500 N. IH 35
Event space in the Hilton Garden Inn, located within walking distance to the Austin Convention Center. All ages. Capacity = 299.
408 E. Sixth
Area code pride plus a kickass view from the rooftop.
800 Congress Ave.
Formerly the home of old Austin fave the Hickory Street Bar & Grill, this is now a renovated event space operated by Parkside Projects, the restaurant group behind some of our town's best restaurants (Parkside, Bullfight). Capacity = 600.
310 Willie Nelson Blvd.
Looking for one of Austin's most modern concert venue? Locate the big bronze statue of Willie Nelson across the street from City Hall, and look up. Opened in 2011 as part of the W Hotel, the design of the all-ages venue took the floor plan of PBS mainstay Austin City Limits' original Studio 6A on the UT campus, and built up to create a 2,750-capacity theatre. The show is still recorded there, hosting legendary performances by Bill Monroe, Angelique Kidjo, and Radiohead, while the state-of-the-art venue attracts some 100 touring shows a year. During intermissions, the balcony plaza affords a stylish view of Downtown. 18+.
305 E. Fifth
Clifford Antone opened the first version of his global brand in 1975, and after several relocations, Austin's Home of the Blues found a new lease on life in 2016 behind local luminaries including Gary Clark Jr. The new 400-capacity room still houses blues legends and nurtures emerging talents, and the upstairs gallery holds another 300 for special events. Archival photography from Susan Antone and others testifies to the club's indelible history, which keeps alive traditions like Blue Monday jams – thriving with regular sit-ins from some of Austin's top players (Derek O'Brien, Denny Freeman, Sarah Brown). Capacity = 350.
79 Rainey St.
Celebrating sausage on Rainey Street, this place has become a neighborhood staple. Sure, the ample and often unexpected selections of sausage are responsible, but don't forget the creative specials, such as fried chicken sausage atop creamy mashed potatoes. Great outdoor space, accommodates 722.
96 Rainey St.
Upscale sports bar from Rainey District mainstay Bridget Dunlap. Capacity = 404.
209 E. Sixth
A good place for good bass dub, this 21-and-up subterranean dance bar parties. As one of the few EDM-style clubs on Sixth Street, Barcelona features live DJs and cheap drinks. The underground location works well with the loud bass and keeps the club's temperature down. Blink and you'll miss it. Capacity = 240.
611 E. Seventh
Rising from the ashes of the ill-fated but beloved Red 7 in late 2015, Barracuda keeps the Red River vibe alive. Former Spider House booker and current Hotel Vegas magnate Jason McNeely and a local consortium of partners continue their interior remodel, but the refurbished indoor and outdoor stages give the original dive a face lift. Capacity remains around 600 outside and a third of that inside. An even more eclectic booking policy than Red 7's means punk, metal, indie rock, country, hip-hop, and everything in between. Indoor stage services 198; backyard tops at 246.
305 W. Sixth
Though the Belmont has provided a touch of class to West Sixth since the early Aughts, the bar transformed into an impressive venue in 2012, capable of holding over 1,000 outside, including a rooftop area overlooking the stage. The atmosphere feels removed even in the middle of Downtown, so the venue's ideal for special events, both private and public, but also regularly hosts DJs and bigger touring acts for all-ages shows that span genres.
204 E. Sixth
What's an Irish pub without Irish music? Named after first generation Irish immigrant Bessie Dee Riley, it retains a bit of Old World charm before descending into the shot bars of Dirty Sixth. Residencies at this intimate spot (capacity 159) include rock & roll harp from the Kristen Gibbs band and the mandolin of Donnybrook leader Davey Arwine, but there's music every night from Austin performers, including the harmonic free-for-all of the Sunday night Irish tune session, and Monday's Celtic-flavored open mic. Sláinte!
86 Rainey St.
The only bar on Rainey Street with a full-time dedication to original Austin music (capacity 377), the Blackheart stands apart from its neighbors as the black band-T-shirt alternative to a suit-and-tie-heavy house bar strip. The wood-planked structure, built in 1889 as the home to Austin's weighmaster Augustus Basnett, now houses rock, folk, country, and occasionally metal on an 75-capacity indoor stage and a 325-capacity outdoor patio stage. The whiskey-specializing drinkery also hosts a defining residency with delta blues trio Mrs. Glass, which has carried on since the bar opened in 2012.
