CHICAGO MUSIC VENUES RANKED

  1. N/A (because I have never been there, but don't intend to ever)
    The Mid (they don't allow people my age in there). Same goes for places that feature "DJ Sets" such as Smart Bar / Sound Bar / Wet Bar)
  2. N/A (because I've never been there, but have heard good things)
    Abby's Pub, Ancien Cycles & Cafe, The Burlington, City Winery, Kingston Mines, Old Town School of Folk Music, Reggie's Music Joint, Tonic Room
  3. 25: Tinley Park, IL
    Too many different corporations have bought naming rights to this landfill. I don't know what it's called now. Would rather drive to Milwaukee. (However, I have seen Radiohead, Ben Folds Five, and Foo Fighters here)
  4. 24: Milwaukee
    This is a viable option when the Chicago show from a favorite band sells out. It will likely be at a smaller venue for less money. The Riverside, Pabst, and Turner are all solid.
  5. 23: The Riviera Theatre
    This low ranking is exclusively tied to the non balcony areas of the venue. Now that I've resigned to my age I go up top to avoid the mess. Why they don't keep track of how many people are allowed in the Pit amazes me.
  6. 22: The Aragon Ballroom
    Just large enough to have bad sound / just small enough to make you feel claustrophobic
  7. 21: 1st Ward Events / Chop House
    This place isn't bad, but it's low rank is because you'll need to take out a loan if you want to buy a few drinks.
  8. 20: Elbow Room
    Went there one time. Happened to be standing under a blacklight. My ear plugs made it look like I had green alien ears. Haven't been back. Again: blacklights?
  9. 19: Beat Kitchen
    Don't let the bad rank fool you, I love this place. But you won't find a higher temperature venue in Chicago and will sweat the instant you arrive. (Speaking of "bad rank")
  10. 18: The Original Mothers
    I've only been there once; its standing has a chance to improve since I liked it fine.
  11. 17: House of Blues
    The place is great if you are in the first 10% through the door, but that's easier said than done because they are awful about when doors open. If you don't get a sightline quick, there is no relief.
  12. 16: Metro
    Ten years ago Metro was a top 5 venue. But repeated rough sound experiences, and the emergence of newer places with better acoustics - have pushed it down to here.
  13. 15: Concord Music Hall
    Pretty high (pun intended) for a place that once had its ceiling collapse because of too much bass. I would like it better if they didn't intentionally push back set times to pump in more drink sales.
  14. 14: Quenchers Bar
    A great use of space. Cheap beer. Both comedy and music options. I need to get to the corner of Fullerton & Western more often.
  15. 13: The Vic Theatre
    For the "big name" venues in Chicago, it's pretty underrated. The balcony is very close to the stage in case you're An Old.
  16. 12: Cole's Bar
    Super small space that focuses more on comedy (has maybe the most famous open mic alumni in recent memory). Gonna sweat like you're at Beat Kitchen.
  17. 11: Hideout
    Would be a top 4 venue of if they bought a damn hand air dryer. It's got one of those "rotating community towels" that is beyond unacceptable in 2015. So if you don't use the bathroom (or don't wash your hands), it's awesome.
  18. 10: Double Door
    Ranking it in the top ten because I'm factoring in the not-known-to-most Door #3 basement club.
  19. 9: Subterranean
    Bring your earplugs.
  20. 8: Bottom Lounge
    Great layout and sightlines. A lot of people can all be pretty close to the stage.
  21. 7: Park West
    A classy place that will get a good act on the rise (before their popularity makes Jam Productions move'em to a larger venue). One of the best mid sized venues.
  22. 6: Schubas
    A Chicago institution. Super small venue with the best music booker in the business.
  23. 5: Chicago Theatre
    Most historic venue on the list. Not a bad seat and possibly the best sound of any on the List. Biggest drawback: it's gonna be an expensive ticket.
  24. 4: Empty Bottle
    Best bar/club atmosphere in Chicago. This is a real place for real people.
  25. 3: Thalia Hall
    Newest entry to the concert scene in Chicago and would vie for #1 if it was located near a 24 hour train line.
  26. 2: Jay Pritzker Pavillon at Millennium Park
    Visually and sonically stunning. Wish there were more events here of music I liked. Best outdoor venue I've ever experienced.
  27. 1: Lincoln Hall
    I would buy a ticket to watch the paint on its walls dry. It's that good. Best size, best sound, best staff, best of everything you could ever want. Gonna have my wedding reception there.