Top 12 Live Music Venues in Austin

Last Updated on February 20, 2024 by Emily Johnson

Austin famously stakes its claim as the “Live Music Capital of the World” with good reason – few cities can compete with the sheer number of venues hosting bands and musicians across all genres every single night.

VenueGenre
Broken SpokeCountry, Texas swing
Continental ClubRockabilly, blues, soul
Stubb’s BBQRock, indie pop, country
Antone’s NightclubBlues, Americana
3TEN Austin City Limits LiveVaried, local musicians
MohawkPunk, indie
Elephant RoomJazz
The TownsendVaried genres, touring groups
Flamingo CantinaReggae, folk rock
Saxon PubBlues, R&B, rock, country
C-Boy’s Heart & SoulSoul, Motown

Beyond quantity, the city promises quality thanks to its reputation launching superstars like Stevie Ray Vaughan, Willie Nelson and countless others who still grace Austin’s stages. From hole-in-the-wall honky tonks to concert halls hosting thousands, here are 12 essential live music venues to catch when visiting Austin.

Broken Spoke

Name and Location: Broken Spoke is a legendary dancehall located in South Austin near IH-35.

History and Significance: Open since 1964 in a tin roof structure, Broken Spoke has hosted country music legends from Dolly Parton to Willie Nelson and still features live acts nightly upholding Austin’s western heritage.

What to Expect: Two-step across the worn wooden dance floor or relax at tables adorned with cowboy hats, license plates, photos and memorabilia soaked in Lone Star atmosphere.

Visitor Information: Open Tuesday-Saturday from 11am late into the night, with live country bands performing after 10pm for modest cover. Cash only.

Soak up vintage honky tonk atmosphere where Texas swing and country music legends like Bob Wills, Patsy Cline and George Strait have two-stepped across the worn wooden floors. Broken Spoke celebrates over 50 years as an Austin institution spinning modern and old school tunes from their indoor bandstand and outdoor ‘neck of the woods’ stage. Order up chicken fried steak, a cold Lone Star longneck, and prepare to practice those classic country dance moves for a true local experience.

Continental Club

Name and Location: Continental Club is an iconic music venue located on South Congress Avenue in Austin, Texas.

History and Significance: Open since 1957, the Continental has showcased blues, rock, country, swing and rockabilly acts, becoming the self-proclaimed “Home of Real Texas Music” over its storied history.

What to Expect: Catch live music nightly from happy hour into the night from Austin’s top bands honoring American roots music traditions inside packed quarters with drinks and bar food.

Visitor Information: Mostly cash-only venue located at 1315 S. Congress Avenue. Check website for box office hours and upcoming show schedules with cover charges varying per act.

Find music for all tastes at the legendary Continental Club on funky South Congress Avenue open since 1957. Continental remains an intimate venue with something for everyone whether you crave rockabilly, blues, soul, indie or roots rock across three stages: The Continental Gallery out back for more quiet acts, the Main Stage with its retro Vegas vibes or checkered floor Swing Stage for Big Band style dancing. Happy hours and late nights ensure music pumping from 10pm to 2am keeping energy high.

Stubb’s BBQ

Name and Location: Stubb’s BBQ is a legendary Austin bar and music venue located at 801 Red River Street downtown.

History and Significance: Founded in 1996, Stubbs has earned fame as a top spot for live music and original BBQ recipes, smoking brisket, sausage, ribs and more on-site at its downtown venue.

What to Expect: Outdoor and indoor concert setups with acts of all genres perform multi-night runs year-round, paired with classic barbecue plates and brews to table.

Visitor Information: Box office open 11am-6pm daily. Check website for show lineups, tickets and smoking hours. Casual dress code.

More than just brisket, Stubb’s BBQ transformed from a tiny country venue established in 1968 into a premier live music destination thanks to countless bands that have moved from their indoor stage to amphitheater hosting major touring acts. Away from homegrown country beginnings, Stubb’s calendar fills with rock, indie pop, DJs and more mainstream commercial artists although you can still dig into their iconic barbecue plates between acts. Outdoor lawn seating allows you to feast to the beat.

Antone’s Nightclub

Name and Location: Antone’s Nightclub is an historic music venue located in downtown Austin at 305 E 5th Street.

History and Significance: Founded in 1975 by “father of Austin blues” Clifford Antone, Antone’s has secured its legacy as a home of the blues, securing Austin’s reputation as the “Live Music Capital of the World.”