204 E. Fourth
This historic and unexpectedly large venue is one of the best for music in the heart of Downtown. Indoors, the dark wood floors, metal, and exposed brick is great for dressing up or dressing down, atmospherically transporting nearly 1,000 showgoers from Downtown Austin to New York's meatpacking district. The rooftop, fit for 450 people, provides a gorgeous view of Downtown and beyond.
201. E. Sixth
Wild West meets pool hall in an historic building set squarely in the middle of the Sixth Street circus. Capacity = 480.
92 Rainey St.
Boasts big backyard, an outdoor bar, and a chill atmosphere. Capacity = 400.
The George Washing Carver Museum and Cultural Center was the first African-American neighborhood museum established in Texas, housed in the original 1926 city library building, then moved to the Eastside and opened to blacks in 1933. The all-ages theatre seats 110.
208 W. Fourth
Swing down the heart of the warehouse district to find this cozy hub of cool jazz and big fat martinis. Swig your way through a few of those, baby. Live music performed nightly in the sunken courtyard, which accommodates 608.
200 E. Eighth
Though known as Central Presbyterian Church since 1983, the congregation signed on to this property in 1871, and its formation goes back another 32 years before that. That makes the building one of the oldest venues in town. Booked since 2003 by Kathi Thomas, weekly half-hour lunch break shows have happened every Thursday since 1980, while touring acts like recent performer Rickie Lee Jones take advantage of the space's near-perfect acoustics when they can. The 450-capacity sanctuary has also been a SXSW venue since 2006. CPC has only two rules for musicians: Don't drink, and don't break the stained glass windows.
900 Red River
The fun, gay uncle of the Red River bar and live music scene, Cheer Ups is one of the most cheerful, inviting, and beloved venues on the block. Featuring random rainbow art, unicorns, and funkiness all around, the vegan bar serves a creative blend of cocktails (kale lime gingerita), as well as local beers, organic teas, and kombucha on tap. Outside, the limestone-dressed stage remains home to a variety of eclectic events, from crafts nights to karaoke, Peaches to John Legend. Inside stage fits 100, outside squeezes in 885.
516 E. Sixth
”Airport inspired ambience.” Capacity = 700.
90 Rainey St.
Seven stacked shipping containers supply the foundation of this venue, named Best Eco Bar by the Chronicle in our 2015 Best of Austin awards.
609 Davis St.
Clive Bar was one of the first bars in the burgeoning Rainey Street district; the outdoor stage presents live music on weekends. Capacity = 423.
1315 S. Congress
The Continental Club opened in 1957. Thirty years later, Steve Wertheimer took over the club as an anchor for the best touring and local Americana, rockabilly, and swing music anywhere. Wednesday nights host the sort of songwriting that put Austin on the map (Jon Dee Graham and James McMurtry), Tuesday happy hours mix sultry jazz, country, and blues (Toni Price), and Monday belongs to homegrown honky-tonk (Dale Watson). Other regulars include Sunday country duo Heybale! and the Wagoneers, while outsize talent on its red velvet-backed stage include Robert Plant and Robert Rodriguez. Capacity = 299.
217 Congress Ave.
In Texas, we like to think rock sounds even better with some of that “Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que” smell. All ages.
For those of us a little rusty on the periodic table, “Cu29” is a nod to the name and atomic number of copper, a recurring design element of this cocktail bar.
505 E. Sixth
Sick to death of bad cover bands and cheap shots on Dirty Sixth? This mutt's your metallic alternative. Since 2005, the spacious bar has built its reputation and loyal fan base as the city's most consistent home to all matters metal, whether thrash, speed, death, black, ambient, industrial, rap, or glam, with immortal Austin rockers Dangerous Toys and fusion mutants Dirty Wormz regulars on the stage. If the pit gets too sweaty, the front windows open to let the air in and the metal out. Capacity = 499.
