Houston's 10 Best Music Venues for Newcomers

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While it doesn’t have the “live music capital of the world” tag like a certain other Texas city, Houston doesn’t lack for quality live music and, just as important, quality venues. From amphitheaters to more intimate joints, Bayou City fans can take advantage of an array of options. This holds particularly true for Houston newbies; this is a transient city, and we have plenty of them. Perhaps you’re new to town and looking to get familiar with the local haunts. Or maybe you’d like to meet some fellow live music diehards in and around town. Either way, Houston doesn't lack for options. (This list is in alphabetical order.)

A Houston institution for nearly 50 years, Anderson Fair is the personification of a low-key singer-songwriter’s paradise. The venue is intimate (and kinda hard to find, if you’ve never been), the folks working the door and bar are friendly and the music is live and local. This is a venue made by real music fans, for real music fans. (2007 Grant, andersonfair.net)

Unless you live out I-45 way, it’s a hike to get out to one of the area’s pre-eminent live-music venues. It’s worth the drive. Woodlands Pavilion, particularly on nights when the weather is tolerable, is arguably the best concert venue the greater Houston area has to offer. Plus, it hosts the biggest names in music, which only increases the draw. In the past month alone, the Pavilion has hosted multiplatinum superstars like Luke Bryan, Counting Crows and Alabama Shakes. (2005 Lake Robbins Drive, The Woodlands, woodlandscenter.org)

For those new to Texas, there’s this myth that all Houstonians wear cowboy hats and ride horses to work. This isn’t true in the least. That said, Houstonians do love their honky-tonking, and as that goes, it doesn’t get any better than Firehouse Saloon. The joint showcases an array of country music, from up-and-coming acts to more established artists. Plus, it was founded and is owned and operated by local firefighters, so you’re supporting a good cause while enjoying good live music. (5930 Southwest Freeway, firehousesaloon.com)

Let’s be honest — Fitzgerald’s has been through a lot over the past few years, and now has plenty of competition to be Houston’s go-to local music venue. That said, it’s an institution unlike any other on the local music scene, and for that, it warrants a visit. Plus, it still showcases some of the best in area music, as it has for decades. (2706 White Oak, fitzlive.com)

Houston boasts one of the better nightclub scenes in the country, something that holds true for salsa dancing types as well. Gloria’s – restaurant by day, salsa club by night – brings the heat in Midtown every weekend. Friday night features music from Grupo Kache, and Mi Rumba Band and DJ Fuzion take over Saturday nights. Please keep in mind, this is an upscale joint, and the dress code reflects as much. (2616 Louisiana, #101, gloriascuisine.com)

Speaking of restaurant/live-music hybrids, Last Concert Café goes the Tex-Mex route while Gloria’s dedicates itself to salsa music and dancing. The musical fare at Last Concert is one of Houston's most eclectic, regularly featuring anything from punk and folk to funk, jam bands and Americana. (1403 Nance, lastconcert.com)

Downtown is finally starting to happen as a destination for those in search of nightlife, and Nightingale Room is among those responsible for that transformation. A small nightclub and live-music joint, Nightingale Room is an intimate place with one of the better sound systems in town. For a Houston newbie in search of a great first-date spot, or even for a couple new to town looking for live-music options, checking out some live music at Nightingale Room – then grabbing a drink or two in one of the many bars by Market Square Park – makes for one hell of an evening. (308 Main, nightingaleroom.com)

One of Houston’s premier gay nightclubs, South Beach serves up dance music almost every night of the week. Whether it’s Patio Beach Party Sundays, Millennial Fridays or a Saturday Block Party, this is the place for Houston newbies who want to dance the night away. (810 Pacific, southbeachthenightclub.com)

Since opening its doors earlier this year, White Oak has quickly established itself as a player. Equipped with an upstairs and downstairs room, a lawn area and a little brother of sorts in neighboring Raven Tower, White Oak Music Hall has made for a welcome addition to the local music scene. (2915 North Main, whiteoakmusichall.com)

Whether it’s the best live-music joint in the city is debatable, but Warehouse Live can easily make a claim as the liveliest, as Houston's go-to spot for those in the mood for hip-hop, punk and metal. In the coming weeks alone, it will feature one of the more diverse concert calendars of any venue in town, including shows from Joe Budden to Dweezil Zappa and Kid ‘n Play. (813 St. Emanuel, warehouselive.com)

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