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16 Mar 2024
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Contrary to what you might think, the music scene in Chicago doesn't just heat up during summer when you can't walk a few blocks without tripping into an awesome band playing a local festival. Yes, Chicago's music festivals are awesome, but the Chicago music scene is on fire twelve months a year. From rock and roll to jazz, blues, pop, hip hop, indie, electronic, country, heavy metal, punk, alt rock, folk, orchestral, opera . . . you name it, Chicago's music scene hits on every note (pun intended). Let's break it down and see what's in store for Chicago's Music scene in 2024 . . .


For decades, Chicago has been attracting some of the biggest musical acts and tours to its renowned venues like The United Center, Soldier Field, the Chicago Theatre and, wait for it, Wrigley Field! (We'll get back to that in a second). This year alone, Chicago will be hosting some of the biggest artists and tours - of all genres, from way back and  today.

If you're of the boomer persuasion, or just dig a classic groove, throw it back with Heart with Cheap Trick. Check out Chicago with Earth, Wind and Fire, or rock it hard with Metallica. Of course all of today's top talent will also grace our stages from  Bad Bunny to Olivia Rodrigo, Tim McGraw and Usher, Justin Timberlake, and Cigarettes After Sex. By the way, if you're a fan of friendship bracelets, Taylor Swift and her Eras Tour were here for 3 nights last June!  If you're a fan, hope you caught it!

Whether you're into rock, indie, jazz, pop, rap, classical, blues, you name it . . . Chicago is the place to be for live music!  We've got the full list of major concerts in Chicago HERE if you want to take a bite out of the whole music enchilada!


Not a Cubs fan? No problem. If you haven't rocked Wrigley for a concert, all due respect, you haven't really been to a concert – There's something almost poetic about it – It's intimate – like you're seeing your favorite artist with 41,000 of your closest friends. And if you didn't have any friends before, you will when you leave a concert at Wrigley – you've got to experience it to really get it.

Plus, Wrigleyville is ground zero for food and drink with hundreds of hang out joints up and down Clark St, Sheffield, Addison to chow down and imbibe before and after the concert, so your night won't end when you hear the final "G'NIGHT CHICAGO. So, who's up to bat this summer at Wrigley? Check out who's coming this summer below!


Chicago is also home to epic concert experiences at sick venues ranging in capacity from a few hundred like Schuba's, The Empty Bottle, the HideOut, to up to 5,000, like Lincoln Hall, The Vic, Thalia Hall, the Aragon, The Riviera, to name a few. One of the newest and coolest on the scene – Salt Shed, it's an indoor/outdoor venue that has set Chicago's live music scene on fire!

There are a whole lot more of course, featuring a multitude of genres and artists from Pop, rock, Indie, Alt, House, and Rap. Tucked into eclectic Chicago neighborhoods, these smaller, more intimate venues showcase emerging talent (local and otherwise), providing up-and-coming performers a platform to gain exposure, and for fans . . . a dope, up-close experience with artists on the verge of greatness. Let's go to the highlight reel!

  • Schuba's:  It wasn't too many years ago that a young, and relatively unknown artist named Billie Eilish (yes that Billie Eilish) played Schuba's – Originally an old Schlitz Brewery Pub in the Lakeview neighborhood, Schuba's has been an epically famous joint for decades known for showcasing new talent. Even Bob Dylan was rumored to grace the stage of Schuba's in his early days.
  • The Salt Shed: Home is the former Morton Salt warehouse (Yup, the gal with the umbrella, considered "vintage" today). Salt Shed is the newest and hottest venue on the Chicago music scene. Adjacent to the Chicago River, this indoor/outdoor venue will be hosting Wilco and  Benson BooneIt's considered a "multipurpose creative hub, with music as it's heartbeat" and we call it spectacular!
  • The Riviera: With a 100-year history in Chicago, the Riviera, located in the historic Uptown neighborhood, has seen just about everything. SuperTramp was its first concert nearly 50 years ago. Multi-Grammy winner Jon Batiste graced the stage just a few short weeks ago. We should mention Wilco, Adele, and other biggies played here as well while they were getting their feet wet as artists . . .

