The Chicago Scene

Sections include: Venues, Record Stores, Labels, Bands, Bars, Bloggers, Coffee Shops, etc

NOTE: If you have any edits or additions, please feel free to contact me at I suspect this page will never include everything, but I hope to keep it growing.  Thanks!

3159 N. Southport Avenue
165-200 capacity


Of all the venues in Chicago, I feel most confident that Schubas has good music any night of the week. When I don't know what to do with my night out, I'll head to Schubas without even checking the bill, it's just that awesome. It's purely convenient that it's also closest to my house.

This venue also has an upstairs with a small bar that can be rented out, which on weekends usually houses a DJ set after the show.

Shows I've seen here: Ha Ha Tonka*, Passion Pit*, White Rabbits, Chairlift, Pet Lions, Big Science, Bishop Allen, Micachu... If you can get booked here, do it!

Lincoln Hall
2424 N. Lincoln Avenue
Just over 500 capacity


I was SO excited when I heard that Schubas' owners were opening a new, larger venue in Chicago. As mentioned above, I LOVE Schubas! This space offers a larger room with two floors, making it the perfect venue for all the fabulous indie acts that quickly sell out Schubas (which is much smaller).

Despite the absolutely fabulous schedule of shows announced for the first few months of the venue's existence, it took me until NYE 2009 to check out the venue. I saw Fiery Furnaces and consumed lots of cider, and it was a wonderful evening. I absolutely cannot wait to go back, and I encourage you to make your way to Lincoln Hall asap.

Empty Bottle
1035 N. Western Avenue
Around 400 capacity


Definitely another of Chicago's best indie venues. Good, live music 7 days a week, and always a fun crowd. A slight downside is its location, but it's something I've definitely made the trip for. If you can get booked here, do it!

2011 North Avenue
375 capacity upstairs; 175 downstairs


In the 1920s, the first floor of Subterranean served as a wire room for gambling, while a brothel occupied the second and third floors. Supposedly there are secret tunnels in the basement, used by the likes of Al Capone when a quick escape was needed. Without even knowing the history, this venue is full of character and custom niches, but knowing this makes it oh-so-much cooler.

In the actual music hall, there are two floors with two bars. There used to be some couches upstairs too, but they're not there any longer so I'm assuming the venue caught some under-agers being naughty on 'em during a 17+ show or something.

Without a doubt, a great Chicago venue! I've seen a few shows here, most notably Digitalism, Maps & Atlases and Verona Red. I'll for sure be back soon.

The Hideout
1354 W. Wabansia
150 capacity


Oh The Hideout, how I love thee. I believe this to be the most sincere, down-to-earth, venue in Chicago. It's literally hidden amongst some random, large industrial-type buildings (hence the name?). There's a bar up front, cash only I believe, and the hall in the back. Quality acts only here, and how I long to book a show at The Hideout. One day, my good friends. When you have some time, both to check out a show and to commute to this off-the-beaten-path venue, I highly recommend it.

Beat Kitchen
2100 W. Belmont Avenue
275 capacity


The Beat Kitchen has two bars, a full one up front and a small one in the music hall. Also, there's an upstairs private room for rent that I'm sure to take advantage of soon. And, did I mention that besides great music, they have the best Cobb salad I've ever had?! A great place to head for good music with a reasonable door cost, and they're pretty supportive of out of town bands too, so there's always something new.

Double Door
1572 N. Milwaukee Avenue
550 capacity


The Double Door is awesome. Definitely a larger venue, it's located in the heart of ultra-trendy Wicker Park (across the street from Subterranean). There's the main floor, which is relatively large and open with black walls covered in stickers, posters, and naked Satyrs. There's a small upstairs that often serves as a VIP area, with some tables, seating and another bar. Another great thing about this venue is the downstairs area - full of dark lighting, pool tables, booth tables and another bar - making the downstairs a great place to hang out between acts. And despite its size, this venue is really supportive of local acts, so it's a great place to see Chicago acts with an already-built sizable following or touring larger acts.

