one of the Chicago music venues that hosts both local and national talent. The iconic balcony is a fantastic place to enjoy one of these acts.
A small South Loop venue with a diverse lineup of music and a cool, punk-rock atmosphere.
Located on State St. in Chicago’s South Loop neighborhood, Reggies appeals to a variety of music fans. Here, there are performances in a variety of genres, including rock, blues, hip-hop, jazz, metal, folk, and more. The space is filled with grunge decor.
You can catch the occasional comedy show within the eclectic mix of performances here. If you want to see up-and-coming performers, be sure to stop in on Wednesdays for live band karaoke! Reggies is also home to a bar and grill, a record store, and a roof deck! Enjoy classic pub menu items and beers during the show.
A renowned sports arena that doubles as a powerful performance venue.
The United Center is one of Chicago’s main arenas for sports, music, and other entertainment events. Fans of the Chicago Bulls and Chicago Blackhawks come here to see their favorite teams play. Huge artists like the Rolling Stones, Rihanna, and Lady Gaga have performed here, too.
Be prepared for a ton of excitement if you attend a concert here. The crowds are loud and the atmosphere is usually buzzing. You should also be aware that the United Center is a cashless venue. The United Center is located in the West Loop neighborhood.
👉 Pro Tip: Add earplugs to your Chicago packing list if you plan on attending a show at the United Center. Arena shows can be especially loud.
Chicago Cultural Center
A hub for arts and cultural performances in the heart of downtown Chicago.
The Chicago Cultural Center is known for its excellent free entertainment. You can see all sorts of music performances here, including jazz, blues, and classical. These performances take place weekly and are free to the public.
This beautiful venue is an example of Beaux-Arts Construction. The Chicago Cultural Center is worth visiting simply to see the inside of the building. There’s also an indoor theater and a few free public art galleries to enjoy before and after the performance.
A lounge-like music venue that’s a repurposed movie house from the 1920s.
Park West, located on Armitage Ave. in Lincoln Park, can seat up to 1,000 people in the auditorium. One cool thing about this great venue is the stark contrast between the exterior and interior. The large sign on the exterior looks very modern and futuristic, but on the inside, you’ll see a 1920s entertainment venue. The corner stage is a cool, rare feature.
This former movie house is home to amazing live music performances by many nationally known artists, such as Pete Yorn. It is home to five seating levels, and it has the feel of an intimate theater despite its large size. It is located near the gorgeous greenery of Lincoln Park, which is one of the best Chicago neighborhoods to visit.
A music venue that transforms into a comedy club, movie theater, and nightclub.
Originally named the Victoria Theatre in 1912, the Vic on Sheffield Ave. is a five-story music venue where you can enjoy indie, rock, and pop. Jeff Tweedy and the Breeders are examples of artists that have performed here. You can see live music performances as well as stand-up comedy shows.
You can enjoy a fantastic view of the stage from any of the five levels at Vic Theatre. It seats 1,400 people at a time, and it’s easily accessible from the L train.
When there is no performing group, the place transforms into a movie theater. You can see popular new releases for only $5 per ticket. It’s known as the Brew and View movie series. In some cases, the Vic even transforms into a nightclub!
Andy’s Jazz Club
A great, intimate music venue for jazz fans to enjoy a night on the town.
Andy’s Jazz Club is a premier location close to downtown Chicago for jazz fans. This location is home to live performances an amazing six nights a week.
If you don’t know much about jazz, you can learn a lot about it from these performances. There are many subgenres within jazz. If you come often, you’ll learn to see the differences between traditional swing music, contemporary jazz, and other styles.
You can enjoy a great view of performances from anywhere in the seating area. There’s also the option to make a dinner reservation and make a night of it! You can enjoy a cocktail and appetizers, or an entire steak dinner.
A hidden gem music venue known for its unusual music performances and awesome sound.
Constellation is a spot on Chicago’s northwest side known for progressive performances. If you’re interested in seeing an eclectic assortment of music, this Western Ave. music venue is the place to be. You’ll see contemporary classical, jazz, and even improv here.
