Music lovers visiting Chicago are in for a real treat because there is no shortage of places here to listen to live music. Whether you are hoping to catch your favorite band or you’re looking to discover some new acts, The Windy City is always teaming with talent both old and new. In the summer, there are numerous outdoor spaces, in addition to fantastic bars and halls, where you can get your groove on. Below are “21 Awesome Chicago Concert Venues You Should Check Out.” If you’re looking for hotels nearby, I suggest you book a room at the historic and newly restored Chicago Athletic Association Hotel.
Buddy Guy’s Legends
What: The quintessential spot for blues by the last word, the real deal, Mr. Buddy Guy! This iconic blues club in the South Loop near Grant Park is a
must-do on your musical tour of Chicago. Numerous local legends, as well as national and international acts, perform at Legends on a nightly basis. Buddy Guy has a residency here on weekends every January when he performs with big blues musicians like Quinn Sullivan, Jonny Lang Tedeschi Trucks, and many others. Honestly, you never know who might drop by and jump up on stage, especially during Blues Fest (June 9 – 11, 2017). Also, Buddy Guy usually celebrates his birthday at Legends on a date between the end of July and the first week in August. So, check his site for upcoming announcements!
Where: 700 S. Wabash Ave.
What: This historic Speakeasy in Uptown used to be an Al Capone hangout. In fact, stop in for some cocktails, live music or the Poetry Slam on Sunday nights (It originated right here!) and the staff will show you Mr. Capone’s favorite booth! This is one of the most important Chicago concert venues you will visit.
Where: 4802 N. Broadway
House of Blues
What: This rock ‘n roll, blues chain is a naturally fit here in Chicago as a stalwart music venue. Whether you enjoy a show in the main space or in the more intimate, adjacent restaurant, you are in for a fun night.
Where: 329 N. Dearborn St.
What: Chicago Theatre is one of the crowning jewels of Chicago. It opened in 1921 and its glitzy marquee is a hallmark of State St. Whether you are seeking a concert or a comedy act, the architecture and design of Chicago Theatre will leave you breathless. I suggest you leave yourself enough time before your show starts so that you can walk around and explore all the beautiful details. The seats in this venue are a bit worse for wear but everyone should experience a show is this historic landmark. I’ve been to too many to count.
Where: 175 N. State St.
What: Lincoln Hall is the sister space to Schubas Tavern. It attracts great musical acts of all genres as well as comedy acts.
Where: 2424 N. Lincoln Ave.
What: A 126-year-old historic landmark dating back to the Great Chicago Fire and the World’s Colombian Exposition of 1893, Auditorium Theatre is one of the greatest Chicago concert venues. I have seen numerous shows here including a star-studded 75th birthday celebration for the great Mavis Staples. I believe Auditorium Theatre has some of the best acoustics in town.
Where: 50 E. Congress Pkwy.
What: Park West is located in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood and it is one of the very best Chicago concert venues and event spaces around. It’s a truly intimate place to see top-notch musicians from all over the world. I have enjoyed shows here by the super talented Beth Hart (best female blues artist alive!) and Goo Goo Dolls.
Where: 322 W. Armitage Ave.
What: Kingston Mines is a beloved live blues music venue with two stages and a full barbecue menu in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood. This place is a great bang for your buck!
Where: 2548 N. Halsted
What: This totally groovy bar housed in an old Schlitz brewery has a stellar backroom with phenomenal acoustics. There are some chairs but be prepared to stand or dance your booty off! Chicago concert venues do not get more intimate than Schubas! it is a truly great find in the Lakeview neighborhood.
Where: 3159 N. Southport Ave.
What: City Winery is a fabulous bar and supper club in Chicago which hosts the very best musicians from all over the world. (There are locations in New York City, Napa). I lost count of how many great shows I have seen here but Dana Fuchs, Samantha Fish, Jimmy Vaughan, Doyle Bramhall II and Shemekia Copeland were among my favorites artists to perform at this elegant Chicago concert venue. The owner (The Knitting Factory in New York City) wanted to combine his passion for wine and music and he succeeded big time! There is no obligation to eat dinner here but a full menu is available before, during and after the show.
Where: 1200 W. Randolph St.