Chicago is known for being a ripe testing ground for talent, so let's name drop - Chance the Rapper, John Mayer, Mumford & Sons, Metallica, Alabama Shakes, Fiona Apple, Black Crowes . . . Of course, the list goes on and on, but you get the point! The other nice thing about these smaller music houses? Accessibility. They are simple to walk, Uber, or even drive to – many with parking lots of their own or convenient street parking (if you get there early enough). And if you're a lover of specific genres . . . Yup we've got those too!


If you're a true lover of blues, then you owe it to yourself to catch some blues in Chicago! Many claim Chicago is the original home of the blues, (and while we'd like to claim that too), according to National Geographic, the blues didn't "start" in Chicago. Following the great migration of African Americans seeking a better life up north, the blues found footing in Chicago and the magic of the blues took flight. Now the Blues brothers, yup. All Chicago. But we digress. For any true lover of Blues, you'll find Chicago's rich and diverse blues scene intoxicating – brought to life by the multitude of Blues clubs spread across the city! Here are just a few!

  • Kingston Mines; Established in 1968 , Kingston Mines is like a gritty velvet jewel box. Blues greats have been performing here for nearly 60 years – We're talking biggies like Koko Taylor, Sugar Blue, Joanna Connor and Magic Slim, plus a whole lot more! Find yourself with nothing to do in the wee hours? They're open ‘til 4a on Friday's and 5a on Saturday's . . .  Their motto? "Hear Blues – Drink Booze – Talk Loud-You're Among Friends."  (Lincoln Park)
  • Buddy Guy's Legends: Every self-respecting Blues fan has got to catch this near South side scene at least once. Owned by the powerful and renowned Blues guy and Grammy winner, Buddy Guy, the club Is as much of a legend around these parts as he is!
  • Blue Chicago: Right around the corner (sort of) from ACME in River North, this high energy blues outlet has hosted some of the bluest names in the business!


Much like the blues, jazz made its debut in Chicago when southern musicians migrated north in the early years of the 20th century looking for prosperity and a better life. And jazz has had a strong heartbeat in the city ever since. One of Chicago's most legendary jazz clubs, The Green Mill is believed to be the oldest continuously running jazz club in the entire country. 

  • The Green Mill: is one of Chicago's most legendary jazz clubs. Rich in history, and back in the day when mobsters ruled, a favorite haunt for notorious mobster Al Capone. In addition to the cool smooth jazz, we're guessing he rather liked the secret tunnels he could use for escape routes! Following Prohibition, The Green Mill attracted jazz biggies like Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday, and Al Jolson to its stage - - - We said it was legendary, right? Even today, some of the biggest names in Jazz can be seen here seven nights a week. . . until 4am. Take a nap before you go!
  • Andy's: In the heart of River North originally opened in the 1950's, it became home to members of the newspaper industry in Chicago. In 1977, Andy's reinvented itself into a jazz club and the rest as they say, is history. With 3 shows a night you can get all that jazz at Andy's pretty much on the regular!
  • Chicago Jazz Festival: Ok, so it's not a jazz "club" but it's worth it to commit one weekend every summer to get here for the greatest jazz – ever. Why? That's easy. Number one, It's FREE. And you just can't beat free. Number two, It takes place in Millennial Park with the dramatic Chicago skyline as a backdrop. And three, the Jazz Festival is literally the Who's Who of jazz, (past and present), counting Miles Davis, Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie, Ramsey Lewis and countless other Jazz greats who have graced the festival stage.


