Chicago’s influence on the national music scene cannot be understated. Blues, jazz, gospel, soul, hip-hop, house, and rock’n’roll — there’s a sound for everyone in the Windy City. The scene is sweeping in more musical talent than ever, so be the first to know when the next divergent sounds will reach the Chicago stages by following these bustling performance venues.
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For a one-stop music shop: Thalia Hall
Look out for: The artists you know and love, and the artists you don’t know and will love. Follow Thalia Hall to satisfy your mainstream craving while leaving room to discover your new favorite act.
Why: Since 1892, this historic landmark has been bringing together its surrounding community thanks to local tavern owner and arts champion John Dusek. From industry mainstays, like Phil Lesh and Giorgio Moroder, to trendsetting up-and-comers, like Noname and Toro y Moi, the versatile 1,300-capacity room caters to all types of music lovers. It’s connected with Dusek’s Board & Beer and Punch House, so show up early and enjoy a pre-show libation.
For sweaty nights you won’t remember: PRYSM Nightclub
Look out for: UNST UNST UNST UNST! Follow PRYSM Nightclub for your fist-pumping fix from the world’s top DJs.
Why: This 21st-century nightclub boasts two floors, three full-service bars, and doors open ‘til 4am. The only distraction from your best night ever will be party-stopping beat drops by the likes of Nicky Romero, CASH CASH, and NERVO.
For grass that’s bluer: SPACE
Look out for: Americana, country, folk, jazz, and then some. Follow SPACE and two step your way off the beaten path.
Why: Located in Evanston, a quick drive north of Chicago, SPACE is one of the area’s most prolific and intimate venues. Catch both local and national touring acts, including John Oates, The Waco Brothers, and Larkin Poe, almost every night of the week. The music hall doubles as a recording studio, and if you listen closely enough, you might hear echoes of recording sessions by artists like The Strumbellas and The Lone Bellow.
For The Culture: The Promontory
Look out for: Afro-Caribbean, R&B, and reggae dance parties galore, family-friendly and community events, and jazz and hip-hop frontrunners. Follow The Promontory for the most soulful sounds in the city.
Why: The party never stops at this restaurant/performance venue, located just a short walk from the neighborhood’s beloved Promontory Point. Its event calendar makes it sound like the coolest community center ever, with dance parties for both youngsters and 21+ crowds, craft and food fairs, and community meet-ups. So cool in fact, that artists like Kid Capri, CeCe Winans, Chanté Moore, Darryl Jones, and MHD perform weekly.
For seeing the glass half full: The Empty Bottle
Look out for: Underground rock, pop, and electronic independents. Follow The Empty Bottle to go below the surface of Chicago’s music scene.
Why: A staple of the Ukrainian Village since the early ‘90s, this hole-in-the-wall bar has that classic indie venue vibe with a pool table, exposed brick, and custom graffitied bathrooms. The Empty Bottle is the city’s biggest champion of indie music, from bands that made it, like Tokyo Police Club and The Chills, to groups still on their way, like Dilly Dally and Boy Harsher.
Want to stay even more up on the music scene?
Check out our weekly updated Chicago music calendar!