Chicago's Entertainment Scene Is Just as Happening before Dark

Chicago has a very active live entertainment scene and while most of it happens after dark, there are plenty of options for those who prefer earlier time slots. Venues offer everything from family-friendly live entertainment to acts that are for those 21 or older. 

Music fans will appreciate the earlier show times at the Old Town School of Folk Music, Schuba’s or at Martyrs’. Nearby cities like Evanston has Evanston SPACE and Berwyn has FitzGerald’s, both of which let guests enjoy early live musical entertainment and some of which don’t require a cover charge.

Spots like The Hideout have a range of entertainment from live music to literary readings. Kids and adults will appreciate the Beat Kitchen’s early weekend afternoon School of Rock Chicago which allows kids 10 or younger in free with a paying adult.

Chicago is a comedy town, too, which is why fans of The Second City will appreciate the fact that shows happen earlier in the evenings (as well as late) and early afternoons on weekends to accommodate schedules.

The best part of enjoying entertainment earlier in the evening is that parents can get back home at a decent hour, you can usually fit something else in later in the evening or have time to enjoy dinner or cocktails with friends afterward. 



The venue is a mix of seating and standing room only, but even when it's packed it can be a lot of fun to hear live music. From some of the biggest names in folk to jazz, big band, country, blues, rock and open mics, this off the beaten path...  Read More



Many people head to the Hideout Inn to see their favorite bands play on the small, intimate stage. That band may be Wilco (or Wilco karaoke), Chicago's thirty-two piece punk rock marching band Mucca Pazza, or The King of Blue Grass, Jimmy...  Read More

North Center


Martyrs' features a musical lineup that is all over the board: a broad mix of genres from traditional bluegrass bands to improvised hip-hop, reggae funk and jazz. Equally impressive is the diverse and fun crowd. You won't feel out of place here...  Read More

Roscoe Village


Not always the first place people think about when looking for live music in Chicago, Beat Kitchen deserves a mention because it books some great bands and the smallness of the venue makes it easy to get up close and personal with the musicians...  Read More



While many people prefer to enjoy live music in more intimate settings, the Riv, as locals call the Riviera Theatre, is great for really large crowds as the amphitheater fits around 2,500 people. Most of the complaints from concertgoers stem...  Read More

Lincoln Park


Small enough yet large enough venue to enjoy great bands. Fans love the intimacy yet never feel it's too crowded to see and hear the band because of the great acoustics and sight lines from both the main level and upstairs. Aside from the...  Read More



Located in a refurbished historical building, this Lakeview pub is a great neighborhood hangout. The bar is made of rich mahogany and the ceiling of tin. Live music is performed here most nights, featuring a variety of sounds from honky-tonk to...  Read More



Who better to design a space to play than musicians themselves? That was the goal when creating SPACE (which stands for Society for the Preservation of Art & Culture) located just north of Chicago in Evanston. Every part of the venue, from...  Read More



An intimate concert hall, it has a cool lounge feel with its wide cushioned and very comfortable seats. While some might cringe to be seated in nosebleeds, there really isn't a bad seat in the theater as it was built by musicians for musicians....  Read More

Second City
Photo courtesy of Photo courtesy of Choose Chicago


The world's premier comedy troupe, The Second City has launched some of the biggest names in the business. You may have heard of them: Gilda Ratner, John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, Mike Myers, Steve Carell, Stephen Colbert, Tina Fey and about 500...  Read More


Meet Megy Karydes

Megy Karydes has spent more than 20 years as a professional writer and most of her life in Chicago. While she’s traveled extensively internationally, visiting each of the 50 states is on her...  More About Megy