What: This three-story, south side venue offers up and coming musical acts in a laid back setting. Stop by for lunch or dinner and stay through the evening for great tunes and pub fare. The rooftop is a great hangout in the summer months. Don’t forget to check out the record store on the second floor. Shuttle buses take revelers to Soldier Field and other Chicago concert venues on certain nights, so you can avoid drinking and driving. Nice!
Where: 2105 S. State St.
The Vic Theatre
What: The Vic is a historic venue in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood dating back to 1912. It has amazing acoustics and a large seating capacity. Check it out for a live concert or comedy show.
Where: 3145 N. Sheffield Ave.
What: This fabulous venue is housed in a historic opera house circa the 1800s. Thalia Hall attracts big name acts like Joss Stone and ticket prices are reasonable. This concert hall is located in the Pilsen neighborhood near many delicious restaurants, so take advantage of your night out in this part of town and grab a bite somewhere great before a show.
Where: 1807 S. Allport St.
What: Blue Chicago is a world-renowned, late-night blues club for those 21 years and older. It’s located in the River North neighborhood and it many famous blues legends performed here over the years. Check it out!
Where: 534 N. Clark St.
What: Rosa’s Lounge has been in business since 1994 and it’s still going strong. If you like a laid-back lounge with a dive bar environment, I suggest you head to this Logan Square spot for a true Chicago blues experience.
Where: 3420 W. Armitage
What: River Roast is a sprawling restaurant and catering hall located on the Chicago River. The sweeping skyline and river views are the perfect backdrops for River Roast’s Blues Brunch. Live music happens on Saturday and Sunday from 12 pm – 3 pm. You will want to enjoy the great food from Chefs John Hogan and Tony Mantuano while you soak up the local blues tunes from some great local musicians.
Where: 315 N. LaSalle Dr.
What: SPACE is a lovely and intimate place to hear talented musicians from all genres at a very reasonable price. I am always amazed at the number of famous musicians who show up here to perform in this unassuming spot near Northwestern University in the nearby Chicago suburb of Evanston. Space is located adjacent to Union pizza and you can bring in a pie from there to enjoy during a show. On a recent visit, I saw Noah Hunt (lead singer of Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band) with Jason Dennie. If you love Chicago concert venues where you can talk to the musicians before or after the show, this is the place for you! Take the Purple Line to the Dempster ‘L’ stop on the CTA.
Where: 1245 Chicago Ave.
What: Northerly Island is Chicago’s answer to New York City’s Jones Beach Theater. It is a popular, outdoor arena which attracts superstar talent every summer. Located near Museum Campus and Soldier Field, Northerly Island is located near Lake Michigan and Burnham Harbor. It is the perfect, family-friendly spot to catch a live show amidst summer breezes and a full moon (if you’re lucky).
Where: 1300 S. Lynn White Dr.
Millennium Park (Pritzker Pavilion)
What: Millennium Park and Pritzker Pavilion is a sprawling lawn and amphitheater where concerts and movies on the lawn happen all summer. Grab a seat in the amphitheatre or bring some blankets and lawn chairs of your own for comfort. Don’t forget the picnic. It’s a beautiful way to spend an evening with family and friends for free.
Where: 201 E. Randolph St.
What: Grant Park is considered Chicago’s front lawn. It spans several blocks near Michigan Avenue. Whether you catch live musical acts at Taste of Chicago, Blues Fest or Lollapalooza, Grant Park is a premier location for all genres of music. Don’t miss out!
Where: 337 E. Randolph St. (south to Roosevelt Rd.)
Ravinia (Highland Park)
What: Ravinia is the largest, outdoor music venue in the United States. Pack your blankets, lawn chairs and a picnic and head to this beautiful park for outstanding concerts throughout the summer. Tony Bennett and Bonnie Rait are among the familiar faces who perform here. You can buy more expensive tickets for the pavilion or you can spread out on the lawn and get to know your neighbors for a more affordable night out. Take Metra’s Union Pacific North line to the Ravinia Park station to avoid drinking and driving. Click HERE for a complete concert schedule and tickets.
Where: 200 Ravinia Park Rd.
You’re all set, folks! Visit all the incredible Chicago concert venues!
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ROAM. REVEL. REPEAT.