It's hard not to hear live music when you visit Austin, even if you never set foot in a music venue. You’ll find live music playing in restaurants, at supermarkets, and even at the airport. The city government says that we have more than 250 music venues around town. All that variety means you don't have to wait for the weekend to catch a show, either. On any given evening, you can find sounds that will have you tapping your feet, banging your head, two-stepping, or throwing your hands in the air. Check out publications, sites and stations like the Austin Chronicle, Austin360, CultureMap Austin, Do512, KGSR, and KUTX to find recommendations on the latest live shows. Be bold and check out an act you haven't heard of. You just might be seeing the next Stevie Ray Vaughan, Los Lonely Boys, Spoon, or Gary Clark Jr.—all musicians who got their start in Austin.
ACL Live at the Moody Theater
Situated in the heart of the Live Music Capital of the World on Willie Nelson Boulevard (a statue of the Red Headed Stranger greets visitors on its street corner), this state-of-the-art theater is the new home of PBS's Austin City Limits, the longest-running music series on television. In addition to tapings, the venue is a comfortable and intimate host for some 100 touring acts each year.
The Continental Club
Way before South Congress Avenue got that trendy “SoCo” nickname, the Continental Club was there delivering roots rock, country, soul and a cool '50s vibe. The lineup of regulars is rock solid, and f you happen to be here in January or August, don’t miss the epic Elvis Presley tribute concerts.
Turns out, all flavors of music—rock, pop, hip-hop, alt country—pair really well with Stubb's fabulous, Texas-style barbecue. On the outside stage, I've seen everyone from Joan Jett to John Legend to the Old 97s under those big and bright Texas stars. Inside is the place for smaller, more intimate shows—and the restaurant's famous Gospel Brunch.
The Broken Spoke
Founded in 1964, the Broken Spoke is a timeless Texas dancehall that's beloved by Willie Nelson—pretty much the best endorsement you can get—not to mention generations of Austin regulars. Sign up for the two-step lessons so you can dance to Texas country favorites like Dale Watson and the Derailers.
The Red River District is packed with live music, and the Mohawk is one of its most popular and acclaimed venues. Open since 2006, the indoor/outdoor club has an ear for what's new and what's next, but you'll also find hall-of-famers like Bob Mould and Public Enemy on its diverse music calendar.