Live music venues are located throughout Chicago, but a few seem to be near and dear to the heart of the city. My top picks for live music venues in Chicago offer up some great local opportunities to experience what Chicago is all about. Don’t miss an opportunity to check out these great local scenes if you are ever in Chi town.
Park West is one of those live music venues that seem to be the very heart of the Chicago music scene for the past few decades. It is one of those places you hear locals talk about dreamily. They reminisce over going there to see big name bands that defined their generation. Over and over people speak of U2 at Park West, it seems to be one of those amazing moments for the city. I can see why. Park West holds about 1000 people, has an amazing sound system, and is absolutely one of the best live music venues I have ever been to. There does not seem to be a bad seat in the house, literally. The crowd is intimate and you can really get into the music. I went with my better half for a date night and was happily surprised at the quaint atmosphere, definitely cozy to say the least. I loved the feel of this old burlesque house. I do have to say that the drinks are little pricey, but I think that is to be expected in Chicago. We bought drinks at the bar, but once we were seated we had a super nice server that filled us in on the history of the building and all the great show she had worked through. Park West is located at 322 West Armitage Avenue, Chicago, Illinois, 60614. They are great date spot and perfect for a group of friends, but not good at all to check out alone. Shows start nightly between 6 and 8pm. The venue is cash only, so leave the credit cards at home. They can be reached at (773) 929-5959.
For a more formal live music venue check out Green Dolphin Street. They are a great little bar and restaurant perfect for a romantic evening out practicing those dance steps you took pains to learn. The atmosphere is posh and romantic. Green walls provide the perfect backdrop to salsa bands, big bands, and jazz; all live of course. It gets crowded and loud. Green Dolphin is a very big destination place on Friday and Saturday date nights. I love to visit restaurants and bars on their off night to get a feel for what they are like when the crowds are not out of control. Check out Green Dolphin Street on Tuesday nights for a great time minus the elbows. They offer patrons a free hour-long salsa lesson and it really helps. I had a few moves for the dance floor that didn’t involve firmly planting my feet on the floor and swaying to the music! Even if you don’t dance you can take in the other talented people. The dining room is separate from the dance floor, which I found a little disappointing. It would be nice to relax with a nice glass of wine and have a little dinner while taking in the live music. I recommend having dinner elsewhere and checking out the bar area/ dance floor here. Green Dolphin Street is located at 2200 North Ashland Street, Chicago, Illinois, 60614. They can be reached at (773) 395-0066. There is a $7 cover a few nights a week, but Tuesday, Thursdays, and Sunday offer free love music with no cover. They are open Tuesday through Sunday 5:30pm to 11pm.
Double Door is one of great Chicago music venues that is very much needed in the music world. They are bigger than a traditional bar, but still smaller than a traditional area. They came on the map in the grunge years of the 1990’s and are still a vital and active part of the Chicago music scene. I enjoy the Double Door because you can hear great live music, play a little pool and people watch with ease. The crowd is casual and out to have a good time listening to some great live music. You can hear every kind of music here as well. They are not limited to one specific genre, instead welcoming a variety of acts ranging form country to rock n roll. Double Door is located at 1572 North Milwaukee Avenue, Chicago, Illinois, 60622. Doors open at 8pm and close at 2pm most nights. On Saturdays the doors close at 3pm. They can be reached at (773) 489-3160.