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  • Writer's pictureNathaniel Briggs

Visiting the Riviera Theatre in Chicago

It has been a while, ICO, but ya boy’s back with a new blog post for your reading pleasure. If you’ve read any of my past posts, it’s no secret that I loooooove going to concerts and exploring the various venues around the great city of Chicago. The only thing I love more is being able to share my experiences with my fellow music junkies. So, today, I’m going to be regaling you with my relatively recent trip to the Riviera Theatre in Uptown, which can be reached fairly easily by taking the CTA Red Line from Sox-35th straight there.

Unlike my past trip to the House of Blues, I found the Riviera to have some flaws that were a little more egregious in spite of how much fun I had there. However, there were also a few things that gave it a leg up over the HOB. Let’s get into it.

One of the coolest things about the Riviera is also one of its drawbacks: it’s over 100 years old! The theater was designed and built in 1917 as a movie theater, its grandiose architecture reflecting the decadence to soon follow in the roaring twenties. While I’m intrigued by the history surrounding the Riviera, I won’t mince words here; the place is clearly in need of some repairs. Notwithstanding, the large marquee adorning the facade is a wonderful callback to the early 20th century, inviting you to immerse yourself in a time long gone. I could almost imagine myself standing in line over a century ago, a 25¢ ticket in hand for Tom Sawyer, clamoring with my compatriots about Woodrow Wilson’s decision to enter the Great War.

The interior, by contrast, is a little less impressive. Don’t get me wrong, there was a lot of cool

I usually don’t care too much about the look of the venue as long I have fun during the performance because, let’s be honest, the music is the main reason I’m here. However, there was one huge, huge problem that was a consequence of the Riviera’s age: there was no A/C! It’s kind of funny because this is something I’ve never really given any thought to until this show. A/C is just one of those things you take for granted because they have it at basically every indoor concert venue. I soon learned the folly of my ways; I was absolutely drenched in sweat by the end of the show. …It was also a metal concert so that might have had something to do with it.

So, what’s my final verdict on this joint? Well, I typically don’t care too much about the structural state of the venue, but in this case, the Riviera’s lack of A/C made me experience a lot more discomfort than I usually experience at concerts. I know I’ve been pretty critical of this place compared to the House of Blues, but honestly, had I come here for a more chill genre of music or during a month when it wasn’t hot outside, my experience probably would have been much different. I just want all my fellow OD’s-to-be to know what they’re in for if you plan on the typical moshing, head banging stuff I’m used to.

Don’t worry, you’re gonna have fun at the Riviera! Just make sure to bring some water. Rock on.


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