“If Austin is the live music capital of the world, then downtown is the center.” The folks of Downtown Austin sure are proud of their live music scene, and no wonder – rhythm is in their roots. Whether it’s jazz & blues at one of Austin’s old-time institutions, or raucous crowds and heavy metal bands, choose from our selection of the best live music venues in downtown Austin below.
Famous for their home cooked BBQ fare and explosive music scene in equal measure, Stubb’s BBQ is the stuff of Texan legend. A relatively small venue, they were a mainstay during the ’70s for big-name musicians such as Joe Ely and Stevie Ray Vaughn. Drop by sometime to catch the next star rising, and feast on their delicious BBQ while you wait.
Just steps down the street from Stubb’s is Mohawk: a quintessentially strange and eccentric venue that helps to Keep Austin Weird. Suitably outfitted with an extensive taxidermy selection, huggable bear, and furniture made out of tree stumps, this multi-level sunken courtyard plays host to a range of musical performances, from rap and local metal bands, to Public Enemy and Superchunk.
The superlative Elephant Room has been providing jazz in their basement since 1991. In this dark and sultry venue of brick walls and low lighting, the musicians are close enough that you can feel them smoulder. Come here for Jazz done the way it should be.
Cedar Street Courtyard
Serving some of the best cocktails in town, Cedar Street Courtyard is a trendy young thing at the heart of the live music scene in downtown Austin. Offering up local bands seven nights a week, this place showcases the best homegrown talent, trending national groups, and some great cover bands to boot.
The Paramount Theatre
As officially the oldest standing theatre in Austin, there’s an intriguing and colourful history behind The Paramount. This iconic, landmark venue has played host to Vaudeville and variety, children’s programming and performance, red carpet movie premieres, and a dozen other events besides. Don’t miss the live music offerings here, which often include big-name touring acts, while the cavernous ceilings, tiered balconies, and rich décor make for quite an experience.
Beerland has become something of an institution in Austin since it opened more than a decade ago. Events at this rowdy venue include Rock & Roll Karaoke Mondays, Comedy Tuesdays, and live punk, metal, and garage bands every other night of the week.
Header photo: Drum player on the stage © carloscatilla
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Written by Elizabeth Gourd