Chicago is often referred to as the “Second City,” a motto the people have seemed to embrace over the years, but when it comes to live music and the venues in which to hear it there is absolutely nothing second-rate about this great city. From its dive bars, to the classiest of classy halls, to everything in between, Chicago offers a range of unique choices when it comes to taking in a live performance.
If you plan to visit the great city of Chicago anytime soon, be sure to take in a great show while you’re here. To help you accomplish this, below we have profiled some of the best live music venues in the city, and the types of music you can expect to hear when attending them.
The Beat Kitchen
According to a recent poll of local Chicagoans, the Beat Kitchen is one of the best places in the city in which to catch a live show. With a feel and an atmosphere that yo-yos between a dive bar and an old-time music club of yore, the club is actually quite charming, with just enough seating to rest and take a sip of your drink before cheering and/or dancing during the next number.
Although it’s unlikely you’ll see an arena-touring band at the Beat Kitchen, you will definitely hear some great music from emerging and very competent performers, some of whom just may go on to hit the big time, giving you that coveted “I saw them back when” story to tell your friends. In addition to the great indie bands you’ll be privy to at the Beat Kitchen, the club also offers a fully-stocked bar of reasonably priced drinks. No seat is a “bad seat” at the club, which tends to give patrons an up-close and personal view of the band, one that is both intimate and satisfying. Although the space is small, the sound is enormous, allowing you to simply sit back and let the music wash over you like a wave.
The Double Door
With music on the agenda every night of the week, the Double Door is one of the most active clubs in Chicago. Locals are known to hope and pray their favorite artists will book a gig at the Double Door, as the acoustics at the club are off the charts, enabling an arena-type sound with a small club feel. The Double Door is also very conveniently located for most Chicago residents, as the Blue Line of their rail system dumps partygoers right across the street—a definite plus for those who want to enjoy the party without worrying about how they will get home. The space itself has some minor issues—pillars block the sightline for some guests and the sound bar in the middle of the room seems a bit out of place—but all in all this is a great place to catch a live show.
The Double Door has a great bar and ample seating, and although the drinks are priced a bit higher than your standard bar or pub, the music you’ll receive in return is well worth the extra cost. Various genres have graced the stage of the Double Door, including rock and roll groups, indie bands and alternative, and the cover charge of about $20 to $25 is reasonable for what you get in return.
The downtown location of the Schubas club is just one of two clubs owned by the Schuba brothers, Mike and Chris, and by far the better of the two from a live music standpoint. In an area of town where it’s best to travel in pairs or groups, Schubas hosts some amazing cutting-edge artists. Although the outside of the building does not reflect it, the club is actually quite modern and upscale, while still offering that intimate atmosphere so coveted by most music lovers.
Opened since 1989, Schubas has been breaking in new talent for decades now, both indie groups and mainstream rock. The club even played host to one of the first shows by the Dave Matthews Band, who went on to become one of the giants of the music world. There’s a great bar at the club and the admission price is fair, but its most amazing aspect is the great sound that comes pumping out of the door nearly every night of the week.
The Township Club is owned and operated by the longtime promoter MPShows, who have bounced around many Chicago venues over the years. In that time, the promoter has built a reputation as one of the most determined and longstanding promoters in the city—a groups of guys that got their start booking punk rock bands at the Fireside Bowl back in a time when the building was literally falling apart all around them.
However, with the Township they seem to have found their perfect and forever home, and customers of this amazing venue now to get to reap the rewards of their tremendous experience. Although the group still books bands at a variety of Chicago venues, they appear to save the best for the Township—an intimate club with incredible sound. Depending on the night, partygoers at the cozy Township may hear an up-and-coming indie artist or a nationally recognized and full-time touring band, all of which sound awesome given the great sound system and the room’s acoustics.
If you head about a mile south from Buddy Guy’s “Legends” club you will find the live music venue known simply as Reggie’s, a smaller club with a rawer décor and much more intimate vibe. With a great bar, ample seating and amazing sound, Reggie’s has hosted talent from across the musical spectrum, most popularly punk and metal bands, as well as emerging Hip-Hop artists such as like Rockie Fresh, Chance the Rapper, and the now-defunct Kids These Days, who all cut their teeth on Reggie’s stage.
Reggie’s also hosts a record shop on the second floor of the facility and a restaurant in the adjacent room.
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