This is a list of Chicago music venues that hold over 1,000 people. They are arranged in an opinionated order of grandeur & state of repair. Some things get better with age, some don’t. And while age may have taken a toll on some of these venues, each of them represents an excellent place to see one of your favorite artists. - Jeremy Frazier
The Vic Theatre
3145 North Sheffield Avenue
Chicago, IL 60657
The Vic Theatre is first on this list simply due to the fact that time has worn very deep impressions on its physical state. Even though this Lakeview theater might not be the shiniest gem in the case, it still holds its own in Chicago’s hierarchy of venues. The Vic attracts many popular artists from all walks of music and brings electrifying concerts to the masses multiple times per month. Sound quality is superb from all angles and even seems to gain richness near the top of the balcony. The floor can get crowded as this place frankly brings in artists who might be too big for the venue, but the balcony offers plenty of seating to take a load off. Concerts here often sell out, which serves as a testament to the high quality of artists they book.
4746 North Racine Avenue
Chicago, IL 60640
The Lawrence Red Line stop in Uptown is the jump-off for a number of live music hotspots. One of the best in this area is the Riviera Theater. This venue isn’t in the greatest state of repair. But what it lacks in visual appeal is made up for by some of the best acoustics in the city. With a balcony and a large floor, the Riv packs in fans for popular touring artists from many genres. The Riv possesses an aged, historic charm and each visit makes one ponder all of the incredible music that has been created inside its walls.
1106 West Lawrence Avenue
Chicago, Illinois 60640
Also located in the heart of Uptown, the Aragon Ballroom is the scene where many popular touring artists make a huge splash in Chicago. The Aragon is a large venue that hosts many artists who have recently gone to national touring as well as a slew of previously established big names. The décor is incredibly charming and the celestial paintings on the ceiling make for a mind-bending visual display. The shape of the room is somewhat odd and doesn’t make for the greatest acoustics. However, the sound system is fantastic and ensures that you will get the audio mix the artists intended to provide. This place plays host to some of Chicago’s wildest New Year’s Eve concerts and has the capability to give you some of the best musical experiences of your life.
Auditorium Theatre at Roosevelt University
50 East Congress Parkway
Chicago, IL 60605
Located across Michigan Avenue from Grant Park, the Auditorium Theatre brings in a multitude of acts from all over the country. They seem to have a penchant for hosting special concerts, unique holiday shows, or bands that tour irregularly—so any show you catch here will likely be an outstanding experience. This massively spacious concert hall offers the most seating of any venue in the city. Although they have a 2nd balcony to squeeze in more people, the sound quality & view are much better from the floor or 1st balcony. From these lower vantage points, the audio fidelity is top-notch and serves to provide a powerful musical experience that will make you want to return again and again.
175 North State Street
Chicago, IL 60601
There is a reason this place is called the Chicago Theatre. The large “CHICAGO” marquee is always found with big name acts of all varieties. Comedians, fashion shows, plays, and grand performances of all sort will come through the Chicago year-round. They play host to the whole spectrum of live entertainment but concerts are what they do best. The immaculate décor comes alive with superstar musical acts from a wide range of genres. In addition, the sound quality & viewing angles are superb from every vantage point in the house. If you have the opportunity to see a band you love at the Chicago Theater, do not miss it– this is the finest venue in the city.
Jeremy Frazier is a writer & amateur photographer based out of Chicago. He specializes in crafting entertaining articles about live music witnessed all over the city on his blog, Chicago Jam Scene.