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Top 10 Live Music Venues in Austin

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Austin is the self-proclaimed "live music capital of the world," and rightfully so. On any given night, there are hundreds of shows happening all across the city. Downtown Austin is the epicenter of the action, with row after row of music clubs. If you're not sure where to start, read this list of Austin's best live music venues.

1. Stubb's Bar-B-Q

A general view of atmosphere during Bud Light Music First 50/50/1 featuring Empire of the Sun at Austin City Limits Live at the Moody Theater on August 1, 2013 in Austin, Texas
Jason Kempin /Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

801 Red River St.
(512) 480-8341

Stubb's Bar-B-Q is one of the best-loved music venues in Austin. It is a delicious barbecue restaurant that features a small indoor music stage and a large outdoor stage. The outdoor stage is standing only, but the ground slopes downward toward the stage, giving those in the back a bit of a lift. They predominantly present indie and alternative rock, with past performances from Imogen Heap, The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Cake, and Ratatat. They showcase artists in other genres, such as The Indigo Girls and George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic. The crowds are great, though it can get really packed up front for some shows. Best of all, if you get hungry, you can just go inside and order some barbecue!

2. Antone's

Antones nightclub in Austin
Emily Starbuck Gerson

2015 East Riverside Drive
(512) 800-4628

Antone's is another top-notch live music venue in Austin. It opened in 1975 as the first club on 6th Street, and has moved repeatedly since then. It began as a blues club and featured performances from B.B. King, Muddy Waters, Buddy Guy, Pinetop Perkins, and other blues greats. It now also features country and rock music. It is open to all ages and claims to have helped launch the career of many local musicians. Many major acts have graced the stage since the blues era, such as Eric Clapton, Elvis Costello, and Bono and The Edge (of U2). The venue is open and gives you enough room to breathe, and the crowds tend to be laid-back.

3. Emo's

Emo's Nightclub in Austin
Emily Starbuck Gerson

2015 East Riverside Drive
(888) 512-7469

Emo’s is a mid-size east Austin music venue with an outdoor patio and a large indoor stage. Emo's primarily features alternative music, such as indie rock, hardcore, punk, alt-country and metal. You can find both small local acts and major national acts here. It is generally considered a hangout for the tattooed and pierced crowd, though the crowds depend greatly on which type of act is playing that night. Be warned that for some intense shows on the larger stage, mosh pits tend to form.

4. Continental Club

The Continental Club on South Congress Avenue
Emily Starbuck Gerson

1315 S. Congress Ave.
(512) 441-0202

This music club has been a staple in Austin's music scene since 1957. It began as a hip, private supper club and grew into Austin's first burlesque club in the '60s. It continued to book great acts over the decades (including Stevie Ray Vaughan), and in the late '80s, the new owner designed the club to look like it did in the '50s. The Continental Club usually features swing, rockabilly, country, and retro roots music, but it attracts and welcomes all types. Many great local acts perform here.

5. Parish

214 E. 6th St.
(512) 473-8381

This hip music venue in downtown Austin features beautiful hardwood floors and a great selection of beer at the bar. It is a very clean and well-kept venue with fantastic acoustics and lighting. Parish chooses to be non-genre specific, though many of the artists who play here can be classified as some form of rock (many indie rock).

6. ACL Live at the Moody Theater

310 Willie Nelson Boulevard

(512) 225-7999

ACL Live quickly became Austin's premier concert venue after its debut in 2011. In addition to hosting the Austin City Limits TV show, the 2,750-seat, three-level theater presents big-name performers ranging from Willie Nelson to Nick Cave. Every seat in the house has excellent sight lines. In fact, every seat is no more than 75 feet from the stage. There are 12 bars and 14 restrooms, so lines are usually short even during major concerts.

7. Lucky Lounge

Lucky Lounge in downtown Austin
Emily Starbuck Gerson

209 W. 5th St.
(512) 479-7700

Located in the downtown Warehouse District, this '60s-inspired club has a very chic feel. There is a large variety of seating options; you can sit at the bar stools, or you can sit in the lounge chairs and seats right in front of the stage. You can stand in the general open area near the stage or you can take the stairs and sit in the loft area that overlooks the rest of the club below. The bar features a unique standing area slightly above and behind it, which provides a great view of the stage. There are also pool tables up front. This club features a huge variety of local music, and I have yet to see a band there that I don't like!

8. Mohawk

912 Red River St.

A multi-level, mid-size venue that oozes Austin quirkiness, the Mohawk has indoor and outdoor stages plus a rooftop bar with a nice view of downtown. The music ranges from local metal bands and rap acts to Public Enemy and Superchunk. The bar makes use of recycled building materials, including wood from an old barn and furniture made out of milk crates and tree stumps. Plus, there's an extensive taxidermy collection, including a very huggable bear.

9. Bass Concert Hall

23rd St. & Robert Dedman Dr.
(512) 471-1444

The Bass Concert Hall is on the University of Texas Campus and is its flagship arts performance venue. It is an enormous concert hall and features symphonies and dance performances, but it also presents concerts from major music acts such as James Taylor, Sigur Ros, Seal, and Bonnie Raitt. It operates like a traditional theater, so it is all seated and your ticket is for a specific seat.

10. Cactus Café

2247 Guadalupe St.
(512) 475-6515

This small and charming venue is located in the University of Texas student union, but it is open to the public. Around since 1979, it features only acoustic music. There is also a full bar. Local, national, and international acts perform here. Some major names who have played here include Lucinda Williams, Shawn Colvin, Alison Krauss, The Dixie Chicks, and Townes Van Zandt.

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