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The Best Places in Austin to Hear Live Music
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The Best Places in Austin to Hear Live Music

Picture of Ross Walker
Updated: 18 December 2015
Austin’s live music scene is world-renowned, but it is also quite diverse. Though there are several venues paying homage to the country music stars the south has produced, many of Austin’s top music venues embrace hip-hop, dance, and electronic music as well. Read ahead for the best live music venues in Austin, Texas.

The White Horse

The White Horse is the hipster version of a honky tonk, and that’s actually a very good thing. White Horse retains several bands as ‘house bands,’ so there is a show to be seen every night. Typically the shows are free, but if a major performer stops by The White Horse expect a modest entrance fee. Besides country music, the White Horse is known for their “Bomb Tacos’ served until 2am.

The White Horse, 500 Comal St, Austin, TX 78702 (512) 553-6756

Cactus Cafe

Cactus Cafe is a famed college bar that draws all kinds of eclectic music acts. Right now, in partnership with Lone Star Beer, Cactus Cafe hosts artists-in-residence who perform every Monday. If you want to understand why Austin is called ‘the best place to listen to live music,’ head to Cactus Cafe, where it will become quite clear.

Cactus Cafe, 2247 Guadalupe St, Austin, TX 78712 (512) 475-6515

Parish

At Parish you’ll find a much more raucous and upbeat crowd than at Sunday Church, though the dedication is about the same. Parish takes music seriously, and welcomes all kinds from experimental hip-hop to death metal. Parish is regarded as one of the best indoor venues in Austin, hosting classic rockers like Slash and welcoming up and coming musicians like Bonobo.

Parish, 214 E 6th St, Austin, TX 78701 (No Phone)

Mohawk

Mohawk Bar is a sort of like a multi-level club minus the frills and the insane cover charge. The Mohawk has two bars and a rooftop deck with an outdoor stage. Some nights, multiple acts perform, and you can concert hop within the same venue. Mohawk is also proud of its full bar that serves premium liquor and a variety of microbrews.

Mohawk, 912 Red River St, Austin, TX 78701, (512) 666-0877

Saxon Pub

Saxon Pub is another contender for the best live music venue in Austin, but while the others boast big stages and multiple rooms, Saxon has a different approach. Instead of branding itself as a ‘concert hall,’ Saxon is a ‘listening room.’ The difference? Rather than a crowded concert, this is a very intimate experience with a band and the few others who are listening with you. Note: Every night Saxon waives its cover from 6-7:30 for a happy hour show.

Saxon Pub, 1320 S Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78704, (512) 448-2552

Sahara Lounge

Sahara Lounge is an African music venue featuring eclectic acts, like a german country artist, and fun themed nights like the Bellydance Menagerie. While Sahara Lounge does heavily feature African and Caribbean performers the venue is open to all genres. Sahara Lounge is also known for its tasty cocktails: try the Kosmic Kool Aid, which is hibiscus infused gin mixed into fresh guava juice.

Sahara Lounge, 1413 Webberville Rd, Austin, TX 78721, (512) 927-0700

Rattle Inn

While there is debate over which of these music venues are the best in Austin, there’s no debate over which has the best view: Rattle Inn. Rattle Inn has a huge rooftop deck with capacity for 240. After you are done enjoying the view, head downstairs to Ray’s Backstage where you’ll find live music, dance lessons, or another fun activity. If the music is a little loud or you’re tired from dancing, head into the Whiskey Lounge, Rattle Inn’s unique post-show bar.

Rattle Inn, 610 Nueces St, Austin, TX 78701, (512) 373-8306