Presenting some of the best national and international touring acts through one of the city’s finest sound systems, the Chicago edition of this chain is especially beautiful (check out the lush bathrooms). Purists scorn the place, but any venue that runs the gamut from B.B. King to Crystal Castles to Tech N9ne must have something going for it. The majority of bands featured on the smaller Back Porch stage are blues acts, playing in a well-lit setting meant to look like a juke joint but actually resembling a modern art museum. Every Sunday the venue hosts a “Gospel Brunch.”
|Venue name:||House of Blues||Contact:|
329 N Dearborn St
|Cross street:||between Kinzie St and Lower Wacker Dr|
|Transport:||El stop: Red to Grand. Bus: 22, 29, 36, 62, 65.|
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Average User Rating
2.8 / 5
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The House of Blues offers a few different venues in one. This review focuses on the upstairs music hall, which books touring acts from just about every music genre imaginable. The decor throughout the building matches the New Orleans inspired theme, and each time you visit you'll notice a new piece of art. The main music hall features a pit area with a bar surrounding it, and two upper levels with balconies.
The intimate room offers consistent sound quality from close to the stage to the back of the bar area, making it easy to enjoy the show no matter where you stand. If you'd prefer to be close to the stage, arrive early so you can claim a spot in the pit area because sometimes they place security at the entrance to prevent more people from entering once it's full. The exact set up varies from show to show too, as occasionally pit tickets will cost extra or there will be VIP tables set up on the sides of the pit.
To save five to ten dollars from the online prices, visit the box office in the lobby to buy tickets in person. You'll need it once you see the beer prices inside, which can easily run $10 or more. The service staff and security do a great job though, and handle the flow of traffic before and after shows nicely. Overall, the House of Blues is one of the prettiest mid-sized venues in Chicago and makes a nice setting for a show as long as you don't mind standing for over three hours.
Chicago has such a rich musical history and I was excited to pay homage to Chicago-style blues by making the requisite trip to House of Blues on my first trip out there. Unfortunately, I found it to be a big let down. I showed up around 10pm on a Thursday night for a beer and appetizer. The live blues band was, of course, great. However, the crowd was entirely made up of tourists who seemed to be there to check off a sightseeing to-do list item, rather than enjoy some great music. The decor was kitschy which was only a turn off when paired with the ambivalence of the crowd. Shrimp appetizer was terrible, and the beer menu lacked even a single Chicago brew. Not a venue for a traveler looking to veer off the beaten path.