The Empty Bottle
Dark and intimate, The Empty Bottle is the perfect neighborhood spot for a night at a show in Wicker Park/Ukrainian Village. Thirsty and on a budget? Us too. Good thing they have a $5 beer + shot combo every night. Come early to play a game of pool, and stay late to listen to a band that is so hot they're not even on iTunes yet. We also strongly suggest Bite Cafe next door, it's BYOB and they are open late!
The Empty Bottle, (at West Cortez Street) 1035 North Western Avenue; 773-276-3600.
Schubas Tavern is our rock home-sweet-home, snuggled up in the heart of Lakeview. It is joined at the hip (literally) with Harmony Grill, an intimate restaurant with mind-blowing mac-n-cheese (pre-show stop, anyone?) among other delicious eats. The business end of Schubas Tavern is a small intimate setting with the stage just a few feet above the ﬂoor. If you see a show here, you are ikely to bump into your favorite artist at the bar or standing next to you in the crowd. It's dark and homey with a small back bar so you don't have to leave in the middle of a set. Genius.
Schubas, 3159 North Southport Avenue (at Belmont Avenue); 773-525-2508.
A show at The Hideout feels like seeing a show with family, and we're thinking things are always going to stay that way. A warm, laid-back atmosphere and divey vibe make this a favorite, particularly in the winter. This venue is also home to one of Chicago's favorite dance parties, which we're sure you're familiar with by now. It might be a little out of the way, but The Hideout is totally worth the adventure.
The Hideout, 1354 West Wabansia Avenue (off of North Elston Avenue); 773-227-4433.
Sure, Double Door looks like it takes up the entire corner of Milwaukee/North/Damen in Wicker Park. In reality, it's the perfect big/small venue that has possibly the friendliest staff behind the bar ever. (The bar, by the way, is one entire wall of the venue). Double Door also sports a bottom level that is a bit more lounge-esqe where you can chill out in between sets. And yes, it is the venue in High Fidelity, you knew it looked familiar.
Double Door, 1572 North Milwaukee Avenue (at Milwaukee, North, and Damen avenues); 773-489-3160.
Reggies Rock Club
This rock-as-you-are rock venue has more than a few things to love. A vegetarian friendly menu, a slopped ﬂoor, and buzzing energy we can't get enough of. You're cool with all of that, right? While enjoying the show it's always fun to ﬁnd something new in the grafﬁti mural that provides a back drop for the stage. All artwork is by local talent, naturally. Don't expect frills or bells and whistles, just expect a good time. Reggies Rock Club, 2105 South State Street (at East Cermak Road); 312-949-0120.
Sometimes we like to hang out with 1,150 of our closest friends at a sold-out show. This is when we go to The Metro. You have no excuse to skip over this one. The sound is always superb, the venue is easily accessible via public transit, and there is plenty of parking nearby. If the major band you've been crushing on for years decides to roll through Chicago, chances are they'll end up here. A clear standout and fan favorite, The Metro is a must. The Metro, 3730 North Clark Street (at Waveland Avenue); 773-549-4140.
One of the newer kids on the Chicago rock block, don't let Lincoln Hall's pristine surroundings fool you. This venue boasts some of the best shows in the city, with a new buzz band hitting the stage pretty much every week. A bonus of being so new? A seriously on-point sound system. A bonus of being in the Schubas family? Mac-n-cheese baby, mac-n-cheese. Make your whole night about Lincoln Hall. You (and the seven pals you dragged along) won't regret it. Lincoln Hall, 2424 North Lincoln Avenue (at Fullerton Avenue and Halsted Street); 773-525-2501.