From intimate listening venues to packed dance floors, and dive bars to the bright lights of the big stage, Austin has a musical experience for every taste. Austin’s live music scene pervades every corner of the city, day or night. Gritty blues bands, indie rockers, solo singer-songwriters, reggae rhythms — we’ve got it all.

Band performs on outdoor stage at Far Out Lounge in Austin Texas
Far Out Lounge & Stage. Credit Roger Ho.

Outdoor Music Venues

Stubb’s Bar-B-Q is more than meat. This large outdoor amphitheater close to downtown serves up stellar barbecue, and the huge outdoor space packs in crowds almost nightly. Opened in 1955, the Scoot Inn is one of Austin’s original venues, though you wouldn’t know it. It underwent a renovation, and the space is fantastic for casual lounging and touring acts that want that low-key vibe. South Austin's Far Out Lounge & Stage cultivates a lively backyard party feel with a big sound and a relaxed patio stage.

Throw your rock hands in the air like you just don’t care at the expansive indoor/outdoor, beard-loving, taxidermy-rich Mohawk in the Red River Cultural District. Their outdoor space hosts bigger sounds, while the indoor stage typically showcases smaller bands. Though the hanging bulbs and cobbled patio feel miles away from the hubbub, Cedar Street Courtyard is right in the mix of the Warehouse District. Both original artists and cover bands grace the stage, and the upstairs deck is the place to be during SXSW.

Inside Hotel Vegas, look for punk and alternative shows accompanied by delightful cocktails. At sister club, The Volstead next door, dance to premium DJs fueled by house cocktails and old-world wines in a vintage lounge. The two clubs share a backyard for outdoor concerts. 

The architecturally stunning Moody Amphitheater is situated in the heart of beautiful Waterloo Park. With its Great Lawn and the Texas State Capitol as a dramatic backdrop, the outdoor amphitheater is a picture-perfect venue for live concerts.

Melat at Antones during Hot Luck Fest in Austin Texas
Melat at Antone's, Credit Cody Cowan.

Where to See the Headliners

Music is for the masses, and these venues are known for packed dance floors and enthusiastic crowds cheering for more. Antone's has been a part of Austin's music history for as long as we can remember. Find yourself crowding to the front to see classic Austin acts at the beautifully designed bar on Fifth Street. There isn’t a bad spot in the house at Parish in East Austin, a spot that features up-and-comers along with cult faves, and an exclusive bar. Emo’s helped shape the music scene in Austin, and its digs on Riverside continue the tradition of our true rock ‘n roll spirit.

One of the premier concert venues in the city, Austin City Limits (ACL) Live at The Moody Theater is an adored piece of the Austin scene. ACL is the home to live television tapings of Austin City Limits (America’s longest-running music television series), which are ticketed events that usually occur the night before a big performance. Sought-after artists, both contemporary and classic, love to play this space along with its sister venue, 3TEN ACL Live. The latter is reserved for small acts, softer sounds, and cover bands. Make sure you high-five Willie Nelson’s statue right outside.

The newly opened Moody Center was built in partnership between the University of Texas at Austin (UT), Live Nation, and beloved actor Matthew McConaughey (a Texas native!). The 15,000-seat Moody hosts some of the best and biggest acts in entertainment.

Pleasure Venom band on stage at Swan Dive with spotlight on female lead singer
Pleasure Venom at Swan Dive. Credit Lars Ranson.

Experience Intimate Sets

Few musical experiences can rival an intimate performance featuring your favorite (or soon-to-be favorite) musician. If a listening room is your jam, check out the intimacy of The Roosevelt Room, with its award-winning cocktails and small stage. They have live music every Thursday and one-off musical events during the week. Nearby, Speakeasy keeps things rockin’ with three levels of entertainment, including the music lounge, mezzanine overlooking the stage, and the rooftop Terrace59 lounge with spectacular downtown Austin views.

Situated on Congress, head downstairs to the Elephant Room for nightly jazz jams, sit-in singers, and veteran trios, plus several draft beers and that basement allure. The listening room at Parker Jazz Club was designed by a musician, so every detail from the acoustics to mic cords was chosen with sound quality in mind. Originally a pop-up venue, the intimate Monks Jazz Club aims to democratize jazz. Stop by for a show in their east side brick-and-mortar for chill concerts. 

Tiny Chess Club lets audiences get up close and personal with their favorite rock bands. And just a few blocks away music lovers can find two venues in one at the mechanic shop-turned-venue Empire Control Room & Garage. Headbang at their open-air garage stage, or crowd the stage in the control room. 

On the UT campus, the Cactus Cafe is one of the original hush-hush spots. There’s a strict quiet policy, so don’t come here to be social. Musicians like Lyle Lovett, Robert Earl Keen, Lucinda Williams, and Ani DiFranco played here early in their careers. Subway tiles and a pale palette are the backdrop for live music and dance parties at Swan Dive.

