On Friday, May 9, my husband Allan and I were lucky enough to have tickets to see the wonderful Dolly Parton at the Chicago theater. Her show was so much fun; she is down-to-earth, very funny, and such a talent.
It was the first time that I had been inside the Chicago Theater. I was certainly impressed. The building [called the Page Brothers Building] itself is seven stories tall. I was quite surprised to see a circular Tiffany stained glass window inside the arch. When you stand across the street, you notice that this building has off-white terra cotta...but, it's the interior that really stands out in my memory. There is a French Baroque influence. The main lobby is five stories high and is surrounded by gallery promenades [mezzanine and balcony levels]. The grand staircase is supposedly patterned after the one inside the Paris Opera House.
I especially liked the crystal chandeliers and the bronze light fixtures [with Steuben glass shades].
The marquee is quite famous...kind of a landmark in Chicago. It was replaced in 1994, but looks exactly like its predecessor. I learned that the first [original] marquee was donated to the Smithsonian Institution.
Even if you've never been to Chicago, no doubt you have seen this famed marquee in numerous movie and TV shows that are set in Chicago. One of the most famous times that it was featured in a movie was when its neon font was used in the title of the 2002 musical, "Chicago". Until this Friday, I had no idea that there is a "Y-shaped figure behind the horizontal word 'Chicago' on the State Street side of the marquee, a city symbol which represents the Chicago River."
This theater was originally an opulent motion picture house. It was constructed in 1921 in the classical revival-French Baroque style, and is now the oldest building that has survived as an example of this style of architecture in Chicago. It was modernized in the 1950, and during the 1970s, it started to decline. In 1985 it closed., but in 1986, the Chicago Theatre Restoration Associates and the City of Chicago bought it, which saved it from demolition. For 8 nine months, a multi-million dollar restoration took place. It then reopened in 1986 with a grand performance by Frank Sinatra. Thank Goodness it was saved!
It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1979 and named a Chicago Landmark in 1983.
This place showcases a variety of music genres, but specializes in alternative. One of the best small venues in the city. Local, national, and international acts. Two levels....sometimes the upstairs is for VIP's only.
Dress Code: None
After a much ballyhooed renovation that gobbled up some of the surrounding area, the home of the Chicago Symphony has broadened its reach., adding jazz and other more popular attractions to the mix.
It remains the home of the famed Chicago Symphony Orchestra.
The best place to see the entire city of Chicago is from the top of the John Hancock building. The 95th floor of this building contains a bar/lounge where jazz is played. It is a pretty sedate scene, but a great choice for drinking martinis and watching the sun set over the city below.
As soon as we walked into Davenport's we started chatting with a regular there whose partner is one of the regular performers. Shortly after that, the performer for that evening came to our table to greet us since he didn't recognize us as regulars. Wow. What a friendly place!
We had a great time there made new friends and sang along with the songs. What fun, huh?
Dress Code: Casual, fun or funky. Go as you feel!
The Park West shows premium quality concerts located just north of downtown Chicago. I have been to the Park West several times and I've never been disappointed. Check out their website to find out what's playing when you come to town!
Dress Code: Smart-casual is best. Anything is really fine, but most people are dressed up a little more than just casual.
Crocodile Lounge is located in the hip area of Chicago a.k.a Wicker Park. Crocodile Lounge is a place where loads is happening, even on a Sunday night: hip-hop open mics, rap battles, live music of all genres, freelance artists working on their paintings/artworks... They make great drinks too (including cotton candy fishbowls!). And, for every drink you order, you get one slice of hot pizza!
Dress Code: Hip! People who go to Crocodile lounge are really fashionable.
This is a great, decrepit venue for punk or alternative bands such as The Pogues or the Ike Reilly Assassination. The hall has a tattered feel to it, something out of Edgar Allan Poe's "The Fall of the House of Usher".
Tickets to see The Pogues were around $40, definitely reasonable.
Oh, and see the last photo - one of the hunkiest security guys I've ever seen - a Jake Gyllenhaal lookalike. I felt like a lucky girl indeed!
Photos: March 6, 2008
Dress Code: Whatever you wear to a concert, baby!
Charter One Pavilion at Northerly Island was voted the #1 concert venue in Chicagoland but I suspect the folks that voted it #1 weren't standing around with a garbage bag on their head waiting for the ominous skies to burst forth with torrential rains! On a cool summer evening though, this might be the ideal venue for those people who thought to buy tickets when they 1st went on sale, you get a nice breeze from Lake Michigan, a beautiful view of Soldier Field lit up in the evening, a view of the Chicago Skyline.
Our seats were in row S, Section 202, seats 3-4 and I literally watched the entire show on the jumbotrons that flank the stage as the band was just too far away. Section 201 was even worse as the seats curve around and you have more of a side view of the stage. None of the seats are covered.
The website listed all the weird restrictions on what you could bring into the show, you could bring food but only in certain kinds of containers, no beverages in bottles or cans, I think that all that leaves is juice boxes....It looked like they had a full bar, $7 beers, alcoholic slushy drinks in bong shaped glasses.
Skip the VIP parking, it's either a short walk or a short trolley ride from the parking that is included with the tickets. The parking was not marked at all from Lake Shore Drive so print out directions from the website. Getting out after the show was a lot quicker than I expected.
Dress Code: Dress for the weather, if it looks like rain, bring a rain coat or hope you get lucky and score one of the cool Charter One rain ponchos. It's close to the Lake so the shows earlier in the season will be cooler, later in the season warmer, than the temps out in the suburbs or away from the Lake
This venue is closed looking for a new home.
TRY these two places for your world music fix.....
