Chicago is undoubtedly one of the best cities in America to see performances from world-famous artists, but the Windy City has its fair share of talented local musicians as well. From blues pioneers to indie rock bands, Chicago is full of diverse talent just waiting to find fame. So if you want to get acquainted with all the music our great city has to offer, check out my list of the five best places to hear live local music.
1. Rosa’s Lounge, 3420 W. Armitage Ave.: If you’re searching for a taste of traditional Chicago blues, look no further than Rosa’s Lounge. Since opening in the 1980s, the lounge has hosted performances by local legends as well as many new artists on the Chicago blues scene. And don’t worry if you can’t make a certain date; Rosa’s often plays host to the same local stars multiple times each month.
2. Underground Wonder Bar, 710 N. Clark St.: To make the most out of your evening, head down to Lonie Walker’s Underground Wonder Bar. Every night, the bar welcomes multiple Chicago-based performers to the stage, which keeps the music rocking all night long. Also look out for theme nights like “Music Movie Merriment” and “Rockin Jazz Trip” to get a cool local dose of your favorite genres.
3. The Hideout, 1354 W. Wabansia Ave.: If you’re looking for an intimate look into the Chicago music scene, venture down the Red Line to The Hideout. Located in a century-old balloon-frame house, The Hideout has hosted hit makers such as the White Stripes, but it also regularly welcomes Chicago bands on the verge of making it big. In March, the bar will host its annual SXSW Send-Off Party, so make sure to check it out if you want to experience talented local artists before they take the road to stardom.
4. Gallery Cabaret, 2020 N. Oakley Ave.: For the best combined dose of local poetry, comedy and music, head down to Gallery Cabaret in Bucktown. The Gallery Cabaret plays host to live entertainment every day of the week, but pay particular attention to the open mic music nights to catch a peek of up-and-coming acts from the Chicago area.
5. Elbo Room, 2871 N. Lincoln Ave.: To get a feel for local bands without breaking your bank, check out Elbo Room. Every Wednesday, the bar showcases a free night of music during which new local bands audition for a full weekend gig. Elbo Room also hosts artists from a variety of genres, so it’s the perfect place for a diverse musical experience.