Best Music Venues in Chicago

Yelp

There's nothing like live music and Chicago has no shortage of wonderful places to see great musicians perform. Whether you're in the mood for an intimate little dive with a solo local performer, or a full jazz band, you're in luck in this city.

Chicago has always had a history of attracting great talent, and we grow some of the best right here. We're known for our jazz and blues, but that's certainly not all the city offers. We have a world-class orchestra, amazing large venues, and fantastic small clubs. Locals have their favorite venues but there is always something new. And there are so many different venues to choose from, it's difficult to try them all.

If you’re thinking about gifts for a special someone, a night of music is always a fantastic option. Whether they're into rock, R&B, jazz, or an array of the best pop covers, there's a great venue just bursting with fun entertainment options. Treat a friend with a virtual GiftYa card that they can use to explore our lush and wonderful music scene. Or use the card for your own night on the town.

There are a variety of club sizes, bars, and larger venues. We also have places that cater to certain kinds of music and others that have every genre imaginable. We tried to include a little something for everyone.

Green Mill Cocktail Lounge

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The Green Mill is a favorite spot for both tourists and locals. It's got a long history in the city, dating back to the early 1900s, and the atmosphere pays homage to the legacy of great musicians that have come through their stage. They boast late-night jam sessions where you can see local artists totally vibing on the music they love. You can just as easily catch famous names and industry favorites. The Green Mill is mostly known for its jazz and swing bands but you can get a good variety of musicians and bands filling the place with a one-of-a-kind sound you won't want to leave. Comfortable seating and a bit of nostalgia are around every corner here. You'll feel like you stepped back in time, and that's sometimes an awesome thing.

You can get beautiful sounds and swinging bands, so prepare for a ride that is led by the stage. They boast fantastic service and you'll find locals mixed in with tourists. It's a great place for something new every night.

Buddy Guy's Legends

In a town known for its blues, Buddy Guy's Legends is the premier spot. The man on the marquee needs no introduction and the amazing musicians that perform here live up to the same high standard. Buddy Guy's is an attraction for local blues lovers and tourists. If you haven't been here, you need to. It's really that simple. Even if blues and jazz aren't your first choice, Buddy's will change your mind. You'll love looking around at all the memorabilia, and enjoy a really extensive food and drink menu.

Buddy's features a New Orleans-inspired menu, great service, a beautiful environment, and of course, the music. The music is the main attraction but everything else here is top-notch too.

Reggies

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Located in the south Loop, Reggies stormed the scene back in 2007 and has been a staple of fantastic music ever since. The bar is 21 and over but they have Reggies Rock Club next door, which is all ages. Because Reggies knows music fans are all ages and the younger set needs a good place to hear the latest artist.

They feature every kind of sound, from new up-and-coming artists, locals, and touring bands. You can also catch a good variety of genres here. Check their listings to see what bands and musicians are coming up. You'll find something to suit any type of taste. Reggies also boasts a full restaurant and bar menu with daily food and drink specials. It's got a very laid-back vibe and a lot going on for a good night of entertainment, no matter what you're into.

Kingston Mines

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You can't talk about the music scene in Chicago unless you want to talk about Kingston Mines. This is a mecca for the musician and the music lover. Kingston features barbecue and southern food, a full drink menu, and some awesome entertainment. Local musicians come here for the famous jam sessions. Music lovers come because any musician who's ever wanted to play blues or jazz marks this club as one of their must-play bucket list destinations.

Kingston Mines features two stages that rotate talent, so the music never stops. It's an experience that you shouldn't miss.

House of Blues

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The House of Blues Chicago is a chain, so it doesn't have that local Chicago flair, though they have decorated with Chicago ambiance. It does feature some excellent bands. It also has a small stage, and intimate area so it's easy for patrons to interact with the performers. They have popular acts and big names that draw a crowd. Which makes this a little more fun than a big arena because you can see some of your favorites a little more up close.

It's a little commercial but it's usually a good show. Well recommended for artists you love that you'd like to see on a smaller stage.

Ravinia Festival

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Ravinia is only open during the festival season because it's a largely outdoor venue. Ravinia is the oldest festival in North America, still going strong every year. The acts are on stage under a pavilion but there's lawn seating with screens. People come for a full experience in the nice weather outside with their friends. You can get lawn seating and set up chairs and blankets or sit in the pavilion with a better view of the acts. They feature well-known performers and book well in advance.

The Metro

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The Metro is a mecca for the indie and punk band culture. They are a larger venue that has a main floor and balcony seating, so everyone gets a good view of the band. They have big names and newer upcoming artists. You'll find an eclectic mix of talent but they often veer toward alternative and rock. Check their upcoming lineup and book your tickets in advance.

Cobra Lounge

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If you like rock music and a laid-back atmosphere, Cobra Lounge is a great fit. They feature new and upcoming artists, as well as some touring and more well-known acts. They have a good quality menu but pride themselves on their neighborhood blue-collar roots.

They're highly rated on service and quality, so it's a great place to grab a bite or a few drinks, but its real pull is the music.

The Gallery Cabaret

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Located in Chicago's Bucktown neighborhood, this little gem is a neighborhood favorite. Noted on its website as Chicago's Favorite Dive Bar, The Gallery Cab, as the locals call it, features performances every single night. They range, too. You can get open mic comedy, full bands, or drag shows. Anything can happen at the Gallery Cab. But music is a huge staple here. You won't see headline big-name bands or performers. What you will see is local area talent. And we do have some great talent.

They were closed throughout Covid and the owner took the opportunity to renovate this great space. It's just reopening now, so the image above might be significantly different. One of the great draws at this bar is that they feature and welcome local artists of all types. The painting and photography on the walls are all for sale (except for the ones the bar already purchased). The staff is awesome and the vibe is always unique.

The Riviera

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Most Chicagoans know this venue as The Riv. The Riviera is a cool venue with a good vibe. It hosts an array of artists that tour and you can see about any type of acts in this venue. It's an old movie house and it looks like one, keeping the famous movie house sign on the outside of the theatre. The main floor is standing room only but the mezzanine has seating. There are multiple bars and it has that old-time feel that embraces the history of the place. That being said, you can expect a bit of a dive club feel because it does need some updating, maybe some paint, maybe a good scrub. Though some people would say that's part of its charm.

It's a great venue on the north side where you can get your fix for whatever act is currently whipping through Chicago. They book well-known national acts, so you can see some of your favorite performers grace this stage.

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