The Congress Theater

Concert Venue / Theater
The Congress Theater The Congress Theater in Chicago’s Logan Square is a top concert venue & a city landmark. Check the calendar & see some great bands in Chicago with Party Earth. Chicago United States 41.919978 -87.692426
3.85 16
The Congress Theater - Concert Venue | Theater in Chicago.
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Lucas
Adriana
Jonah
Emma

Party Earth Review No matter what anyone thinks of the evening’s band, few would argue that The Congress Theater isn’t a beautiful place to see a concert – not even the city council, which designated this former 1920s movie palace a Chicago... ... read full review

  • Train:

    Blue Line: California, Western

  • Phone:

    773-276-1235

  • Links:

  • Hours:

    Box Office: M–F noon–7pm, and up to two hours before show time if tickets are still available (check venue calendar)

  • Recommended as:

    • Night Spot

The Congress Theater Videos

Armin Van Buuren @ Congress Theatre 10-26-07
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Armin Van Buuren @ Congress Theatre 10-26-07
1,220 views
Paramore - "My Heart" Acoustic @ Congress Theatre in Chicago.
4,745 views
The Pogues - Dirty Old Town - Congress Theatre, Chicago 3-4-11
1,418 views
Steve Aoki Balcony Dive at Congress Theatre
10,054 views
Girl Talk - New Year's Eve - Congress Theatre - Chicago - 1901 - Phoenix
2,133 views
Rich Hardesty Congress Theatre Chicago
4,301 views
Boy George Congress Theatre Eastbourne 2010
1,998 views

Party Earth The Congress Theater Review

The Scene

The Congress Theater in Chicago’s Logan Square is a top concert venue & a city landmark. Check the calendar & see some great bands in Chicago with Party Earth.

No matter what anyone thinks of the evening’s band, few would argue that The Congress Theater isn’t a beautiful place to see a concert – not even the city council, which designated this former 1920s movie palace a Chicago landmark in 2002.

The ornate exterior – seemingly cloned from some Italian palace – gives way to a high domed interior, which looms over a wide-open floor that provides room for 4,700 fans to dance, mosh, and jangle their hemp bracelets to the music.

The wide range of acts ensures an equally diverse audience that includes everyone from punks and grunge kids to ravers and patchouli-scented folksters, depending on the night.

When it gets hot on the dance floor – and it does – guests can retreat to the outdoor balcony for a cooler atmosphere and a stunning view, though they may have to contend with a security team that has a reputation for being rather aggressive during certain concerts – albeit perhaps more so with Anthrax and less with Ani DiFranco.

Multiple drink stands beside the dance floor and near the entrance make it easy to tank up between sets, though anyone swilling too much beer will quickly discover that the venue’s architectural beauty does not extend to the bathrooms.

But much like the seasoned rockers who have played many a sold-out show here, The Congress Theater is beautiful and gritty, all at the same time.

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Tip from Jonah:

If you’re in from out of town, look into renting a short-term room in the adjoining apartment building. They’re fully furnished, and you get a free pair of tickets to a show that same week/weekend!

  • Crowd

    Highly varied crowd depending on the night’s act, including hipsters, punks, Goths, emo kids, ravers, hippies, older yuppies, folk lovers, and everything in between, as well as fans of the comedians and professional wrestling matches that are also hosted here. All ages.

    Some shows are age-restricted, and all attendees 17 and under must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.

  • Entertainment / Music

    Diverse lineup includes Latin, rock, metal, punk, hip-hop, rap, psychedelic, electronica, house, DJ dance parties, stand-up comedy, live wrestling, and more.

  • Food / Miscellaneous

    Pizza, burritos, and tacos available in the lobby. Credit cards accepted at most of the drink stands/bars.

    Private skybox available.

    The Congress Theater building is also home to an apartment complex that features fully furnished units available for both long- and short-term rental.

  • Prices

    Tickets $0–$75. Snack food $4–$7. Beer $6, rails and shots $7, water $4. Coat check $5 (limited capacity, typically only offered in winter).

  • What to Wear / Dress Code

    Dress varies greatly per show, but casual is the norm. Clothing that could be interpreted as gang-related, including baseball caps, bandannas, chain belts, and other “clothing that can cause harm” are officially prohibited, though the rule is not always strictly enforced.

  • Hot Nights / When to Go

    Whenever a band of interest is on the docket.

  • Close By

    Taqueria Moran (2226 North California Avenue) is a good spot to tank up on cheap Mexican food and a few beers before a show.

