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Niles West News

The Student News Site of Niles West High School

Niles West News

The Student News Site of Niles West High School

Niles West News

Chicago’s Best and Worst Concert Venues


There are so many things that make a concert special, the band you’re seeing, the people you’re with and the quality of the performance. While these are all important attributes, one of the most important but overlooked factors in your concert experience is the venue. The venue can make or break the show, taking you out of the music or further into it. Chicago has a lot of great concert venues, but some are superior than others.

The Salt Shed:

The Salt Shed is my favorite concert venue, with its interesting history and perfect floor design, it creates the ultimate concert experience. It was originally a literal salt shed and was converted from a warehouse to a concert venue in 2022.

The Salt Shed has a combination of great food, with tons of food trucks scattered around the venue, and the one thing every concert-goer can’t get enough of is water. The whole building has water bottle fillers around every corner with free cups, and if you want to be extra fancy, there are plenty of food trucks selling water.

Apart from the water situation, the rest of the venue is pretty great too. There are two parts of the venue, an outdoor and indoor section, both with great sound quality. There’s even a lounge in the indoor venue if you need some space during the concert. The only issue is the indoor venue’s seated section is spaced out and far from the stage, making the view sub-par. Other than that, this venue provides every concert-goers greatest desires, comfort and sound quality.

Huntington Bank Pavillion at Northerly Island: 

Situated between the Shed Aquarium and the Adler Planetarium, the Huntington Bank Pavillion is a mid-sized venue, holding up to 30,000 guests. I’ve attended two concerts there, and while the view of the skyline from the seats is beautiful, there aren’t any other redeeming qualities.

Firstly, even getting into the venue is difficult because of its parking. You can either park in the Soldier Field parking garage or try your luck at the Adler Planetarium parking lot for a hefty fee of $40, which is the shorter walk, so it fills up more quickly. Soldier Field, the bigger and less expensive option, is an 18-minute walk away, which for most people is a pain and for disabled people is a reason not to go to the concert at all. One of my worst experiences related to parking was when I saw Conan Gray on his Superache tour. I parked in the Soldier Field lot, walked almost 20 minutes to get to the venue, and when I got back to the car, I found that someone keyed my car. While this is not the venue’s fault, it represents the pain and misery of this venue’s parking.

After all the pain of parking and getting to the venue, most people would expect to be able to see the stage, but unless you’re in the very front or at the raised seats in the back, your view will be completely obstructed. Because the seats are only elevated for a few rows in the very back, most of the seats are the same height, which means there are a bunch of seats where instead of viewing the stage, the only view is of other people’s heads.

The other issue with this venue is the sound quality. Because it’s an outdoor venue, it’s expected that the sound quality wouldn’t be great, but in comparison to other outdoor venues, it’s a lot worse than average. The majority of the music sounds fuzzy and quiet, which is the exact opposite of what you want at a concert.

While Huntington Bank Pavillion isn’t my top choice if your favorite band is playing there and you aren’t as big of a concert snob as me, you should check it out: just don’t use their parking.

Thalia Hall:

Thalia Hall is my most frequently visited venue, and while it always ends up raining when I’m there, I always have a good time. The venue is just really beautiful, built in 1892, with spectacularly designed ceilings and all of its historical charm intact. Looking up from the stage and seeing intricate wood carvings and painted ceilings makes the experience ten times better. The sound quality is amazing and the space immerses you into the music.

My only possible negative is that if you don’t like loud concerts, this is not the venue for you. They turn up the speakers all the way, and if you’re sensitive to that sort of thing, I’d recommend earplugs.

Overall, every concert venue has pros and cons depending on who you are, the music you listen to, and what you value in a live performance.

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