Music by VICE

The VICE Guide to Chicago: Where to Listen to Music

When it comes to venues in Chicago, you can take your pick.

by VICE Travel Staff
Feb 3 2016, 5:00am

Chicago is bursting at the seams with music, and it's hard to walk a mile without being subjected to an impromptu concert. There's music on the street, music on the El platform, music blasting from the phone speakers of the guy sitting next to you on the train who doesn't seem to realize that headphones are a thing. When it comes to venues, take your pick. Every neighborhood has one it's famous for, and whether the show of the night is an international dubstep DJ or a local indie band, you'll find plenty of space to "dance like nobody is watching."

Kingston Mines
Kingston Mines has been nurturing Chicago Blues legends since it first opened in 1969, and with two stages, strong drinks, floor to ceiling murals, ample table space and lots of room to dance, this place is still bumping every night of the week. It's also a foreign tourist hotspot, which sounds like a bad thing until you're taking 3 AM shots with a 45-year-old Japanese homemaker, an Irish grad student, and the CEO of an Australian surf company.

The Vic
The Vic has an old theater feel with a modern twist, ethereal lighting and plenty of space. On nights without shows they host a Brew & View featuring new movies. Admission is $5 and there's always plenty of beer.

Empty Bottle
This cash only, intimate venue has a bar in the back and a pool table/photo booth in the front. There's always an eclectic lineup—from big names to obscure local acts—and while the crowd depends entirely on who's headlining, there's dancing to be had seven nights a week.

Lincoln Hall. Photo by Hannie Lee

Lincoln Hall
A sophisticated space with big names, good beer, and great acoustics. The only downside is the proximity to DePaul which can occasionally bring out the messy college crowd, but they card hard so it's rarely an issue.

Schubas is under the same ownership as Lincoln Hall, which means the sound quality is top notch and the lineup doesn't disappoint. Other than that, they're two very different venues. Schubas gives off a grittier vibe than its Lincoln Park sibling, and is intimate without being claustrophobic. Lolla after parties here are honestly more fun than the festival itself and if you go during the day, the brunch menu is on point.

Bottom Lounge
A great view of the stage no matter where you're situated, perfect sound, diverse crowd, and beautifully cheap drinks.

Less than a block away from Kingston Mines, this place plays the same old school blues in a much more intimate setting. It's usually packed to the brim on weekends but the music is well worth the squish, and the folksy decor is straight out of the 70s.