Chronicle Live Music Venue Guide

Austin Music Hall

Photo of Austin Music Hall sign.
photograph by John Carrico

It's hard to attach much sentimentality to halls-for-hire, which are seldom noted for their personality or warmth. Of notable exception are places like San Francisco's Fillmore and, of course, Austin's own Armadillo World Headquarters. But since it opened four years ago, the Austin Music Hall has thrived on a combination of savvy booking and genuine respect from the varied audiences that come and go through its doors. From the whimsical mural by artist Nathan Jensen that overlooks the back bar to the wide, easy viewing of the stage from almost every vantage point, local music scene veteran Tim O'Connor and his Direct Events associates have created a nearly ideal midsize, 3,000-head, venue for Austin.

The Music Hall has brought in acts from Bruce Springsteen to Soundgarden, Tori Amos to Lou Reed, and is home to the annual Austin Music Awards. The venue's proximity to Sixth Street, the Fourth Street bars, Liberty Lunch, the Electric Lounge, and its sister club La Zona Rosa also make it a desirable location for touring acts. O'Connor's Direct Events also books and manages the Backyard on Highway 71, and acts that might play the Music Hall during the summer are likely to be booked out under the shady trees outside town. O'Connor maintains close ties to his longtime friend Willie Nelson, having run the Nelson-owned Austin Opera House in its heyday and worked for FarmAid, and his years of experience are much of what makes the Austin Music Hall the professionally run venue it is. -- Margaret Moser