Bottom Lounge
1375 W. Lake Street
~500 music room capacity; 260 front bar; upstairs Volcano Room around 900


Definitely a venue without much foot traffic, and therefore a venue that regularly hosts amazing shows that make the trip worth it! Some GREAT acts play the Bottom Lounge - another venue with a large open concert room, a few bars, areas of seating, and an upstairs space. Thia upstairs space, dubbed The Volcano Room, is nearly a venue in itself! Often rented out for industry events or private shows, it hosts a LOT of people and has a large outdoor deck. Definitely a place I'm excited is in Chicago.

At Bottom Lounge, I've heard the wonderful music of Lykke Li and Semi Precious Weapons - two artists that I LOVE.

3730 N. Clark Street
1,100 capacity


The Metro is a polished, larger-scale indie-venue in Chicago. This venue feels the most corporate to me, in the sense that they're more supportive of the larger, touring acts than the locals. I've seen a few local shows here, so certainly there's a local presence, but overall this two-story venue located just down the road from Wrigley Park and right above Smart Bar is focused on larger acts. I saw The Faint here (AWESOME) as well as The Bravery and Semi Precious Weapons. I love it when I can catch a show here, but the door is usually $15-20 compared to most other venues at $5-10, so I usually head elsewhere.

House of Blues Chicago
Elbo Room
Aragon Ballroom
Congress Theater
The Rockbox
Underground Lounge
Betty Blue Star Lounge
Cobra Lounge
The Horseshoe
Kinetic Playground
The Abbey Pub
Cubby Bear
LaSalle Power Co.
Park West
Vic Theater
Cal's Bar
Reggie's Live
Red Line Tap
The Mutiny
The Riviera


Chicago's Reckless Records on Broadway

For all you music lovers outside of Chicago, you've likely heard of Reckless Records but maybe haven't had the chance to visit (yet). Well, this post is most especially for you! :)

There are many great record stores in Chicago, and three of my favorites are definitely the Reckless Record stores. I live really close to the one on Broadway, so I'm in there most often, but I visit the Wicker Park location pretty regularly too.

The Reckless stores are great because the staff is incredibly nice, the selection of new and used CDs seems endless (especially because if they have the item you're looking for at another location, they'll bring it over for you!), and there's WAY more than fabulous music. Especially at the Broadway location, there's ample selection of great movies (VHS and DVD), records, CDs, cassettes, t-shirts, magazines and more. Plus, posters for the latest and greatest local shows always line the entrance.

Within the last year they moved into this location from a much smaller store across the street, and this allowed for an increased supply of goods and space for live shows. So, Chicagoans and non-Chicagoans alike, head to Reckless next time you're nearby, and then maybe to Wilde's for an AMAZING buffalo chicken sandwich and Intelligentsia for an AMAZING cup of coffee... which is pretty much my perfect day. :)

Laurie's Planet of Sound
Dusty Groove America
Permanent Records
Dave's Records (all vinyl)
Gramaphone Records


