When someone mentions Chicago, there are many different things that may come to mind: the Great Chicago Fire, deep-dish pizza, gangsters like Al Capone, or our sports teams. But not only is our city famous for skyscrapers and “Windy” politics: Chi-town also has a pretty impressive music scene! Spend some time in the city and you’ll soon find that Chicago and music go together like baseball and hot dogs (without ketchup, of course!).
Music is Everywhere
“Chicago is such a great place because of the easy access we have to different types of music,” says Hannah Berman, a resident of the city’s north side. “From music venues to street performers on every block…Chicago definitely has something for everyone.” You can always find something music-related to do in the city, no matter your budget or your tastes. There are countless theatres, clubs, and arenas that host concerts, shows, and parties throughout the year. Some of the city’s coolest concert venues are converted old theaters, like The Riviera, The Vic, and The (now shut-down) Congress Theater. These venues seat smaller crowds, while the United Center in the west loop, Allstate Arena in Rosemont, and some of the city’s sports stadiums (notably Soldier Field and Wrigley Field) are tour stops for the most popular artists. If you’re looking for a great night out, there are numerous clubs like the MID that host DJs and are perfect for partying. For those who enjoy theatre, there is a downtown theatre district where many touring Broadway musicals take up temporary residence. No matter what your style, you’ll love the music you can find in Chicago!
Chicago is a Popular Place
Many celebrities, musicians or otherwise, are huge fans of the Windy City. It’s the heart of the midwest and the nation’s third largest city, famous for its culture and entertainment. If your favorite band has just released an album, it’s almost guaranteed you’ll see them performing in Chicago soon, whether it’s at a stadium/arena like Soldier Field, or a smaller venue like Park West. “A lot of artists like to make it a tour destination, so there is never a shortage of concerts,” says Francine Wong, a 19 year-old student in the city. There are concerts all over the city on any given night, with something for everyone. Just last week, the Zac Brown Band played at Wrigley Field, at the same time The Killers frontman Brandon Flowers put on a show at The Riviera a few miles north. “We go from the big name stars to the small underground bands that are just trying to get off their feet,” says Chicago teen Mia Palmejar-Takaki. “Our diversity in music is what makes our city great.”
Festivals for Everyone
“Chicago’s a great city for music because of the various music festivals we hold here,” continues Palmejar-Takaki, speaking about events such as Lollapalooza, Spring Awakening Music Festival, and Vans Warped Tour. “Each one ranges in different types of music that makes it easy for someone to find one that they’d like.” Rock fans will have a great time at Riot Fest in September, while indie listeners would probably prefer Pitchfork Music Festival in July. Spring Awakening at Soldier Field caters to fans of EDM, and Lollapalooza and North Coast typically feature a variety of genres including EDM, folk, hip hop, and alternative. Besides the larger festivals, many neighborhoods host festivals featuring local bands – like Wicker Park Fest and the Belmont-Sheffield Music Festival.
Because Chicago is such a diverse city, there are many different cultures represented amongst its residents. “People from all around the world live in this city, so variety in music tastes is bound to be found,” says local college student Christian Saulog. Numerous countries are represented in various cultural festivals held throughout the year, many of which put an emphasis on traditional art and music. For example, the Irish American Heritage Center on the north side of the city puts on an Irish Fest each July, and that’s just one of many. These smaller cultural festivals are a great way to learn about your own heritage – or a completely new culture – and listen to some cool music at the same time.
South side resident Greg Green sums up the city’s relationship with music perfectly:
“In Chicago music is everywhere. It doesn’t matter if you’re from Englewood or Lincoln Park, music is one thing that brings our city together.”
In a population of over 3 million people, all from different social, economic, and cultural backgrounds, it’s amazing to be able to bond over something as simple as a song.
What do you love most about music in Chicago? Share your thoughts in the comments below!