What to Expect: Catch local and international blues talents igniting fiery jams onstage almost nightly inside the iconic downtown venue pounding with music history since opening its doors.

Visitor Information: Check website for upcoming show schedules and tickets. Open for most shows 9pm-2am with rare early sets on weekends. Cash bar.

Credited with launching Austin’s reputation as live music central, Antone’s opened in 1975 quickly becoming a staple on the blues circuit with legends like Stevie Ray Vaughan, Buddy Guy, Marcia Ball and Joe “King” Carrasco regular performers. Today, Antone’s found downtown on 5th Street books Americana artists, rock bands and blues musicians keeping with their musical roots hosting acts on two stages almost every night whether up-and-coming or established.

3TEN Austin City Limits Live

Name and Location: 3TEN Austin City Limits Live is an intimate live music venue located within Austin City Limits Live at 310 Willie Nelson Blvd.

History and Significance: Named for its capacity of approximately 310 people, 3TEN opened in February 2014 specifically to host smaller-scale, emerging artists in a more accessible downtown venue.

What to Expect: Stand feet away from the stage watching talented up-and-coming acts across all genres perform in a modern warehouse-style space with stellar sound quality.

Visitor Information: Set showtimes vary. Check website for schedules and ticket links. Food, drinks and merch available onsite.

ACL Live’s 3TEN hosts emerging and local musicians nightly with a varied calendar spanning acoustic folk duos to funk bands, solo singer-songwriters to multi-piece rock ensembles. The 250-person venue feels intimate while delivering clear sound as a music hall operating under Austin’s biggest brand Austin City Limits. Come early for happy hour food and drink specials served until 7pm ahead of acts that take 3TEN’s stage as early as 8pm depending on the billing.

Mohawk

Name and Location: The Mohawk is a mid-size outdoor/indoor bar and music venue located at 912 Red River St, Austin, between 9th and 10th Streets downtown.

History and Significance: A punk/alternative showcase since opening in 2002, the Mohawk has branched into booking acclaimed artists across genres while retaining its gritty club aesthetic.

What to Expect: Expect good sightlines for its 800+ person capacity crowds from its amphitheater stage or club interior watching touring and local alt-rock/electronic/rap favorites into the night.

Visitor Information: All ages depending on show. Check website for lineups, showtimes and ticket links. Cash/card bar and food trucks on site.

The Mohawk always keeps its lineup fresh, intriguing and local hosting punk rock and indie scene favs on their indoor and outdoor stages almost every night within its neon lit walls and gritty open air backyard. Grab some to-go drinks from the bar to sip while scoping merch booths when needing a break from moshing mid-set. Vegan fare gets dished at their outdoor bar to keep crowds fueled for epic performances from emerging groups, Austin staples, and the occasional better known touring band swinging through town.

Elephant Room

Name and Location: The Elephant Room is an intimate subterranean jazz club located at 315 Congress Avenue in downtown Austin.

History and Significance: Opened in 1991 in the basement of the historic Scarbrough Building, the “El Room” has earned renown as one of Texas’ finest jazz venues.

What to Expect: Low lit, red velvet and leopard print décor set the moody backdrop taking in acclaimed jazz combos and singers until late night almost every evening.

Visitor Information: Sets run nightly 9pm-2am, with rare weekend matinees. Only accessible by stairs. Cash only.

A subterranean jazz venue with recording studio quality sound, the unassuming Elephant Room tucked away in a downtown alley delivers intimate performances without cramped quarters. Sets start as early as 8pm and play into wee hours with artists focused on traditional jazz styles or blues-infused sets allowing them to experiment and improvise to receptive audiences. The club operates on a first-come basis without reservations although enjoying table seating does require a small up charge added onto reasonably priced cover charges and drinks menus.

The Townsend

Name and Location: The Townsend is an upscale concert hall located downtown inside the historic Driskill Hotel at 604 Brazos Street.

History and Significance: Restored in 2013 beneath the Driskill’s grand lobby, the Romanesque-style room hosts intimate, elegant shows in a landmark 19th century setting steps from the State Capitol.

What to Expect: Catch touring or local artists across genres like folk, country, rock, indie and more making rare appearances steps from 6th Street in a beautiful, ornate space with full restaurant and bars.

