For Those About to Rock: Um, Can I See Your ID?
Celebrating all-ages music venues
Back in the 1970s, if you were under 18 and a music fan, you could forget about most live shows. We were at home watching Midnight Special, or at the Emporium (yup, that Emporium, for you Dazed and Confused fans) ogling pool hustlers who were decidedly over 21. There were no underage policies, and artists weren't that worried about connecting with younger fans. We had to fake IDs without scanners, wear gobs of eye makeup, and focus on developing other skills – such as running through cow pastures in four-inch heels to secure fresh psilocybin. Forget visions of Almost Famous.
These days (thankfully), artists and venues, recognizing the value of younger fans, give you democracy in rock!
"If you hit in-stores and early shows, keeping an eye on listings for the Moody Theatre, Cactus Cafe, and Threadgill's," says Chronicle Music Editor, Raoul Hernandez, "you can be home by midnight and still see all the acts you want."
Here are some places where you can always chill for music, some with a wristband, others without. In addition, clubs such as Mohawk (on Red River), and Triple Crown (in San Marcos), offer a 21+ happy hour, then go to 18+ for evening shows. For other venues, it's best to call ahead or check on age policies when buying tickets, as policy can change nightly.
Antone's is famous for its longtime, all-ages policy. Founded by blues devotee Clifford Antone, it calls itself "Austin's Home of the Blues" for good reason. These days, we see all genres here, most nights of the week. 213 W. Fifth.
Beale Street Tavern is belting out new music for underage audiences right underneath the Parish, where the age policy is 21+. 214 E. Sixth.
Cactus Cafe Known for its excellent acoustics, it has provided a higher education in music on the UT campus since 1979. Billboard named it one of 15 "savvy clubs" in the country. Texas Union, UT campus.
Emo's East Just like its former location, this nationally-known club welcomes all-aged headbangers all the time. 2015 E. Riverside.
Frank Have a hot dog with that massive lineup of raaawk! 407 Colorado.
Kenny Dorham's Backyard The ghost of the local trumpeter invites you for cool jazz on hot nights. 1106 E. 11th.
Mohawk Only live music shows are all-ages here. Voted in the Austin Music Awards as the scene's best music venue. 912 Red River.
Our local coffeehouses are all hyped up on rising and well-known talent, and an evening kickin' back on the deck at Flipnotics Coffeespace is just the ticket after a day down the street at Zilker Park. Speaking of which, don't forget the value of festivals for seeking out your new favorite acts. Zilker and Auditorium Shores are home to the annual Austin City Limits Music Festival, Fun Fun Fun Fest, and South by Southwest free shows – all education, all the time.
Central Markets North and South These grocery stores offer more than flat-leaf parsley. The Cafes are actually outdoor venues that play host to some of Austin's best acts Thursday through Saturday nights. 4001 N. Lamar; 4477 S. Lamar.
Cherrywood Coffeehouse Music and poetry for the thinking fan. 1400 E. 38½.
Evangeline Cafe is home to Cajun food and global music. 8106 Brodie.
Flipnotics Coffeespace is like a tree house outside, hosting Austin's best singer-songwriters, as well as touring acts. 1601 Barton Springs Rd.
Freddie's Place offers a kinder, gentler atmosphere, and a great place to take the parents. 1703 S. First.
Hill's Cafe The weather team at KXAN used to do a live remote here on Wednesday nights, which still feature great and future-great country artists. 4700 S. Congress.
Maria's Taco Xpress A gigantic sculpture of Maria welcomes you, defining the 78704 as a state of mind. You can frequently see Leeann Atherton here, as well as the Imperial Golden Crown Harmonizers on most Sundays. 2529 S. Lamar, 444-0261.
Salvage Vanguard Theater Also known as home to Church of the Friendly Ghost. Go for jazz, experimental, and music for the cerebral. 2803 Manor Rd.
Spider House Patio Bar & Cafe often hosts live music these days, though the real venue is the Spider House 29th St. Ballroom next door, where some shows are all-ages. 2908 Fruth.
Threadgill's World HQ This is an outpost of the original Janis-anointed joint of days gone by (which is still frying up okra on North Lamar), which has become the Southside headquarters for home cooking and outdoor music. 301 W. Riverside.
Whip In is the place for Indian fare, live music, beer, and wine, as well as smokes and groceries. We all have to characterize this one for ourselves. 1950 S. I-35.
Gruene Hall Texas' oldest dance hall, just down the highway in Gruene. The best acts in country and roots rock play there all week. 1281 Gruene Rd.
Nutty Brown Cafe Popular American cafe hosting well-curated lineups in its own amphitheatre. 12225 Hwy. 290 W.
The Oasis Famous for its decks overlooking Lake Travis, it also has live music three nights a week, including the Brew every Sunday. 6550 Comanche Trail.
Poodie's Hilltop Roadhouse Willie Nelson's longtime stage manager, Poodie Locke, put a sign up when he opened this place: "There Are No Bad Days." It must have worked, because though Poodie himself has gone on to the soundcheck in the sky, his place is still rocking harder than ever. 22308 Hwy. 71 W., Spicewood.
Uncle Billy's Rooftop over Lake Travis Named for "Uncle Billy" William Barton; fans enjoy the stars and great music on the ginormous roof all week. 6550-B Comanche Trail.
Other All-Ages Venues
The Backyard at Bee Cave 13801 Bee Cave Pkwy.
Jax Neighborhood Cafe, 2828 Rio Grande
Junior's Grill & Icehouse, 119 E. Main, Round Rock
Monument Cafe, 500 S. Austin Ave., Georgetown
One World Theatre, 7701 Bee Caves Rd.
Patsy's Cafe, 5001 E. Ben White
Scholz Garten, 1607 San Jacinto
Varsity Bar, 2324 Guadalupe
Record Store In-stores
In-store performances generally begin between 5 and 7pm, except at Antone's Records, where they're generally on Saturday afternoons. Keep an eye on Waterloo Records, Trailer Space Records, End of an Ear, and Encore Records at its new Sixth Street location for touring acts, many of whom try to connect with fans at in-stores while in town.