Thursday, August 21, 2014

Chicago Music Venues: A Review

Chicago, Illinois has a wide variety and long history of music venues. These clubs and theaters run the full gamut. I have seen shows in almost every single one of them. Each place has its pluses and minuses, which I am now about to elaborate on. 

The first is the metro on Clark Street near Wrigley Field. This venue is pretty great because of the closeness, in which you get to see the performer. I believe the place only has a capacity for about 2000 people. This means that there is not a bad place to see anything. One of the major drawbacks is the fact that it is so small, so tickets for premium performers sell out very quickly. For example, Coldplay did a show there one year and I did not even attempt to try and get tickets because it would've been pointless. Yet, there is another cool benefit to seeing the show here because if it lets out early enough, you can go downstairs and check out a DJ at the very hip Smart Bar. 

The second place is the Vic Theatre, which is located very close to the Metro. This is a nice venue because unlike the Metro, the Vic has balcony seating and even some seating right on the floor. You simply do not see seating on the floor at hardly any of these venues. The drawback of the Vic when you compare it with the Metro is simply that they do not offer enough shows. The Metro offers shows on a weekly basis, but the Vic will go two to three weeks without offering anything. Let me also point out that both the Metro and the Vic are located in nice neighborhoods, where you can feel comfortable you are not going to run into any trouble. 

Another such venue is the Park West, which is located in Lincoln Park. This is a terrific venue because it is even smaller than the Metro, so you can practically high five the performers from almost any place in the house. The venue not only holds concerts, but holds wedding receptions for crying out loud. I once saw the Strokes here and I swear the lead singer was actually throwing beer on me because that is how close I got. We did not even get there until the show started. The major drawback of this venue is the lack of top-notch performers. You simply do not see shows scheduled here that you are dying to watch. Many of the acts would've been listed as B list most places. Only once or twice a year do you see a top-notch one. 

The next place is the Riviera Theatre and this venue was formerly a movie theater. This becomes it's major drawback because the venue raises up into a slant vertically, then towards the back goes down. This means that if you are near the back and cannot get up any higher; you are simply looking at people's backs. This happened to me when I saw Keane here or shall I say I only heard that band that night. Yet, it is a really cool venue if you can get up high enough to see the stage or even get lucky enough to get a seat in the balcony. 

Unlike the Riviera Theatre, the nearby Aragon Ballroom is completely flat because as the name suggests it was formally a dance ballroom. This is my personal favorite. The venue has kept much of the same look from the days it was a ballroom. The Aragon maintains the Native American motif everywhere. A huge benefit to this venue is the fact that it is the largest one out of all of these venues. Only big time, popular musicians will play this venue. If ticket demand is too great for some of these other venues, they will sometimes move the show to the Aragon. Some of my best concert memories are from shows at the Aragon. The major drawback of the Aragon is the fact that the acoustics are awful in the venue. Most of the time it really does not matter, but sometimes you do tend to notice that it just does not sound right. 

The best place out of all these venues that I have mentioned for acoustics would probably be the Vic. The reason for this is probably because the Vic was formally a theater, while some of these other places were not necessarily such a thing. I also exclude the Riviera because a movie theater simply does not count. Let me finally mention that the Aragon and the Riviera are located in not the nicest of neighborhoods, so you may want to buy a car alarm if you drive up there. In my next review, I will take a look at some of the bars and lounges that host major concerts in the city.

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