Visitor Information: Ticketed shows only with dining/drinks available before shows. Guest list signup online. Valet parking available.

Brand new music hall The Townsend wows right from the jump with its state-of-the-art stacked floor plan shoehorning optimal viewing angles and custom sound production into a relatively small space. Their bookings span across genres from country to soul or big band swing bringing hometown bands together with better known touring groups like Los Lonely Boys and Dale Watson for memorable concerts in an unfussy atmosphere. Arrive early for bar snacks and signature cocktails to enjoy during opener acts in tiered mezzanine or upfront floorside seating.

Flamingo Cantina

Name and Location: Flamingo Cantina is a historic 6th Street music venue located at 515 E 6th St in downtown Austin.

History and Significance: Initially opened in 1934, the Flamingo stands as a rare remaining venue from 6th Street’s pre-entertainment district past, now showcasing reggae and Latin acts in its tropical-themed space.

What to Expect: Sway to roots reggae bands or Latin jazz combos firing up fast rhythms on its cramped stage while taking in the funky décor over drinks most nights of the week. Expect casual, laid-back vibes.

Visitor Information: Free-no cover depending on act. Kitchen open late. Check site for schedules. Weekends busiest but music nightly.

An old haunt on 6th Street called simply The Cantina, Flamingo Cantina got its name, vibrant paint job and revitalized identity in 2019. What remains intact are the dive bar downstairs with its checkerboard floor and upstairs open air courtyard hosting reggae DJ nights, jam bands, folk rock groups from Austin and occasional national touring acts taking the backyard stage. Cheap drinks keep university students and dreadlocked crowds returning for a mix of covers plus original songs that get fans dancing under patio lights late into humid evenings.

Saxon Pub

Name and Location: Saxon Pub is an acoustic live music venue located south of the river at 1320 S. Lamar Blvd in Austin.

History and Significance: Open since 1990 in a former 1920s motel, Saxon Pub has earned distinction as the legendary launchpad for career-making debuts from young talents like Robert Earl Keen early on.

What to Expect: Catch acoustic solo troubadours and seasoned bands igniting sing-alongs and toe-tapping jam sessions inside the modest space dishing out beers and pub grub.

Visitor Information: Family-friendly free shows daily plus ticketed acts. Full food/bar menu including happy hour specials. Cash/cards accepted.

Internationally touring musicians and local working artists gravitate to the modest Saxon Pub when gigging through Austin making their calendar vary widely from blues and R&B, rock, country even Celtic bands alternating sets across their single stage. Free shows happen every night with inexpensive bar food and drinks encouraging music lovers to kick back for multiple performances whether that’s Appalachian folk singer or R&B frontwoman testing new material or covers to flat-pickin’ bluegrass groups getting toes tappin’.

C-Boy’s Heart & Soul

Name and Location: C-Boy’s Heart & Soul is an intimate blues venue located on south Congress at 2008 S. Congress Ave in Austin.

History and Significance: Founded by Kaz Kazanoff in 1993, C-Boy’s has preserved the tradition of intimate Chicago- and Delta-style blues shows nightly, hosting legends from B.B. King to Pinetop Perkins.

What to Expect: Take in fiery blues, R&B and soul performers solo or in trios entertaining packed crowds on its postage-stamp stage spilling drinks and good times.

Visitor Information: Free weeknights or nominal weekend covers. Limited menu includes Frito pie. Sets after 10pm. 21+ with IDs.

Concealed in the basement below bluegrass venue The White Horse, C-Boy’s Heart & Soul provides a retrofit room for local soul musicians and Motown acts almost every night of the week. Cheap drinks keep the dive bar vibes casual while singers unleash chops channeling James Brown, Otis Redding, The Temptations and similar old school greats through big band production. Settle into cushioned booths, grab some fried pickles or corn nuggets and prepare to be amazed by the authentic energy Austin musicians bring to classic R&B, funk and soul genres on display here.

Conclusion

You’ll find live music pouring onto open air stages, reverberating from every smoky corner dive and booming out of concert halls every single night in the capital of Texas. Visitors tap boots to countrified twang in legendary dancehalls then grunge out in punk-fueled mosh pits come evening. Rhythms ripple between skyscrapers all powered by musicians chasing dreams on stages where legends solidified the “Live Music Capital” phenomenon decades ago. Use this Austin guide to discover both classic venues and new names upholding that reputation today.

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