709 E. Sixth
"Slow down and stay awhile" is the motto of this split-level biergarten and bakeshop. Why not enjoy a knackwurst with the outdoor patio tunes? Capacity = 450.
In the heart of old Downtown on Congress Avenue, sidle down a few steps into the Elephant Room and breathe in jazz in this 135-capacity club. Swing notes, polyrhythms, restless blues, and syncopation have filled the room with Chicago, Kansas City, and New York-style jazz since 1991. The candlelit venue, walls framed with famous autographs, is open seven nights a week, with happy hour music kicking off at 6pm. Regulars include Sarah Sharp, Stanley Smith, Jon Blondell, and Michael Mordecai.
705 Red River
Bela Lugosi may be dead, but his memory lives on here. Opened in 2001, the 539-capacity Red River institution remains the shadowy mecca for local goths 18-and-up, and upholds the city's legacy as a former industrial rock capital. It's also developed its own peerless reputation for neo-folk, neo-goth, and techno. Scene heavyweights like Combichrist have been known to divert tours through Texas just to stop by. During SXSW, it's the established home of the beloved Japan Nite celebration of music from the shadow of Mount Fuji.
2015 E. Riverside, Bldg. 10
Emo's is dead; long live Emo's! For decades, the name was cemented to the grubby Red River venue with the tin roof, wooden pillar mid-stage, and Johnny Cash's stool hanging over the bar. These days, it's the name over the door of the former Back Room on the rapidly gentrifying East Riverside, and melds that venue's history as Austin's metal center with Emo's reputation for punk, alt, and indie. The spacious 1,500 capacity room opened in 2011 and has expanded its repertoire with more rap and electro. All ages.
606 E. Seventh
Known first as Empire Garage thanks to the bloodline of its outdoor stage – an outdated auto body garage, capacity: 698 – Empire Control Room has risen in its short lifespan to serve as a dominating force in both hip-hop and electronic music, with ticketed roadshows and walk-up locals alike running indoor and outside, sometimes simultaneously. A bar featuring DJs splices between the two. The venue has been instrumental in swinging the Red River Cultural District eastward. Indoor stage fits 494.
525 E. Sixth
Back in the disco days of 1977, 6th Street was a quiet home to winos and the shuttered turn of the last century business facades made for cheap rentals. In a tale as old as opportunity, some scrappy artists set up shop and began creating. Esther's Follies has been producing its socially satirical, modern vaudeville show ever since and is a cornerstone of today's thronging "Dirty 6th" experience. The 290-seat house incorporates the show on the sidewalk outside the theatre into the act with the giant window on the back wall of the stage. Skits heavy on the political parody, jaunty musical send-ups, and awe-inspiring magic courtesy of Ray Anderson come together in this Austin entertainment institution. All ages.
515 E. Sixth
Austin's home for reggae, dub, and ska both locally and from far-flung locales, Flamingo Cantina's island oasis on Sixth Street remains a true diamond in the rough. With a tropical vibe wafting straight from Jamaica and closing in on the quarter-century mark, the funk mini-amphitheater space provides a laid-back alternative to the collegiate tomfoolery encompassing the rest of Dirty Sixth. Stadium seating surrounds a floor space to grok reggae legends like Lee "Scratch" Perry and live music residencies including the Mau Mau Chaplains. Capacity = 299.
500 E. Cesar Chavez
Located at the Austin Convention Center and open to the public with the free SXSW Guest Pass, this stage hosts SXSW artists in the same space as the always-entertaining Flatstock gig poster gallery, presented by the American Poster Institute. All ages.
208 E. Sixth
Sixth St. bar offers live music nightly; Fridays and Saturdays, early sets are followed by a house DJ playing Top 40 hits. Capacity = 299.
708 E. Sixth
Jazz Age-themed craft cocktail bar hosts live music, comedy, and more. Capacity = 799.
2015 E. Riverside, Bldg. 4
With spiritual roots tracing back to the original Emo’s on Red River, this brand-new venue leans hard into the wood lodge look. Capacity = 500.
75 1/2 Rainey St.
Craft cocktail house has a sleek indoor and generous outdoor spaces. Capacity = 499.