The Congress Theater User Reviews

Average rating:
Great, fun atmosphere to see a concert.
John C. Aug 6, 2013
I have been here a couple times for concerts, and I have never been disappointed. The building is very old, but has a nice feel to it. The security/bouncers can be rude at times, but once you get pasted them at the check in, you won't deal with them again. The crowd is fun and the place is huge. I went to shows with a lot of younger people, with dancing, and it was easy to talk and meet many of them. They come up all dressed in their concert gear, which really adds to the whole experience. Alcohol is sold here as well, and the prices are reasonable for a concert. Overall, a great place to listen to music and meet other young people.
A nice old school feel, every time I walk in.
Martini Z. May 20, 2013
Good old Congress Theater. I must say I've seen a lot of famous musicians and D.J's at this venue. Loved every moment spent in there! Lots of room to move around and dance in and of course, the upper balcony to where you can just sit down and relax. The stage is big and up close and the lights especially are amazing! Drinks on the other hand are rather pricey and they don't really have a good selection, but it is a venue so you get what you get. I recommend to all of you to try the place out at least once and I assure you that you will have a fantastic experience.
A balanced review of the Congress Theater
joaquin m. Mar 28, 2013
The Congress theater, a Chicago landmark, has one of the most diverse concert schedules in the city. In any given month, you're likely to see a lineup of top names in Hip Hop, Dance, Electronic music, Dubstep, Rock, and more. They consistently book the top current names in any given genre, as well as classic artists on tour you may remember from the 80's and 90's. The Congress is a spacious venue that on a busy night, can pack thousands of people (for example, the Nas and Lauren Hill double headliner saw the theater packed to capacity). I've also attended what can best be described as almost "intimate" shows, with attendance in the low hundreds, and awesome artist/audience participation. An example would be Public Enemy on their last tour, no more than 200 people showed up and we had Flava Flav in the crowd with us rocking the joint. That being said, a few disclaimers may be in order. Security can be unnecessarily aggressive, even towards women, some nights. The Mos Def show is good example of this. I'm not sure what the issue was this particular evening, but the security detail was both verbally and physically abusive. Not so much to me, mind you, as I knew what to expect (no lighters or pens are allowed inside. They will force you to throw them in the trash) and was prepared for their usual protocol. Besides, I'm a familiar face as I often cover concerts and interview artists there. However, I also observed some rough tactics on others, and my Facebook timeline was flooded with angry posts by people of both genders complaining of being cursed at and even pushed against walls and searched. It is normal for security to throw out troublemakers unceremoniously, and appreciated. However, this was happening to patrons who were not all the way in the door yet. The neighborhood isn't the best, and concertgoers have been assaulted before while wandering down nearby side streets. I recommend staying close to the venue, in well lit areas, and you will be fine Overall though, I have enjoyed every show I've attended there (10+), and of the three main "theater palace" style venues in the city (the other two being the Metro and The Aragon), I find the Congress the least pretentious and most comfortable, although not the "fanciest". The vibe is definitely 90's-esque, and nothing like an extremely regulated, super hyped and merchandised "LiveNation" event. They feature one of the most eclectic lineups in the city, and if you check with them often you're bound to see a concert you "have to attend!" I hope that with these points in mind, you can better enjoy your favorite music in one of my favorite venues in the city of Chicago.
Great Concert Venue
Haley D. Feb 21, 2013
The Congress Theater provided an excellent venue for New Years. Expecting it to be packed wall to wall, there was still enough space to see the stage with no problems. The music and sound was awesome for this particular concert, Porter Robinson I thought it was a perfect venue. There was enough space to dance without getting trampled on and it was genuinely just a very good time. One let down were the drinks, the drinks were normally priced, but with virtually no alcohol in them, in my opinion beer is the way to go here, to get the most bang for your buck. It is not the prettiest or cleanest looking venue so you, but it offers a wide array of musical artists and an extremely fun atmosphere.
Venue of style, versatility and a dependable good time
Riley B. Jan 30, 2013
The Congress Theater is the definition of "best of both worlds"—with a huge dance floor in front of the large stage and plenty of balcony seating for more tame concert-goers, this venue has something for everyone. It books bands from every genre of music, and if you search early in the game you can find lesser-known act for cheap alongside larger acts that you've been waiting to see your whole life. This fall, I saw Lauryn Hill and Nas at The Congress and was absolutely won over by it's impressive sound quality despite the size of the venue. The one downside is the price of drinks—with the lowest prices hovering around $6-7 a cup, you're not going to find it a cheap beer to keep your buzz going at this place. Luckily, there are a ton of decently priced bars in the surrounding area that will make you feel right at home.
Same Venue, Different Feel
Danie A. Jan 26, 2013
