Summer is here and concert and festival season is underway. Prior to the pandemic, I was an avid concert-goer and I’ve been able to experience my favorite artists at several different venues throughout the city.
I’ve always believed that the venue the concert is being held at is just as important as the price of the ticket in the decision-making process. You don’t want to waste your money on a performance that you can’t even see or hear. I’ve compiled a list of some of my favorite arenas, stadiums, and pavilions so that you can make the choice of whether or not a concert is actually worth attending. Here’s how I rate them:
The United Center: 8/10
When bigger artists come to town, the United Center is the best concert venue in my opinion. Unlike football stadiums and festivals in the park, arenas just feel more structured and intimate. Granted, the nosebleed sections (300-400 level) are far from the stage, but you have a guaranteed seat and some artists even get on floating platforms so that they can interact with the upper level. Bring cash to park or be prepared to walk if you choose not to park in the lot. You might get lucky if you’re cute though; some people might let you park for free or at a discounted rate!
Soldier Field: 6/10
Soldier Field is a great venue–don’t get me wrong, however, it’s only enjoyable if you have good seats and “good seats” here don’t have the same meaning as other venues. Since Soldier Field is so big, having floor seats means nothing if you aren’t up front. You can sit on the floor and still be extremely far away from the stage. This is definitely not ideal if you’re short. You are better off getting a seat in the 100 or 200 level. If you’re too high up, then it’s almost impossible to see the stage at all, and you’ll be stuck looking at the projectors. Otherwise, the atmosphere in the stadium is incredible.
House of Blues: 8/10
House of Blues is a great venue for smaller concerts. The tickets are always reasonable and you’ll always be close to either the bar or the restrooms. It can definitely get crowded though and if you don’t get there early enough you won’t be near the stage. If you want to get up front, you’ll have to push your way through and that can cause friction between you and other rowdy concert goers. My tip is to get there early to wait in line and if you’re there with someone else, always alternate going to the restroom or bar so that you don’t lose your spot on the floor.
Hollywood Casino Amphitheater: 8/10
The Hollywood Casino Amphitheater is another one of my favorite venues for when bigger artists come to town. There’s regular seating, box seats, and lawn seats. The lawn seating is the most popular option because it gives concert-goers the opportunity to see the concert at a much cheaper price. The only issue with the lawn is that it can sometimes get overly crowded and hard to navigate once it gets dark. You also have to be prepared to deal with drunk and unruly behavior.
Huntington Bank Pavilion at Northerly Island: 6/10
For outdoor concerts, this is a nice venue. It’s not too big and there’s a good amount of seating. Similar to the Hollywood Casino Amphitheater, this venue also offers lawn seating, but it’s nowhere near as big. The only downside to Northerly Island is that it’s near the lake and the parking situation isn’t the best, so catching a Lyft or Uber is your best option. Don’t wait until the end of the concert to do this though–everyone will be trying to get a rideshare making it almost impossible for you to get one. You’ll end up getting home hours after the concert ends.
Allstate Arena: 8/10
This venue is similar to the United Center but much smaller. The actual concerts there are great but beware– it’s right near O’Hare airport so it’s a bit of a hike from the city. You can also get twisted up in the airport if you don’t follow directions to a T, so make sure you give yourself some time before the event actually starts.
By Kayla Crittle, University of Kentucky Alumni
Instagram / Twitter: kaylamarieily