Does anyone have any recommendations for places to go to hear live music while in Chicago (not really looking for big forums, but more little out of the way places)?
When I was younger, back in the 90’s (and still in the area) I always liked going to the Chicago Metro to hear bands. http://www.metrochicago.com/
I’m not sure how it is now - I’d probably hate it - but it was the place to go to see new bands and I always had a good time.
Fitzgerald’s, Double Door, and Reggie’s are the only places I go anymore.
Some of my favourite smaller places when I was in Chicago were the aforementioned Double Door, the Abbey Pub and Schuba’s. If I remember correctly, the Abbey Pub is the largest of these, but it doesn’t hold more than 500. (Though I haven’t been there in years, so my recollection might be faulty.) Schuba’s is the smallest of these three, with about 200 capacity; it was one of my favourite rooms for live music in Chicago.
The people that own Schuba’s have opened Lincoln Hall in the space that used to be the Three Penny Cinema. I have not seen a show there yet, but I did take a peek inside the performance space and it looks pretty nice. It’s an open space with a bar on one side, and it’s got a sizable balcony with another bar up there. It looks like they’re booking similar acts as at Schuba’s.
The Hideout has lots of good bands; they seem to be the only place to reliably see sort of alt-country, roots-ish but modern kinds of acts (Alejandro Escovedo, Robbie Fulks, John Langford, and the like). It’s a pretty small room, so it can get kind of crowded, and it’s a bit out of the way (but not too bad; just a couple of blocks north of North Ave). OTOH, they have a couple of block-party type events every year that are a lot of fun.
I like the Park West for a “larger” space. It’s got actual seating, so that’s a plus for a 40+ year-old guy like me.
The Empty Bottle. If you’re lucky, Bruce from the band Yakuza will serve you a beer.
If you’re partial to blues, here are several active clubs, in no particular order:
South Side: Lee’s Unleaded Blues, Buddy Guy’s Legends
West Side: Rosa’s
North Side: B.L.U.E.S. on Halsted, Kingston Mines on Halsted.
I am just back from the mighty mighty Chicago Blues Festival, the Blues & Spirit Symposium at Dominican University, and Blues Amagamated’s (AND Living Blues Magazine’s) 40th Anniversary/Party-To-End-All Parties!
And, thank og that Honeyboy Edwards is still alive and doing remarkably well. A highlight of the Fest for me.