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Stubb's Live Show © Aime Elise/Flickr
Stubb's Live Show © Aime Elise/Flickr

A Music Lover's Guide to Austin

Picture of Aubrey Cofield
Updated: 26 October 2016
If you visit Austin you’d be wise to seek out a live performance at a local bar. There are, however, so many ways to experience music in the Live Music Capitol of the World that it can be overwhelming to decide where to start. Find your ideal night out on the town with this list of options and venues sure to delight and inspire.
Stubb’s Live Show
Stubb’s Live Show| © Aime Elise/Flickr

Hangout at a Bar and Listen to Live Music

Mohwak Austin is easily one of the more famous bars in Austin, and much of their reputation rests on their live music lineup. There are multiple levels, all with a good view of the live show. They offer both local and touring bands, good drinks, and a great atmosphere, and if you’re in Austin this is a must-visit spot.

Mohawks, 912 Red River St, Austin, TX, US +1 512 666 0877

Mohawk Austin
Mohawk Austin| © Nash Cook/Flickr

You can also try Hotel Vegas Bar, in the heart of the East Side arts and entertainment district. There’s live music or a DG almost everyday; a detailed online schedule outlines the latest lineup and bios for each act or musician soon to grace its stage. Expect a great show, an outdoor patio, and many hipster sightings.

Hotel Vegas Bar, 1502 E 6th St, Austin, TX, USA

The Continental Club is well-known throughout Austin for hosting both national and local talent. It’s considered a dive bar but undoubtedly the coolest of its kind in Austin. They have an upstairs gallery for a more intimate evening out, and you never know what kind of music you’ll find here as the roster swings from from Jazz to Country – but odds are it’ll be good.

The Continental Club, 1315 S Congress Ave, Austin, TX, US +1 512 441 2444

The Continental Club
The Continental Club| © Jill Shih/Flickr

Enjoy an Elegant Evening at a Concert Hall

For classical music enthusiasts head to Bass Concert Hall, part of The University of Texas Performing Arts Center. It’s the largest concert hall in Austin and one of the most popular in the country. There’s ample space for performers and the audience alike, and each level for seating holds a bar and surrounding rooms for socializing before the show.

Bass Concert Hall, 2350 Robert Dedman Dr, Austin, TX, US +1 512 471 2787

Bass Concert Hall
Bass Concert Hall| © Gideon Tsang/Flickr

During the Austin City Limits music festival, The Moody Theatre serves as the setting for KLRU-TV program of the same name (Austin City Limits) but it’s also a great place to catch a show any time throughout the year; it’s an intimate theater with nary a bad seat in the house. The sound quality is state-of-the-art, perfect for a night with, say, John Legend, who will grace its stage come November.

The Moody Theatre, 2nd Street District, 310 W 2nd St, Austin, TX, USA

ACL Live Moody Theatre
ACL Live Moody Theatre| © Earl McGehee/Flickr

Amphitheater: When the Weather is Right

Situated in the beautiful Circuit of The Americas’ sports and entertainment complex, Austin 360 Amphitheater is the new go-to spot to enjoy big-name musicians. They’ve hosted Mumford & Sons, Maroon 5, One Republic, Drake, and much more. There’s affordable lawn seating and large screens for an easy view of the performance.

Tip: Austin tends to get unimaginably hot during the summer so it’s best to enjoy this venue during the fall, winter, or spring months when sitting outside is pleasant rather than unbearable.

Austin 360 Amphitheater, 9201 Circuit of the Americas Blvd, Del Valle, TX, USA +1 512 301 6600

Austin 360 Amphitheater
Austin 360 Amphitheater| © Mike Prosser/Flicker

Listen to the Music, then Buy the Album

During the 1980s record stores popped up all over Austin, but only a few survived through the 1990s and into the early 2000s. Waterloo Records & Video is one of the few still standing, open since 1982 and still going strong today, especially with the rise in album sales the past few years. You can trial an album of your choosing at one of their listening stations before you decide to buy, and there is also a stellar selection of vinyl and new and used movies. They sell local and nationally known talent, and carry those hard-to-find artists you usually can’t find anywhere else.

Waterloo Records & Video, 600A N Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX, USA +1 512 474 2500

Waterloo Records & Video
Waterloo Records & Video| © QuestarMark/Flickr

Admire Music of the Past at a Local Museum

Another way to enjoy Austin’s music is by simply appreciating the local music history. South Austin Popular Culture Center is a way to step back to old South Austin and experience what eventually made this city the Live Music Capitol of the World. They have exhibits of vintage posters, live music ephemera, and many events dedicated to preserving Austin’s music culture through the years – trust us, it’s a fun place to spend an afternoon.

South Austin Popular Culture Center, 516-B S Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX, USA +1 512 440 8318

Tip: For some appetizers after the exhibit head to Barlata Tapas Bar. Try the Spanish tapas and paella with a glass of wine. You’ll love the lively chic atmosphere.

Barlata Tapas, 1500 S Lamar Blvd #150, Austin, TX, USA +1 512 473 2211

Dine and Listen

Famous for their Sunday gospel brunch with live music and great food, Stubb’s is the place to hear live music while enjoying some Texas brisket. They’ve hosted musicians like Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, Thunderbirds, and many local Austin bands.

Stubb’s, 801 Red River St, Austin, TX, USA +1 512 480 8341

Stubb’s BBQ
Stubb’s BBQ| © John Tornow/Flickr

With an unbeatable beer selection and vegan sausage on the grill, you can’t go wrong at Banger’s. In the thick of the Rainey Street action lies this excellent venue with good vibes, good food, and great live music. There’s even a dog park and specialty sausage for your furry companion. The music performed is mostly country but it’s always a fun time.

Banger’s, 79 Rainey St, Austin, TX, USA

Good Coffee and Open Mic Night

It’s open mic night every Thursday at Kick Butt Coffee Music & Booze. Here you can listen to talented musicians of every type and experience level. Anyone can sign up for open mic night but you have to get there early to secure a spot on the list as it fills up quick.

Kick Butt Coffee Music & Booze, 5775 Airport Blvd, Austin, TX, USA

Kick Butt Coffee
Kick Butt Coffee| © MarkScottAustinTX/Flickr

Strange Brew is a locally owned coffee haven open 24/7. They offer live music with certain nights dedicated to Jazz and others dedicated to a theme like Neil Young Night, which is coming up soon. They make all their own pastries and meal items, there’s Free Wi-Fi and a friendly down-to-earth atmosphere that lures the locals and out-of-towners alike.

Strange Brew, 5326 Manchaca Rd, Austin, TX, USA +1 512 828 7636