Austin music has an international reputation for an eclectic overabundance of musical styles including country, western swing, gypsy, rock, punk, blues, jazz, folk, classical, Tejano, zydeco, bluegrass, roots, pop and world music.
Austin IS The Live Music Capitol of the World. Not a mere slogan, but documented fact. Nashville, Memphis, LA, Seattle, Chicago, New York, New Orleans, London, Paris and Berlin have fewer music venues per capita than Austin.
Music is everywhere. Live music at the airport, museums, BBQ joints, grocery stores, parks, coffee shops. Not to mention the 200 plus live music venues.
The Austin music scene brings over $600 million a year into the Austin economy. Music is an important part of every Austinites’ life. Most of us are rabid supporters of the music scene.
Nothing can prepare you for a Friday or Saturday night in Austin. The music follows you everywhere. You can feel the electricity. Sounds seep out of the clubs, coffee shops, and hotels. It’s an experience that cannot be duplicated anywhere in the world. That’s not a Texas-size boast, but an absolute fact.
The Austin music scene must be experienced first hand to be appreciated.
Live music in Austin is everywhere. Club reviews and info for all six Music Districts are included in Austin Clubs & Venues. Make the most of your Austin nightlife, know where to go.
Austin Music Blog
Austin Music Scene
Austin nightlife is legendary. Music is the living, breathing soul of the city. The most honest music in America is performed on over 200 stages seven nights a week in Austin, Texas.
The Broken Spoke offers fiddle-flaying, down-home traditional country music and serves a chicken fried steak as big as your head. Internationally famous Antone’s offers the biggest names in blues, but also an eclectic mix of rock, Cajun, rockabilly and world music.
From the old-world charm of the One World Theatre, to the venerable and beloved Hole in the Wall. Austin, Texas deserves the title Live Music Capital of the World because it’s undeniable fact.
Austin Angels & Hallowed Ground Remembered
Austin has suffered the loss of many musicians and live music venues. We will not forget the folks who enriched our lives or the clubs they played in. Without either there would be no Austin music. We are eternally thankful they shared their lives with us through their music.
Stevie Ray Vaughan (1990), Townes Van Zandt (1997), Jesse Taylor (2006), Doug Sahm (1999), Keith Ferguson (1997), Don Walser (2006), Clifford Antone (2006), Soap Creek Saloon (1985), Liberty Lunch (1999), The Vulcan Gas Co. (1970), Armadillo World Headquarters (1980), Raul’s (early ’80s), Austin Opera House (1990).
The absolute bible of the Austin music and arts scene. Offers an updated weekly calender of live music performances.
The Chronicle also lists in-store free concerts. New CD releases. Recommended music events. ‘Roadshows’ is a calendar for national touring acts. Live music venues and Austin music club listings.
Come to rely on the Austin Chronicle for spot-on accurate reporting of the Austin music scene. It’s free, look around town, they distribute everywhere.
Austin City Limits
AUSTIN CITY LIMITS broadcasts to 853 PBS stations nationally. It’s the toughest ticket in town. For 31 years Austin City Limits has shared our local musicians with the rest of the country. Joe Ely, Flatlanders, Willie Nelson, Little Joe, Eric Johnson, Dixie Chicks, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Jimmie Vaughan, Alejandro Escovedo, Los Lonely Boys and many other fine musicians.
Austin Concerts & Live Music
There’s no practical or definitive way to rank these Austin venues, so I’ve opted to just go alphabetical:
It may not be Chicago but Austin is still a great blues town. And the biggest reason for that is Antone’s Nightclub and late Austin icon Clifford Antone. Located at 5th and Lavaca, Antone’s has been an Austin landmark since 1975. Ticketed shows.
Clifford Antone’s love for and promotion of the blues and blues musicians was legendary. Rightly known as Austin’s Home of the Blues, Antones has hosted an absolutely phenomenal list of incredible musicians: Muddy Waters, B.B. King, Albert King, Buddy Guy, Albert Collins, James Cotton, Jimmy Rogers, Hubert Sumlin, Junior Wells, Eddie Taylor, Pinetop Perkins, Sunnyland Slim, Curtis Mayfield, Billy Gibbons, Eric Clapton, Elvis Costello, and on and on.
Antones was also instrumental in launching the careers of some local greats like Jimmie Vaughan, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and Bob Schneider.
You really can’t exaggerate the importance of Clifford Antone and his club. Take away Antones and it’s no longer Austin.
Located on the campus of the University of Texas, the Cactus Cafe may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Austin Concerts. But it’s been one of Austin’s great live acoustic venues for more than 30 years. Folk, progressive country, singer-songwriter oriented. Non-smoking but with a full bar, it’s an intimate and relaxed place to hear great music. Tickets sold at the door.
