Chicago has a thriving music scene, and these bands are proof of that. It was difficult to narrow down the list to so few, because there are tons of promising bands that made an impact on the music industry in this city over the last year. Here are our top picks anyway, because we want them to get a little more recognition.

Friday Pilots Club

This band has a sound that is pleasantly rhythmic and pop-infused, and it’s infectious enough at you’re going to have some of their hits stuck in your head for a while after listening to their music. They played in stages all across Chicago last year, and they headline Schubas at the end of January, so you can catch their latest right there.

Alkaline Trio

We can’t believe this band is still making great music 22 years after they started. They are one of Chicago’s most revered establishments, and the fans lapped up their latest album Cursed in August. They headlined their own Riot Fest earlier in the year with a massive audience, so we think they’ll be going strong for a while longer.


This band stayed quiet for a while, but that’s because they were preparing for 2019, and they came back in a big way this year. The reggae band is able to stand out not just because of their genre choice but also because they are true to their Jamaican roots. The band’s Simmer Down Sound was a lovely night of reggae for a while, but even though that has shut down, they are still going strong.


Typesetter is having great year. They appeared at Riot Fest and toured with Against Me! They are also still coasting on the good vibes from last year’s album Nothing Blues, and they are looking to keep that forward momentum moving for the foreseeable future. We can’t wait to see where they pop up next with their distinctive, catchy punk sounds.

Pixel Grip

Chicago can still be home to some dark synth music every now and then. Pixel Grip is proof of that, and they have been touring the Chicago music scene lately and bringing gritty synth music to the Late Bar and other venues around the city.

Hood Smoke

In 2018, Hood Smoke released Cannonball Porch, and we still aren’t quite sure what genre of music they fit into. The band offers tastes of soul, indie rock and some flavorful pop as well, and they mix these in unique ways that really makes them stand on their own and also makes them kind of hard to classify. That’s not a bad thing, by any means, though, as their style ensures that their music is always an interesting listen.

Jacob Horn Trio

This band doesn’t actually classify as a trio, but who is complaining? They have a catchy pop sound that will keep your toes tapping the entire time you listen to their album Why Though.
These are just a few of our favorites, and you can find them all online or check out their live shows, if you are nearby.