Whether you’re visiting Austin or you live here, music is an integral part of the experience. In fact, live music is the lifeblood of this community, tying people of all backgrounds together in search of a good time. If you’re looking for the best music venues in Austin, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve put together this list of the best live music in Austin so you can check out touring acts and the latest local talent.
Where To Go for The Best Live Music in Austin
There’s a reason Austin has claimed “the Live Music Capital of the World” title. It’s the city where music greats like Garth Brooks and Stevie Ray Vaughan have performed and it’s also home to mega music festival South By Southwest (SXSW). From the East Side to South Austin and the northern portions of the city, here are the venues that offer the best live music in Austin.
1. Stubb’s Bar-B-Q
Stubb’s BBQ is renowned for its outdoor amphitheater that can host up to 1,800 music fans. The performer’s platform takes center stage and a gentle grass slope moves upwards away from the stage. That means you can get great views of the singer-songwriters, even if you arrive a bit late. Best of all, you won’t go hungry at this venue where you can sink your teeth into Austin’s incredible barbecue fare including brisket and pulled pork. It’s also a great spot for brunch in Austin thanks to their Gospel brunch on Sundays.
2. The Elephant Room
This underground bar is located in the basement of the Swift Building where developers discovered “the largest mastodon bones west of the Mississippi”. Here, you’ll find one of the best Jazz listening experiences in town — and incredible craft cocktails. Sit at one of the tables close to the stage if you want to listen to the night’s top act or grab a spot by the door if you want to chat with friends.
3. The Broken Spoke
Few places are as iconic as The Broken Spoke. This dance hall and honky-tonk is beloved by everyone from Garth Brooks to Dolly Parton. Whether you’re an expert two-stepper or a newbie — they have lessons! — you’re welcome at this down-home Texas-grown hotspot. Besides music, they have some of the best chicken fried steak in the area so be sure to grab a bite to eat while enjoying the show.
4. Skylark Lounge
The Skylark Lounge is a hole-in-the-wall bar and live music venue featuring local musicians. It features dark lighting that creates a cozy and funky vibe. Here, you’ll find musical stylings from blues, R&B, and soul artists and a laid-back atmosphere that’s perfect for both weeknight and weekend excursions.
5. Saxon Pub
The Saxon Pub opened back in 1990 and has been home to more than 30,000 musical shows. Stop in for one of the free happy hour shows on weeknights or stay up late to see performances for the latest up-and-coming performers. The spot can also be rented out for private events.
6. The Continental Club
Located on South Congress Ave, The Continental Club has been delivering incredible live music from local musicians and superstars since 1955. It has a relatively small capacity compared to other live music venues, fitting just 200 people inside. That translates to a more intimate and up-close experience for true music aficionados.
7. ACL Live at The Moody Theater
ACL Live (Austin City Limits Live) is the longest-running music series on broadcast television. The Moody Theater doesn’t just host musical acts for this television show, it’s also home to various concerts and performances year-round. The venue offers state-of-the-art lighting and sound, delivering incredible performances that you can’t experience anywhere else. It’s a large music venue with a capacity of close to 3,000.
8. The Parish
Billing itself as Sixth Street’s Little Secret, The Parish is home to one of the cozier live music experiences. With a capacity of 450 people, the small stage provides an intimate listening atmosphere. This inclusive spot features musical performances in all genres from indie and emo to bluegrass and jazz. Since it’s on 6th street, it’s easy to keep the party going when the show’s over, and right out front is one of the best donut spots in Austin — Voodoo Doughnuts.
9. Antone’s Nightclub
Voted among the best clubs in Austin, Antone’s is the place to go when you want to listen to live blues music. First opened in 1975, this little music spot has hosted the likes of B.B King, the Fabulous Thunderbirds, Ray Charles, and James Brown. Music performances aren’t just for the weekends here, almost every weeknight, you’ll find local acts and top musicians to get your groove on.
10. Cheer Up Charlie’s
Located in Red River, Cheer Up Charlie’s is a vegan and queer haven. It’s an inclusive spot where everyone can come together and share their love of music. Sway to tunes from local musicians at the large outdoor music venue and savor the Wunder-Pilz Kombucha that’s on tap or cocktails made with fresh-squeezed juice.
11. Historic Scoot Inn
Located in a building that dates back to 1871, Scoot’s Inn is another historic Austin staple. The venue hosts mainly outdoor music shows, but you can also attend piano performances inside at Ivy’s Room. The outdoor area is largely standing room, but there are a few tables or you can head inside to grab a seat and drink with friends.
12. The Mohawk
The Mohawk offers several ways to enjoy live music on site. From three balconies, one of which is a rooftop bar to a fireside bar and small dance floor, there are tons of options to enjoy music in style. Here, you’ll also find both an indoor and an outdoor stage for a music festival vibe. The Mohawk doesn’t just deliver epic live music experiences it also doubles as one of the best happy hour spots in Austin.
13. The White Horse
The White Horse is another iconic honky-tonk serving up the best live music in Austin. Stop in for some two-stepping fun and enjoy live music performances several times a week. Best of all, this spot serves some of the best tacos and queso around so you can chow down while enjoying great music.
14. The Austin Beer Garden Brewery (ABGB)
While most famous for their incredible beers, the ABGB is also one of the best spots to take in a live music performance. The beer garden provides ample space for soaking in the sounds of up-and-coming blues and country favorites.
15. Cactus Cafe
The Cactus Cafe is located on Guadalupe Street on the campus of the University of Texas at Austin, making it a popular spot for the younger crowd. They offer a full-service bar and most shows are held at 8 pm. Get there 30 minutes before the show starts to secure seating or enjoy the performance while standing and dancing with friends.
16. Empire Control Room & Garage
Looking for an unpretentious place to listen to live music? Empire is where you’ll want to head. The venue features several distinct spaces including an indoor area known as the Control Room, which can host 350 people as well as the former auto shop known as the Garage, with a capacity of1050. There’s also an outdoor patio area that can hold 200 people, making this one of the larger venues in town. Come for a laid-back chill music experience outside or rage indoors with your favorite bands.
Discover the Best Live Music in Austin
The Austin music scene isn’t just famous in the Lone Star state, it’s known worldwide for incredible musical talent. From live music venues in downtown Austin to hidden dive bars in the Warehouse District, there’s an incredible music experience waiting for you. At these venues that offer the best live music in Austin, you’ll get a chance to discover local acts and upcoming talent in addition to famous musicians like Willie Nelson and Dolly Parton.