Chicago. Chi-Town. The Windy City. Famous for its deep dish pizza and its gangsters, the largest city in Illinois has all this and more to offer the visitor coming through its fine city. For the music fan, Chicago more than satisfies, especially if you’re in town during Lollapalooza week, as the AU was back in August.
While the majority of the action overtook Grant Park through the weekend, music venues right throughout the city were operating at capacity through the week and music was booming out into the streets and filling the air regardless of where you found yourself after the festival/aftershow finished each night. We’ve pulled together five Chicago venues which were popular during our stay in the city – make sure you stop on by when you’re next there!
SCHUBAS – 3159 N. Southport
This venue was the first one I visited when I arrived in Chicago and to look at it from the outside, it seems like your average pub. Situated on the corner of a relatively quiet block off the Brown Line, Schubas has become somewhat of an institution for touring bands of different calibres. Courtney Barnett played the night I was there and completely filled the venue out (the band room is a narrow venue at the rear of the front bar) to the point where punters were almost spilling back out on to the street.
You look at the walls and there are gig posters from shows past, documenting the impressive history of the venue. Counting the likes of Death Cab for Cutie and The Dave Matthews Band as some bands who played early shows of their career there, Shubas has been breaking up and coming artists since it opened in 1989. Schubas hosts live music seven nights a week covering many different genres – some artists set to play there in coming months include Mikhael Paskalev,Streets of Laredo and WET.
LINCOLN HALL – 2424 N. Lincoln Ave
I feel like Lincoln Hall is where solo artists and bands go once they’ve graduated from Shubas. It’s also where a lot of the larger mainstream artists are likely to perform. During Lolla, the likes of Portugal. The Man and Typhoon graced its stage, both to packed out crowds. Lincoln Hall has been around since 2009 and is in a great part of the city as well, making it a popular stop for many bands through the city as well as people looking for a good night out with a great soundtrack to fit. Some bands set to play Lincoln Hall in coming months include Kimbra, Bear’s Den and Passenger. It’s also got a great food and bar menu, I recommend the tacos or the Lincoln Burger.
BUDDY GUY’S LEGENDS – 700 S. Wabash Ave
Buddy Guy’s Legends bar is iconic for any blues fan. Hosting live music nightly, the venue is situated right in the middle of the central city district and holds some of the best soul food you’re likely to have in the city. Owned and operated by Buddy Guy and his family, walking into this venue gives you an automatic sense of a family-run venue, as well as being a great live music venue. The food and drinks are affordable, plus the range of memorabilia on show inside is just guitar-geek fodder. Acoustic sets are free to watch, though the tickets available for purchase are easy to nab as well.
DOUBLE DOOR – 1572 N. Milwaukee Ave
If you find yourself frequenting the famed Wicker Park neighbourhood of Chicago, Double Door is the place to be if you like your music loud. It’s been hosting a variety of styles since the mid-90s, and it’s an ethos they’ve stayed true to since. TheRolling Stones played a secret show there in 1997, Sonic Youth played their Lolla aftershow there in 2006, while Muse took to the venue earlier in their career as well. Phosphorescent and Run The Jewels both played their Lolla aftershows at Double Door, a perfect example of the difference in genres which have gone through their doors at any time. Like a lot of Chicago venues inner city, there’s a great industrial feel about the venues, many of them situated beneath the train lines positioned up high. If you’re heading that way soon, the likes of French Montana, Ryan Hemsworth and Rah Rah are on their calendar.
THE HIDEOUT – 1354 W. Wabansia
This is one of Chicago’s oldest venues, first opening – legally – in 1934. It’s in the industrial area north of the Chicago River and like many of the older venues in this city, the history seeps from its walls. The last ‘rebel club’, The Hideout was a place for those to get their booze fix when it was illegal, to go get a bit dark after a hard day of work. These days, many indie, jazz, punk and rock bands frequent the venue, though if you’re lucky enough to be in the area when it’s hosting its famous block parties…well, that’s a whole other experience entirely. An older guy pointed out a place in the alley way where Jack White vomited before playing a now infamous White Stripes gig there years ago, as if it was a shrine. Just visit their website to get a full grasp on the talent who has played The Hideout over the year – a definite must-visit.
Extra Fun Fact: Remember this song? Well the film clip was filmed at this venue. Ironic.
Welcome to Chicago, bitch.