Best Live Music Venues – Chicago

I’ve always had a love for live music. Dating back to my earlier days of competing in Battle of the Bands throughout high school, performing is something that has interested me for a long time.

Over the years, I’ve found some fantastic music venues throughout the city of Chicago. These venues differ in terms of the acts performed as well as the overall feel of the venue itself.

Here is a breakdown of some of the best music venues throughout Chicago. Give it a read and let me know what you think.


Metro is one of those music venues that has an aura about it. Located right around the corner from Wrigley Field, musical legends seem to always find their way to the Metro stage. Performers such as Nirvana, James Brown, Prince and Bob Dylan have all performed within the walls of the Metro. While the venue has been opened for 32 years, it feels as though it has been around since the very beginning.

Smart Bar

Located directly underneath the Metro, Smart Bar has a drastically different feel from its historic neighbor. This club features some of the best electronic music in Chicago and has quite a venue to go along with it. Performers such as Paul Oakenfold, Trent Reznor, Frankie Knuckles and Richie Hawtin have placed some of the best disco, house and funk music to come through the area.

The Hideout is a small music venue that fits the indie scene perfectly.

The Hideout is a small music venue that fits the indie scene perfectly.

The Hideout

For the indie music scene, make sure you check out The Hideout. The venue itself screams indie music (it holds less than 200 people) but attracts huge headliners (The White Stripes and Wilco are just a couple).

The Mid

A newcomer to the music scene, The Mid has been opened since 2010. This downtown club has brought in a young crowd since the very first day to its affinity for electronic music. With headliners such as Afrojack, Skrillex, Avicii, James Murphy, Knife Party and Green Velvet, The Mid has attracted some of the best in the industry.

Lincoln Hall

One of the cleanest and well-lit clubs in the city, Lincoln Hall is one of the classiest night clubs you will ever step into. It has hosted bands such as Mumford & Sons and M83.

Empty Bottle

One of the oddest venues I’ve walked into is the Empty Bottle. With a photo booth and a pinball machine in the front, you have to make your way to the back of  the place in order to find superstars on stage. For over 20 years the Empty Bottle has supplied Chicago with some of the best indie bands around.

Double Door

This place has two doors – enough said. Just kidding. Double Door is a rock venue that is located in Wicker Park and hosts a bunch of headliners — although you’d never know it. Artists such as the Rolling Stones and the Smashing Pumpkins have performed at the Double Door, but both of their shows went unannounced.

Buddy Guy's Legends is the best blues venue in the city... and it has some fantastic Cajun food to go with it.

Buddy Guy’s Legends is the best blues venue in the city… and it has some fantastic Cajun food to go with it.

Buddy Guy’s Legends

As the name entails, this blues venue has hosted LEGENDS. Opened by Buddy Guy in 1989, artists such as Eric Clapton, David Bowie, Lou Rawls, BB King and Stevie Ray Vaughan have all made an appearance. This has some of the best music memorabilia in the city  – and has a fantastic Cajun menu.


Located close to Buddy Guy’s Legends, this venue is drastically different – particularly for the music. Reggies has hosted punk, metal and hip-hop events. Many up-and-coming artists in the area break their way into the mainstream through performances at Reggies.


The Schuba brothers (Mike and Chris) own a couple of clubs throughout the Chicago area. The setting for the Schubas is always upscale and intimate. After opening in 1989, the Schuba has a rich history in Chicago live music. One of Dave Matthews Band’s first shows was hosted at this venue.