Move over Austin, you’re not the only Texas town with great music. We’re the city that brought you Travis Scott, Beyonce, Slim Thug, The Tontons, Zro, The Suffers, ZZ Top, Paul Wall, Bun B and more! And that’s because we have a whole lotta really great places to listen to some underrated music.
I’ve procrastinated on writing this blog post because frankly I’m just not cool enough. Like, seriously. Houston’s music scene is just waaaayy too cool for me. But lately I’ve been super into music and catching shows — from Lollapalooza to that one time I saw 4 shows in one weekend, like my own DIY music fest. All this to say, I feel like less of a poser now putting this together.
White Oak Music Hall
During the spring and summer, WOMH hosts several major lawn shows that are basically like mini music fests where you’ll get three or four really great bands! The shows will start earlier enough where you’re not in the heat of the day but you still get to watch the sun set.
WOMH tends to be a tad overpriced, there, I said it. It’s definitely more than a cover charge. I think tickets range between $30-$50. Ouch. Most of the unknown or niche bands start at $15 ($20 after fees).
Poser Pro tips: Go early and Uber/Lyft. Parking is paid during a show, so may as well spend the money on a safe ride home. I love Raven Tower next door for pre or post concert drinks. If the show is on the lawn, bring a blanket and bug spray!
You’re definitely going to seem some verrry under the radar bands here. The vibe of the near-midtown beer garden is super eclectic in general, from its soundless movies projected during non band times and all its hammocks and fun seating. Live music Wednesday through Sunday across three stages — one outside and two smaller settings inside! Alllll types of genres, so it’s very.
Poser Pro tips: It’s free! I think… well, every show I’ve seen has been free and the bands have put out tip jars. They do have beer and wine at this bar.
Last Concert Cafe
Here’s your most hipster concert scene in town! You found it. Congrats. Seriously, though. Suuper hipster, but also… tropical? There’s sand on the ground in front of the stage and Hawaiian banners as decor. Pretty sure most of the people around us were on something a lil stronger than vodka sodas, but you know, to each his own. Love how cheap the drinks are. Plus, they got food here! Tex mex — won’t win any awards, but it’s fine!
Poser Pro tips: The bathroom situation is super confusing. At first, you just see “Men” and “Unisex” but there is a women’s room inside the restaurant portion. This is RIGHT by Saint Arnold Brewery, which has a new beer garden that’s open late and has good food!
The Rustic boasts of free live music EVERY SINGLE DAY. The bigger acts will be weekends — Thursday through Sunday. Saturday and Sunday, The Rustic has its family-style brunch concerts! Highly recommend, unless you don’t like sharing….
Poser Pro tips: Some concerts will be ticketed (or free with RSVP), but for the most part, you’re good to stop on by whenever. Click here to see the calendar of performances.
Located in Montrose above the Black Labrador Pub, Cezanne has jazz shows every Friday and Saturday night starting at 9pm. The experience is very intimate as you sit just a few feet from the stage at this uniquely Houston experience.
Poser Pro tips: Make sure you show up early to get a seat. There’s a cover charge and you’re packed in pretty tight.
Aka the place where your dad’s friend’s Beatles cover band will play. I love this little part of Midtown on Main Street. Last I went, the cover was only about $10 and I believe we even talked ourselves out of it, haha. The stage is indoors (though online it looks like they have an outdoor area too, which confuses me). Very small stage, so things are intimate.
Poser Pro tips: This is right next door to Alley Kat (next one!) and a bunch of cutie bars, like Nachee’s and Double Trouble.
The Alley Kat
Another one on Main Street! This one’s a pretty chill bar with a second floor stage. It’s completely dark and grungy, tbd on whether they ever sweep or mop the floors, but definitely no one cares. they have more than just music, with weekly poetry slams and other stuff!
Poser Pro tips: There will probably be a cover and it might be cash only.
Boondocks in Montrose is a suuuuper reliable place for music. It’s 18 and up (I think?) and has daily specialties: Twerk Thursdays, Metal Mondays, second Saturday 90s dance party, etc. While the music isn’t always live, the dance floor is always lit.
Poser Pro tips: I’m a little annoyed because their info online seems out of date, and I definitely remember more concerts there in the past, but alas, I can’t find a lot of info about it. It might just be a place you stop by if you’re in the area. I don’t think there’s usually a cover.
Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion
This one’s a bit of a trek for us inner loopers, but worth it! Lawn or chaired seating gives you some options! Sure, it might be a tad warm during the summer, but the concerts can REALLY be worth it!
Poser Pro tips: There are VIP ticket options now! Plus, VIP parking sounds like a plan to me!
Comedy, karaoke, cheap beer and more await you at Rudyard’s on Waugh. You might miss this dive bar when driving by, but once you find it, you’ll be a regular.
Poser Pro tips: This area is super fun but very chill. I love Boheme next door if you want a bit of a fancier drink.
A lot of Houston’s breweries do fun special events and free or cheap shows! Saint Arnold’s, Karbach and 8th Wonder are a few that I know of having shows. For a full brewery guide, click here!
House of Blues
For as obvious of a music venue this is, I always forget about it! There are multiple stages here — it’s a maze inside — and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the intimacy of the Peacock Room.
Poser Pro tips: They have food! Pretty good food, too. But the space the venue is in is suuuuper fun — surrounding bars and restaurants galore!
Revention Music Center
You’re a real tried and true Houstonian if you still refer to this place as the Verizon Wireless Center, or if you call it Bayou Music Center, I’ll allow that too. You’re also probably someone who accidentally refers to NRG as Reliant all Rodeo season. You my people.
Mid-level bands come here. Talking about those performers who couldn’t sell out Toyota Center but are bigger than White Oak, for instance. A mix of general admission and ticketed seats, the venue is a classic music spot. Definitely non intimate but small enough for a good show.
Poser Pro tips: There’s a $10 parking garage underground. As long as Hurricane Harvey-level rain isn’t in the forecast, you’re good with that. Bonus points if you can snag a free after 6 pm street spot.
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