Where to Catch Live Tunes in Austin

June 30, 2017

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Stubbs Bar-B-Q. Image by Tolly Moseley.

On any given night, you can wander down the streets of Austin, Texas and hear live bands wailing through doorways. Music purveyors and appreciators exist on such a wide spectrum here that come nightfall, you can usually find something to suit your precise taste and mood – though HUNT Austin writer Tolly Moseley is pretty much always in the mood for Elephant Room, a literally underground jazz club on Congress Avenue. Once upon a time it fizzed with smoke and airbrushed drums; the drums are still there, and though a ban wiped out the cigarettes, there’s still a smoky sensuality in the air.

Stubb’s Bar-B-Q is nearby on Red River, and its national-act-attracting outdoor amphitheater is glorious on a cool spring night. Also on Red River, you’ll find a rowdy bastion of rock and indie music with the occasional sprinkling of live hip hop; that would be Mohawk, whose crowd skews a little younger and whose viewing setup is one of my favorites: there’s a wrap-around upstairs balcony that doubles the audience.

The Hole in the Wall. Via Flickr Creative Commons, by Bekah Cope.

Near the UT campus you’ve got two classic options for live tunes: a ramshackle, wonderful bar called The Hole in the Wall, where the kick drum can be heard from the street and the bathrooms are covered in graffiti, and Cactus Cafe, whose red curtains and classy round tables lend themselves well to the heartfelt singer-songwriters and sophisticated country crooners coming through.

Head south and stop in at Waterloo Records, either for a long, leisurely browse through their music stacks, or to catch an in-store performance from somebody famous; just know that the intimate confines of the store make these shows ticket-competitive, so buy early.

Continental Club. Via Flickr Creative Commons, by Cortney Martin

Once you’ve crossed the river, swing into The Continental Club on South Congress: rich musical history reverberates from the walls, along with the live rockabilly and blues bands on stage. Finally, for more of a “listening library” experience, step into Saxon Pub, a regular stop for both regional and local legends thanks to its hushed crowd and superior acoustics.

About The HUNT Austin Writer: Based in the gorgeous city of Austin, Texas, Tolly Moseley is a writer, aerial silks dancer and yoga teacher. All of which that she spends half her time performing an array of bodily contortions and the other half hunched over a computer. Her work has appeared in Salon, Texas Parks & Wildlife Magazine and Austin American-Statesman, and on National Public Radio Austin, as well as her parents’ refrigerator.

For more great insider recommendations in Austin, pick up the guide on gatehousepublishing.com.

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