The best music venues in Lakeview

Whether you want to hear indie rockers or DJs, you can always find a great concert at Lakeview's best music venues

Photograph: Max Herman​Schoolboy Q serves up songs from breakthrough album Oxymoron in a cloud of smoke at Metro, April 22, 2014.

Chicago is home to some amazing music venues, and some of the best ones just happen to be located in Lakeview. The North Side neighborhood is filled with rooms that host amateur local bands and touring national performers. Whether you prefer indie rock, hip-hop, DJs or just want to see a movie screening, these establishments always have something worthwhile on the calendar. Plus, at least one venue on this list boasts some of the best mac and cheese in Chicago.

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Best music venues in Lakeview


This small club books some of the best indie touring acts around, leaning toward the acoustic singer-songwriter end of the spectrum. You can hang out in the front bar area without paying cover for the shows, but if one of your favorite artists is playing in the back room, make sure to snatch up tickets—capacity is only 165 people. If you're hungry, grab something from the attached Harmony Grill, which boasts a great brunch menu and some amazing mac and cheese.

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Metro Chicago

Metro is one of the city’s older and more famous clubs. Formerly known as the Cabaret Metro, it hosts a variety of midsize national touring acts of all genres, from rock to hip-hop to electronica. Show up early for a spot on the balcony (on the venue's third floor) or squeeze yourself in amid the crowd that forms on the floor in front of the stage. 18-and-up shows are common and security is no nonsense, so always have your ID ready if you want to drink.


Smart Bar


Originally on the fourth floor of the magnificent Wrigleyville building (also home to Metro), this venerated dance club is now in the basement. A recent makeover slicked up the looks a notch and brought back a vibrant young crowd. But more importantly, the club boasts a world-class Funktion One sound system, which sounds tremendous on the central dance floor. Cutting-edge DJs from Europe, Detroit and Chicago form the bulk of the weekend bookings with house, techno and electro styles; but local mash-up and indie jocks rule on bargain weekday nights.


Vic Theatre

Known to Chicagoans as the Vic, this large club is easy to get to via train and hosts a variety of rock acts (we’ve seen everything from Mogwai to Julian Casablancas here), including a good number of 18-and-older and all-ages shows. Whether you're in the balcony or on the floor, the sound is always booming (maybe too much so, at times). If you’re 21, be sure to also check out Brew and View, where movies are shown and the heckles from the audience are usually more entertaining than what’s onscreen.

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Elbo Room

The music may be played in the basement, but don’t mistake the Elbo Room for a dive. With a rotating roster of local, usually undiscovered rock bands, and comfortable, eye-level sight lines, there may be no better place to discover your neighbor’s rock band doesn’t actually suck.

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