3159 N. Southport Avenue
Of all the venues in Chicago, I feel most confident that Schubas has good music any night of the week. When I don't know what to do with my night out, I'll head to Schubas without even checking the bill, it's just that awesome. It's purely convenient that it's also closest to my house.
This venue also has an upstairs with a small bar that can be rented out, which on weekends usually houses a DJ set after the show.
Shows I've seen here: Ha Ha Tonka*, Passion Pit*, White Rabbits, Chairlift, Pet Lions, Big Science, Bishop Allen, Micachu... If you can get booked here, do it!
2424 N. Lincoln Avenue
Just over 500 capacity
I was SO excited when I heard that Schubas' owners were opening a new, larger venue in Chicago. As mentioned above, I LOVE Schubas! This space offers a larger room with two floors, making it the perfect venue for all the fabulous indie acts that quickly sell out Schubas (which is much smaller).
Despite the absolutely fabulous schedule of shows announced for the first few months of the venue's existence, it took me until NYE 2009 to check out the venue. I saw Fiery Furnaces and consumed lots of cider, and it was a wonderful evening. I absolutely cannot wait to go back, and I encourage you to make your way to Lincoln Hall asap.
1035 N. Western Avenue
Around 400 capacity
Definitely another of Chicago's best indie venues. Good, live music 7 days a week, and always a fun crowd. A slight downside is its location, but it's something I've definitely made the trip for. If you can get booked here, do it!
2011 North Avenue
375 capacity upstairs; 175 downstairs
In the 1920s, the first floor of Subterranean served as a wire room for gambling, while a brothel occupied the second and third floors. Supposedly there are secret tunnels in the basement, used by the likes of Al Capone when a quick escape was needed. Without even knowing the history, this venue is full of character and custom niches, but knowing this makes it oh-so-much cooler.
In the actual music hall, there are two floors with two bars. There used to be some couches upstairs too, but they're not there any longer so I'm assuming the venue caught some under-agers being naughty on 'em during a 17+ show or something.
Without a doubt, a great Chicago venue! I've seen a few shows here, most notably Digitalism, Maps & Atlases and Verona Red. I'll for sure be back soon.
1354 W. Wabansia
Oh The Hideout, how I love thee. I believe this to be the most sincere, down-to-earth, venue in Chicago. It's literally hidden amongst some random, large industrial-type buildings (hence the name?). There's a bar up front, cash only I believe, and the hall in the back. Quality acts only here, and how I long to book a show at The Hideout. One day, my good friends. When you have some time, both to check out a show and to commute to this off-the-beaten-path venue, I highly recommend it.
2100 W. Belmont Avenue
The Beat Kitchen has two bars, a full one up front and a small one in the music hall. Also, there's an upstairs private room for rent that I'm sure to take advantage of soon. And, did I mention that besides great music, they have the best Cobb salad I've ever had?! A great place to head for good music with a reasonable door cost, and they're pretty supportive of out of town bands too, so there's always something new.
1572 N. Milwaukee Avenue
The Double Door is awesome. Definitely a larger venue, it's located in the heart of ultra-trendy Wicker Park (across the street from Subterranean). There's the main floor, which is relatively large and open with black walls covered in stickers, posters, and naked Satyrs. There's a small upstairs that often serves as a VIP area, with some tables, seating and another bar. Another great thing about this venue is the downstairs area - full of dark lighting, pool tables, booth tables and another bar - making the downstairs a great place to hang out between acts. And despite its size, this venue is really supportive of local acts, so it's a great place to see Chicago acts with an already-built sizable following or touring larger acts.
1375 W. Lake Street
~500 music room capacity; 260 front bar; upstairs Volcano Room around 900
Definitely a venue without much foot traffic, and therefore a venue that regularly hosts amazing shows that make the trip worth it! Some GREAT acts play the Bottom Lounge - another venue with a large open concert room, a few bars, areas of seating, and an upstairs space. Thia upstairs space, dubbed The Volcano Room, is nearly a venue in itself! Often rented out for industry events or private shows, it hosts a LOT of people and has a large outdoor deck. Definitely a place I'm excited is in Chicago.
At Bottom Lounge, I've heard the wonderful music of Lykke Li and Semi Precious Weapons - two artists that I LOVE.
3730 N. Clark Street
The Metro is a polished, larger-scale indie-venue in Chicago. This venue feels the most corporate to me, in the sense that they're more supportive of the larger, touring acts than the locals. I've seen a few local shows here, so certainly there's a local presence, but overall this two-story venue located just down the road from Wrigley Park and right above Smart Bar is focused on larger acts. I saw The Faint here (AWESOME) as well as The Bravery and Semi Precious Weapons. I love it when I can catch a show here, but the door is usually $15-20 compared to most other venues at $5-10, so I usually head elsewhere.
House of Blues Chicago
Betty Blue Star Lounge
The Abbey Pub
LaSalle Power Co.
Red Line Tap
There are a LOT of establishments in Chicago that feature live music, but those listed above are most of the concert venues. I'll continue to add to this.
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