Live music by Kalu and the Electric Joint at C Boys Heart and Soul in austin texas
Kalu and the Electric Joint at C-Boys Heart & Soul.

At Volstead Lounge, tip back a classic cocktail and catch a musician or vinyl DJ on stage. Saxon Pub is one of Austin’s original establishments, and music lovers delight in the opportunity to witness music mastery right from the front row.

Choose your adventure by checking out calendars for both The Continental Club and C-Boy’s Heart & Soul. They’re owned by the same group and are incidentally on the same street, so between the two you’ll find everything from funk to bluegrass. The iconic Hippie Happy Hour at The Continental Club is a must-visit while you’re in town.

Venues with Music to Make You Dance

East side gem Sahara Lounge is owned and operated by musicians. Africa Night each Saturday is a party of Afropop and West African music with a free buffet. In a changing streetscape, Flamingo Cantina holds steady. This funky venue has hosted Latin reggae and world-beat acts on Sixth Street since 1991. 

There are no frills at the intimate Little Longhorn Saloon. but there are cold beers and great live music six nights a week. Pack your boots and hit the Saloon early for two-stepping lessons multiple nights a week. You can also find dance lessons at the iconic Broken Spoke, Austin's original honky-tonk which was recently designated an official Texas historic landmark. A sunken dance floor is all better for people watching from the sidelines. 

Men and women dancing in a dark music venue.Barbarella. Credit to Jay Ybarra.

Tropical sisters Coconut Club and Neon Grotto are packed with colorful decor and even more colorful people. The energetic DJ sets at these LGBTQ+-friendly clubs keep the dance floors hopping all night long. Dance club Barbarella hosts frequent theme parties like popular Tuezgayz, '80s night, and emo night. 

Named for a psychedelic venue from the 1960s, today's Vulcan Gas Company hosts comedy shows and EDM dance parties in an industrial-chic nightspot. Elysium Nightclub is the place to go for offbeat revelry. From the annual goth prom to K-pop parties to irreverent artists, it's Austin's home for alternative nightlife. Weekends-only club Kingdom parties late, with shows going until 4 a.m. With high-tech sound and light shows, this is an EDM party worthy of royalty. 

Top Dive Bars & Venues

Austin loves live music and anything offbeat. So, when the two come together, well, there’s just no telling what will happen. Step into the past at Donn’s Depot to dance and gawk at the abundance of ‘70s red shag carpeting. You’ll find locals here, along with many looking to boogie ’round the wooden dance floor. Their bathrooms are particularly notable: the women’s has the look of a ‘50s train car, with a second-level seating area. And bonus, free popcorn! Pull up a sparkly vinyl bar stool Johnny Cash devotees should head directly to Mean Eyed Cat, where the house band, Band In Black, and the obsessive JC-themed decor practically make it a shrine. Craft beer, Bloody Marys, and barbecue make this a destination for sports fans and Sundays.

Man with electric guitar singing into a microphone with Cheer Up Charlies' neon stage background behind him.Cheer Up Charlies. Credit to Ismael Quintanilla III.

For those in search of the eclectic, Spider House just north of the UT campus is part cocktail bar, part music venue, and part funky furniture collection. They host musicians, along with dance events, slam poetry, theme parties, DJs, plays, and anything else you can imagine. Pull up a turquoise bench, grab a craft beer, and ready your snappin’ fingers. Blink and you’ll miss it: the Electric Church is a tiny venue in East Austin. Its bohemian decor, psychedelic music, and bootstrapped stage make you feel like you’re in on a secret. Funky dive The Skylark Lounge keeps East Austin authenticity with pool tables and old-school vibes—a welcoming spot for all, hosting mostly local artists. Join in a wild dance party and sip kombucha on tap at Cheer Up Charlies in the Red River Cultural District. Be sure to try the tasty vegan eats from Arlo’s food truck out back.

The Hole in the Wall has some of the most graffitied bathrooms in town. But the real attraction is its small stage, which has been a haven for indie singer-songwriters and established touring acts like Spoon, Shakey Graves, and Black Joe Lewis. Favorite neighborhood bar King Bee was almost lost, but new owners swooped in to save it in 2021. Sip classy cocktails in a vintage-inspired space with live blues and a relaxed patio. We love dive bars in Austin and the White Horse channels the best energy. The stage is mostly bluegrass, country-western, and Americana, and anyone who wants to scoot boots can find a partner here. Grab a two-step (shot of whiskey and a Lone Star Beer) and get to dancing.

With hundreds of music venues in the city and incredible music events throughout the year, all of Austin is a stage. Experience our unparalleled music scene anywhere you go in Austin. Start planning your visit today to discover these venues, events, and more!