The Best Live Music Venues in Downtown Austin

By: Elizabeth Gourd

January 17, 2014

Drum player on the stage | The Best Live Music Venues in Downtown Austin


“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. 


Stubb’s BBQ


Stubbs | The Best Live Music Venues in Downtown Austin

Stubb’s BBQ © Amanda Bui


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.


Bear in jewellery | The Best Live Music Venues in Downtown Austin

Bear in jewellery © Paris on Ponce



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.


Elephant Room

Elephant Room | The Best Live Music Venues in Downtown Austin

Basement “light fittings” © APG/iStock/Thinkstock



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


The Paramount Theatre © Britt Reints



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_flickr user Bekah Cope.jpg

Beerland live performances © Bekah Cope



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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Do you have a favourite live music venue in downtown Austin? Share your thoughts and comments with us below.


Written by Elizabeth Gourd


Elizabeth Gourd

Elizabeth Gourd suffers from an acute case of the wanderlust, which no amount of travelling or adventure can cure. She has lived in London, New York, and Berlin; experimented with nomadism in North America, and climbed to the freezing heights of Kilimanjaro on a whim. Future travel plans include getting lost in South Africa, keeping a menagerie in Europe, and finding herself in India before she is old.

Categories: Our Places