617 Congress Ave.
Downtown Austin's oldest indie coffee house also boasts two theatres, one upstairs, one downstairs, that play hosts to films, stand-up, performance art, and bands. With tasty treats and a great view of the Congress goings-on, this storefront gathering spot is a major find. Its SXSW stage fits a tidy 98.
1502 E. Sixth
Former Spider House booker Jason McNeely's second rock club built a devoted following through a kickass set of house bands, creative covers nights, and the occasional monster showcase. (Remember Spoon in 2014?) The club functions hand in hand with its sister spot, the Volstead Lounge. A big backyard known to host headline roadshows like Thee Oh Sees connects the two outside. That space becomes popular during summer months when the club's cozy confines of under 200 get moist. Hotel Vegas capacity = 150; Hotel Vegas Patio = 800; Volstead = 82.
422-B Congress Ave.
Upscale Downtown night club. 18+.
531 E. Fourth
Ballroom on the fourth floor of the Austin Convention Center. 450 capacity. All ages.
121 W. Eighth
Located in the Warehouse District, this bar bills itself as the "Home of the Hottest Bears in Town." Weekly attractions include Friday Night Bears and karaoke on Wednesdays and Sundays. Capacity = 250.
69 Rainey St.
Offers both old-world bar goodness vibe, as well as contemporary, crafty cocktails. The proprietary burger is a revelation, but others argue in favor of Javelina Eggs, a version of Scotch eggs. Capacity = 357.
105 E. Fifth
Downtown dance club with eclectic taste and 12 different flavors of shisha you can smoke out of their hookahs. Capacity = 388.
103 E. Fifth
Though billing itself as a dance club, Kingdom headquarters more than just a place for partiers to shake ass to canned music. The venue, opened in 2011, imports DJs from all over the world, making it as much a concert venue as a dance party. Not to mention a fairly intimate one, with capacity load at 300, so the bigger names sell the place out fast.
401 W. Second
Once the historic landmark anchoring Liberty Lunch's footprint, Lamberts revamped the J.P. Schneider Store, built in 1873, into an exquisite barbecue joint downstairs, and a swank upstairs bar with a stage that can accommodate 170. Co-owned by Will Bridges, also a prime investor of Arlyn Studios and Antone's Nightclub, the venue is booked by ACL Fest creators C3, so it's a good place to check out artists – local or roadshows – that are on their way to making it big. Capacity = 155.
512 San Jacinto Blvd.
Dance club. Capacity = 155.
606 E. Third
77 Rainey St.
Rainey district house turned bar with a shaded backyard. Capacity = 155.
94 Rainey St.
The bar that launched the Rainey St. entertainment district.
323 E. Sixth
Burlesque show or blues band, performances at Maggie Mae's make for an adventure. Depending on where you're perched – the pub, courtyard, or rooftop terrace – the experience is unique. Some 2,000 people can cram inside every nook and cranny (hello SXSW!), but you'd never guess. Mike Milligan & the Altar Boyz serve as the stalwart house band, and catch the view from the largest rooftop in Austin. There's something about dancing as chaos begins to descend over Sixth Street. Maggie Mae's capacity = 277; Gibson Room = 193; Rooftop = 400.
610 E. Sixth
603 Red River
Spoon is taking over this spot of real estate – the site of the original Emo’s, a legendary Austin club – for three nights of curated lineups during the fest and re-christening it “Eno’s” in honor of Spoon’s founding drummer, Jim Eno. The Main capacity = 778; Main II: 178.
400 W. Second, Ste. 400-B
Indoor/outdoor intimate venue on the second floor above La Condesa.
912 Red River
Beloved multi-level Red River anchor, regularly voted Best Live Music Venue in the Austin Music Poll, hosts the crème of indie nation – old, new, small, massive. Its spacious outdoor stage is surrounded by balconies with excellent sight lines and great sound wherever one stands, plus convenient bars, and a cozier inside room for acts old, new, small, massive. Recently it hosted outsize SXSW appearances, including the Stooges, Specials, and X. Indoor stage takes 204; outdoor stage, 768.
