ACL Fest Official Late Night Shows Venue Guide
Because after the show it’s the afterparty
3:00PM, Wed. Sep. 21, 2016
ACL Fest crams a whole lot of acts into its two weekends at Zilker Park, but sometimes live musicgoers need a change of scenery.
Over the course of both weekends, 10 iconic Austin clubs will play host to 30-plus official ACL late-night shows. From out of town and don’t know your Antone’s from your Emo’s? We’ve got the rundown on all the official venues.
Note that these are ticketed shows – your ACL wristband’s only good for street cred here – and they sell out fast. Since Austin thrums every night of the week with live music, if you can’t get into an official show, there’s always another option around the corner. Check out our Austin Music Atlas for the lay of the land and our Club Listings for the latest show info.
Looking for 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, and the ACL photo gallery on the mezzanine level remains stunning.
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).
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 includes Robert Plant and Robert Rodriguez.
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 1,700-capacity room opened in 2011 and has expanded its repertoire with more rap and electro.
Known first as Empire Garage thanks to the bloodline of its outdoor stage – an outdated auto body garage – 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.
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.
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.
A constant change of ownership transformed the rightfully “Historic” Scoot Inn from its humble openings in 1871 as a grocery store, to a saloon, a restaurant, and now a live music venue and bar. Inside remains dive-like, with a hint of saloon style. Outdoors, the large backyard-style patio and deck provide great stage views with ample legroom to stroll or dance. Though predominantly booking concerts, from local favorites Wild Child to roadshows like Gwar, the variety of events, such as movies and storytelling nights, draw crowds weekly.
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).
Cribbing its name from Austin’s famed Congress Avenue psych-rock incubator of the Sixties, the new Vulcan Gas Company – which popped up on Sixth Street in early 2014 – focuses on electronic music. International DJs, electro bands, and, occasionally, hip-hop acts have a premier platform in the 600-plus capacity club with a second story that looks down on the stage. Production value is through the roof with ultra high-fidelity light and sound systems, but VGC’s best kept secret is a tiny rooftop balcony that offers an unparalleled vantage point for Sixth Street people watching.