Out of the Past

Houston's Top 25 closed music venues.

Mary Jane's/Fat Cat's

This small dive on Washington was once one of the top places in town to catch punk, alternative and hardcore acts. Why did it have two names? I'm not sure there was ever a good explanation for that, and not knowing was part of the place's strange appeal. NATHAN SMITH

Music Hall

Peter Beste

This art-deco venue, the Sam Houston Coliseum's baby brother, was on the same Bagby property as the bigger hall, and watching a show here felt like sitting in the high-school ­auditorium for the class talent show. My personal favorite nights there were Joe Jackson bitching at the hall's security team for making a fan stop dancing and sitting about ten rows away from Cyndi Lauper on her "True Colors" tour. JESSE SENDEJAS JR.

Old Quarter

This downtown joint, where Townes Van Zandt held court and frequently did damage to himself and others, deserves a monument. Owners Rex Bell and Dale Soffar opened their stage to folkies and bluesmen who made the Houston scene one of the mid-'70s' most legit. Here Townes recorded Live at the Old Quarter, which many consider one of the top singer-songwriter recordings of all time. ­WILLIAM ­MICHAEL SMITH

Pik N Pak

Pik N Pak was a Montrose icehouse across the street from Rudyard's that played host to grizzled regulars by day and put on wild punk and alternative-rock freakouts at night. Local legends like deadhorse, the Mike Gunn and Sprawl played some of their first (and best) shows at the rickety old joint. NATHAN SMITH


Buzzworthy indie-rock, hip-hop and electronica acts pack Houston venues every week these days, but this lower Richmond room that closed in early 2008 saw local hipster-music fans through some pretty lean times. CHRIS GRAY

The Rhythm Room

This underrated hallway of a music venue on Washington Avenue had one of the best sound systems in town and was the perfect size for local bands and regional touring acts. JEFF BALKE


I'll never forget sitting rapt in my wooden chair at a too-small Rockefeller's table, fewer than 20 feet away from Ray Freaking Charles. Or the time only a dozen people braved a stormy Friday night starring the Dirty Dozen Brass Band. The band's trumpet player looked down at us from the stage and said, "Where the fuck is everyone at?! Doesn't Houston like to party on Friday night?!" We just shrugged our shoulders. JESSE SENDEJAS JR.

Sam Houston Coliseum

Built in 1937, the Sam Houston Coliseum became the city's all-purpose arena and eventually the go-to arena for touring rock bands for decades. The stage was graced by legends including Elvis Presley, the Beatles, Jimi Hendrix and even Billy Gibbons's Moving Sidewalks. ­NATHAN SMITH

Tower Theater

Now El Real, this was once one of the coolest live-music venues in town. I went to see McAuley-Schenker Group there (don't ask), and I got the treat of seeing this unknown opener called The Black Crowes. Needless to say, there wasn't much point in staying after the opening set. JEFF BALKE

The Vatican

Appropriately named given its former incarnation as a fairly sizable church, this performance venue on the west end of Washington Avenue hosted Pearl Jam at the outset of their career and Nine Inch Nails, both as headliner and opener for Peter Murphy. JEFF BALKE

Walter's on Washington

Walter's became the last bastion of rock and roll on Washington Avenue, a grimy dive standing in stark contrast to its neighbors once Washington became the epicenter of douche-bro nightclubs, pumping out mean hardcore and death-metal amid blocks and blocks of thumping dance-pop. NATHAN SMITH

Only in Houston

Iron Men
An audience with Ozzy himself before Black Sabbath's big reunion tour.

Nathan Smith

It's pretty much a given at this point that Ozzy Osbourne is going to die onstage. Nothing short of the Grim Reaper himself can keep the man away from that spotlight.

Through 45 years of professional triumphs, personal trauma and drug-induced mania, the original heavy-metal wailer has effortlessly cultivated a deep love affair with his audience that keeps him returning to the stage for more and more and more. It's been the most successful addiction by far in a career chock-full of 'em.

Two years after the singer last crept through Toyota Center with his solo band, Osbourne's unkickable habit returns him to town this week with the star-crossed crew that started it all: the mighty Black Sabbath. The reunited troupe is celebrating the release of 13, its first studio album with Ozzy since 1978's rather perfunctory Never Say Die!

It's no accident that the new batch of tunes sounds and feels like a band coming full circle. After the band tried and failed to deliver a new Sabbath album in 2002, producer Rick Rubin signed on this time, pushing Osbourne, guitarist Tony Iommi and bassist Geezer Butler to recapture the loose, bluesy spirit of their earliest collaborations.

"I suppose on the first album, we hadn't written that many songs and it was just like a jam on a song or two, blues on a song or two," recounts Osbourne. "He didn't want a structured album in the sense of a verse, a riff, verse, riff, middle and solo. He wanted that freedom that we had on the first album.

« Previous Page
Next Page »
My Voice Nation Help

Emo's Houston hosted tons of national touring bands that were influential in the 90's - Green Day, Smashing Pumpkins, L7, Steep Pole Bathtub, Ween, Superchunk, The Muffs, Unsane, Neurosis, Seaweed, NomeansNo, Offspring, Pennywise, Melvins, Stereolab, Poster Children, Laughing Hyenas, Royal Trux, Hole, etc. and, of course, the 2 you mentioned . . .


Fabulous Satellite Lounge -  One of the best concerts ever, The Bottle Rockets opening for Todd Snider.  The Rockets surfing a big electric guitar around the packed room, and threatening to stay on stage so Snider couldn't come out.  Picked as the best concert of the year by the Houston Press, and well deserved.  I guess, it was one of the few I attended.


Mary Jane's was the name during the years Toby owned the place (after the Bon Ton was dead). Then Pam bought the place, and she re-named it Fat Cat's, but everybody still called it Mary Jane's despite this. Hence the 2 names at once mystery referenced in the article.

This list is missing:

1) The Washington Avenue Show Bar

2) Silky's

3) The Ready Room

4) Club Madrid

Houston Concert Tickets

Concert Calendar

  • April
  • Sun
  • Mon
  • Tue
  • Wed
  • Thu
  • Fri
  • Sat

Find Any Show in Town