This music venue contains two performance spaces and a full bar. One contains movie theater-style seating for up to 75 people, as well as room to dance. The atmosphere here is welcoming, with a roomy waiting area, friendly staff, and a generally comfortable vibe. In my opinion, Constellation is the best place in Chicago to enjoy a “weird” performance.
A charming, old-school concert hall in Uptown with nice acoustics.
The Riviera Theatre, located on Racine Ave., is an old-style French Renaissance Revival building. It is known for hosting cutting-edge bands. Some popular performers who have entertained here include Adele, The Fray, and Crystal Castles.
Many see the Riviera Theatre as the sister rock club to the Aragon Ballroom, as they are only about a block apart. This theater is known for its stunning acoustics. However, be aware that if you’re up on a high balcony, it will likely vibrate during shows with a strong bass line.
Concord Music Hall
A mid-sized music venue in a historic building that puts on EDM shows and other genres.
Concord Music Hall, on Milwaukee Ave. in Logan Square, can hold between 700 and 1,500 people. You can see performances within a huge assortment of genres, including indie rock, hip-hop, and much more. This concert venue is known for its cleanliness and great acoustics.
There’s also a full-service bar at this live music venue, so you can grab a drink for the performance!
House of Blues
The perfect place to enjoy blues music in the city where blues originates.
The House of Blues is one of the best music venues in Chicago. When I first walked into this music venue located on Dearborn St. in River North, the first thing that struck me was the intensity of the decor. The interior is filled with bold colors and quirky decor.
The goal of the House of Blues is to educate the public about the blues and all that the blues genre has to offer. While watching a blues performance, you can enjoy unique cocktails, jambalaya, and po’boys!
If you ever want a break from the blues, this music venue is home to touring acts in other genres as well. There’s even a Gospel Brunch every Sunday.
A small Lincoln Park venue that hosts up-and-coming pop and rock artists.
Lincoln Hall is located on Lincoln Ave. and is closely associated with Schubas Tavern. The owner of Schubas Tavern decided to open this second venue in Lincoln Park. It is well known for its mezzanine balcony, which wraps around above the stage and is a great place to catch a bird’s eye view of a performance.
It’s a good idea to arrive early before a performance at Lincoln Hall. This way, you can sit right up near the stage and maybe even talk to the artists afterward! There are also many great menu items.
Green Mill Cocktail Lounge
The ultimate place to see a jazz performance in Chicago.
Even though the Green Mill Cocktail Lounge looks like a typical neighborhood bar, it is much more. This music venue has been an institution in Uptown since its inception as a speakeasy in 1907. Back then, it had a reputation for being a hangout for mobster, Al Capone. Green Mill Cocktail Lounge was revitalized in the 1980s. Today, the focus is all about excellent jazz.
Enjoy live jazz performances every night. Try to come as early as you can, since the place is usually packed. This music venue is a favorite among both locals and tourists. You want to be able to find seating in one of the glamorous old-style booths. Drinks can be expensive, but they help add to the vibe during a performance.
📚Related Reading: Facts About Chicago
Venue for up-and-coming rock acts with a rotating beer selection and upscale menu.
Cobra Lounge on N Ashland Ave. is known as a down-to-earth, intimate setting that allows underground and emerging acts to shine. There are big names that perform here, although this music venue makes a point of promoting lesser-known regional talents. Cobra Lounge is right next to Union Park as well.
This music venue is known for good food and a great beer selection. The staff is very friendly, fitting in with the general vibe of the place. Cobra Lounge also hosts shows for other Chicago summer and autumn music festivals.
FAQs About Music Venues in Chicago
How many music venues are there in Chicago?
There are over 200 music venues in Chicago. These music venues range from larger theaters like the Chicago Theatre to smaller, divey venues like the Subterranean.
Where can I listen to live music in Chicago?
Does Chicago have a good music scene?
Chicago has a great music scene. Chicago’s music scene is full of history, a mix of genres, and a diverse range of venues. Many big-name artists call Chicago home and the city puts on major music festivals like Lollapalooza and the Chicago Blues Festival.
I hope you found my guide to the best music venues in Chicago helpful! Before leaving, feel free to check out my guide on where to stay in Chicago!
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