Chicago is the home of dozens of music festivals that draw musicians from all over the country and take advantage of the city’s central location in the middle of the country. Tourists are nice, but the city’s strong local music scene creates a foundation for these larger acts, and when larger venues can be sterile, expensive, and crowded, the city’s restaurants and bars often host live music that provides a fun alternative. From house to blues to rock to folks, Chicago has plenty for all music fans.Read More
Where to See Live Music in Chicago
A variety of musical and culinary genres
Le Piano is a jazz club on the North Side, an intimate venue that has something special. It’s called the “Happy Ending.” This one needs an explanation. For folks who really love the sound of a grand piano, couples can lay underneath the piano during a performance for a special listening experience.
Green Mill Cocktail Lounge
A landmark that's been witness to Al Capone and more. No trip to Chicago would be complete without a martini at this jazz Mecca. The bar is about the music not conversation. Please abide by the house rules.
This historic bar recently was remodeled to add a full kitchen. For years, the dance floor has been home to late-night shenanigans with square dancing and such. With new ownership, the music has continued and it’s one to watch for surprise late-night shows from mainstream artists.
One of the city’s most underrated venues, Beat Kitchen is a solid neighborhood bar and grill. The kitchen staff is so solid that the legendary Doug Sohn trusted them to cook Hot Doug’s encased meats at festivals. The space is intimate and hosts a variety of bands.
This Avondale haunt has a huge cider and sour beer selection from the team behind Logan Square’s Whistler. It’s a 21+ venue with DJ, indie bands, and a great variety of artists.
Counter culture thrives at this Roscoe Village dive which closed, only to reopen again in December 2015. The small stage is home to some of the city's most-inspired jazz performers.
The bar is a bit of an outlier in the middle of DePaul, and many credit it with bringing blues to the North Side. The two stages offer guests non-stop music, and there's barbecue that's more than enough the satisfy the most picky eater.
A divey Lincoln Park bar near DePaul, Golden Dagger is a small venue with plenty of N/A options. The space hosts jam bands and more.
This dive bar cares about its patrons and hipsters cram into the back room to hear a variety of bands playing their hearts out on the weekend. It’s also the place to meet a special someone if you play your cards right.
The Hideout is a Chicago treasure, even if in 2022 it drew controversy and closed to address concerns. It’s back, and the tiny spot along the Elston Industrial Corridor is a spot for a low-key night out. Beyond music, the space also books community events and comics. Anthony Bourdain once hung here.
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This beautiful Wicker Park spot will take visitors through mini-record story where fans can listen to vinyl before entering the club. The acoustics are wonderful, and it’s a great spot for a quality beverage and show. All genres are welcome.
Joe's can be a polarizing place. In the fall, bros gather to watch tons of college football. But bros can't live on sports alone. Bands like cover band Rod Tuffcurls and the Bench Press serenade the bros, trying to soothe the sweet beasts.
The Empty Bottle
One of Chicago’s most iconic spots for independent music, Empty Bottle is a long and narrow dive that’s great for the shot and beer crowd. Fans will see a variety of rock. They can also nosh on tasty square slices from Pizza Friendly Pizza next door.
Burlesque dancers aren't the only performers who grace the stage at this revamped Humboldt Park dive. Find soul, jazz and more onstage. The bar has gone through several incarnations and is now owned by the company behind Sengatore, the Italian spot across the street.
Mom's Place - A Chicago Gathering Spot
Mom’s Place seems to provide a little nostalgic trip to what River North used to be. The second-floor stage has space to mingle and to grab a drink. Beware of Live Band Karaoke — or embrace it.
Lettuce Entertain You has two Bub City locations — River North and Rosemont — where they have tapped into country music's resurgence. Bub City is known for its smoked meats and bourbon and it also has a strange love for malort.
Andy's Jazz Club
Andy's hosts two bands each day, and diners can reserve a table (reservations are only for those who order food) and hear some of the city's best jazz music.
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Missing this gem would be committing treason, as 1980s punk rockers from Chicago will love the Naked Raygun references at Cobra Lounge and neighboring All Rise Brewing Co.
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The second incarnation of the Bottom Lounge is bigger and badder than the Wrigleyville location. Mike Miller and his Delilah's crew have created a venue for punk and indie rockers. There’a food and drink scattered throughout two levels.
Buddy Guy's Legends
Since 1989, Buddy Guy's Legends has delivered the blues to crowds. And visitors can also order Louisiana-style Cajun seafood. This club is also the only place you can drink Buddy's Brew, a beer inspired by the legend himself.
Honky Tonk BBQ
Honky Tonk's Saloon Stage hosts a variety of musical genres, celebrating American Roots. It just makes the barbecue taste that much better.
This giant Pilsen music complex is home to one of the city’s best restaurants, Dusek’s, on the ground floor. There are also three bars inside. The 131-year-old building is named for the Greek muse of poetry and comedy. This is a mid-sized venue that brings in artists from all around the country.
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In the South Loop, Reggie’s features one of the only rooftop bars on the South Side, a record store, and a stage that attracts local and national acts. The wings are tasty in this dive that brings rock and other genres to the city.
Bronzeville Winery is a relaxed restaurant with elevated food and a deep wine selection on the South Side. It’s become a community hub and has hosts DJs from Wednesday through Saturday, as well as Sunday brunch. They’re hosting more live music on Sunday nights and occasionally on Mondays.