The Cactus Cafe has a tremendous history, a place where you could catch rising stars and other top musicians who still enjoy the intimate setting. A partial list of those who’ve played the Cactus over the years: Townes Van Zandt, Lyle Lovett, Robert Earl Keen, the Dixie Chicks, Guy Clark, John Hiatt, Joe Ely, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Bob Schneider, Patty Griffin, Lucinda Williams, Alison Krauss, Guy Clark, Shawn Colvin, Bruce Robison, Suzanne Vega, Eliza Gilkyson, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, and on and on.
The Continental Club
It’s been around since 1957, originally an upscale private club playing big band music. A retro feel with a wide variety of performances and music: Rockabilly, Texas Rock, Country, and Blues. An eclectic crowd – great for people watching. Charges cover.
The Continental Club is a South Congress landmark and one of the best live music venues in Austin. Although small, the Continental has a long and rich history and features multiple live performances every night of the week.
The sheer amount of awesome music and great acts that have played the Continental Club make it one of Austin’s most-loved live music venues.
Don’t let the retro look or the birthday celebrations for Elvis, Johnny Cash, and Buck Owens fool you. The Continental hosts a wide variety of acts: alternative and progressive country, alternative rock, and, since it’s Austin, a whole lot of blues, too.
The place is small and crowded but always friendly. It also boasts some of the smallest restrooms in the western hemisphere.
But the music and charm of the place more than makeup for any temporary bouts of restroom claustrophobia.
One of the best Austin venues for an alternative, indie, and punk. Good selection of both local talent and touring bands. A small venue but there are two stages and an outdoor beer garden. Shows are open to all ages. Charges cover.
A dirty, seething, and (unless it’s the dead of winter) sweltering indie-punk club, Emo’s probably has the most loyal patron base among the universe of Austin clubs and bars. Concerts here run the gamut, with some of the best local, regional, and national indie acts booked on a regular basis.
Austin live music doesn’t get much more authentic or intense than this.
Frank Erwin Center
UT’s Frank Erwin Center is Austin’s premier venue for big-name touring acts and performers such as U2 and Bruce Springsteen. During basketball season, the Erwin Center is also home to both the Longhorns and Lady Longhorns basketball teams.
It’s also where popular TV-turned-touring acts like Dancing with the Stars and American Idol get booked.
Constructed in 1977, the Erwin Center has a definite ’70s architectural feel to it. Right next to I-35, and known variously as “The Drum,” “The Super Drum,” or “The Concrete Donut,” it’s one of Austin’s most recognizable downtown structures.
In addition to UT mens’ and womens’ basketball and larger touring concerts, there seems to be plenty of professional wrestling hosted here.
La Zona Rosa
From the La Zona Rosa website: “Expect to find everything from rock & singer/songwriters, Latin & world music to blues & jazz on most nights of the week.” Two stages – one for smaller performances and one for premier shows. Not much in the way of ambiance with its warehouse feel, La Zona Rosa lacks the charm and loyal following of some of Austin’s other top-tier live music venues. But with the variety of shows, you’re bound to catch some great Austin concerts here. Shows are open to all ages. Ticketed shows.
A true South Austin treasure and long popular live music venue. Smaller and more intimate than other top-tier Austin live music venues, the Saxon Pub is always a treat to catch rock, blues, country, and singer-songwriter acts. It’s also one of the darker venues as well which makes it challenging to get quality videos shot here that do the place justice.
South of the downtown Austin entertainment districts, the Saxon Pub is nevertheless one of Austin’s top-tier live music venues, and a South Austin treasure.
The Saxon is strictly a bar (no food served) with live music every night of the week. It was voted Best South Austin Listening Room (in 2002, I believe) by readers of the Austin Chronicle.
Beloved Austin live music landmark. Plenty of alternative rock, indie, and blues to go around. As popular for its barbecue and line of retail sauces, rubs, marinades, etc. as it is for its live music, Stubb’s is always a good choice for catching both local talent as well as national touring acts. The Sunday Gospel Brunch is also a popular tradition. There are two stages – one downstairs for an intimate club feel and one in an outside amphitheater for larger acts. Shows are ticketed and general admission.
Without a doubt, Stubb’s is one of the top-tier live music venues in Austin. Over the years, it’s seen a tremendous amount of talent, including Chris Cornell, Wilco, Henry Rollins, Nine Inch Nails, Cake, Metallica, Sonic Youth, the Indigo Girls, Gomez, the Flaming Lips, Dinosaur Jr., the Meat Puppets, and George Clinton.