Are you looking for a way to get your live event fix? Concerts and stand-up comedy are making a comeback in Chicago. Many of the city’s most well-known venues are reopening, including performances by the city’s best and brightest as well as national and touring acts.
Although some venues may have social distancing, masking, or immunization requirements, the city has fully reopened without statutory capacity limits. Before going out, make sure to check with the individual venues.
Check out what’s on right now, including live music, comedy, and nightlife in Chicago:
1. The Empty Bottle
Since 1992, this intimate concert venue has been a fixture in Ukrainian Village. This indie-rock dive bar has established its name on inexpensive drinks, a lack of pretense, a loyal following, and, of course, live music, as proudly characterized by the owners. It has hosted a ludicrous amount of huge acts throughout the years, including the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The Flaming Lips, Vampire Weekend, and The Strokes. The Empty Bottle is one of Chicago’s most popular music venues, with craft beers and cheap meals. It’s also recognized for hosting some of the city’s top alternative shows.
2. Tonic Room
The Tonic Room is the place to go if you want to see a venue that is popular among musicians. The little club has been serving live music in Chicago six evenings a week for nearly 20 years, and patrons enjoy being so close to the musicians. When an artist’s tour takes them to Chicago for the first time, they frequently book Tonic Room. Look next to you (is that Chance the Rapper?) since the club is home to a close-knit family of Chicago musicians that frequent the Lincoln Park venue to support one another. On Monday nights, there’s an open jam, but on other nights, you might catch a Grateful Dead or Pink Floyd tribute, a Boston funk band, a Nashville singer-songwriter, or any number of reggae, hip-hop, blues, rock, and jam bands.
3. Hungry Brain
Hungry Brain in Roscoe Village, another Chicago institution, closed its doors in 2014. But it quickly reopened in 2016, with the same improvisational jazz events that had made the pub famous. It’s a quirky and intimate venue with a laid-back attitude that’s also affordable — many shows are free, beverages are inexpensive, and you can bring your own food.
4. Sleeping Village
The 350-seat facility is a popular hangout for locals who come for coffee, wi-fi, snacks, and beer during the day and everyone comes for live music and beer at night (the bar has 56-draft lines of local, regional, and international ales, stouts, barleys, and ciders). Expect a variety of ticketed and free events featuring national and international pop, art-rock, psychedelia, folk, techno, jazz, and everything in between and beyond performers. The acoustics are excellent, the lighting is perfect, and the area feels intimate but not claustrophobic. During the day, the patio is dog-friendly and open all year.
5. Chicago Symphony Orchestra
The Symphony Center, home to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, is a magnificent venue with excellent acoustics and stunning architecture. With one of the top orchestras in the country (they’ve won more Grammy Awards than any other ensemble), witnessing a show here is sure to be a night to remember. While classical music is the main attraction, Symphony Center also welcomes guest artists such as The Chieftains, the SFJazz Collective, chamber and municipal orchestras, and special events such as the Star Wars: Return of the Jedi concert. Q&A sessions with conductors and artistic directors are also available, as well as multimedia presentations. Even those who are not fans of classical music will be awestruck by the architecture and sound. There are also discounts for students and special concerts for families.
Wishing you a happy visit to Chicago!