The Empty Bottle

Dive Bar / Live Music Venue
The Empty Bottle The Empty Bottle has been serving up $5 drink combos and live music seven nights a week since it first opened in 1992, featuring a jam-packed calendar of events ranging from jazz and rock to experimental noise. Chicago United States 41.900392 -87.686788
4.31 9
The Empty Bottle - Dive Bar | Live Music Venue in Chicago.
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Ratings:
Lucas
Adriana
Jonah
Emma

Party Earth Review The Empty Bottle has been serving up $5 drink combos and live music seven nights a week since it first opened in 1992, featuring a jam-packed calendar of events ranging from jazz and rock to experimental noise. The venue... ... read full review

  • Hours:

    M–W 5pm–2am, Th–F 3pm–2am, Sa noon–3am, Su noon–2am

  • Recommended as:

    • Night Spot

Party Earth The Empty Bottle Review

The Scene

The Empty Bottle has been serving up $5 drink combos and live music seven nights a week since it first opened in 1992, featuring a jam-packed calendar of events ranging from jazz and rock to experimental noise.

The Empty Bottle has been serving up $5 drink combos and live music seven nights a week since it first opened in 1992, featuring a jam-packed calendar of events ranging from jazz and rock to experimental noise.

The venue’s deceptively small exterior hides a spacious three-roomed space decked out in concert posters and packed with laid-back hipsters, artists, and musicians.

Earlier in the evening, patrons hang out at the arcade games, shoot pool, or peruse the alternative and indie EPs for sale at the merchandise table up front, or bop down a short hallway to the performance area adorned by local art, holiday lights, and a Chicago Police cruiser door hung above the emergency exit.

Leather-clad rockers and music lovers chill at the bar downing rounds of cheap liquor combos and local brews, but once the music begins, all eyes turn to the stage where an eclectic lineup of acts playing indie, reggae, electro-pop, and everything in between get the crowd nodding along energetically.

A no-frills dive with nightly music and deals throughout the year, it’s no wonder music lovers of all kind stay to finish their drinks at The Empty Bottle.

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Tip from Jonah:

Concert viewing is standing room only, and you can’t reserve a place to stand, so show up early to secure a good spot! Or just come in on a whim to hear great music you probably never heard of before.

  • Crowd

    A mix of amiable indie rockers, casual hipsters, music snobs, and local artists and musicians, early 20s to mid-30s.

  • Entertainment / Music

    Live music nightly from reggae to psychedelic, but trending toward indie rock. Pool table, pinball, photo booth, and three arcade machines. Check website for schedule of events.

  • Food / Miscellaneous

    Chips and peanuts. Patrons can order food from Bite Café next door. Cash only. ATM on site.

  • Prices

    Cover charge varies by event, usually $5–$20. Chips and peanuts $1. Beer $2.50–$8, wine $4.75–$8, cocktails $4–$6, shots $4–$6.

  • What to Wear / Dress Code

    Hipster/indie rocker casual: frayed skinny jeans, flannel button-downs, black hoodies, graphic t-shirts, plaid shirts, studded belts, decorative scarves, knit sweaters.

  • Hot Nights / When to Go

    Thursday through Saturday evenings when the venue usually books the most popular acts.

  • Close By

    Right next door is Bite Café (1035 North Western Avenue), which is under the same ownership and serves a full American menu.

The Empty Bottle User Reviews

Average rating:
Totally rad music venue
Maria S. Mar 20, 2013
This place is pretty sweet. Not only do they had a ton of different music genres, but they have a good mix of up-and-coming bands, as well as established favorites. The space is intimate enough for interaction/banter between the artist and the crowd too. Overall, it has a great aesthetic and good sound. It's quickly becoming one of my favorite Chicago music venues.
Cheap beer, cheap music, great times
Owen O. Feb 20, 2013
It's easy to blow off the Empty Bottle as simply a dive bar with loud bands, but it's really the best dive bar with loud bands in Chicago. It's hard to find a venue that consistently books bands and music that you'll see or hear in a few years. And you can see almost anything here -- jazz, rock, noise, punk, metal, hip hop, and comedy. You just might not be able to see it anywhere again for a few more years. It's out of the way for some, but transportation to the Empty Bottle could cost as much as your night there. Shows are normally cheap (between $5 and $20) and the beer is cheaper. Start your night at the bar in back with a local microbrew and end up in the mosh pit with a $2 Hamm's or $2.50 PBR. While the hipster crowd might put some off, it's well worth your time and money to make it to this Ukranian Village dive. Cheap music, cheap beer and a great atmosphere are what keep the crowds comin
Great dive with great music
Craig B. Dec 11, 2012
The Empty Bottle is a pretty rad place. The night that I went, I saw Mount Kimbie (openers Whoa-B and Magical Beautiful were completely unknown to me and I haven't listened to them since, but they rocked the place pretty well too), and they absolutely killed it. The Empty Bottle is incredible not only because of how cheap it is, but because of the quality of acts they are able to attract and also the capacity of the sound team to make music in a dingy dive sound so good. Also, I love the drinks list on the blackboard. It's just that kind of no nonsense attitude that endears The Empty Bottle so close to my heart.
One of my favorite music venues
Christina W. Dec 10, 2012
Oh the Empty Bottle. How I love the Empty Bottle! (I once worked as an intern here, so I love it even more now.) It is an amazing venue with an amazing sound system, an awesome lineup, and cool people. It feels very much like a black box theatre, with floors, walls, and ceiling covered in that strange black “stuff” that you can never exactly determine what it is made out of. But it works out great for them, because even in such a small venue on the main floor of a dingy building, the acoustics here are excellent. I mostly love the Bottle because they feature a lot of local and small acts, and those tend to be the best concerts. So if you’re into local music, small venues, and cool people, you should come here. I don’t think it will let you down.
Indie heaven
Chris M. Aug 2, 2012
I have never paid more than $12 to see a show at The Empty Bottle and they have been some of the best indie shows of my life. Your mainstream friends in Lakeview probably have not heard of any of the bands playing here, hell, I haven't heard of most of them, but they are all about the music. This is a little surprising because it really is just a dive bar with a stage in the corner but they book some great acts. I have seen The Mountain Goats perform here several times and a few more shows with bands I can no longer remember. It is not hard to get front row here and you will literally be able to reach out and touch the band, or at least be audible if you make a request or have a comment. One show the lead singer announced that they were about to play their last song to which my friend said loudly "I'm incredulous." The lead singer smiled at him and said "That's awesome" and announced it to the crowd. PBRs are $2.50 and I don't think the price has changed in 5 years. You can get good beer also, but when I'm at the Empty Bottle I feel compelled to go PBR. They have a photo booth and pool in a side room that also holds the merch table after shows and the artists will usually hang out after the show. The Empty Bottle is a little out of the way unless you live in Ukie Village, and you'll have to take the Western bus to get there most likely, but it is worth it.
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