An obscurantist’s playground, this West Town shop reaches for the outer limits of Tropicalia, Afrobeat, European vocal, vintage soundtracks, and more. And with the recent closure of Jazz Record Mart, it’s now Chicago’s premiere shop in that market, full stop.
16. Get Bloodshot with Robbie Fulks at The Hideout
Chicago has deep, ahem, roots in the alt-country scene, and the aptly named, off-the-beaten-path Hideout dutifully caters, particularly when it comes to Fulks’ much-loved Monday night residency.
17. Go native with a Chic-a-Go-Go taping
In the grand tradition of Chicago cable-access badassery (see also Svengoolie, Soul Train, Bozo), Chic-a-Go-Go plays like a bizzaro-world American Bandstand. Co-hosted by puppet emcee Ratso and overrun with nutty, bespoke costumes -- not to mention awesome local and national bands -- the show’s free live tapings are a trip unlike any other.
18. Meet juke’s younger brother on its own terms at Battle Groundz
This far South Side space was one of the original, um, stomping grounds of footwork as both music and dance culture. Originators like DJ Spinn and the late, great DJ Rashad honed their wonky, high-BPM sound here; and next-gen dancers like Litebulb and The Era crew continue today.
19. Downsize to something intimate at Schubas Tavern
This long-running small room has been ranked among the best in the nation. Schubas leans towards guitar-based indie rock, with a penchant toward roots and folk inflections. Sister venue Lincoln Hall is less historic but arguably books even better.
20. Checkmate with an obvious (but winning) move at Chess Records
Yes, it’s the ultimate sucker cut of Chicago music destinations. But there’s a reason it’s a no-brainer. The address alone is iconic, fer chrissake.