To say that there is a packed room here is no exaggeration. Old Town School of Folk Music. Thanks to its central location, Chicago has always been a destination for touring musicians who pass through the Midwest on trips across the country. That's why the city has so many classic theaters, many of which date back to the early 20th century, and modern rock clubs that celebrate the area's rich tradition of live music.
It's also why Chicago's concert calendar is packed with worthwhile shows, even during the lean months of the summer music festival season. No matter what type of music you like: rock, hip-hop, jazz, blues, or electronic, there's a place in town to see some of the best artists in the genre up close. Be sure to enjoy an amazing concert at one of the best music venues in Chicago. Located in a historic bohemian public hall that dates back to 1892, Thalia Hall reopened its doors as a concert hall with the help of the team behind the local rock club Empty Bottle.
Reservations at the Pilsen concert hall range from American bands to psych-rock bands, all presented in a room that retains its character (includes chipped paint on the walls) and that sounds excellent. You'll feel as if you're watching your favorite bands playing in a bygone era in Chicago's history. The Chicago Theater is best known for its iconic tent, a remnant of its past as an opulent French Baroque-style movie palace. After being renovated several times, the interior is just as magnificent and hosts performances by prominent bands such as the Avett Brothers and Sigur Rós, as well as established comedians such as Chris Rock and John Mulaney in one of the most ornate venues in the city.
Metro is one of the oldest and most famous clubs in the city, and hosts a variety of medium-sized national tours of all genres, from rock to hip-hop and electronic. Stop by the adjacent GMan tavern for a drink before the show (you might find one of the main artists drinking whisky) and go downstairs to the Smart Bar after the final encore, where the music continues to play late into the night. Al Capone and other gangsters used to hang out here in the 1920s, but nowadays everything revolves around music. Owner Dave Jemilo, who restored the club to its original shine in the 1980s, reserves intelligent bebop and free jazz with a demanding ear.
Local favorites, Kimberly Gordon and Patricia Barber, maintain residencies throughout the year. Arrive early as it's usually busy. The Riv is generally considered to be Aragon's sister rock club, located just one block away. With a capacity of around 2,500 people, the jazz-era theater isn't as big as its neighbor, but the acoustics are much better.
You might find someone like Dan Auerbach or Miguel here. Those with a fear of heights should probably skip the steep balcony seats, which tend to vibrate during shows with heavy bass. While the first floor of the Tao Chicago functions as an Asian-inspired restaurant, serving dishes such as Pekingese duck and lobster wontons, the second floor of the venue is one of the most popular nightclubs in the city. The space, with capacity for 1000 people, has impressive murals and a disco ball mounted under a 10-foot-high Japanese bell, setting the stage for crowded parties with the soundtrack of some of the best DJs in the world (Deadmau5 and Afrojack performed during the club's opening weeks).
Coverage costs are often expensive and reservations are almost essential for the most important events, but if you have money to spend, this is one of the glitziest nightlife spots in Chicago. The kitschy concept of Beauty Bar, in Chicago, aligns with the New York and San Francisco versions, with shiny walls and salon furniture from the 60s. Hang out under the disco ball at popular and recurring parties like Emo vs. Pop-Punk or show up for happy hours on Friday night.
And if your nails need a little work, you can often get a manicure and martini in the main room. A relatively new addition to Chicago's nightlife, Le Nocturne channels the more casual atmosphere of a French nightclub, with a relaxed and elegant dress code. Residents include prominent Chicago house DJs such as Ron Carrol and Paul Johnson, exemplifying the club's reverence for local talent. Inside, you'll find a dance floor flanked by a 25,000-watt European audio system and a set of nearly 100 pieces of intelligent lighting that move and change color in response to whatever is spinning.
And if you need a break from the beat, there's a small patio on the sidewalk where you can refuel before seeing the crowd inside again. The Lakeview club, a favorite hideaway for local weirdos since the 80s, once lived up to its name by regularly presenting German new-wave music and art installations. Nowadays, Berlin is best known for its weekly drag shows and nighttime dance parties that keep the music going until 4 in the morning or later. This huge Northalsted club has been serving the LGBTQIA+ community for more than four decades.
With multiple levels, rooms, and even a rooftop terrace, the space can accommodate more than 1,000 people at a time. Start the week off right by singing your favorite songs from Musical Mondays or take your best steps during Friday night's dance party. When you need to refill, order one of the signature frozen cocktails. An elegant, modern destination with several levels of European style in the busy club scene of River North, this venue has kept clubbers busy since its opening in 2004, with progressive house and techno DJs touring on a regular basis.
With a solid line-up of resident DJs, seven bars scattered throughout the space and a powerful sound system, the different dance floors of this club always seem to show off a spectacular scene. Not much has changed at Underground, Billy Dec's former River North nightclub, which was once bunker-themed (it now looks like most contemporary clubs, with lots of lasers, blinking lights, and LED panels). It's a reliable place to see sets of touring DJs and potentially see some local baseball, basketball and football players spending money on bottle service. Do you need a way to pass the time before the doors open? The 1920s-themed Underground Cocktail Club serves elegant mixed drinks in a space inspired by speakeasies located just above the underground club.
Located above Celeste, in River North, Disco takes its retro aspirations to the surface, with a gigantic illuminated dance floor and lots of huge mirror balls. The playlists are also a conscious throwback to the 70s, full of key disco (duh), funk, soul and house music tracks. Show up Friday and Saturday nights for champagne and dancing at this Instagram-worthy club. Founded in 1995, this 300-person club in River North transmits its global atmosphere and invites underground techno and electronic artists from all over the world to perform.
The narrow confines make this one of the most exclusive dance floors in the area, so you'll need to arrive early (or book a table) if you want to secure a spot at the party. Do you miss the days when you drank boxes of juice with your friends? This spacious River North club serves many of its cocktails in plastic boxes, allowing guests to safely drink alcoholic beverages as they explore the enormous three-level space. Neon lights, graffiti and bright sculptures decorate the long corridors, where you're likely to see groups taking pictures of a miniature slot machine. People who go to bed early don't need to apply it.
LiqrBox doesn't open until 11 at night and keeps rocking until 4 in the morning (5 in the morning on Saturdays). Known for hosting underground DJs and musicians and for catering to the world of dance music, Smart Bar is a premier nightclub in Wrigley Field and has gained popularity since its opening for hosting avant-garde artists. Often celebrating Chicago's rich history of dance music, as well as the LGBTQ+ community, the venue presents itself as an elegant nightclub, with ambient lighting, a full bar and spectacular sets. From local jazz groups to avant-garde artists on tour, the place is Chicago's home for everything too strange for rock clubs.
Celeste is located in the historic Louis Sullivan Building, and this luxurious Chicago nightclub is just across the street from the Joy District. You'll be surprised to learn that, during the day, the barbershop is a veritable barbershop where people buy fresh cuts and clean shaves; however, at night, you step into the back room of the barbershop's speakeasy and are transported to a cocktail lounge, which serves refreshing drinks and euphonic rhythms. The dimly lit red room is one of the best nightclubs in Chicago. Unfortunately, you can't miss the chance to enter Chicago's most legendary nightclubs of the time (RIP The Warehouse), but a new generation of nightlife destinations has stepped in to ensure that the pace continues.
The Fulton Market dance club is characterized by hosting some of the best DJs and having a looser dress code than most (a good combination for many of the club's attendees), and street parking is a definite possibility. So grab your Red Bull before the game and get your friends together, because you're about to spend a great night at one of our favorite Chicago clubs. .