Houston’s 10 Best Outdoor Live Music Venues

Kendrick Lamar drew a capacity crowd to Discovery Green during the NCAA's March Madness Music Fest this spring.
Kendrick Lamar drew a capacity crowd to Discovery Green during the NCAA's March Madness Music Fest this spring.
Francisco Montes

The temperature still routinely reaches the 90s, and the mosquitos haven’t stopped biting just yet, but make no mistake — fall is here in Houston. And nothing works better on a cool (by Houston standards) fall night than good company, a couple of cold beverages and, perhaps most important, some quality live music. Fortunately, Houston doesn’t lack for options.

Thanks to weather, Ministry was one of the few bands that was able to play Houston Open Air this year, held at NRG Park.
Thanks to weather, Ministry was one of the few bands that was able to play Houston Open Air this year, held at NRG Park.
Jack Gorman

10. NRG PARK
Less a live music venue and more a large parking lot that hosts large musical events, poor NRG Park — despite a promising slate — has had a somewhat rough year. While June’s Vans Warped Tour ran rather smoothly, NRG Park once again found itself as the backup site once rain washed Free Press Summer Fest out of Eleanor Tinsley Park. Then there was the nightmarish weather that limited Houston Open Air Fest, originally a two-day event, to half a day. When the weather is tolerable (and that’s far from a given in Houston), NRG is a prime spot to host a festival. It’s walkable, parking is available and it’s spacious enough to host various stages. (1 NRG Park, reliantpark.com)

Proof Rootop Lounge
Proof Rootop Lounge
HP Staff

9. PROOF ROOFTOP LOUNGE
Keeping a steady tenant in the rooftop space above Reef hasn’t been easy over the years, but Proof seems to have succeeded where others couldn’t. And with fall and its cooler weather on tap, Proof – with its picturesque skyline view – is sure to be among the hottest spots in Midtown. October is shaping up to be a big and musically diverse month; upcoming Proof concerts include Ratt (this Tuesday), Cee-Lo Green and Puddle of Mudd. (2600 Travis, proofrooftoplounge.com)

Rock out by the water to your heart's content at the Pub Fountains in Stafford.
Rock out by the water to your heart's content at the Pub Fountains in Stafford.
Photo courtesy of John Escamilla/Jetspeed Entertainment

8. THE PUB FOUNTAINS
Of all the outdoor music venues in Houston, perhaps none has better cornered the nostalgia market than the Pub Fountains. This is fitting, considering the venue resides in the suburbs, making it more likely to appeal to an older crowd than its Inner Loop contemporaries. Whether it's former Creed front man Scott Stapp, Drowning Pool or Fuel, the Pub Fountains knows what its audience wants — rock hits of yesteryear. (12720 Southwest Freeway, Stafford, thepubinstafford.com)

Cottonwood
Cottonwood
HP Staff

7. COTTONWOOD
Houston’s quintessential patio bar, Cottonwood is among the better places to enjoy a night outdoors while sipping on a cold craft beer and knocking down one of Houston’s best burgers. Hell, bring the pups; Cottonwood’s patio is dog-friendly. Cottonwood also boasts an outdoor stage that hosts live music, much of it local, every week as part of KPFT's "Troubadour Tuesday" (featuring Austin's The Drakes this week), and Thursdays are a popular night for live music as well. (3422 North Shepherd, cottonwoodhouston.com)

Houstonians enjoy taking a break from the music at Eleanor Tinsley Park during FPSF 2014.
Houstonians enjoy taking a break from the music at Eleanor Tinsley Park during FPSF 2014.
Eric Sauseda

6. ELEANOR TINSLEY PARK
Tinsley Park routinely plays host to Houston’s biggest summer festival – the annual Free Press Summer Fest. Well, it was SUPPOSED to play host to the event the past two years, until inclement weather rendered the park unfit for a festival (FPSF moved to NRG Park). However, when it’s fit to show, Tinsley Park is Houston at its finest. Nestled just outside downtown, the park offers up a stunning view of downtown Houston, and the green space is tailored to live music festivals like FPSF. Tinsley Park also played host to the Freedom Over Texas event this past July 4 weekend, which featured noteworthy acts like Darius Rucker and the Eli Young Band. (500 Allen Parkway, buffalobayou.org)

Miller Outdoor Theatre
Miller Outdoor Theatre
HP Staff

5. MILLER OUTDOOR THEATRE
If there’s a better place in Houston to post up with a picnic basket full of food and a bottle of wine, all the while taking in a relaxing evening of live music or the performing arts, well, good luck finding it. Miller Outdoor Theatre, which neighbors the Houston Zoo, is the perfect place to enjoy live music on a crisp fall evening. Bring some food and drink and enjoy a free seat on the lawn. Miller Outdoor recently hosted the annual Chicano Music Festival, and numerous other music and arts-related events are on tap in 2016. (6000 Hermann Park Drive, milleroutdoortheatre.com)



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