Best of Houston® 2021

Best Of Houston® 2021: Best Live Venue (Large)

Toyota Center has been a Houston concert hub since 2003
Toyota Center has been a Houston concert hub since 2003 Photo by Jesse Sendejas Jr.
Best Live Venue (Large):  Toyota Center

“Don’t stop thinking about tomorrow,” Fleetwood Mac sang near the end of its October 6, 2003 show at Toyota Center, the first event ever held in the downtown arena. The venue heeded the band’s sage advice. In nearly 18 years’ worth of tomorrows, the edifice has hosted some of Houston’s most memorable live concert moments. Legends like Aerosmith, Madonna, Prince and Tina Turner and legends in the making like Miley Cyrus, Drake, Adele and Taylor Swift have all played the arena.

It would be unwise to dismiss the building’s concert delivering prowess simply because it can be viewed as a sports arena. While it is home to the Houston Rockets and a preferred stop for the UFC and WWE, it also is vital to bringing some of music’s biggest names to the city. Its size and proximity to downtown amenities are attractive to big tours. If you think Houston is skipped by music superstars too often, consider how many fewer shows we might get if not for this versatile, state-of-the-art gem right in the heart of the city. It’s large enough to host music’s biggest names but feels intimate at 19,000-seat capacity. The seats are comfy, the bars plentiful and well-managed. And Toyota Center’s sound system, which was customized specifically for the arena’s open design and diverse needs, is impeccable.

A look at the arena’s approaching shows is a reminder of what we’ve missed, a space where disparate  world-class acts like Luke Combs and J. Cole and James Taylor and Andrea Bocelli can bring the city’s music fans together again. When the pandemic was causing major concert cancellations, we like to think the echoes of that Fleetwood Mac song rang over Toyota Center’s empty rows of seats with a message of hope. “Don’t stop thinking about tomorrow,” it goes, “it’ll soon be here and better than before.”

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