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
2135 North Milwaukee Avenue
Chicago, IL 60647
Blue Line: California, Western
Box Office: M–F noon–7pm, and up to two hours before show time if tickets are still available (check venue calendar)
Logan Square, Chicago –
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.
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!
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.
Diverse lineup includes Latin, rock, metal, punk, hip-hop, rap, psychedelic, electronica, house, DJ dance parties, stand-up comedy, live wrestling, and more.
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.
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).
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.
Whenever a band of interest is on the docket.
Taqueria Moran (2226 North California Avenue) is a good spot to tank up on cheap Mexican food and a few beers before a show.