Best Live Venue (Large): Smart Financial Centre
More than a million people can’t be wrong: Smart Financial Centre is a fantastic place to take in a live concert performance. The three-year-old auditorium sold its millionth ticket in 2019 which put the 6,400-seat hall in rare air. It was among planet Earth’s top ticket-selling venues under 10,000 seats in 2019 and is at or near the top in Texas for venues of any size. What’s to account for the wild success? Keen, diverse bookings have been key. In 2019, the slate included diva Mariah Carey, classical singer Sarah Brightman, Latin pop duo Sin Bandera, Texas music treasure Willie Nelson and other artists of every ilk. A peek ahead reveals acts specializing in Banda, Irish music, comedy, and dancing. When there's something for everyone, everyone has a chance to partake.
But it's more than smart bookings that have concert-goers coming. There’s not a bad seat in the sleek space, which feels intimate even when big names are onstage. At the concession stand, the selections are reliable and sometimes include fare tailored to the event. When Lionel Richie came to croon last year, fans could enjoy a "Say You Say Me Beef and Bacon Dog" with the show. It's a small thing, but the kind of fun flair that adds to the excitement of the concert experience. Everything's brought to life by the people who staff Smart, from the front office to the box office and all points between, who exude professionalism.
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.