213 W. Fifth
Fifth & Lavaca space – capacity: 600 – once occupied by legendary blues club Antone's (itself newly reopened just down the street). During SXSW it becomes the home base for Monster Energy (drink? brand? lifestyle?), which repackages its touring Outbreak slate of hip hop, EDM, rock, and college breakout acts for the fest.
508 E. Sixth
401 Sabine St.
These sophisticated yet down-home sibling event spaces have hosted concerts, weddings, supper clubs, and even a Top Chef restaurant war. Sabine venue holds 299 capacity. Sixth St. inside and out hold 499.
There are venues, and then there's the Paramount. Congress Avenue's theatre has endured for a century with no plans of slowing down. Somewhere in the vicinity of 10,000 artists have performed there, including Harry Houdini spitting needles in 1916, and it still hosts 250 performances annually. Expansive programming for its big screen yields little turf to the music. A relatively snug 1,200 seats, the Paramount also offers a distinguished perch for statesmen of all genres cutting through Central Texas. Last year, to celebrate the centennial, the theatre renovated its landmark blade in preparation for the next stretch of history.
214 E. Sixth
Since opening in 2003, the Parish has served as one of the best rooms for both touring and rising local bands on Sixth Street itself, a tourism beacon, of course, but let's face it, no friend to non-cover bands. Blessed with excellent sound and lighting, and a comfortable 450-capacity space that's easily maneuverable even when packed, the all-ages club provides a haven amid the clamor of the real estate surrounding it. The Parish remains a coveted stage for bands across a wide range of genres.
617 Red River
Open since 2000, specializes in underground dance. Capacity = 103.
1504 E. 51st St.
2,300-seat megachurch in East Austin hosts the Kingdom Experience's four-day showcase of Christian and gospel music. Note: Venue is not walking distance from Downtown.
500 E. Cesar Chavez
Austin Convention Center venue. All ages.
307 E. Fifth
Make your way through the beat of a Russian nightclub (capacity 299) in the front, to find yourself in a quaint dining room in back. The Ukranian borsch is not to be missed.
1320 S. Lamar
Twenty-six looks good on the Saxon Pub. In the cutthroat live music capital, that type of longevity remains hard won. The neighborhood regulars that haunt the wood-hewn South Lamar songwriters sanctuary (capacity 155) might have sat at the original knights of the round table – and remain at the card table in the non-stage room. Chairs angle in toward the stage, surrounded by booths, all filled when Bob Schneider loads in Mondays with Lonelyland. Former patron saints including Stephen Bruton and "Mambo" John Treanor carry on in happy hours by guitar great Johnny Nichols and regular appearances by permutations of the Flatlanders.
617 E. Seventh
Indoor stage = 310; backyard = 195.
715 Red River
The Sidewinder came together as a Frankenstein operation: putting the brains of doomed venue Red 7 into the body of underachieving club Red Eyed Fly. The result, launched in late 2015, has found early success with solid concert attendance and major demand from bands wanting to play there. The bar features two stages: a no-frills interior platform suited for crowds up to 100 patrons and a larger outside concert area with higher production value with a capacity of roughly 300. Like Red 7, Sidewinder's bread and butter is punk, metal, and rock, but also factors in hip-hop. All ages during SXSW. Inside = 150; outside = 250.
Climb each of Speakeasy's three stories and a different adventure awaits. Though Congress Avenue might host classier digs, you'll rarely find one that's been open almost 20 years and includes a bowling alley, music lounge, Kabaret room, and a rooftop terrace, all for a combined capacity of 1,000. Even fewer rest on the site of a deadly 1916 fire and are registered with the Haunted Austin Tour. Mainstage takes 252; Kabaret, 272.
301 E. Eighth
The cornerstone of St. David's was laid in 1853 at the corner of Seventh and San Jacinto, just across the street from Texas President Mirabeau Lamar's old house. The historic church's musical programming is now centered in Bethell Hall, an aesthetically and acoustically pleasing worship space completed in 2001. Seating 240, it regularly serves as a SXSW venue. The historic sanctuary seats 400.
701 Congress Ave.
Located on the second floor of the InterContinental Hotel, this intimate venue holds 120. Attached is a terrace that affords prime people watching.