I have been here numerous times over the years, whether I saw a rock band (Panic at the Disco) or a rap artist (Tyga) the venue never failed to provide a place for a great experience. The set up allows ample room for mosh pits, fist pumping, or just having a seat and enjoying with a simple head nod. The seats located on the top floor are comfortable and provide a great view of the stage! The floor is spacious and the overall layout is exceptional. When I go somewhere I want to feel safe and the secure and the overall construction of the building allows one to feel secure when trying to have fun. i recommend this place to anyone ready to go out there and have a great time.
A Chicago Classic
Alex S. Jan 14, 2013
The Congress is my favorite venue to catch a show in Chicago. Luckily, they book acts in every conceivable genre, so no matter what you like, you can check out this beautiful theater. I frequent the DJ shows and love the intimate setting and massive dance floor. Things get sweaty, though, so be sure to dress light, even if it’s a freezing Chicago winter night. If you get too hot, you can escape the sticky crowd and head up to the balcony. Up there, you can truly appreciate the beauty of the architecture and get a great view of the show, and the madness on the floor. Drinks aren’t crazy expensive, security isn’t crazy uptight and the lines in the bathroom aren’t crazy long, so you’ll probably have a crazy good time. There’s plenty of parking close to the theater, but if you want to drink, there’s a CTA stop for the Blue Line close by, so getting there, and getting home safely is never a hassle.
Great, beautiful venue
Ally T. Jan 4, 2013
Congress Theater is a wonderful venue. I saw Avicii there, which means the crowd was on floor in front of the stage rather than the seats. It is a pretty large venue, but not as big as the United Center or a place of that sort. I liked the size of the venue because it was more intimate, and you are able to be closer to the stage. The character of the building is absolutely unreal. If you enjoy architecture as well a entertainment, go to Congress! There are plenty of restrooms, which means shorter lines, which everyone enjoys. Security is pretty strict, but not rude. Congress provides acts for everyone- country stars, rap stars etc. The only problem was finding a cab after the event. It took around an hour to finally get a ride back. I would suggest having a ride set up or leave a little early in order to get a cab. Congress is overall a great venue.
Definition of a diamond in the rough..
Lauren R. Dec 21, 2012
I went to The Congress Theater for the DayGlow concert tour and I was pleasantly surprised! If you can get over the not-so-friendly neighborhood filled with dark alleys and the occasional sketchy random guys surrounding the theater.. the experience was incredible! The atmosphere inside is contagious. The minute I walked in, the flashing lights and house music/electronic/dubstep just enveloped me and it was a night to remember. The inside looks like an old theater (of course) but it has a kind of dark/spooky vibe...it's one of a kind. Definitely try the Mexican restaurant in front. It's literally a god send after any concert and its a nice place to stay warm if you go to a concert in the winter. They're nice too which is a plus. The Congress Theater has a pretty diverse concert schedule ranging from heavy metal to LMFAO. I would say the crowd is pretty diverse too. Granted I went to a concert tour that was 18+ older so you had the typical college kids from DePaul and all the way from Northwestern to some locals and then the occasional high schooler. I would definitely recommend this place if you want to have a new/different experience! I was pleasantly surprised!
Awesome aging concert hall
Craig B. Dec 11, 2012
My only experience inside The Congress Theater was for a Freakeasy event (I have friends who go to Burning Man, OK?!?!). The organizers managed to erect three main rooms and two chillout rooms, and there was enough space left over for a roaming art gallery. It was an incredible and unbelievable experience. I walked past Congress plenty of times though. There was the time somebody parked their car on the sidewalk directly in front of the theater in stoned anticipation of a Wu Tang Clan concert, the time there were three ambulances and a fire engine on the corner to take care of some distressed teeny bopper laid out after a Skrillex concert, and the time the Mexican restaurant across the street (Los Comales--I highly recommend you test your mettle against their vats of pickled jalapeños) was full to bursting after a Gypsy Kings concert. The Congress Theater gets some pretty diverse shows, and all of them seem to be a wild ride.
Amazing venue
Christina W. Dec 10, 2012
This place is the bomb! It is so old and sometimes I feel like it should be condemned (yikes?), but it is beautiful and has so much history and I always feel so warm and bubbly when I am inside. The architecture alone is impressive (carved exterior, totally old-school), with beautiful frescoes and murals adorning the main hall inside. The theatre itself is falling apart, but it still looks like it appeared out of 1932. The balcony has the gorgeous arcing swoop that most old theatres are known for, and the downstairs has converted to a “dance floor” so you can crowd in for big concerts. Partying during a high-energy electronic show inside this old theatre is one of the coolest things you could possibly do. I highly recommend checking out a show like Pretty Lights or Avicii at this place. It is just incredible.
Just really cool
Nick T. Aug 29, 2012
If you were to stand in Congress Theatre during the day and have some tell you that the Hives or Pretty Lights was going to be playing there that night, it'd be hard to believe. The decor looks more like an opera house than a modern concert venue. Despite this, every show I've seen here has been crazy. Congress draws great crowds (especially for NYE) and has a ton of very popular acts run through it. I would definitely recommend General Admission tickets here just because if you are the on the ground floor you will have a great view from really any spot and that's where the crowd seems to be the most fun. There is also a bar conveniently located behind the main floor so you can have all you really want without leaving your general area.
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