Houston Music

25 More Legendary Houston Music Venues

Page 2 of 4

The Abyss After Washington Avenue metal haven the Vatican closed its doors in the early '90s, it was reopened as the Abyss and continued to host sweaty thrashers and doom merchants until 1998 when the money ran out.

What many headbangers seem to remember most about the joint was its total lack of air-conditioning, which made every show a sweaty endurance test. The place was meant to hold fewer than 300 people, but many more than that were regularly crammed into the dilapidated space to see and hear the likes of Marilyn Manson, Weezer, Mercyful Fate, Neurosis and plenty others. NATHAN SMITH

Ale House This haunted house on Alabama near Kirby with its second-story bar was Houston home base for the True Believers, whose shows brought out a fire-code-flouting throng that bounced and hopped and danced so much it seemed like the building might just shake apart.

Irish manager/booker Angela Mullan had an ear that was just ahead of trends, and always made room for hard working locals. On good nights, the long metal staircase up the back of the building supported half the ganja smokers in town. WILLIAM MICHAEL SMITH

The Astrodome These days, local officials seem plum out of ideas on what to do with the former Eighth Wonder of the World, but at one time, the Dome was one of the premiere venues of any kind on the planet. In addition to its regular usage as Earth's first air-conditioned sporting palace, the Astrodome played host to some huge concerts over the years, particularly during the annual Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.

Elvis Presley played to more than 200,000 fans during a run of six shows in the Dome in 1970, and Michael Jackson filled the place up at the height of his powers alongside his brothers on the Jacksons' legendary Victory Tour. Tejano-pop queen Selena appeared headed for crossover superstardom when she sold out the Astrodome during her final Rodeo appearance in 1995, barely a month before her death. NATHAN SMITH

Billy Blues We got more feedback about Billy Blues' omission from our first list than any other venue. The idea of a big, brassy blues club was quite a bit more viable 20 years ago than today. and much respect to The Big Easy for keeping the dream alive in Houston. Back in the '90s, Billy Blues was one of the Richmond Strip's flagship clubs, as known for the solid mix of local, regional and national acts that performed there as the giant saxophone out front. CHRIS GRAY

Blythe Spirits One frozen night in the early late 1980s -- one of those rare nights when it actually froze in Houston -- I saw my life flash before my eyes on the metal fire escape that led from Blythe Spirts to the street below. Helping a friend haul gear down the steps after a gig, I envisioned myself slipping on the icy stairs and being crushed by a refrigerator-sized bass cabinet. Fortunately, I lived to tell the story and remember what a cool place the upstairs pub (now it's Cecil's) on West Gray used to be.

There were plenty of folk acts that graced the stage and an open mike that often brought out the who's who of Houston songwriters, but even loud rock bands like Kings X would occasionally rattle the walls and collapse ear drums. JEFF BALKE

List continues on the next page.

KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
The Houston Press is a nationally award-winning, 32-year-old publication ruled by endless curiosity, a certain amount of irreverence, the desire to get to the truth and to point out the absurd as well as the glorious.
Contact: Houston Press