1,000 Vertical Feet
The 2 Plus 2
72 Hours
A Birdsong Valentine
A Quiet Capture
Abstract Giants
Action Finger
The Adornments
Aktar Aktar
Andrew Belle
Animal City
American Taxi
Archie Powell and the Exports
The Assembly
The Attraction
The Barcait Couture
Bear Claw
Bicycle, Tricycle
Big Science
Bird Ate My Donut
The Bitter Tears
Black Dog
Black Math
Blah Blah Blah
Blane Fonda
Blasted Diplomats
The Bears of Blue River
The Blissters
Boho Paisley
Bottle Rocket Blue
Bound Stems
Breakers Broken
Brandan Losch
Bright Like Japan
Brighton, MA
The Brother Whys
Bullet Called Life
Bullets in Madison
Bully in the Hallway
Butterfly Assassins
Button Pushers
Calvin Marty and the Sunken Ship
Catfish Haven
The Cathy Santonies
Ceiling Stars
Cobalt and the Hired Guns
Color Radio
Coltrane Motion
Company of Thieves
Conductive Alliance
Constantine and the Emperors
The Cortlandt Homes
Crooks and Children
Daily Void
Danger is my Middle Name
Daniel Knox
David Costa
Dick Prall
Digital Mindy
The Dirty Rooks
Dot Dot Dot
Easy Prey
Echo Son
Empire State Express
Escape From Earth
Esta Vivo
Ezra Furman
Face Time Police
Facing Forward
Farewell Captain
The Felix Culpa
Fishing with Spoons
Flatbed Orange
Flowers for Dorian
The Fold
Gemini Club
Gia Margaret
The Glide
Glorious Noise
Gold Motel
Goodbye Satellite
The Great Society Mind Destroyers
Gunner's Daughter
The Hallow
Hay Perro
Haywood Yards
Hey Champ
High Gloss Black
Honest Engines
Horse and the Sea
Hospital Garden
Hotel Ahead
House of Normandie
Hudson Branch
The Hue
I Fight Dragons
Icy Demons
IJ Quinn
Ike Reilly Assassination
In Tall Buildings
The Innocent
The Ivorys
Jerome Holloway
Jessica Sonner
Joe Pug
John Bellows
Johnny Rumble
Johnny Thunders and The Heartbreakers
Jon Drake and the Shakes
Judson Claiborne
Julie Meckler
Kaspar Hauser
The Kickback
Kid You'll Move Mountains
Killer Whales
King Sparrow
Last Fast Action
The Lavellas
Left Brain Heart
Lemmy Caution
The Lifeline
Lights Over Bridgeport
Local H
The Locals
Love and Squalor
Love in October
Love Raid
Lovers in Arms
Loyal Divide
Lucid Ground
Lying Delilah
The M's
Made In Hollywood
Makeshift Prodigy
Mannequin Men
Maps & Atlases
Mason's Case
Mic Terror
Mike Mangione
Mike Reeb
Mikkey Halsted
Milk & Honey
Mira Mira
Miss Alex White and the Red Orchestra
Miss Jackie and The Sass
Mittens on Strings
Model Stranger
Mother Electric
The Moves
Moxie Motive
Mr. Bear
Mr. Russia
Mucca Pazza
My Gold Mask
Nathan Xander & Witchouse
Old Fake
On the Run
Otter Petter
Panda Riot
Par Avion
Pet Lions
Pistols at Dawn
The Poison Arrows
Pool of Frogs
Press Gang
Prizzy Prizzy Please
Quasar Wut-Wut
Rabble Rabble
The Race
Raise High the Roof Beam
Raised on Zenith
Real Lunch
The Redfords
The Right Now
The Rikters
Rob Nicholas
Robbie Zar
Robot Lounge
Russian Circles
Sad Brad Smith
Sars Flannery
Scattered Trees
Scott Wesley
Secret Colours
Seth Bradley
Shelley Miller
Shock Stars
The Silents
The Singleman Affair
Sleeper Car
Sleeping at Last
Smith Westerns
Soft Speaker
State and Madison
Stephen Paul Smoker
The Streets on Fire
Sunday Morning Chameleon
Surrender Dorothy
Surround Sound
The Sweeps
Take the Panda
Team Band
Tell Your Friends
The Giving Tree Band
The Loneliest Monk
Them vs. Them
This Is Me Smiling
Tiger Bones
Tijuana Hercules
Tiny Magnets
Tiny Tron
Todd Kessler and the New Folk
Tom Schraeder & His Alter Ego
Tomorrow Never Knows
Treaty of Paris
Triumph and Parade
Tyler Jon Tyler
Twilight Revival
Unicycle Loves You
V Sparks
Van Ghost
Verona Red
Very Truly Yours
Victorian Halls
The Villains of Verona
Wally Dogger
Walter Meego
White Hot Knife
White Tie Affair
White Mystery
The Wiitala Brothers
Wild Peaks
The Window Theatre
Wooden Wing
The Yearbooks
The Yolks
The Young Sea
Yourself and the Air
Youth Dekay