The Ultimate Guide to Austin’s Legendary Music Venues
Where to get a taste of Austin's live music scene throughout the year.
We’re gonna let you in on a secret: Austin’s “Live Music Capital of the World®” slogan isn’t technically true. It’s actually based on a one-time fact that stated in 1991, Austin had more live music venues per capita than anywhere else in America. This hasn’t stopped the city from celebrating the live music scene hard over the last 30 or so years (or plastering that tagline on just about everything), and for that, we’re grateful for a little white lie. Today, despite towering apartments, Sweetgreen chains and Soul Cycle studios occupying prime locations, live music still very much prevails, you just have to follow the riffs. Many of the town’s best restaurants, food halls and bars provide a stage for new talent. The Moody Center has expanded, too, with two brilliant new locations, meaning more space for international stars to come and grace us over Dallas or Houston, as Harry Styles did recently. Okay, so Austin doesn’t have that cool, Nashville vibe year-round but the live music here is still stellar and dare we say, better than the rest of the Lone State State. Don’t believe us? These Austin live music venues will prove it.
Moody Family: Moody Amphitheater, Moody Center, ACL Live at the Moody
When it comes to big touring artists, the Moody trio is where to see them. In fact, the two newest additions have changed Austin’s live music landscape, finally offering a world-class stage right in the downtown vicinity, so there’s no need to trek past the airport all the way to COTA. For the first time, in what feels like forever, we’ve seen artists like Mr. Styles forfeit our big Texan neighbors to play at the Moody Center, and we’re hoping more stars follow suit. The Amphitheater was particularly alive during SXSW, so keep a look out for tickets as March rolls in, while ACL Live at the Moody gives you a big-name talent, from music to drag, within an intimate setting
Upcoming acts:The 1975, Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Daddy Yankee
The Paramount Theatre is as much an attraction in its own right as the shows it hosts. Built in 1915, it exudes old-world charm and makes for a romantic date spot under twinkling bulb lights. Over the last hundred (plus) years, Paramount has seen the likes of Miles David, Maya Angelou, Katharine Hepburn, and Burt Bacharach take to its historic stage. Today, the venue sees local and traveling talent across all genres, and also produces the annual Moontower Just For Laughs Austin comedy festival.
Upcoming Acts: Joe Satriani, Ruthie Foster, Postmodern Jukebox
What makes a night at Geraldine’s special has always been a combination of top-notch food and drink, and live music. The acts started out as a supporting entertainment during dinner—the restaurant’s main event—but over the years have moved to the forefront too. You see, Geraldine’s has continuously been booking quality musicians to serenade its clientele and has never fallen short. Performers are always the most talented newcomers or oldtimers, around, and well worth sticking around to have a drink over. Live music here takes place every night of the week, including jazz brunch.
Upcoming acts: Rochelle & the Sidewinders, Elijah Zane, David Thacker Trio
East 5th Street
Antone’s may very well be the reason that Austin coined its own “Live Music Capital of the World®” slogan. In 1975, Clifford Antone jump-started a musical revolution in his little sandwich shop. Though the venue itself has moved around, the stage continues to welcome both burgeoning artists and Austin’s octogenarian icons. Celebrate the legend of Antone’s by picking up some vinyl at Antone’s records, sharing an Antone’s po-boy, and taking in a very affordable show or three.
Upcoming Acts:Booker T. Jones, Hermanos Gutierrez, David Archuleta
Continental Family: Continental Club, Continental Gallery, C-Boy's Heart And Soul
South Congress Avenue
The Continental siblings allow visitors to choose their own adventure in Austin music. Each bar is distinct—both in vibe and musical acts. The classic Continental Club hosts musicians almost every night on their fabled stage—including residencies and one-off performances—that are always a guaranteed good show. The Continental Gallery (located just upstairs) gives off speakeasy vibes with funky jazz trios, singer-songwriters, and typically lower-key performances. A giant disco ball hanging from the ceiling in C-Boy's is a nod to the fact that whatever is on stage—funk, blues, bluegrass—things can get fabulously rowdy.
Upcoming Acts:Casper Rawls, Dale Watson, The Selfless Lovers
It’s hard to get more essentially Austin than the Saxon Pub. The subject of the documentary, Nothing Stays the Same: The Story of the Saxon Pub, its small corner stage has hosted new artists and legends… and new artists before they became legends. This bar is inextricably interwoven into the history of Austin and its musicians. New and returning patrons will be glad to know that the Saxon has expanded their back patio and brought in food trucks such as ATX Sliders, a welcome addition for those who may have overindulged in stiff drinks.
Upcoming Acts:Vinn Mott Blues Band, Austin Gilliam, John Fulbright
Mohawk is where Austin goes to get loud. Multiple levels, two stages, and its location in the Red River Cultural District makes it the perfect place to see rock, punk, metal, garage, and everything in between. Sometimes they’ll throw in a little yoga or a food event just to keep it interesting. Their matte-black-and-taxidermy decor and tattooed bartenders are all part of the attraction. Happy hours run daily for added fun times.
Upcoming Acts:Beach Fossils, The Cuckoos, Sofia Valdes
Only in Austin can a barbecue restaurant morph into a killer music venue. Cold beer, a little barbecue, and a proverbial parade of well-known artists and bands has solidified Stubb’s standing as one of Austin’s treasures. Stubb’s is a ticketed concert venue that attracts bigger names and award-winning artists, including the Grammy-award-winning Black Pumas. Trust us when we say that there’s something miraculous about having the stars overhead and a Lone Star in hand while a band rips heroic guitar solos.
Upcoming Acts:Foxtales, Subtronics, DJ Diesel
Way South Congress
The Sagebrush may be relatively recent to Austin but it feels like it’s been here forever. Veteran Austin bar owners transformed an old stone building into a three-stage bar, lounge, and music venue. The color-changing West Texas-style sunset feature, velvet curtained stage, and huge back lot make every show here uniquely enjoyable. The lineup—like the place—is eclectic. Stop in for blues, rock, swing, singer-songwriter, and country western plus free two-stepping lessons and pop-up food trucks.
Upcoming Acts:Honky Tonk Machine, Buffalo Hunt, Maxwell Pearl
Way South Congress
The Far Out has evolved significantly from its days as Red Shed Tavern and Austin’s better for it. Unlike many other venues during the pandemic, their expansive backyard made it possible for them to continue to have live music. Booking genius Lawrence Boone has made this place a new home for a variety of musicians along with burlesque acts, yoga, artist markets, comedy, and more. The onsite food trucks Los Danzantes, Huckleberry Austin, and The Forking Vegan
keep everyone fed throughout the week.
Upcoming Acts:Jason Boland and The Stragglers, Tanner Usrey, Sports
The Little Longhorn’s impact on Austin belies its small footprint. Originator of Chicken Sh*t Bingo, there are few places better for a honky-tonkin' good time. It advertises music six nights a week and ice-cold beer and delivers every time. Come here on a Sunday for Chicken Sh*t Bingo, or any other night of the week to take a turn on the dance floor. Bartenders also mix up a winning Michelada or Bloody Mary.
Upcoming Acts: Fingerpistol, Johnny Mcgowan’s Rugge Gents, Six Sons of a Gun
Raise your cups for Cheer Ups! This iconic queer bar is a refuge and a delight for Austinites. All ways welcome and all colorful everything. Both stages are once again abuzz with bands, DJs, theme events, and anything they can dream up. Head to Cheer Up Charlies for a creative crafty cocktail, a bite from their vegan food truck Arlo’s (bac’n cheezeburger!), and a lot of good feels.
Upcoming Acts:LLORA, DJ Orya, DJ Ramesh