801 Red River
Milestone 20th anniversary hitting in 2016, Stubb's filled the void left by the 1999 closing of Liberty Lunch, itself the local replacement for the Armadillo World Headquarters. Taking its name and recipes from legendary Lubbock cook Christopher "Stubb" Stubblefield, who established the first Stubb's in his hometown in 1968, the dual-level venue and celebrated barbecue joint boasts indoor and outdoor stages, with the latter holding upward of 2,000 souls. Booked by C3 Presents co-founder Charles Attal and unsung ACL Fest talent doyenne Amy Corbin, both stages host names big (Bob Dylan) and bigger (Metallica).
615 Red River
As much a dive bar (hence the name) as a concert venue, Swan Dive attracts quality local talent for its roomy inside and outside stages. Not just bands, either: dance parties, burlesque, and its own self-proclaimed "hipster karaoke." Outside of ample Free Week action, release shows from Austin indie's finest, and ample homegrown bills throughout the month, the Dive also features a drink menu heavy on vintage cocktails and actual booths to sit and sip them in. At a 299 load indoors, 350 on the patio, any occasion feels like an intimate one.
Riverside Dr. and South First St.
Annual free outdoor shows at what was once known as Auditorium Shores. It's the largest venue at SXSW and open to the public (though you'll need to get a guest pass to attend) and badge/wristband holders alike. No food, drink, coolers, pets, glass, beach umbrellas, chairs, tents, or weapons allowed. Personal umbrellas, under 17" in diameter, are allowed.
319 Colorado St.
The building dates back to the early 1900s. If it gets too hot in the Tap Room (capacity 151), you catch a breath of fresh air on the rooftop deck.
Brainchild of real estate executive/motivational speaker Chad Goldwasser, Tellers opened fall 2015 with an earnest stated purpose: "Music heals." Thus far, the downtown bar's cozy upstairs concert space hosts original live music Wednesday through Saturday with happy hour and late-night slots for talent from indie rock, singer-songwriter, blues, and jazz genres. The room has a history, too: 1987-1995 it was beloved songwriter and poet haven the Chicago House. 18+.
If you're looking for a huge selection of artisanal bourbons, this is the place for you, but don't miss the inventive dishes coming out of the kitchen. Live music in the lounge. Capacity = 212.
718 Congress #100
Housed in a historic building near the Capitol and across the street from the Paramount Theatre, the Townsend's designer cocktails include the rum "Single Engine Plane," bourbon "Lamplight," and mezcal "La Linea." The bar with glass chandeliers also serves cucumber sandwiches and charcuterie plates. Kathy Valentine, formerly of Eighties pop sensation the Go-Go's (she co-wrote "Vacation") is an investor, enlisting audio engineer Scott Samson to design the performance hall. Open nightly, music nights are special events. Capacity = 100.
401 E. Sixth
This restaurant and bar, situated in the old Cotton Exchange building, is a bonafide historic landmark, with the dance floor of the legendary Armadillo World Headquarters reclaimed and repurposed on the east wall here. Performance space holds 360.
710 Red River
This rock & roll lounge in the old Room 710 location is said to have the nicest bathrooms on Red River. Jukebox and pool tables rule here. Capacity = 176.
521 E. Sixth
The venerable Velv, as it's known to habitués, started in 1988 as a stand-up comedy offshoot of Esther's Follies' next-door emporium of sketch and improv. Re-named after comedian Kerry Awn's shecky persona Ronnie Velveeta, what had once been Sixth Street's last strip club (The Embassy Room) was transformed into a sometimes thriving, sometimes struggling bastion of stand-up that is currently, under the management of Mario DiGiorgio, enjoying a sort of 21st-century renaissance with top local and hot touring acts setting the weekends on comedy fire. All ages, seats 120.
604 Brazos St.
You'd be hard-pressed to find a classier SXSW music venue than this luxurious room (capacity 180) at the historic Driskill Hotel, Austin's oldest operating hotel, built in 1886. If you feel like lingering, there's good celebrity gawking to be had at the Driskill Bar. 18+
504 Trinity St.
Private event venue with a capacity of 850.