Yes, Chicago peeps dig the country scene – and if you want proof, Zach Bryan just lit up the United Center for 3 nights in March. Billboard top country artists rolling into the big windy this season include Tim McGraw at the United Center, Kenny Chesney at Soldier Field, George Strait with Chris Stapleton and Little Big town at Soldier Field, Tyler Childers, Luke Bryan, Jelly Roll, and Kacey Musgraves . . . Mic drop much? Plus, you can catch country just about every night of the week around these parts! Check out the Hideout, Bub City in River North, and this summer, Red River Dicks - it's getting' all the love and it hasn't even opened yet! Of course, you can join a down home Country Crawl in Wrigleyville and spend a day hitting all the local joints with a bunch of your newest BFF's!


Sometimes a good time isn't defined by the music genre. Sometimes you just want a nighttime hang that pours a decent drink, a place where the crowd is just sort of winging it, and where live musicians leave it all out on the stage . . . whether it's punk, indie, rock, country – it doesn't matter. And to care is to miss the point! 

  • House of Blues: Even though it's in the name, The House of Blues isn't just about the blues. It's really more of an eclectic mix of genres. House of Blues features a main stage, a dinner and concert experience, and a smaller private room for live tunes. They also host a seasonal Gospel Brunch on Sunday's, and really, who can argue with some good tunes and good food after a long weekend of concert going . . . 
  • The Vic:  With a history packed with music legends like David Bowie, Coldplay, The Black Keys, The Cure, Phish, Flaming Lips, to Comedy geniuses like Jerry Seinfeld, Ellen DeGeneres, the late Richard Lewis, and Amy Schumer . . . The Vic is literally the place to see it all and it's a quick "el" to Lakeview.
  • Cobra Lounge: Yes, it's as cool as it sounds! Located next to Union Park, it's a super easy (albeit crowded) drop in before or after Riot Fest! The Cobra Lounge showcases underground and emerging talent.
  • The Metro; Known for attracting multi-genre bands, the Metro has hosted them all, from indie pop to mainstream Rock, the Metro is known for bringing in little known talent on the cusp of greatness.


We'd be totally remiss if we overlooked the powerful, the evocative, the melodic experience that is the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Have you been? Two words. It's cool. The CSO was founded in 1891 and is always hailed as one of the greatest orchestras in the world. Maybe you're not a fan of the Symphony – or maybe you just don't know! Imagine one hundred musicians playing on a stage at one time (no wonder the conductor carries a stick) something amazing is bound to happen! We think a night at the Symphony should be on every bucket list. Some say it is transcending! The Spring season is in full swing through June and returns in late September with a full slate.


Of course, getting here can be half the fun! Gig-tripping to Chicago is so easy . . . Chicago is central to tons of cities and towns that might not book some of these bigger shows, or even some of these smaller indie shows – Whether you're a suburbanite or out-of-towner, Chicago is pretty much smack-dab dead center and super easy to get here.

Chicago is a no brainer road trip to musical nirvana.  . . . especially if you're already in the Midwest (and parts of Canada). Heck, even if you're in LA . . . take a few weeks off and make it a nostalgic ride all the way up the historic Route 66 (which dead ends right her on the Mag Mile)! Route 66 is one of those epic, infamous road trips - a giant swath of Americana, that everybody talks about taking but actually, should just DO! And from the East Coast? twelve hours (just about) and done!

If you're not into road-tripping and prefer one and done, between O'Hare and Midway Airports there are thousands or (hundreds?) of flights that arrive and depart daily, and if you plan, you can mostly score a decent fare! Once you're here, it's a super easy breezy orange or blue line train ride into the city.  What's even better is 99% of these venues are accessible via public trans - which pretty much translates to – once you're here it can be fairly cheap to get around! If you want to spend a little dough-re-mi - Uber and Lyft are everywhere!

Think you're ready to rage at a major Chicago concert? Be in on the discovery of the next "it" band? Dig some jazz, (but keep your jazz hands firmly in your pocket)? If so, hit it here for the full schedule and ticket links. We'll keep it updated as the scene changes for quick reference anytime you've got the urge!

We'll be publishing a list of upcoming Chicago Summer Music Festivals soon - and we've got a few other musical odysseys tucked up our sleeves.

Now get ready to fire-up those Zippo's!