Chicago Cultural Center. The city of Chicago's center for the performing arts. Its programming features world music, jazz and other genres. Address: 78 E. Washington St., Chicago, Illinois 60602. Phone: +1 (312) 346-3278. E-mail: email@example.com
Also try The Old Town School Of Folk Music teaches and celebrates music and cultural expressions rooted in the traditions of diverse American and global communities.
4544 N. Lincoln Avenue, Chicago, IL 60625. Phone: +1 773-728-6000
the center for the international performance and exibition.
I have seen music and dancing from all over the world in this place and never been dissapointed. A not for profit venue that promotes artists of all music styles from all over the globe. Beautiful romantic room with a small seating capacity, there are no bad seats here and the ticket prices are very fair and affordable (15-35 or sometimes free). Great place for a date or to mingle with a great international crowd. Don't miss the holiday fair in December for your Christmas shopping from around the world as well. Shows sell out fast. You can order tickets on line or by calling the box office ((312) 362.9707 )
Full bar, no Food, parking around the corner on Wabash or accross the street from the venue on Balbo
For More info click on the link below
Dress Code: What ever you are comfortable in, you will always fit in.
Venus is a Cypriot restaurant (see my restaurant tip), but on Friday and Saturday nights there is a live Greek band. It is much nicer than Byzantium and not clubby and stuck-up like 9 Muses. If you are looking for something different in the form of Greek nightlife and want something more classy, this place will not disappoint.
Lately, Saturday nights have been better. You can stay until 3am, dance, eat some great food, drink, listen to music, or sit and enjoy yourself with friends in a comfortable atmosphere. Friday nights are open until 2am.
Free valet parking is available.
Dress Code: Casual to dressy. Jeans are fine.
I've seen some great concerts in my life:
*The Pixies at the Lexington Ballroom shortly before they opened for U2 on their Zooropa Tour.
*Jane's Addiction & The Rollins Band in Huntington the spring before they started their first ever Lollapalooza gigs.
*PiL (fronted by ex-Sex Pistol Johnny Rotten AKA John Lydon) opening for INXS at Louisville Gardens.
*They Might Be Giants here in Cincinnati at Bogart's. They did the theme song to Malcolm in the Middle and is credited with being Steven Spielberg's favorite band.
but I'd honestly have to say that THIS, The Pogues concert at The Riviera Theatre in Chicago was far & above THE BEST CONCERT I've ever been to!
*Pogue Mahone means kiss me arse and was the band's original name; however, the radio stations in Ireland wouldn't play their songs due to the name so they changed it to the more palatable The Pogues. BTW, some of their concert t-shirts bear their original name and, of course, I picked one up for myself!
I was in the front row of the mosh pit (festival seating) just to the right of center. Shane McGowan appeared appropriately drunk; someone behind me said he'd read in an interview that Shane reckoned he hadn't been sober since the age of 14! Imagine that!! Yet for all his drinking on stage he managed to remember all the lyrics. Only once was he a hair offbeat but managed to pick up the pace with the rest of the band.
Shane would leave the stage occasionally and come back with what appeared to be a fresh drink and a cigarette while one of the other band members such as Spider or Phil filling in on various songs.
There were 8 musicians on stage: drummer, banjo, accordianist, bass, guitar, Spider Stacy on the tin whistle, probably a mandolin or a dulcimer - absolutely fantastic musicians these gents.
Photos: March 6, 2008
Dress Code: Concert wear, particularly all black, anything punk as The Pogues are an Irish folk-punk band!
I've seen quite a few shows at the House of Blues in Chicago, most recently last night when Sister Hazel was making their annual December appearance in Chicago. It's one of the nicer concert venues in Chicago and the most centrally located, right in the heart of the tourist district. "Seating" is general admission and standing room only unless you happen to be some sort of VIP and get into one of the opera boxes. The doors typically open about 1 1/2 hours before showtime. The venue holds 1,500 people, all of whom seemed to be crunched onto the rather small section in front of the stage. The acoustics are decent and not so loud that you suffer temporary or permanent hearing loss.
If you are looking to eat before the show, the closest ones would be Harry Caray's, the House of Blues' own restaurant (I understand you don't have to wait in line to get it if you eat there) and Bin 36 but there are dozens of places within walking distance, we ate at Brasserie Jo
Dress Code: None
If it's winter and you have a coat, they do have a $5 coat check or if you park close enough, brave the elements and leave it in the car . Wear good shoes, you will be standing a long time. And don't overdress, it gets really warm in there.
Good old Martyrs on Lincoln (not too far south of Irving Park) seems to have a knack of getting album chart topping bands from the UK and putting them on a small stage in front of a crowd of 250 assorted forward listening yanks and British Ex-Pats. I went to see Turin Brakes here and not only was it the BEST set i have ever heard them play live (seen them twice before in Dublin), but I also got to meet the band! Just missed seeing Jamie Cullum play, but most recently Keane played a killer set - they just seem to try harder over here!!!
By the way check out the mexican place across the street (on the corner of Byron & Lincoln its very nice & very new & very cheap!!)
Dress Code: Very casual
Famed for the stomping grounds of the Chicago Bulls (Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen) and the Chicago Blackhawks hockey team, the United Center is a HUGE venue also sponsoring concerts (Beyoncé, Pearl Jam, AC/DC, and Green Day are upcoming shows) and comedians (I recently attended the Dane Cook show here which looked nearly sold out).
Walking out of the arena at night affords a fantastic straight shot view down Adams Street to Sears Tower.
It's amazing how easy it is to get to!
Photos: June 14, 2008
Dress Code: Casual